The New York Times’ Lies About “Trump’s Lies”

In a grandstanding stunt that was even beneath the fallen role model of U.S. journalism, The New York Times printed what it claimed to be “the definitive list of Donald Trump’s lies” since his inauguration. To say the the list was itself full of lies, and that the over-all assertion that these were “Trump’s lies” was a misrepresentation, is not in any way to excuse the President’s lazy, careless, incompetent use of language, impulsive habits of communication, shockingly inept reasoning and  reckless tweeting. Almost all of the statements quoted by the Times contain misinformation, irresponsible opinions  or unwarranted conclusions, and it is dangerous and disruptive for any leader, indeed anyone, to express themselves this way. Nevertheless, the statements are not all lies. Most of them, in fact, are not lies.

Does it matter? It does. When the New York Times call a list “definitive,’ that list should at a minimum meet the definition of what the New York Times claims to be exposing. It does not. The definition of a lie is a “a deliberately false statement designed to deceive.”

If we assume that the New York Times knows what a lie is, and if the Times does not then it should have no credibility at all, since a journalist’s mission is to report the truth, then the list proves that the New York Times deliberately set out to deceive its readers.

At one point, the Times says,

“We are using the word “lie” deliberately. Not every falsehood is deliberate on Trump’s part. But it would be the height of naïveté to imagine he is merely making honest mistakes. He is lying.”

This is a self-contradictory statement. If a falsehood isn’t deliberate, then it isn’t a lie.

In presenting this unethical project, the Times took unethical advantage of its readers’ confirmation bias. When the “Lie” list was printed, the Times made certain that it would require super-human dedication and extraordinary eyesight to read it, through the devices of listing every item and the Times commentary in horizontal sequence and in half the usual size type-face. (See above) This ensured that almost no readers would make the Herculean effort to read the whole thing , especially since the well-trained Times readers already “knows” that Donald Trump is a liar. In addition, the explosion of tiny words created the visceral response of “Wow! Look at all those lies!” which is exactly the effect the Times editors wanted.

But that isn’t reporting, and it isn’t journalism. The “list” was a page-size, visual, ad hominem attack. The Times wasn’t seeking close scrutiny of its list, nor was it interested in making any rebuttal easy or likely.

We have learned that the Times list was largely assembled from various fact-checker columns. That is a red flag, and explains many of the most embarrassing inclusions on the list. None of the fact-checkers are trustworthy. All of them are biased, Snopes and PolitiFact worst of all, and they consistently register opinions that the writer disagrees with as “false.” Many, many of the items on the Times list are in this category.

I’m not going to go over the entire list here and distinguish between the lies and non-lies, though I have done the analysis. My template for an undisputed Presidential lie would be Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”—he did, and he said this deliberately to deceive; and Barack Obama’s “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan” declaration that he made repeatedly to sell Obamacare to the American people in 2009. The “women make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes for the same job” is a fake statistic that both Clinton  and Obama (and Hillary and Bernie) used, but that would not qualify as a lie on my scale.  I think they believe it, or believe that it’s close enough to true that they aren’t lying when they refer to it. Many of the “lies” on the list fall into this gray area. Of course, the Times never set out to list all of Obama’s lies, or Clinton’s, because they never wanted to suggest either of them were untrustworthy, though a good argument could be made that Clinton was, and Obama regularly engaged in deceit and misrepresentation. To its credit, the Post’s Factchecker did create a list of outgoing President Obama’s “Top Ten Whoppers.”

Many statements that Obama made that were much like dozens of the items on the Trump list were never called “lies” in the mainstream media, as when he attacked the Supreme Court and the Citizens United ruling in a State of the Union address by saying that the decision “will open the floodgates for special interests”…“ including foreign corporations”…” to spend without limit in our elections.” (Justice Alito was seen mouthing “not true” and shaking his head.”)

Unfortunately for the Times, listing “Trump’s lies” chronologically exposed the dishonest and biased nature of the exercise from the start. The first three “lies” are not lies.:

Jan. 21 “I wasn’t a fan of Iraq. I didn’t want to go into Iraq.”

The Times, channeling John Kerry, says, “He was for an invasion before he was against it.”  But in this statement, at least, Trump isn’t saying, as he did in the campaign, that he opposed the invasion from the start. He says he wasn’t a fan of Iraq, which the Times doesn’t disprove, and that he “didn’t want to go into Iraq.” Even many of those who supported the decision to invade didn’t want to go into Iraq.  Trump was saying how he felt at some undesignated time in the past, and that cannot be disputed. It’s not a lie.

Jan. 21 “A reporter for Time magazine — and I have been on their cover 14 or 15 times. I think we have the all-time record in the history of Time magazine.”

Says the Times, “Trump was on the cover 11 times and Nixon appeared 55 times.”

Oh, wow, Trump was trying to mislead the public about the crucial question of who is the all-time record holder of covers for a dying magazine! He was on the cover 11 times, and either exaggerated or forgot the exact number, missing by three. Even a tiny amount of good will would require dismissing this as a mistake rather than a lie, but the Times and the “resistance” media have no such good will, just animus and hatred. Serious question: If the Times had made up the same kind of list for Obama and applied the same standards, would his “57 states” gaffe be listed as a lie? As for the second part of the statement, “I think we have the all-time record in the history of Time magazine”  cannot possibly be a ruled lie, because the Times has no idea what Trump was thinking. He was wrong, that’s all.

Jan. 23 “Between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes caused me to lose the popular vote.”

Says the Times, laughably, “There’s no evidence of illegal voting.”  (A bit of  Trumpish exaggeration, no?) Again, there is no reason to doubt that Trump believes what he said then, and in the light of new research, there is more reason for him to believe it now. The President is a narcissist, and not too bright. The Times, despite knowing both of these facts, persists throughout the “list” to treat his familiar unwarranted leaps of logic as “lies.” Because, you see, lies  mean malice, and malicious is worse than dumb.

A random search through the list reveals many similarly forced and unfair calls by the Times. This one is typical:

Feb. 6 “And the previous administration allowed it to happen because we shouldn’t have been in Iraq, but we shouldn’t have gotten out the way we got out. It created a vacuum, ISIS was formed.”

The Times, applying pedantry, says, “The group’s origins date to 2004.”  OK, Trump, who has a vocabulary of about a thousand words, said “formed” instead of “thrived.” He was not giving a historical lesson about the origins of ISIS. I had never heard of ISIS until long after 2004. You have to be addled to think Trump was trying to deceive anyone with this essentially accurate if inarticulate description of how the premature withdrawal from Iraq destabilized the region and opened a door for ISIS.

But I think my favorite part is where the Times twice calls Trump a liar for saying that it “apologized” to its readers post-election for slanting its coverage of the campaign. Here was the second one:

March 29 “Remember when the failing @nytimes apologized to its subscribers, right after the election, because their coverage was so wrong. Now worse!”

The Times: “It didn’t apologize.”

Ethics Alarms: That’s funny; this sure seemed like a front page apology to me at the time:

I wasn’t the only one. The Times not only slanted its election coverage for Hillary Clinton, but in an August editorial admitted that this was what it would be doing, and attempted to rationalize it. If this pledge to “redidicate” itself to good journalism wasn’t an admission that its campaign performance wasn’t good journalism, then why the front page letter? The Times also later removed the line claiming that it “reported on both candidates fairly during the presidential campaign.” No, it didn’t, and that line undercut the intended message of the letter, which was “we’ll try to do better.”  Of course, I may have been wrong in my assessment. But I’m not lying when I say that this is how it seemed to me.

I suppose both the President and I were being too generous by calling the letter an apology, since the Times owed its readers an apology. Silly us: we thought the paper had a shred of integrity left, and was trying to admit its ethisc breach without explicitly saying that they betrayed their ideals.   Now we know it has no integrity, and “Trump’s Lies” demonstrates that deficit.

____________________________

Now, in type you can read and split out by date, here is the whole list. How many items do you think were deliberate falsehoods designed to deceive?

Jan. 21 “I wasn’t a fan of Iraq. I didn’t want to go into Iraq.” (He was for an invasion before he was against it.)

Jan. 21 “A reporter for Time magazine — and I have been on their cover 14 or 15 times. I think we have the all-time record in the history of Time magazine.” (Trump was on the cover 11 times and Nixon appeared 55 times.)

Jan. 23 “Between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes caused me to lose the popular vote.” (There’s no evidence of illegal voting.)

Jan. 25 “Now, the audience was the biggest ever. But this crowd was massive. Look how far back it goes. This crowd was massive.” (Official aerial photos show Obama’s 2009 inauguration was much more heavily attended.)

Jan. 25 “Take a look at the Pew reports (which show voter fraud.)” (The report never mentioned voter fraud.)

