The Washington Post has an ongoing list of "false or misleading claims made by President Trump since assuming office." The list has reached a staggering 3,001 as of April 30, 2018.
Accountability among elected officials is incredibly important, so such a catalogue isn’t a bad idea in theory. However, looking at the list, one quickly discovers that "false or misleading" is a metric with which the fact checkers at The Washington Post play fast and loose. Moreover, if the same claim is repeated by the president multiple times, each time is counted as a separate "false or misleading" statement, essentially inflating the count.
Out of 286 allegedly "false or misleading" statements made by the president in April, The Daily Wire found approximately 37 that could be easily disputed.
Here are eight of The Washington Post’s most frivolous claims from April alone:
Trump Quote (April 21): "The Washington Post said I refer to Jeff Sessions as 'Mr. Magoo' and Rod Rosenstein as 'Mr. Peepers.' This is 'according to people with whom the president has spoken.' There are no such people and don’t know these characters...just more Fake & Disgusting News to create ill will!"
Washington Post Counter Claim: The Washington Post's reporting is correct.
Why This is Neither False nor Misleading: The Washington Post reported in multiple pieces that President Trump has called Sessions and Rosenstein by the derisive nicknames "Mr. Magoo" and "Mr. Peepers." The Washington Post cites "people with whom the president has spoken" as their evidence. No names; no recordings; no proof.
This is simply a "he said/they said" scenario.
Trump Quote (April 28): "Allegations made by Senator Jon Tester against Admiral/Doctor Ron Jackson are proving false. The Secret Service is unable to confirm (in fact they deny) any of the phony Democrat charges which have absolutely devastated the wonderful Jackson family. Tester should resign. The great people of Montana will not stand for this kind of slander when talking of a great human being. Admiral Jackson is the kind of man that those in Montana would most respect and admire, and now, for no reason whatsoever, his reputation has been shattered. Not fair, Tester!"
WP Counter Claim: Tester led the public charge against the Jackson nomination to run the Department of Veterans Affairs and released a memo that contained unverified claims against Jackson based on interviews with people who worked with Jackson. But Trump ignores the fact many Republicans believed Jackson to be unqualified and that Tester's actions had the support of the Veterans Affairs Committee chairman, Johnny Isakson (R-GA)
Why This is Neither False nor Misleading: Trump’s complaint was that Tester (as well as fellow Democrats on the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee) were treating Ronny Jackson unfairly, specifically because many of the claims in the document are indeed unverified.
According to ABC News:
The Secret Service is disputing the allegation, first reported by CNN, that on an overseas trip in 2015 Jackson drunkenly banged on the door of a female colleague so loudly that Secret Service agents had to calm him down so as to not disturb President Barack Obama.
The New York Times reports:
Raj Shah, a deputy White House press secretary, said Friday that after Mr. Tester’s accusations, officials searched all of the government databases that contain records of accidents involving government vehicles, including at the General Services Administration. He called it a “comprehensive search” for any crashes involving Dr. Jackson and a government vehicle. Mr. Shah said that the search revealed three episodes, none of which resembled the crash described by Mr. Tester.
Lastly, Trump failing to mention that some Republicans agree with Sen. Tester doesn’t quite reach the bar to qualify as false or misleading.
3. AFRICAN AMERICAN UNEMPLOYMENT
Trump Quote (April 28): "African-American unemployment has reached the lowest level in history."
WP Counter Claim: This is a flip-flop. During the 2016 campaign, Trump used to claim a Four-Pinocchio stat that 58% of African-American youth was unemployed. The official Bureau of Labor Statistics unemployment rate for black youth at the time was 19.2% — about one-third of the rate used by Trump. Now that he’s president, Trump appears all too happy to cite the unemployment rate for African Americans, bragging that it’s the best since the turn of the century. We’re pleased the president is now using accurate statistics, but it’s absurd to suggest, as he does to audiences, that he had anything to do with these numbers. Moreover, while the unemployment rate for black workers hit a record low, 6.8%, in December, it has since nudged up to 6.9% — a rate that is much higher than for white Americans.
Why This is Neither False nor Misleading: As The Washington Post noted, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), in December, the unemployment rate for African Americans hit 6.8%, the lowest since the BLS began counting in 1972.
In April, when Trump made the remark, the BLS placed the African American unemployment rate at 6.6% — even lower than the previous record.
4. ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT VOTING
Trump Quote (April 28): "One of the reasons they do it is because the Democrats actually feel and they are probably right, that all of these people that are pouring across are going to vote for Democrats, they're not going to vote for Republicans."
WP Counter Claim: While people seeking asylum may eventually be granted citizenship and the right to vote, undocumented immigrants do not have the right to vote.
Why This is Neither False nor Misleading: While illegal immigrants do not have the right to vote, those who receive amnesty can eventually earn voting rights. According to a 2002 report by Nancy Rytina of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), approximately 900,000 illegal immigrants granted amnesty under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 had become naturalized citizens by 2001.
