A while back the New York Times published a list of lies the “new” president, Donald Trump had told. According to the Times, many supporters tried to dismiss the pathological number of lies Trump had told by saying that if the Times had done the same for other presidents, the results would be similar. The New York Times decided to “test” this theory.
We applied the same conservative standard to Obama and Trump, counting only demonstrably and substantially false statements. The result: Trump is unlike any other modern president. He seems virtually indifferent to reality, often saying whatever helps him make the case he’s trying to make.
In his first 10 months in office, he has told 103 separate untruths, many of them repeatedly. Obama told 18 over his entire eight-year tenure. That’s an average of about two a year for Obama and about 124 a year for Trump.
The fact that people believe Trump’s lying is in the same league as your standard politician forgets the fact that this man has lied about things like being the TIME Magazine Person of the Year. As the Times points out, they are being generous when it comes to their criteria of lying on the part of Trump.
If we had used a less strict standard, Trump would look even worse by comparison. He makes misleading statements and mild exaggerations – about economic statistics, his political opponents and many other subjects – far more often than Obama. We left out any statement that could be plausibly defended even if many people would disagree with the president’s interpretation. We also left out modest quantitative errors, such as Trump’s frequent imprecision with numbers.
This isn’t a surprise. It’s just a fact.