Jan. 25 “You had millions of people that now aren’t insured anymore.” (The real number is less than 1 million, according to the Urban Institute.)

Jan. 25 “So, look, when President Obama was there two weeks ago making a speech, very nice speech. Two people were shot and killed during his speech. You can’t have that.” (There were no gun homicide victims in Chicago that day.)

Jan. 26 “We’ve taken in tens of thousands of people. We know nothing about them. They can say they vet them. They didn’t vet them. They have no papers. How can you vet somebody when you don’t know anything about them and you have no papers? How do you vet them? You can’t.” (Vetting lasts up to two years.)

Jan. 26 “I cut off hundreds of millions of dollars off one particular plane, hundreds of millions of dollars in a short period of time. It wasn’t like I spent, like, weeks, hours, less than hours, and many, many hundreds of millions of dollars. And the plane’s going to be better.” (Most of the cuts were already planned.)

Jan. 28 “The coverage about me in the @nytimes and the @washingtonpost has been so false and angry that the Times actually apologized to its dwindling subscribers and readers.” (It never apologized.)

Jan. 29 “The Cuban-Americans, I got 84 percent of that vote.” (There is no support for this.)

Jan. 30 “Only 109 people out of 325,000 were detained and held for questioning. Big problems at airports were caused by Delta computer outage.” (At least 746 people were detained and processed, and the Delta outage happened two days later.)

Feb. 3 “Professional anarchists, thugs and paid protesters are proving the point of the millions of people who voted to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” (There is no evidence of paid protesters.)

Feb. 4 “After being forced to apologize for its bad and inaccurate coverage of me after winning the election, the FAKE NEWS @nytimes is still lost!” (It never apologized.)

Feb. 5 “We had 109 people out of hundreds of thousands of travelers and all we did was vet those people very, very carefully.” (About 60,000 people were affected.)Feb. 6 “I have already saved more than $700 million when I got involved in the negotiation on the F-35.” (Much of the price drop was projected before Trump took office.)

Feb. 6 “It’s gotten to a point where it is not even being reported. And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it.” (Terrorism has been reported on, often in detail.)

Feb. 6 “The failing @nytimes was forced to apologize to its subscribers for the poor reporting it did on my election win. Now they are worse!” (It didn’t apologize.)

Feb. 6 “And the previous administration allowed it to happen because we shouldn’t have been in Iraq, but we shouldn’t have gotten out the way we got out. It created a vacuum, ISIS was formed.” (The group’s origins date to 2004.)

Feb. 7 “And yet the murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years, right? Did you know that? Forty-seven years.” (It was higher in the 1980s and ’90s.)

Feb. 7 “I saved more than $600 million. I got involved in negotiation on a fighter jet, the F-35.” (The Defense Department projected this price drop before Trump took office.)

Feb. 9 “Chris Cuomo, in his interview with Sen. Blumenthal, never asked him about his long-term lie about his brave ‘service’ in Vietnam. FAKE NEWS!” (It was part of Cuomo’s first question.)

Feb. 9 Sen. Richard Blumenthal “now misrepresents what Judge Gorsuch told him?” (The Gorsuch comments were later corroborated.)

Feb. 10 “I don’t know about it. I haven’t seen it. What report is that?” (Trump knew about Flynn’s actions for weeks.)

Feb. 12 “Just leaving Florida. Big crowds of enthusiastic supporters lining the road that the FAKE NEWS media refuses to mention. Very dishonest!” (The media did cover it.)

Feb. 16 “We got 306 because people came out and voted like they’ve never seen before so that’s the way it goes. I guess it was the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan.” (George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all won bigger margins in the Electoral College.)

Feb. 16 “That’s the other thing that was wrong with the travel ban. You had Delta with a massive problem with their computer system at the airports.” (Delta’s problems happened two days later.)

Feb. 16 “Walmart announced it will create 10,000 jobs in the United States just this year because of our various plans and initiatives.” (The jobs are a result of its investment plans announced in October 2016.)

Feb. 16 “When WikiLeaks, which I had nothing to do with, comes out and happens to give, they’re not giving classified information.” (Not always. They have released classified information in the past.)

Feb. 16 “We had a very smooth rollout of the travel ban. But we had a bad court. Got a bad decision.” (The rollout was chaotic.)

Feb. 16 “They’re giving stuff — what was said at an office about Hillary cheating on the debates. Which, by the way, nobody mentions. Nobody mentions that Hillary received the questions to the debates.” (It was widely covered.)

Feb. 18 “And there was no way to vet those people. There was no documentation. There was no nothing.” (Refugees receive multiple background checks, taking up to two years.)

Feb. 18 “You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden. Sweden, who would believe this?” (Trump implied there was a terror attack in Sweden, but there was no such attack.)

Feb. 24 “By the way, you folks are in here — this place is packed, there are lines that go back six blocks.” (There was no evidence of long lines.)

Feb. 24 “ICE came and endorsed me.” (Only its union did.)

Feb. 24 “Obamacare covers very few people — and remember, deduct from the number all of the people that had great health care that they loved that was taken away from them — it was taken away from them.” (Obamacare increased coverage by a net of about 20 million.)

Feb. 27 “Since Obamacare went into effect, nearly half of the insurers are stopped and have stopped from participating in the Obamacare exchanges.” (Many fewer pulled out.)

Feb. 27 “On one plane, on a small order of one plane, I saved $725 million. And I would say I devoted about, if I added it up, all those calls, probably about an hour. So I think that might be my highest and best use.” (Much of the price cut was already projected.)

Feb. 28 “And now, based on our very strong and frank discussions, they are beginning to do just that.” (NATO countries agreed to meet defense spending requirements in 2014.)

Feb. 28 “The E.P.A.’s regulators were putting people out of jobs by the hundreds of thousands.” (There’s no evidence that the Waters of the United States rule caused severe job losses.)

Feb. 28 “We have begun to drain the swamp of government corruption by imposing a five-year ban on lobbying by executive branch officials.” (They can’t lobby their former agency but can still become lobbyists.)

March 3 “It is so pathetic that the Dems have still not approved my full Cabinet.” (Paperwork for the last two candidates was still not submitted to the Senate.)

March 4 “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” (There’s no evidence of a wiretap.)

March 4 “How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!” (There’s no evidence of a wiretap.)

March 7 “122 vicious prisoners, released by the Obama Administration from Gitmo, have returned to the battlefield. Just another terrible decision!” (113 of them were released by President George W. Bush.)

March 13 “I saved a lot of money on those jets, didn’t I? Did I do a good job? More than $725 million on them.” (Much of the cost cuts were planned before Trump.)

March 13 “First of all, it covers very few people.” (About 20 million people gained insurance under Obamacare.)March 15 “On the airplanes, I saved $725 million. Probably took me a half an hour if you added up all of the times.” (Much of the cost cuts were planned before Trump.)

March 17 “I was in Tennessee — I was just telling the folks — and half of the state has no insurance company, and the other half is going to lose the insurance company.” (There’s at least one insurer in every Tennessee county.)

March 20 “With just one negotiation on one set of airplanes, I saved the taxpayers of our country over $700 million.” (Much of the cost cuts were planned before Trump.)

March 21 “To save taxpayer dollars, I’ve already begun negotiating better contracts for the federal government — saving over $700 million on just one set of airplanes of which there are many sets.” (Much of the cost cuts were planned before Trump.)

March 22 “I make the statement, everyone goes crazy. The next day they have a massive riot, and death, and problems.” (Riots in Sweden broke out two days later and there were no deaths.)

March 22 “NATO, obsolete, because it doesn’t cover terrorism. They fixed that.” (It has fought terrorism since the 1980s.)

March 22 “Well, now, if you take a look at the votes, when I say that, I mean mostly they register wrong — in other words, for the votes, they register incorrectly and/or illegally. And they then vote. You have tremendous numbers of people.” (There’s no evidence of widespread voter fraud.)

March 29 “Remember when the failing @nytimes apologized to its subscribers, right after the election, because their coverage was so wrong. Now worse!” (It didn’t apologize.)

March 31 “We have a lot of plants going up now in Michigan that were never going to be there if I — if I didn’t win this election, those plants would never even think about going back. They were gone.” (These investments were already planned.)

April 2 “And I was totally opposed to the war in the Middle East which I think finally has been proven, people tried very hard to say I wasn’t but you’ve seen that it is now improving.” (He was for an invasion before he was against it.)

April 2 “Now, my last tweet — you know, the one that you are talking about, perhaps — was the one about being, in quotes, wiretapped, meaning surveilled. Guess what, it is turning out to be true.” (There is still no evidence.)

April 5 “You have many states coming up where they’re going to have no insurance company. O.K.? It’s already happened in Tennessee. It’s happening in Kentucky. Tennessee only has half coverage. Half the state is gone. They left.” (Every marketplace region in Tennessee had at least one insurer.)

