A Lie by Any Other Name

From Charles Blow:

This is not a presentation of “alternative facts,” whatever that may mean, as Kellyanne Conway, President Trump’s mistress of misdirection, posited over the weekend.

These are lies; good old-fashioned lies, baldfaced and flat-out lies.

Donald Trump is a proven liar. He lies often and effortlessly. He lies about the profound and the trivial. He lies to avoid guilt and invite glory. He lies when his pride is injured and when his pomposity is challenged.

Indeed, one of the greatest threats Trump poses is that he corrupts and corrodes the absoluteness of truth, facts and science.

And Trump for his part continues to rage about three to five million illegal votes causing him to lose the popular vote in November. This, too, is a lie. A lie. Not the euphemisms you hear on television, like “unsubstantiated,” or “unproven,” or “baseless.” It is a lie, pure and simple.

But Trump won’t let it go. His pride is hurt, his vanity tarnished. The man who prides himself on winning lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly three million votes, the biggest popular vote loss by a winning candidate in American history. That stings.

So, even after his lie is reported and rejected, he continues to perpetuate it. This is what makes Trump qualitatively different from our leaders who came before him: He believes that truth is what he says it is, and the only reason it has yet to be accepted is that it has yet to be sufficiently repeated.

We all have to adjust to this unprecedented assault on the truth and stand ready to vigilantly defend against it, because without truth, what’s left? Our president is a pathological liar. Say it. Write it. Never become inured to it.

full column: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/26/opinion/a-lie-by-any-other-name.html

Trump Attacks Author Of Pew Study Showing No Voter Fraud, claims he is “groveling”

Donald Trump and his administration have been twisting Pew research to support a lie that millions of people voted illegally.

Trump and his administration frequently cite a 2012 Pew study in support of his unfounded claims of widespread voter fraud. But the author, David Becker, has said that Trump’s team misconstrued his paper and that researchers found no cases of voter fraud.

When told by ABC News anchor David Muir that the study failed to show voter fraud, Trump responded by immediately attacking the author for “groveling.”

Trump used the same term to attack a disabled New York Times reporter, Serge Kovaleski, in 2015.

Here’s the president’s full exchange with Muir:

MUIR: What you have been presented so far has been debunked. It has been called false.

TRUMP: Take a look at the Pew reports.

MUIR: I called the author of the Pew report last night and he told me that they found no evidence of voter fraud.

TRUMP: Really, then why did he write the report?

MUIR: He said no evidence of voter fraud.

TRUMP: Excuse me, then why did he write the report? According to Pew report, then he’s groveling again. You know, I always talk about the reporters. They grovel when they wanna write something that you wanna hear, but not necessarily millions of people wanna hear or have to hear.

ref: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-voter-fraud-pew-study_us_58892e13e4b061cf898cb9d6?dm1wk3l0t3g4on7b9&

Trump’s endless lying threatens his ability to govern and even exasperates GOP leaders

In the first five days of his presidency, Donald Trump has put the enormous power of the nation’s highest office behind spurious — and easily disproved — claims.

He began with trivial falsehoods about the size of the crowds at his inauguration but has since escalated a graver claim that undermines the trustworthiness of the nation’s electoral system. In a White House reception Monday night for congressional leaders, Trump alleged that as many as 5 million illegal votes were cast in the 2016 election, denying him a popular-vote majority.

It was a claim that Trump had made in the aftermath of the election, with no evidence to back it up.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer, whose own credibility has been undercut during his first week on the job, offered no evidence Tuesday to back up the president’s claim.

“The president does believe that,” Spicer said. “He has stated that before. I think he’s stated his concerns of voter fraud and people voting illegally during the campaign, and he continues to maintain that belief based on studies and evidence that people have presented to him.”

Beliefs, however, are not the same as facts. Pressed to produce the basis upon which Trump bases his assertion, Spicer claimed that a 2008 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts “showed 14 percent of people who voted were noncitizens. There’s other studies that have been presented to him. It’s a belief he maintains.”

Pew made no such finding. Its study, it has noted, was issued in 2012 and dealt with inaccurate, outdated voter registration rolls. It did not address large-scale voter fraud.

