Accuracy in Media

President Trump might not be up to 5,000 lies quite yet in the Washington Post data base of commander-in-chief untruths.  Some of statements it claims were lies don’t appear to be.

The Post assessed 17 lies to Trump for his statement on Sept. 11 about former presidential aides Gary Cohn and Rob Porter “pushing back on the book ‘Fear,’” Bob Woodward’s latest White House tell-all.

“I really appreciate their statement,” the Post quotes Trump as saying. “Their statement was excellent. And they both said that beautiful, which shows that the book is just a piece of fiction.”

The Post’s response: “Neither Cohn nor Porter denied the specific events in Bob Woodward’s book. Cohn said the book did not describe his experience in the White House accurately, without giving details of what was inaccurate. Porter called the book ‘selective and misleading,’ but did not deny anything in specific.”

Actually, Porter did deny two of the book’s most newsworthy revelations – that aides took papers off the president’s desk to prevent him from implementing policies they thought dangerous and that he was part of a White House ‘resistance’ that kept the president from his worst instincts.

As to the first: “As Staff Secretary, I was responsible for managing the flow of documents to and from the Oval Office and ensuring that anything the president was asked to sign had been properly vetted,” his statement read. “The suggestion that materials were ‘stolen’ from the president’s desk to prevent his signature misunderstands how the White House document review process works – and has worked for at least the last eight administrations.”

As for the resistance claim, Porter said he “ensured relevant viewpoints were considered” so the president “could make decisions based on full information. This did not “make someone part of a ‘resistance’ or mean they are seeking to ‘thwart’ the president’s agenda. Quite the opposite.”

The Post said Trump lied 46 times regarding his efforts to replace NAFTA.

On Sept. 11, according to the Post, Trump said: “Canada wants to make a deal. We’ll see if we can get them into the deal we already have with Mexico. I think the deal with Canada is coming along very well, and we’ve all been dealing in good faith.”

The Post says this is a lie because “Trump announced an informal trade agreement with Mexico to replace NAFTA, but he needs Congress to approve any changes to NAFTA, and that hasn’t happened. The U.S. is still negotiating with Canada. So, it’s inaccurate to suggest he has a settled deal with Mexico.”

But the Post itself has referred to a “deal” with Mexico on at least 20 occasions in the last two weeks, according to its own database.

On Aug. 27, the Post ran a headline that read: “After U.S.-Mexico trade deal, all eyes turn to Canada talks.” The lead of the story, by Alan Freeman and with an Ottawa dateline, read: “When President Trump announced a U.S.-Mexico trade agreement Monday, he also issued an ultimatum to Canada.” It later said Canada’s foreign minister “welcomed the U.S.-Mexico agreement.”

On Aug. 28, it ran a piece by David Fickling and Anjani Trivedi criticizing the agreement. Under the headline, “Trump’s Mexico Trade Deal Looks Like a Lemon,” it refers to “the deal hammered out Monday” in the second paragraph.

On Sept. 8, the Post ran an unsigned editorial entitled “This trade deal could get Trump out of his own making.” It began: “Talks between the United States and Canada continued over the past week, with the fate of North American trade at stake. President and Mexico have cut a deal in which Mexico essentially conceded more market share in the automotive industry to the United States …”

A search of the Post database for “Trump Mexico trade deal” turned up 1,871 results.

Together, these two statements would remove 63 from Trump’s total of lies, leaving him 62 short of the 5,000-mark.

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