April 6 “If you look at the kind of cost-cutting we’ve been able to achieve with the military and at the same time ordering vast amounts of equipment — saved hundreds of millions of dollars on airplanes, and really billions, because if you take that out over a period of years it’s many billions of dollars — I think we’ve had a tremendous success.” (Much of the price cuts were already projected.)

April 11 “I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late. I had already beaten all the senators and all the governors, and I didn’t know Steve.” (He knew Steve Bannon since 2011.)

April 12 “You can’t do it faster, because they’re obstructing. They’re obstructionists. So I have people — hundreds of people that we’re trying to get through. I mean you have — you see the backlog. We can’t get them through.” (At this point, he had not nominated anyone for hundreds of positions.)

April 12 “The New York Times said the word wiretapped in the headline of the first edition. Then they took it out of there fast when they realized.” (There were separate headlines for print and web, but neither were altered.)

April 12 “The secretary general and I had a productive discussion about what more NATO can do in the fight against terrorism. I complained about that a long time ago and they made a change, and now they do fight terrorism.” (NATO has been engaged in counterterrorism efforts since the 1980s.)

April 12 “Mosul was supposed to last for a week and now they’ve been fighting it for many months and so many more people died.” (The campaign was expected to take months.)

April 16 “Someone should look into who paid for the small organized rallies yesterday. The election is over!” (There’s no evidence of paid protesters.)

April 18 “The fake media goes, ‘Donald Trump changed his stance on China.’ I haven’t changed my stance.” (He did.)

April 21 “On 90 planes I saved $725 million. It’s actually a little bit more than that, but it’s $725 million.” (Much of the price cuts were already projected.)

April 21 “When WikiLeaks came out … never heard of WikiLeaks, never heard of it.” (He criticized it as early as 2010.)

April 27 “I want to help our miners while the Democrats are blocking their healthcare.” (The bill to extend health benefits for certain coal miners was introduced by a Democrat and was co-sponsored by mostly Democrats.)

April 28 “The trade deficit with Mexico is close to $70 billion, even with Canada it’s $17 billion trade deficit with Canada.” (The U.S. had an $8.1 billion trade surplus, not deficit, with Canada in 2016.)

April 28 “She’s running against someone who’s going to raise your taxes to the sky, destroy your health care, and he’s for open borders — lots of crime.” (Those are not Jon Ossoff’s positions.)

April 28 “The F-35 fighter jet program — it was way over budget. I’ve saved $725 million plus, just by getting involved in the negotiation.” (Much of the price cuts were planned before Trump.)

April 29 “They’re incompetent, dishonest people who after an election had to apologize because they covered it, us, me, but all of us, they covered it so badly that they felt they were forced to apologize because their predictions were so bad.” (The Times did not apologize.)

April 29 “As you know, I’ve been a big critic of China, and I’ve been talking about currency manipulation for a long time. But I have to tell you that during the election, number one, they stopped.” (China stopped years ago.)

April 29 “I’ve already saved more than $725 million on a simple order of F-35 planes. I got involved in the negotiation.” (Much of the price cuts were planned before Trump.)

April 29 “We’re also getting NATO countries to finally step up and contribute their fair share. They’ve begun to increase their contributions by billions of dollars, but we are not going to be satisfied until everyone pays what they owe.” (The deal was struck in 2014.)

April 29 “When they talk about currency manipulation, and I did say I would call China, if they were, a currency manipulator, early in my tenure. And then I get there. Number one, they — as soon as I got elected, they stopped.” (China stopped in 2014.)

April 29 “I was negotiating to reduce the price of the big fighter jet contract, the F-35, which was totally out of control. I will save billions and billions and billions of dollars.” (Most of the cuts were planned before Trump.)

April 29 “I think our side’s been proven very strongly. And everybody’s talking about it.” (There’s still no evidence Trump’s phones were tapped.)

May 1 “Well, we are protecting pre-existing conditions. And it’ll be every good — bit as good on pre-existing conditions as Obamacare.” (The bill weakens protections for people with pre-existing conditions.)

May 1 “The F-35 fighter jet — I saved — I got involved in the negotiation. It’s 2,500 jets. I negotiated for 90 planes, lot 10. I got $725 million off the price.” (Much of the price cuts were planned before Trump.)

May 1 “First of all, since I started running, they haven’t increased their — you know, they have not manipulated their currency. I think that was out of respect to me and the campaign.” (China stopped years ago.)

May 2 “I love buying those planes at a reduced price. I have been really — I have cut billions — I have to tell you this, and they can check, right, Martha? I have cut billions and billions of dollars off plane contracts sitting here.” (Much of the cost cuts were planned before Trump.)

May 4 “Number two, they’re actually not a currency [manipulator]. You know, since I’ve been talking about currency manipulation with respect to them and other countries, they stopped.” (China stopped years ago.)May 4 “We’re the highest-taxed nation in the world.” (We’re not.)

May 4 “Nobody cares about my tax return except for the reporters.” (Polls show most Americans do care.)May 8 “You know we’ve gotten billions of dollars more in NATO than we’re getting. All because of me.” (The deal was struck in 2014.)

May 8 “But when I did his show, which by the way was very highly rated. It was high — highest rating. The highest rating he’s ever had.” (Colbert’s “Late Show” debut had nearly two million more viewers.)

May 8 “Director Clapper reiterated what everybody, including the fake media already knows — there is ‘no evidence’ of collusion w/ Russia and Trump.” (Clapper only said he wasn’t aware of an investigation.)

May 12 “Again, the story that there was collusion between the Russians & Trump campaign was fabricated by Dems as an excuse for losing the election.” (The F.B.I. was investigating before the election.)

May 12 “When James Clapper himself, and virtually everyone else with knowledge of the witch hunt, says there is no collusion, when does it end?” (Clapper said he wouldn’t have been told of an investigation into collusion.)

May 13 “I’m cutting the price of airplanes with Lockheed.” (The cost cuts were planned before he became president.)

May 26 “Just arrived in Italy for the G7. Trip has been very successful. We made and saved the USA many billions of dollars and millions of jobs.” (He’s referencing an arms deal that’s not enacted and other apparent deals that weren’t announced on the trip.)

June 1 “China will be allowed to build hundreds of additional coal plants. So, we can’t build the plants, but they can, according to this agreement. India will be allowed to double its coal production by 2020.” (The agreement doesn’t allow or disallow building coal plants.)

June 1 “I’ve just returned from a trip overseas where we concluded nearly $350 billion of military and economic development for the United States, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.” (Trump’s figures are inflated and premature.)

June 4 “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!’” (The mayor was specifically talking about the enlarged police presence on the streets.)

June 5 “The Justice Dept. should have stayed with the original Travel Ban, not the watered down, politically correct version they submitted to S.C.” (Trump signed this version of the travel ban, not the Justice Department.)

June 21 “They all say it’s ‘nonbinding.’ Like hell it’s nonbinding.” (The Paris climate agreement is nonbinding — and Trump said so in his speech announcing the withdrawal.)

June 21 “Right now, we are one of the highest-taxed nations in the world.” (We’re not.)

126 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, Quotes, Social Media

126 responses to “The New York Times’ Lies About “Trump’s Lies”

  1. I mean… They had to cram all Trump’s lies on one page so they had room on all the other pages for their own.

    Ba-Dum-Ch

  2. Tippy Scales

    What a joke. Journalism is still a noble profession. What these clowns are practicing ain’t journalism.

  3. Chris

    I would like to once again register my opposition to the “George Costanza defense,” which says “It’s not a lie if you believe it.” I have no idea how many of those false statements Trump believes and how many he knows are false. No one can. The Costanza defense requires telepathy to work, and excuses the incurably deluded from the consequences of their statements.

    The best liars lie to themselves first. Is Trump’s claim that 3-5 million illegal immigrants voted a “lie?” Yes–but it’s a lie he tells himself to make himself feel better. I’m sure he believes it now, because he will make himself believe anything that makes him feel better. That doesn’t make it any less a lie.

    • But then what is the distinction between a lie and a mistake? Obviously if you actually lie to yourself first, then you can’t subsequently rely on that lie in order to vitiate your previous knowledge of the falsity. But refusing to acknowledge knowledge of falsity is a a necessary element of a lie (as it is a necessary element in fraud, absent a special relationship) renders “57 states” and “I did not have sex with that woman” indistinguishable.

      • Chris

        It’s easy to tell a momentary gaffe from a lie. No one thinks there are 57 states, and Obama would gain no advantage from claiming there are. Most of Trump’s false statements above are clearly intended to inflate his image or influence policy. The “millions of illegals voted” claim is intended to both. I’m comfortable calling it a lie–it’s intended to deceive. That Trump has deceived himself in the process is unsurprising.