Trump’s attraction to conspiracy theories and his contempt for facts that tarnish his pride may have serious implications for his ability to govern.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who was a stalwart Trump supporter, told Fox Business Network on Tuesday that he was mystified by Trump’s claim about illegal voters — and by his motivations for bringing it up.

“I have no evidence whatsoever, and I don’t know that anyone does, that there are that many illegal people who voted,” Huckabee said. “And frankly it doesn’t matter. He’s the president, and whether 20 million people voted, it doesn’t matter anymore.”

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said that Trump’s claim “undermines faith in our democracy. It’s not coming from a candidate for office. It’s coming from the man who holds the office. So I am begging the president, share with us the information you have about this or please stop saying it.”

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, who was a stalwart Trump supporter, told Fox Business Network on Tuesday that he was mystified by Trump’s claim about illegal voters — and by his motivations for bringing it up.

“I have no evidence whatsoever, and I don’t know that anyone does, that there are that many illegal people who voted,” Huckabee said.

Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) said that Trump’s claim “undermines faith in our democracy. It’s not coming from a candidate for office. It’s coming from the man who holds the office. So I am begging the president, share with us the information you have about this or please stop saying it.”

On Saturday, the new president stood at CIA headquarters, before a wall of stars memorializing slain officers, and claimed that a dishonest media had refused to report the true size of the crowd on the Mall for his inauguration. Trump offered his own estimate of “a million, a million and a half people.”

Later that day, he dispatched Spicer to the White House briefing room, where the press secretary — in his first formal encounter in that setting with the reporters who cover the president — rattled off another round of unproven figures and contended that the crowd represented “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period — both in person and around the globe.”

On Sunday, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway compounded the damage in a contentious interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” in which she said: “Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts.”

ref: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trumps-disregard-for-the-truth-threatens-his-ability-to-govern/2017/01/24/945c81aa-e272-11e6-a453-19ec4b3d09ba_story.html

Trump persists in lying about popular vote, claims he won it

President Trump insisted to congressional leaders invited to a reception at the White House that he would have won the popular vote had it not been for millions of illegal votes, according to people familiar with the meeting.

Trump has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that widespread voter fraud caused him to lose the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, even while he clinched the presidency with an electoral college victory.

Two people familiar with the meeting said Trump spent about 10 minutes at the start of the bipartisan gathering rehashing the campaign. He also told them that between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes caused him to lose the popular vote.

ref: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/01/23/at-white-house-trump-tells-congressional-leaders-3-5-million-illegal-ballots-cost-him-the-popular-vote

Trump’s ‘alternative facts’ put lives at risk, with totalitarian overtones

“Alternative facts” could kill, warn national security and other government veterans, and eventually could unravel the fabric of democracy and America’s standing in the world.

This weekend, it was crowd size. By next week, it could be how many troops were killed, and who was responsible for the attack. Or how successful the American response was. Or whether there is an actual threat to homeland security that requires government action. Or even a dispute with a foreign government over a sensitive detail in negotiations.

“It absolutely puts lives at risk. If the president claims that Iran is cheating on the nuclear accord, or that North Korea is about to test a nuclear device on an intercontinental missile,” said Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, “the public needs to believe him, and if he so undermines his credibility we can’t build an international coalition … it has the gravest consequences.”

GOP strategist Steve Schmidt’s view: “purposeful deceit, willful lying by a government spokesperson, is the hallmark of a totalitarian or an authoritarian regime. It’s absolutely pernicious in a democracy.”

“The issue is small, trivial and stupid — but the act of dishonesty and arguing about it is a big deal,” Schmidt added.

“There are narcissists who think anything they do is right and anything they say — not persuaded by evidence — that is what is frightening,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian who met with Trump during the transition. “When you’re saying something that is brazenly false and expecting your followers to adhere to it, that’s a dictator. That is not an American president.”

ref: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/01/trump-alternative-facts-234011

Conway calls Trump’s lies “alternative facts”

A top adviser to President Donald Trump on Sunday said White House press secretary Sean Spicer provided “alternative facts” to reporters during his first briefing.