Further, according to Pew Research:
The predictions about how unauthorized immigrants will vote stem from the fact that among all Latino immigrants who are eligible to vote (i.e. are U.S. citizens) many more identify as Democrats than as Republicans—54% versus 11%. And in the 2012 presidential election, according to the National Election Pool, Latino voters favored Democrat Barack Obama over Republican Mitt Romney by 71%-27%.
Additionally, among "unauthorized" foreign born Hispanic immigrants, 31% said they identified with Democrats, while just 4% identified with Republicans.
Given the numbers, it’s neither false nor misleading to state that a sizable number of illegal immigrants would vote for Democrats (if granted amnesty and eventual citizenship).
Trump Quote (April 30): "For example, we recently sold Nigeria 12 U.S. A-29 Super Cutano aircraft — it's a great aircraft — in the first ever sale of American military equipment to Nigeria. These new aircraft will improve Nigeria's ability to target terrorists and protect civilians."
WP Counter Claim: The 12 A-29 Super Tucano aircraft — Trump got the name wrong — sold to Nigeria were built in Brazil by Embraer. There is a second production line [sic] is in Florida, in a partnership between Embraer and privately held Sierra Nevada Corp of Sparks, Nev., but it is a Brazilian plane.
Why This is Neither False nor Misleading: In December, Reuters reported that the United States "formally agreed to sell 12 Super Tucano A-29 planes and weapons to Nigeria, the West African country’s air force said, confirming the resurrection of a deal frozen by the Obama administration over rights concerns."
The New York Times reported that during a news conference on April 30:
Mr. Trump said he was pleased to be selling a dozen A-29 Super Tucano warplanes to Nigeria. The sale of the planes, long sought by the Nigerians, had been held up by the Obama administration amid concerns about human rights abuses by Nigeria’s military.
It could be argued that Trump referring to the planes as "American military equipment" was misleading, but it was just as likely a slip of the tongue, considering that the U.S. is the nation selling the aircraft to Nigeria.
6. DNC SERVER
Trump Quote (April 26): "They wouldn't even give their server — the DNC, Democratic National Committee, wouldn't even give its server to the FBI."
WP Counter Claim: The FBI and the Democratic National Committee disagree on whether the FBI requested access to the DNC's servers. FBI Director James Comey testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that the bureau made "multiple requests at different levels" to access DNC's servers, but the DNC said the FBI never requested access. The DNC ultimately allowed a private company to review its database and share findings with the FBI.
Why This is Neither False nor Misleading: It’s pretty obvious. The FBI claims it requested access to the servers, while the DNC claims otherwise. While it’s possible the DNC is telling the truth, it’s a safe bet to side with the FBI. There are two reasons this shouldn’t be on a list of "false" or "misleading" statements — it’s unverifiable, and when seeking the truth, the credibility of a federal law enforcement agency should, generally speaking, outweigh that of a political organization.
Trump Quote (April 16): "The state of Florida was a great victory. It was a big victory."
WP Counter Claim: Trump's exaggerating the scale of his victory. He did win the state of Florida in the 2016 election by 1.2% of the vote or about 100,000 votes.
Why This is Neither False nor Misleading: Examining the context of Trump’s speech in Florida on April 16, "big victory" could mean a multitude of things. In this case, Trump appears to mean "significant."
Well, I really appreciate the support that we’ve had from Hialeah, and from Florida. The state of Florida was a great victory. It was a big victory. Remember that famous evening: "Donald Trump has won the state of Florida." And we started saying, "Oh, wow." That was a long evening for them. They had a lot of — we had a lot of great success.
Due to the disputed nature of the president’s intent when using the word "big," this shouldn’t be on The Washington Post’s list.
8. TAX CUTS
Trump Quote (April 12): "A typical family of four earning $75,000 a year will see their tax bill slashed in half."
WP Counter Claim: Trump fails to mention that tax cuts for individuals phase out in a few years, unlike tax cuts for corporations. Moreover, for many families, payroll taxes take up the largest chunk of their tax bill, but Trump is referring to a reduction in income taxes.
Why This is Neither False nor Misleading: The Daily Wire ran multiple scenarios using the Maxim Lott Tax Calculator in order to uncover the truth. A family of four making $75,000 in Alabama would save $2,118 (a 54.8% savings). The same happened when we ran the numbers for a family of four in California and Hawaii.
This is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what the fact checkers at The Washington Post label as "false or misleading" claims by President Trump. As previously mentioned, accountability is vital, but if members of the press are falsely inflating the number of allegedly inaccurate statements made by elected officials, the impact of what’s truly false will be dampened significantly.
Moreover, this list indicates that the fact checkers at The Washington Post cannot be trusted to remain impartial when it comes to Donald Trump.