        • Momentary gaffes aren’t the only form of mistake. Errors in evaluating data presented to you and reporting those errant conclusions are not lies. They are mistakes also.

          The problem that rises from too many false assertions that aren’t intended to be false isn’t pathological lying. It’s incompetence. Which isn’t good. But be clear about what you label something.

        • My favorite observation is that (supposedly) there ARE (or were at the time?) 57 Islamic states when he said that. Interesting to speculate where his mind was to pop that particular number off?

          Not claiming nefarious purpose to Obama, here. Just wonder if he had heard that statistic in a Presidential briefing recently, and it stuck in his head.

    • Rusty Rebar

      I would like to once again register my opposition to the “George Costanza defense,” which says “It’s not a lie if you believe it.”

      That is sort of the actual definition of lie:

      lie2
      noun: lie; plural noun: lies
      1. an intentionally false statement.

      I mean, I don’t know how much more clear it gets. If you want to go ahead and redefine words to make them fit your narrative then you have no credibility.

      I actually think that you think that lie means something other than the definition, so that means that you are not a liar, just ignorant of the meaning of the word.

      • If you want to go ahead and redefine words to make them fit your narrative then you have no credibility.

        Like “it depends on what the definition of [the word] ‘is’ is”

        And ole’ Slick Willy has no credibility in a sane world.

    • Chris,
      I’m really tired of your obtuseness. You can shove your George Costanza defense right straight up your……, well you know what I mean, I don’t have to say it.

      lie: to make an untrue statement with intent to deceive.

      1. If a person makes a statement and believes (for whatever reason) that the statement is true, it is not a lie.

      2. If a person making a statement knows that the statement is not true, it is a lie.

      3. If a person makes a statement and “believes” the statement is true and then that statement is later found to be false that does not make the original statement a lie it makes the original statement false.

      4. False is not equivalent to lie.

      5. A lie is certainly false but a false statement is not necessarily a lie; a lie MUST have intent to deceive or it is not a lie.

      You will likely try again to turn around and make another false claim that I’m actually describing the George Costanza defense and by your own words “it’s bull shit”. What’s wrong with your reasoning is that since Seinfeld made a joke out of a real definition you believe the implications of the joke is fact and no longer believe the actual definition and you blow off real definitive fact as bull shit! Your reasoning is totally screwed up when you’re basing your logic on a joke from a fucking sitcom. The George Costanze defense that you are talking about is a joke, you fucking moron; stop presenting the implications of a joke as fact.

      It’s people like you that are susceptible to cult like propaganda because you lack the ability to think critically.

      • Interesting George Constanza tie-in; he of that common sense-bereft combination of arrogance and low self-esteem.

        I can see it.

        “It’s people like you that are susceptible to cult like propaganda because you lack the ability to think critically.”

        Lefty Anti-Christ, The Gipper:

        “It isn’t so much that liberals (most, not all) are ignorant. It’s just that they know so many things that aren’t so.”

      • This is a really desperate grasp by Chris, and significant because it is so lame. First of all, George never was able to master the art of believing what were lies. See, that’s the joke. You can’t know something is false and afterwards decide to believe it. That’s method acting–but, you see, while Daniel Day Lewis may have been so submerged into his role that he could have passed a lie detector test by saying he was Lincoln, he never actually believed he was Lincoln, or he would have had to be led off the lot: see, Lincoln didn’t make movies. George is, however still correct—it isn’t a lie to say what you believe to be true (not what you decided to pretend to believe in order to lie more convincingly) and using a fictional idiot’s endorsement as some kind of counter appeal to authority to deny fact really proves how dedicated are the devotees of attaching bad character to what they regard as bad positions, opinions, or beliefs. Chris certainly isn’t alone, but as a smart, honest guy, he’s a valuable cautionary tale.

  4. Rick M.

    But…but…but…this is the freaking NEW YORK TIMES! The NYT does not lie! My good friend Jayson Blair told me that.

  5. JutGory

    I am unsure about your inclusion of Obama’s “if you like your plan…” As a lie. It was certainly false, but I don’t think he knew that. He just had no concept of what was in the bill and the way it would affect private insurers.

    Then, there are those who think the bill was designed to fail so they could usher in single payer, which I also believe.

    So, in a nutshell, I think they wanted to tank the health insurance industry, but they were too dumb to know how effectively they were doing it.

    -Jut

    • I’ve wondered about that. But when someone says something repeatedly that will mislead someone if untrue, and vouches for the truth of a document he is giving his name, then this is in the “knows or should know” category. Don’t you think???

    • Isaac

      That one’s an unequivocal, determined lie. The Jonathan Gruber scandal pretty much blew the lid off of that one. And no one was ever able to refute his account. Lying repeatedly on the campaign trail about “if you like your plan, you can keep your plan” was a direct strategy, made with Obama’s approval and with him physically in the room. The idea was simply that if he didn’t lie about it, it would never pass. But if he did lie about it, the public would forgive and/or forget about it in a few weeks anyway.

  6. charlesgreen

    Journalists deserve to be held to the highest standards, and the Times and CNN et al deserve all the valid critiques sent their way.

    But every once in a while, in the mist of the micro-analyses like this one, it’s worth a gut check: does anyone on this threat actually doubt that President Donald Trump is the Biggest Liar President in the last, I don’t know, at least 50 years?

    I’m in the middle of a European trip, and it’s very clear that what the rest of the world sees in him is a global disaster. The Pew Research report just out surveyed people in 39 countries, and he’s now more distrusted than Putin, and has lower approval ratings than Dubya ever received.

    Hard-nosed friends of mine over here say things like, “I’ve always loved the States – you are clear-eyed capitalists, and supporters of creativity and freedom, unlike many of our countrymen. I have taken many trips to the US, and love Americans. But I am shocked that you have elected this person; this is not the country that I thought I knew from all my trips. He is a disaster, bringing the world down around him.”

    People over here don’t read the NYTimes or watch CNN. They watch BBC, read The Economist, Match, Der Spiegel, and seriously follow global politics and economics. They truly can’t believe that someone who lies as unconsciously naturally and congenitally as Trump does actually got elected. This is true even of the nationalists over here.

    Just gut checking: in all of our criticism of press, let’s not kid ourselves about the underlying reality. He is a Big Fat Liar, of the largest sort we have seen in a long, long time. Is this in doubt?

    • As I’ve said before, I don’t think “liar” is a fair description of Trump, and never have. He speaks more untruths, half-truths, badly-formed opinions and nonsense that any three Presidents. Has he yet issued a lie of the significance and impact of either Obama’s biggest lie or Clinton’s? Not even close.

      Having established this problem, what matters is what this President does. Oddly, the same people who kept deriding my concern that character and style mattered as much as policy are now obsessing over style and character. Too bad they couldn’t admit this before a Republican like Trump was elected—maybe they wouldn’t have nominated someone as corrupt as Hillary.

      I really don’t care much about what foreigners think about our President. They didn’t like Reagan; they don’t like any President who doesn’t embrace globalism and socialism. They liked Obama, who left power with the world far more dangerous than he found it.

      Also, with the US news media devoting so much time to painting its own President as a monster, what else are they to think? Non-Americans don’t get the US, and never have. There’s plenty of reasons to dislike Trump, but how non-citizens feel about him is neither relevant nor persuasive.

      • Chris

        Has he yet issued a lie of the significance and impact of either Obama’s biggest lie or Clinton’s? Not even close.

        Are you referring to Obama’s “If you like your plan…” lie?

        If so, Trump’s repeated insistence that he would not cut Medicare or Medicaid seems at least as impactful and significant.

        Which Clinton are you referring to? Bill? Are you talking about his “I did not have sex with that woman” lie? We can debate the significance, but it certainly didn’t have the same impact on American citizens as either of the above lies.

        • Isaac

          Clinton also had “we will not raise taxes on the middle class to pay for these programs” which was his own, less-viral version of “read my lips- no new taxes.”

          Clinton actually made countless lies on the campaign trail. Making a damning-looking list of lies as the Times did is a pretty easy thing to do, regardless of the politician. I could easily match the Trump list using Clinton, Hillary, Obama, and probably George HW Bush myself given time. And I could make sure the lies are more substantive. Lying about the size of one’s inauguration crowd doesn’t even come close to made up stories about dodging sniper file in Bosnia. At least there actually WAS an inauguration crowd.

          • Rusty Rebar

            Not to be pedantic, but it is a lack of intellectual vigor to say that he lied “about the size of [his] inauguration crowd”. I only bring this up because I have seen it over and over again. He tweets something, people *assume* he means something that is not true, and call it a lie, when in fact, he never said what they are claiming.