“You’re saying it’s a falsehood. And they’re giving, Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that,” Conway said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Host Chuck Todd fired back at Conway over her comments.
“Look, alternative facts are not facts,” said Chuck Todd. “They’re falsehoods.”

ref: http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/315527-conway-spicer-used-alternative-facts-in-press-briefing

Trump makes False Claims and Attacks Media on Turnout and Intelligence Rift

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — President Trump used his first full day in office on Saturday to unleash a remarkably bitter attack on the news media, falsely accusing journalists of both inventing a rift between him and intelligence agencies and deliberately understating the size of his inauguration crowd.

In a visit to the Central Intelligence Agency designed to showcase his support for the intelligence community, Mr. Trump ignored his own repeated public statements criticizing the intelligence community, a group he compared to Nazis just over a week ago. He called journalists “among the most dishonest human beings on earth,” and he said that up to 1.5 million people had attended his inauguration, a claim that photographs disproved.

Later, at the White House, he dispatched Sean Spicer, the new press secretary, to the briefing room in the West Wing, where he delivered an irate scolding to reporters and made a series of false statements. Mr. Spicer said news organizations had deliberately misstated the size of the crowd at Mr. Trump’s inauguration on Friday in an attempt to sow divisions at a time when Mr. Trump was trying to unify the country, warning that the new administration would hold them to account.

The statements from the new president and his spokesman were a striking display of invective and grievance at the dawn of a presidency, usually a time when the White House works to set a tone of national unity and build confidence in a new leader.

Full story: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/21/us/politics/trump-white-house-briefing-inauguration-crowd-size.html

Trump creates a hellscape of lies and distorted reality

From a Washington Post column by Margaret Sullivan:

Consider, for example, the saga of Serge Kovaleski, the highly regarded New York Times reporter whose disability limits the use of his arms.

Yes, this is the reporter whom Trump mocked during the campaign — waving his arms in a crude but unmistakable imitation of Kovaleski’s movements. When criticized for doing so, Trump vehemently denied that mocking Kovaleski was even possible because he didn’t know him. (Which was also a lie.) All this, because Trump wanted to promote a myth — talk about “fake news” — that thousands of Muslims in New Jersey celebrated 9/11, which he falsely claimed Kovaleski reported while working at The Washington Post. Any reasonable person looking back at the facts would find that ­absurd.

How to deal with these endless lies? That’s the challenge facing us as we go forward into the Trump hellscape of lies and distorted reality.

Full column at https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/a-hellscape-of-lies-and-distorted-reality-awaits-journalists-covering-president-trump/2017/01/15/3656a17e-d90f-11e6-b8b2-cb5164beba6b_story.html

USA Today fact checks Trump’s lies at his press conference

More falsehoods from Donald Trump today. It’s getting hard to keep track of all his lies, but we will try.

USA Today reports that in his first press conference since July, President-elect Donald Trump repeated false and misleading claims on jobs, health care and his tax returns.

• Trump falsely claimed that there are “96 million really wanting a job and they can’t get [one].” There are roughly 96 million people not in the labor force, but that includes retirees, students and others who don’t want jobs. Only 5.5 million of them want work.

• Trump said that “you learn very little” from a tax return. But experts told us there’s plenty of information to be gleaned from tax returns — such as potential conflicts of interest, charitable giving habits and effective tax rates.

• Trump claimed that “some states” have seen health insurance coverage on the Affordable Care Act exchanges increase by 100%. Only Arizona has an average increase that high, and 84% with marketplace coverage in 2016 received tax credits to purchase insurance.

• Trump continues to oversimplify the rise of the Islamic State by blaming President Obama for “leaving at the wrong time” from Iraq. President George W. Bush set the withdrawal date. More important, there were numerous factors in the rise of the terrorist group.

• Trump claimed that “nobody even talked about it” when hacked emails showed that Hillary Clinton’s campaign got debate questions in advance. Actually, there was plenty of press coverage when it was revealed that former CNN contributor Donna Brazile shared questions with Clinton’s campaign.

For more details, see http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/01/11/fact-check-donald-trump-press-conference/96449610/