            He never claimed that he had the biggest *in person attendance* at his inauguration, he claimed he had the largest “audience”. This is undoubtedly true given the advances in technology making these types of events more and more accessible. Is everyone assuming that people streaming the event on the internet are not members of an audience? Everyone just assumes.

            Another example. There is a the Comey tweet, which has been lambasted all over the news as being a lie..”Trump said on twitter that he had tapes, but he did not… LIE!!!!” Go read the tweet.

            “James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

            Put on your reading pants, and tell me where that statement claims that there are tapes? Go ahead, show me. It is not there, people assumed what he was trying to say, and this has bitten them in the ass time and time again.

            You can dislike Trump all you want, hell I am not a huge fan, but don’t come in here and insult our intelligence by trying to say that you can divine the contents of his mind. Words have meaning, he used specific ones and people are trying to act like he used other words. That is what is dishonest.

            • Chris

              Rusty, even if Trump only claimed to have the largest audience, he’s still wrong; ratings for Obama’s inauguration were higher.

              This was easily accessible information. Can we call something a lie when someone repeats a false claim that could easily be disproven with a Google search?

              Furthermore, Sean Spicer, who speaks for the president, said Trump had the largest world-wide *and* in-person audience, the latter of which obviously refers to crowd size.

              http://time.com/4643927/sean-spicer-white-house-donald-trump-inauguration-press-briefing/

              Finally, Trump’s tweet about tapes did not directly lie, but was clearly intended to deceive.

              • Chris

                I looked it up, and Trump did indeed lie about the size of the inauguration crowd:

                The crowd-size controversy began on Saturday, Jan. 21, a day after the inauguration, when President Donald Trump claimed the media had misrepresented the number of people attending his inauguration. Trump spoke at CIA headquarters and said that “one of the networks” had shown “an empty field,” while he saw a crowd that “looked like a million-and-a-half people” and “went all the way back to the Washington Monument.”

                …Photos of the crowd, including one taken at 12:01 p.m. from the top of the Washington Monument, clearly show that the crowd witnessing Trump’s inauguration didn’t extend all the way to the monument. Metro’s figures for both 11 a.m., a half-hour before the inauguration ceremony began, and for the full day show fewer trips taken this year than for past inaugurations.

                http://www.factcheck.org/2017/01/the-facts-on-crowd-size/

                • You know the old adage, “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”? Yes, it’s a pithy proverb about never being content with your own possessions and not to be covetous, but it derives from real world optical effects called foreshortening. Your own grass, which you look at from above reveals gaps, thinness and less vibrant blades…your neighbor’s, viewed from a low angle looks denser, conceals gaps and dilutes the less vibrant blades of grass.

                  1) ““looked like a million-and-a-half people”” Only means Trump is terrible at visual quantity estimation.

                  2) ““went all the way back to the Washington Monument.”” Can only be declared a lie if you can:
                  a) Positively demonstrate that *from Trump’s angle of view* he saw the thinning of the crowd that far out.
                  b) Positively demonstrate that when Trump discussed ‘crowd’, he meant an absolutely densely packed mass of people, which, again, from his angle of view is harder to discern at those distances.

                  I hate having to defend that guy, but man, I also hate cheap nit picking to play gotcha games over trivium.

                  I do hope one day the Democrat sycophants allow us to focus on weighty matters…

                  • Chris

                    As president, Trump has access to more facts than any other person on the planet.

                    He was surely informed of the real size of the crowd by the Parks Service long before he gave this speech at the CIA. We know he did, because he was famously angry at them for doing so.

                    I don’t give a shit what he thinks he saw. He had the facts. He chose to ignore them and use his “alternative facts” because they made him feel like a much bigger, more special boy than he really is.

                    He did this because he is a liar.

                    The best liars lie to themselves.

                  • Chris

                    “I hate having to defend that guy, but man, I also hate cheap nit picking to play gotcha games over trivium”

                    Maybe you should have thought about that before you helped Republicans elect a trivial president. Trump is *obsessed* with trivium. That’s all he has. So when he lies about trivium, you can bet he is going to get called out for it.

                    • “Maybe you should have thought about that before you helped Republicans elect a trivial president.”

                      You are an abject idiot.

                      You can bother to go back and re-read ALL the discussions last year that you’ve apparently forgotten which clearly demonstrate who I supported in the primary and who I supported in the general.

                      Until then, shove off, moron.

                    • Chris

                      I remember full well whom you supported, tex. You helped Trump get elected.

                    • “I remember full well whom you supported, tex. You helped Trump get elected.”

                      Solid proof you are ignorant.

                      Thanks for this.

                    • Chris

                      It’s ignorant to point out that supporting a third party in a close election between a qualified candidate and an unqualified candidate only helps the unqualified candidate. Ok, sure.

                    • Considering Hillary a qualified candidate is another mark of ignorance, but no point rehashing all the debates that demonstrated you were a sycophantic supporter of dishonesty, corruption, and nascent totalitarianism.

                      Even pretending she was qualified, it’s a mark of ignorance to believe her “qualifications” outweighed the burgeoning love of totalitarianism that her election would have approved of and sanctioned.

                    • Of course, to be clear that’s only one layer of the definition of “qualified”, in which both main candidates failed miserably- that is the component of ability to lead the republic in a healthy direction.

                      The real one that matter to a republic is that the only qualification that matters is that they are elected and meet the requirements of the constitution. In that regard, both candidates were “qualified” by those who voted for them forming a majority in their processes.

                      In that case, in that layer of the definition, it’s more of an indictment on the individual voters who voted *for* them than on the candidates themselves.

                    • Chris

                      That’s the attitude that helped get Trump elected, so thanks for proving my point.

                    • Whatever you need to tell yourself, Chris.

                    • Chris wrote, “That’s the attitude that helped get Trump elected”

                      I hate to be the one that points this obvious fact out to you Chris, but it’s because of the attitudes from people just like you that Trump was pushed to the top of the polls, received the Republican nomination, and eventually was elected President and put in the White House; people were voting AGAINST people like you!

                      If the political left hadn’t been political morons Trump would not be President; own it, moron.

                    • We’re beginning the day like this???

                    • We need the Morning Update, STAT!!!

                    • I know…my wife is going on one of her anti-Ethics Alarms rants (“too much time”…”no profit”) as ProEthics limps through the typical cash-flow hell of the summer months. I just snuck up to my office…

                    • Funny…. my wife says the same thing…

                    • Mine did not SAY it… but she was thinking it… (I know that face after 29 years of experience)

                    • Actually Jack,

                      I’m sorry for all this. I allowed Chris’s traditional tactic of diversion to succeed. Backed into a corner on another one of his trivial nitpicks he took a stab at it somehow being my fault that Trump is our President and then it spun out of control and he was able to avoid addressing the real problems with his argument.

                    • Chris was trolling, again, and snagged himself a couple of big ones; that could never happen. 😉

                    • “ ‘too much time’…’no profit’ ”

                      Jack; I’d always wondered why there were no ads, now I know; H/T for your time, efforts, and infinite patience.

                      Have you tried explaining to your wife that the intrinsic rewards are immeasureable, if subtle?

                      When my lovely and long-suffering wife bemoans the tedium of tending our lush property (read: pulling weeds) I tell her to look at the big picture; she’s building a Cathedral.

                      Does it work? Not all of the time, and I may need a different approach.

                      Now when I begin to open my mouth to motivate her, she: “don’t you try to ‘cathedral’ me!”

              • “Trump’s tweet about tapes did not directly lie, but was clearly intended to deceive.”

                You would need to meditate on the ethics of bluffing and in which situations bluffing is ethical, unethical or non-ethical or perhaps if bluffing is always unethical.

                • Chris

                  Do you believe misleading the public in order to influence a witness’ testimony is ethical, tex?

                  I don’t.

                  • Like I said, you should mediate on bluffing. Because he was bluffing Comey.

                    • Chris

                      …By misleading the public in order to influence a witness’ testimony.

                      Do you dispute this characterization?

                      If so, why?

                    • Chris

                      You should meditate on why you are defending witness tampering.

                    • Since you haven’t started meditating on bluffing yet, to add nuance to your thought patterns add the tangent:

                      “Is bluffing to keep a witness honest, unethical?”

                      “Is keeping a witness honest also ‘witness tampering'”?

                      “Am I just throwing out as many diversions as possible to see what might stick? While avoiding serious thought?”

                    • Chris

                      Since you haven’t started meditating on bluffing yet, to add nuance to your thought patterns add the tangent:

                      “Is bluffing to keep a witness honest, unethical?”

                      If it includes intimidation and misleading the public, yes.

                      Is keeping a witness honest also ‘witness tampering’”?

                      If it includes intimidation, yes.

                      Am I just throwing out as many diversions as possible to see what might stick? While avoiding serious thought?

                      The President of the United States misleading the public to intimidate a witness is not a “diversion,” it is serious. Calling it “bluffing” doesn’t make it any less serious. You refuse to treat it as serious because of your anti-anti-Trump bias.

              • Jesus, Chris, you really don’t know what a lie is, do you?

                “Finally, Trump’s tweet about tapes did not directly lie, but was clearly intended to deceive.”

                How can a non-assertion be intended to deceive? “You better hope X” is not a direct lie, and indirect lie, or any kind of lie. It is an opinion “I think you better hope X” and at most a veiled threat. Creating doubt is also not a lie. But if you keep expanding the definition of lie out of all form and substance, you get a list like the Times did.

                • Chris

                  Wait, when did I call the tapes tweet a lie?

                  I said it was intended to deceive, and if you disagree, you’re not thinking straight. “You better hope I don’t have tapes” was designed to make Comey think Trump had tapes. Obviously. Trump did not have tapes. Ergo: deception. How many of Trump’s followers believed that Trump had tapes after that statement?

                  “Veiled threat” is hardly better. Isn’t threatening a witness illegal? And, of course, empty threats are deception.

        • I’m not sure you could call what Trump did to medicare a cut, at least not in the traditional sense. A cut assumes you work at a loss. Medicare is still operating at full budget and is still getting a budget increase for the next X amount of years, but less of an increase under the older plan. The polifact article admits as much.

          http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/trumpometer/promise/1350/make-no-cuts-medicaid/

          This is one that politifact bias took apart and argued they didn’t apply the same standard to Obama.

          http://www.politifactbias.com/2017/05/what-if-we-lived-in-world-where.html

          I asked an economist friend of mine about it and this is what he said:

          “When you’re talking about healthcare spending sometimes less is more it’s kind of complicated. Even if he spending less money on Medicaid depending on how he’s doing it, it might actually not be cutting services at least in the short term.
          Governments who buy a large percentage of healthcare services in a country can lower the cost while in the short term keeping services at the same level or without much disintegration
          If you’re looking for whether or not he’s actually cutting Medicaid then it’s semantics issue because yes he’s cutting it but only for the projection but it’s not technically a cut because they didn’t receive the raises yet so you could argue either way
          I did a video it’s 25 minutes long and it’s my most watched video about healthcare in the US and it talks about the dynamic of how to lower costs and one of the ways to lower cost is to have the government pay for more of it.”

          I would post the video, but I think I read somewhere were limited to the number of links we post.

          • Chris

            You can post as many links as you want, I believe; it’s just that the comment will have to be approved by Jack before it goes up.

      • charlesgreen

        “Has he yet issued a lie of the significance and impact of either Obama’s biggest lie or Clinton’s? Not even close.”

        Exhibit A, imho: For the past X months, he’s been saying, “Russian meddling with our election is fake news, fabrication, made up, phony lies by Democrats.” Now suddenly, it’s “Obama illegally conspired to hide Russian meddling in our election.”

        Words fail me to describe what a whopper that is. And as to significance? Sorry, but lying about intelligence findings, foreign intrusions and motives of past presidents – I just don’t see anything within a hundred miles of it from Obama or Clinton.

        Of course, he established the pattern early on with claiming for years that Obama was born in Kenya – until suddenly it was “Hillary made that claim, not me.”

        You can maybe argue that one is less significant – but I’d suggest that the sheer insanity, arrogance and breadth of it overweights any prima facie measure of significance – it is just SO far out there.

        • Chris

          I’d say baselessly accusing the former president of a crime–wiretapping his office–is also a pretty significant lie from the President of the United States.

          That others don’t find that significant is evidence of how much our current president has already corrupted us.

          • …except what Trump actually said turned out to be true. Obama DID ‘wiretap’ Trump communications (therefore, trump himself), and unmasked Americans illegally. Then they dispersed (changed how information is shared, such that many more partisan deep state progressives would have access) the illegally gained (yet not unlawful in themselves) communications such that someone would leak them, for political gain.

            Not baseless at all, Chris.

            • Chris

              *sigh* No, slick, that is not what happened. The information you’re referring to was picked up via “incidental surveillance,” meaning that the Trump aides in question were only being recorded because they were speaking to Russian officials who were themselves under surveillance. So there was no intention to wiretap Trump or any of his associates; it was foreign agents who were wiretapped, and Trump aides happened to speak with them. None of this is illegal.

        • Surely you can’t equate anything Trump says about the concocted, hyped Russiagate fantasy as a meaningful misrepresentation? I have never taken Trump’s comments as denying that Russia hacked Democrats. He denied that 1) He or his campaign was involved 2) that the Russian hacks won him the election and 3) that the Russians hacked the election. Those items are the fake news. When did he ever say that the Russians “never meddled”? What is the practical significance and impact of denying any of these things? Obama’s primo lie sold a crummy law to the nation, and one that appears to be a one-way street to a long-running, expensive mess. Clinton’s lie was to evade personal accountability for a courtroom lie under oath. let’s assume what you say is correct: what’s the consequence?

          • Chris

            You’re kidding. Trump refused to admit that Russia hacked the DNC for months. Remember when he said it could be some fat kid in his mom’s basement? It wasn’t even accepted as fact *on this blog* that the Russians meddled until fairly recently, so this seems like (unintentionally, I’m sure) a rewrite of history on your part.

            But unlike you, Trump had access to classified information that proved Russia was behind the hacks, and he still saw fit to cast doubt on this fact. Fine, don’t call “someone else might have done it” a lie. It was still deceptive.

            The consequence was misinforming a wide swath of the public about a national security issue. That’s not enough?

            • Even now, no proof of where the hacks came from (you do know they were relased by Wikileaks and publicized by the American news media, right?) Again, your characterizations meet the standard of what you and the New York Times would call “lies.” Ethics Alarms never “denied” that Russia was behind the leaks. It still points out (that is, me) that there is no evidence that the hacks of the DNC was aimed at electing Trump, or favoring the Republicans, or that they swung the election.

              And you duck the question. There is no practical effect whatsoever of whether we think the leaks were aimed at unsettling US politics or whether they were aimed at Hillary exclusively, or whether it was Russia that did the actual hacking or someone else. The misleading of substance has come from those who used this episode to claim that the elected US President was engaged in treason, leading to paralysis, distrust, harm to democracy and undermining the ability of the government to function. Trump’s bluster? Inconsequential, except to his own image. Obama’s lie was aimed at sticking the country with a law under false pretenses, and did, plaguing the nation to this day. Clinton’s lie was part of a cover-up.

              These are all #22, of course, but still, Presidential lies are sometimes words, and sometimes conduct. They are not all equally damaging or sinister, or even dishonest, and the fiction that lying is a uniquely Trumpian problem or that he has approached the calculated deceptions of Clinton or Obama is unsustainable.

              And no, Bush did not “lie” by asserting that there were WMDs in Iraq. Sometimes I think the Times and others have re-defined “lie” specifically to keep that false narrative alive.

              • Chris

                The evidence that Russia was behind the hacks is overwhelming. There’s “no proof” in the same way that there’s no proof evolution is real. At some point, you have to accept the body of evidence.

                https://www.cnet.com/news/how-experts-decided-russia-hacked-dnc-election/

                There is no practical effect whatsoever of whether we think the leaks were aimed at unsettling US politics or whether they were aimed at Hillary exclusively, or whether it was Russia that did the actual hacking or someone else.

                The practical effect is US-Russia policy. If Russia launched what experts have called an “unprecedented cyber attack” on our nation, then we need to take some kind of action against them, most likely in the form of harsher sanctions. If they didn’t, then we don’t really have to worry much.

                You’ve been convinced not to worry. You’ve been convinced that it doesn’t even matter if Russia did hack our country. So Trump’s complete lack of interest in addressing or responding to this attack on our nation doesn’t merit an ethics post from you.

                How is that effect any different from the effect on people who believed “If I like my plan, I can keep my plan?” Both that statement and Trump’s downplaying of Russian interference have influenced public opinion on policy. You say Obama “sold” the nation a bad law with that lie…but the nation didn’t have to accept it for it to pass, only Congress did. Foreign policy with Russia is a bit different, as the executive has a lot more direct authority there, but public opinion still matters to an extent.

                Deceiving the public is significant, regardless of the issue, Jack.

                • “The evidence that Russia was behind the hacks is overwhelming.”
                  At the time the various agencies made this assessment , they offered no actual evidence. The evidence was “we say so.” Even if one chooses to accept that, it’s not evidence.

                  “The practical effect is US-Russia policy. If Russia launched what experts have called an “unprecedented cyber attack” on our nation, then we need to take some kind of action against them, most likely in the form of harsher sanctions. If they didn’t, then we don’t really have to worry much.”

                  Huh? The government can take the same measures regardless of Trump’s tweets. The US knows that Russia does this kind of stuff, and we do this kind of stuff. It’s not war, and it’s not worth starting one. Obama, you seem to conveniently ignore, knew the hacking was going on and did nothing about it. How does that get transferred to Trump? Obama pardoned the man, now woman, who leaked far, far more damaging information and more of it, compromising US personnel and national security. The Russian-Wikileaks let the US public know just how corrupt the Democratic Party was, and organizations know that having web security handled competently is essential. You really have to work hard to make this a big deal. It isn’t and wasn’t. Passing a terrible law by lying about it? Big deal. A President lying under oath in court? Big deal.

                  • Chris

                    You’re simply wrong that this is business as usual, Jack.

                    A source familiar with the President’s thinking said he views Russia’s action as something that “everybody has been doing to each other for years. Everybody spies,” the source said. “He believes that intel operations hack each other.”

                    The result: Trump sees the Russian hacking story as “nothing new.” In fact, the source said, Trump views it as “the establishment intelligence community trying to frame a narrative that is startling to the average viewer, but he regards it as business as usual.”

                    Intelligence experts disagree. They describe Russia’s actions as far from the usual foreign espionage attempts.

                    John Hultquist, the director of intelligence analysis at FireEye, a cyber security and threat intelligence company, said Russia broke the rules in the “gentlemen’s game of espionage” by stealing information, leaking it and using it to try to influence voters and undermine the democratic process.

                    “In every previous incident, we believed they wouldn’t cross the next red line. They’ve shown us they’re willing to do so,” said Hultquist, who has a military background and is an expert in cyberespionage. “If we fail to respond with resolve they learn that they can get away with it.”

                    The administration’s inaction is raising alarm with experts like Clint Watts, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and a counter-terrorism expert who recently testified in front of the Senate intelligence committee about Russia’s efforts in the 2016 election.

                    “It’s ridiculous that nothing’s been done,” Watts said. “There is no Russia policy. No one knows if they can work on Russia. No one knows what their assignment is with regards to Russia.”

                    While Trump may have little concern about Russia’s election aggression, other top officials in the administration have been vocal about the threat.
                    Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said in May that Russian cyberattacks remain a “major threat” to the United States, especially after Russia showcased its aggressive posture by interfering in the 2016 election. But he acknowledged that the US still hasn’t devised a clear strategy to counter the Kremlin.

                    “Relative to a grand strategy, I am not aware right now of any — I think we’re still assessing the impact,” Coats told the Senate intelligence committee in early May.

                    Later that month he reiterated his concerns in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

                    “I think we’re learning that we do need to take this seriously — which we do,” Coats said. “And shaping a policy and a plan to address this, I think, rises to a top priority.”

                    http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/28/politics/officials-struggle-convince-trump-russia-threat/index.html

                    • Appeal to authority, and worse, authorities trying to drum up business. What “gentleman’s agreement”? Show it to me. Nor is there any evidence that Russia was trying to swing the election. All indications are that Russia, like everyone else, believed that Hillary would win in a walk. They were, under best guesses not calibrated to find excuses for Clinton, calculated to undermine her, not win the election for Trump.

                      Just stop with the partisan narrative being bolstered by the Deep State to undermine Trump. There is no evidence except the leaks themselves, which were abetted by DNC incompetence and did not “distort” anything. Stipulated, without evidence we can examine, that Russia was behind them. Stipulated, they came on Obama’s watch. There is nothing to show that they were designed to help Trump or coordinated with Trump….or that they did in fact help Trump.

                      Conclusion: not a big deal.

                  • Chris

                    Obama, you seem to conveniently ignore, knew the hacking was going on and did nothing about it.

                    This is not true. Obama imposed sanctions. You know: the same sanctions Trump is considering lifting.

                    • Read the news. He did nothing to stop it. After the fact sanctions is not “stopping.”

                    • Jack Marshall wrote, “Read the news. He did nothing to stop it. After the fact sanctions is not “stopping.” “

                      Chris,
                      Yet again, you get owned because of your lack of good comprehension skills.

                      I’m sad to say that it’s getting uncharacteristically fun for me to watch you flailing about with your poor comprehension skills, regular rationalizations, and illogical partisan blatherings and then getting owned because of it.

                      Seriously Chris, you just keep digging the dirt out from under your feet, you should take a break for a few days and try to gain some perspective in the process.

                    • Chris

                      What could he have done to stop it?

                    • Well, as a start, respond aggressively to previous hacks (Sony by North Korea, OPM by China, etc.) and take cyber-security seriously for 8 years, like by not letting high officials like Hillary breach rules left and right. The US policies were feckless, weak and toothless, hence Russia’s blithe attack.

                    • Chris

                      OK. Next question: what should Trump do to stave off future cyber attacks, and to punish Russia for their previous attacks?

                  • AND JUST TODAY!

                    NYT Correction: June 29, 2017

                    A White House Memo article on Monday about President Trump’s deflections and denials about Russia referred incorrectly to the source of an intelligence assessment that said Russia orchestrated hacking attacks during last year’s presidential election. The assessment was made by four intelligence agencies — the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency. The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.

                    The original story: In the Times’ White House Memo of June 25, correspondent Maggie Haberman mocked Trump for “still refus[ing] to acknowledge a basic fact agreed upon by 17 American intelligence agencies that he now oversees: Russia orchestrated the attacks, and did it to help get him elected.”

                    The assessment was not approved by all 17 organizations in the American intelligence community.”

                    “The Times’ grudging correction was vindication for some Russia-gate skeptics who had questioned the claim of a full-scale intelligence assessment, which would usually take the form of a National Intelligence Estimate (or NIE), a product that seeks out the views of the entire Intelligence Community and includes dissents. The reality of a more narrowly based Russia-gate assessment was admitted in May by President Obama’s Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and Obama’s CIA Director John Brennan in sworn congressional testimony.

                    Clapper testified before a Senate Judiciary subcommittee on May 8 that the Russia-hacking claim came from a “special intelligence community assessment” (or ICA) produced by selected analysts from the CIA, NSA and FBI, “a coordinated product from three agencies – CIA, NSA, and the FBI – not all 17 components of the intelligence community,” the former DNI said. Clapper further acknowledged that the analysts who produced the Jan. 6 assessment on alleged Russian hacking were “hand-picked” from the CIA, FBI and NSA.

                    VERDICT: Not overwhelming. Over-hyped.

  7. Perhaps the English language needs to evolve further. If we’re going to restrict the term “lie” to a statement the speaker/writer consciously and meaningfully knows to be false, then we need a new, complementary, term to describe a statement presented as fact for which the speaker/writer has no legitimate evidence upon which to assert its truth, but which is nonetheless presented without modifiers that would suggest the statement is intended to represent possibility or conjecture rather than reality.

    Using the “enough monkeys, enough typewriters, and enough time” analogy, some of these assertions–purely coincidentally–actually turn out to be true, or at least plausible. The closest existing words I can think of for such a phenomenon would be “whimsies” or “fancies,” but neither has an insufficiently negative connotation. As a fan of eponyms, I suggest we call such utterances “trumps.”

    • Hypothesis?

      Proposition?

      I think we have the words. But even I feel we wanted to push a new term it seems moot because the distinction that matters occurs after we discover the accuracy of a statement or the thoroughness of a statement. And we’ve got plenty of words describing those various situations.

        • Supposition: an idea or theory that you believe is true even though you do not have proof

          Hypothesis: an idea or theory that is not proven but that leads to further study or discussion

          Proposition: something (such as a plan or offer) that is presented to a person or group of people to consider

          Of course, assuming rigorous academic standards, anything like that should be caveated with an “I’m not sure but I think…” but is that rigorous academic standard appropriate for politicians?

          If I do more digging I’m sure we have words for this.

          • Chris

            None of those words really convey the outlandishness of statements like “3 million illegals voted for Hillary,” “Obama is lying about his birth certificate” or “We’re gonna build a wall and Mexico is gonna pay for it,” and all of them make such statements seem more legitimate than they really are. Perhaps if you add appropriate modifiers to those words, you could convey what kind of statements they are: “wild supposition,” “implausible hypothesis,” “insane musings,” “ridiculous proposition.” But of course, that would be biased.

            • Using adjectives accurately is biased?

              • Chris

                Do I think a WaPo or NYT article that called such statements by Trump “insane musings” and “ridiculous propositions” would be attacked as biased on this site? Absolutely.

            • Rusty Rebar

              Making the same point here.

              None of those words really convey the outlandishness of statements like “3 million illegals voted for Hillary,”

              Where did he say that?

              I saw this tweet:

              In addition to winning the Electoral College in a landslide, I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally

              Or maybe you are talking about this article:

              http://archive.is/0I2ya

              Which has the following paragraph:

              As part of that conversation, Mr. Trump asserted that between three million and five million unauthorized immigrants voted for Mrs. Clinton. That is similar to a Twitter message he posted in late November that said he would have won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.”

              So, no quote from Trump, and what is stated here is not him claiming that 3-5 million illegal aliens voted, rather that there were 3-5 million illegal votes cast. Big difference there, unless you are claiming that only an illegal alien can vote illegally. To vote you must be a citizen and eligible. There are lots of ways that someone can vote illegally without being an illegal alien. Again, people are assuming what he meant, and imparting meaning in statements, and even in second hand accounts of statements, without critically reading.

              To this specific point, there was another study released the other day directly addressing this point, that makes two studies that have come to this conclusion. Now, I am asking you to please read this carefully, because I am about to use words, and I don’t want you to misconstrue what I am about to say.

              Trumps tweets about illegal voting in the election are reasonable given the fact that there are several studies that back him up. That does not mean that illegal votes occurred, or that the studies are correct, only that it is reasonable for him to make an argument based off the fact that they are out there. They are not flat out lies, he is citing studies. You can disprove the studies, or argue about the methodology used, but it is not unreasonable for him to site them, and it is not a lie.

              Secondly, and more to the point of this thread tangent

              Perhaps the English language needs to evolve further. If we’re going to restrict the term “lie” to a statement the speaker/writer consciously and meaningfully knows to be false…

              That is what the word means:

              lie
              noun: lie; plural noun: lies
              1. an intentionally false statement.

              • “None of those words really convey the outlandishness of statements like “3 million illegals voted for Hillary,”

                By the standards used by the Times, this constitutes a LIE.

                • Chris

                  Yes, it is a lie by my standards as well. And I think most people would agree.

                  • Most people who don’t know what a lie is. This is a false definition, and saying that most people are as ignorant as you are on this topic is no rebuttal.

                    • Chris

                      So, the Constanza defense rules. Got it.

                    • We had a discussion about irony a few weeks ago. I wonder if it’s ironic that an English teacher is arguing that words don’t mean what they mean.

                    • We had a discussion about irony a few weeks ago. I wonder if it’s ironic that an English teacher is arguing that words don’t mean what they mean, in an argument that asserts: when someone says something false, that they OUGHT to know is false, but sincerely believe isn’t is still a lie.

                      That’s irony isn’t it?

                    • Chris

                      Earlier, Jack replied to Jut’s comment that “If you like your plan” wasn’t a lie by writing:

                      “I’ve wondered about that. But when someone says something repeatedly that will mislead someone if untrue, and vouches for the truth of a document he is giving his name, then this is in the “knows or should know” category. Don’t you think???”

                      He didn’t say that made it a lie, but that was the implication I read into it. I could be wrong, though.

                    • Is this supposed to be a reply to my humorous observation about the irony of your argument?

              • Chris

                We discussed this already, Rusty.

                https://ethicsalarms.com/2017/06/21/illegal-immigrant-ethics-dos-and-donts/#comment-451006

                According to multiple congressmen, Trump told them in a closed-door meeting that millions of “illegals” voted. Before that, most people on both the left and right assumed that is what he meant by his tweet, because he spent his entire campaign casting suspicion on illegal immigrants.

                But even if he was only referring to illegal votes, his statement cannot possibly be justified by the two studies you mentioned, as they were released after his initial claims.

                And yes, it is unreasonable to cite unreasonable studies. A study that finds a range of fraud as wide as 500,000 to 5 million is absolutely useless. It is clearly garbage. You don’t have to be an expert statistician to know that, you just have to know the difference between 500,000 and 5 million is really big.

                • “And yes, it is unreasonable to cite unreasonable studies. A study that finds a range of fraud as wide as 500,000 to 5 million is absolutely useless. It is clearly garbage. You don’t have to be an expert statistician to know that, you just have to know the difference between 500,000 and 5 million is really big.”

                  Normally, I would agree, but I imagine you can’t really test voter fraud the same way you would do other studies. Lets say you have a state with strict voter fraud rules. Are you find 100,000 examples of fraud. Next you have a state with lax voter fraud rules and find 10 examples. Then you find states with moderate rules who find 10,000 examples. Those are going to give you a very wide differences in your results. You could throw out outliers (like some studies do) but given there are 50 states with 50 rules and your trying to find a national average, then you’re results are going to be quite different. Without having looked at the studies, I can’t really tell you.

                  As a talking point, I would say it is very useful as we already stated in another thread. If the answer is 500k or 5million, or 537 (or whatever the FL count was in 2000) is it proves that fraud not only exists, it exists to the point where it could influence the election.

                  Democrats keep trying to say it doesn’t exist or if it does, it doesn’t exist on a scale that is important.

                  • Chris

                    Lets say you have a state with strict voter fraud rules. Are you find 100,000 examples of fraud.

                    But this is already a wild hypothetical. No investigation has ever come close to finding that number. When Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobah investigated fraud in Kansas, he claimed there were tens of thousands of undocumented aliens voting. The investigation ended in a total of 9 convictions, and most of the fraudsters were citizens.

                    So yes, if the most aggressive voter fraud propagandist in the country could only find nine examples of actual voter fraud in his state, I feel confident stating that voter fraud does not exist on a scale that is important, and that studies estimating tens of thousands or millions of illegal voters are bullshit.

          • Let me agree with Chris here. A supposition (for example), presented as such, is perfectly reasonable. A supposition presented as fact, however, signals something considerably more problematic.

            Second point: We have no idea whether Trump believes some of the nonsense he spews, and we have a different set of problems resulting from whether he does or doesn’t.

            • On the second point: absolutely. Which still means that a news source that is obligated to be accurate before it calls someone a liar is either irresponsible or lying itself when it pronounces such statements as lies.

            • Bombast.

              Bluster.

              Rodomontade.

              Gas.

              Again, we have plenty of words to describe commentary that is False but the speaker reasonably believes is true, False but the speaker un-reasonably believes is true, False and the speaker KNOWS it is false, etc…

              • We just don’t have (nor can we have terms) for comments made by someone we hate that are obviously wild but we really really hate this guy so we need more strong sounding terms.

              • Did you miss Bull Shit? That is the most common term for someone who doesn’t know what he is talking about but thinks he does, in my experience. ‘He is full of bull shit’

                But that is a negatively charged word, and not likely to be used I have experienced. An less loaded analogue would be ‘he is full of crap’ in our daily conversations.

                • Chris

                  We have to find a term for these statements that would be accepted by the majority of us here that would not immediately be discounted as unfair and biased in the same way calling them “lies” would.

                  Given that we can’t even all agree that the word “deceit” applies to Trump’s “Better hope there are no tapes” tweets, I am pessimistic about our ability to find such a term.

    • I don’t see why intentional blurring of a very useful word with a clear definition should justify making things more confusing. There is lying, there is being mistaken, there is miscommunication, there are opinions, and there are stupid statements. Within these categories are other sub-categories. Opinions, opinions based on bad information, responsible and considered opinions, reckless and stupid opinions, opinions based on emotion or bias.

      The misuse of “lie’ isn’t the result of any problem with the language, but of the desire to categorize mistakes as sinister and deliberate for purposes of political and personal attacks.

      • “There is lying, there is being mistaken, there is miscommunication, there are opinions, and there are stupid statements.” And there’s another category: a statement made with utter disregard for its truth or falsity. Not a lie, perhaps, but more than simply being mistaken. That is, something the speaker may not know to be false (a lie), but has no legitimate reason to believe in its truth (a mistake). “Falsehood” comes reasonably close, but we need a single word for “that which is pulled out of one’s ass.”

  8. I think my favorite Times “Trump lie” is where Trump said that his appearance on Colbert was the highest rated episode when it was really ONE of the highest rated episodes.

  9. Isaac

    Here’s what happened when I downloaded the new New York Times Personal Assistant Lie-Detecting App to my phone:

    Me: “Wow, this is the worst rain today.”
    NYT: (It has rained equally hard twice in the last year.)
    Me: “That root canal was like, the worst pain I’ve ever been in.”
    NYT: (His ear infection in 2009 was worse, according to the Numeric Rating Pain Scale.)
    Me: My boss hates me and wants to fire me.
    NYT: (Those are not his boss’s positions.)
    Me: I don’t like tomatoes.
    NYT: (He ate tomatoes 7 times in 2015 alone.)
    Me: This New York Times app is terrible and no one should download it!
    NYT: (He downloaded the app himself just three days prior to this.)

  10. Rick M.

    Does Trump lie? Does the NYT lie? Do either really care?

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