Accuracy in Media

Having been called out numerous times on, well, lies in its efforts to document President Trump’s alleged lies, the Washington Post has begun to use wiggle words when writing about its database of such purported mistruths.

Instead of “lies,” we read more of “false or misleading claims” – as in, the president averaged 5.9 false or misleading claims per day his first year in office, but this has risen to 16.5 per day in his second year and 22 per day so far in 2019, according to “President Trump has made 9,014 false or misleading claims over 773 days,” by Glenn Kessler, Salvador Rizzo and Meg Kelly, which ran Monday.

The Post said he reached 9,014 “fishy claims,” as of March 3. His “performance at CPAC” – a 2-hour-plus speech Saturday morning after he flew out of Hanoi, Vietnam, on Thursday – was “a potent mix of exaggerated numbers, unwarranted boasting and outright falsehoods.” When it was over, Trump had had his fourth-biggest day for lying since becoming president, with 104 “false or misleading claims.”

It also has a list of “Bottomless Pinocchios” – lies told so often and so brazenly that they defy the maximum of four Pinocchios the Post usually awards.

Saturday’s speech included three claims from the list – none of which are actually false. Trump says his was the largest tax cut in history – and it was in total dollars if not in percentage of the economy. He says the U.S. economy today is in the best shape ever – and with employment at all-time highs and unemployment at or near all-time lows for women and a variety of minority groups, a solid case can be made that he is right.

Together, these claims account for 373 “lies,” by the Post’s count.

It claims as a Trump lie his statement that: “A state called Michigan, where – by the way – where Fiat Chrysler just announced a four-and-a-half billion-dollar incredible expansion and new plant doubling their workforce. Many, many car companies have moved back to Michigan and are continuing to do so.”

Fiat Chrysler did announce the expansion, the Post says. But it also laid off 1,500 employees in Illinois, and “it’s a big exaggeration to say many car companies have moved back to Michigan, though Chrysler has announced several new investments there under Trump.”

Another supposed lie – “The Green New Deal … No plans. No energy.” – was deemed untrue because “The Green New Deal is a nonbinding resolution in Congress, and it would not ban air travel or energy. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., a sponsor, released an FAQ document alongside the resolution that mused about banning air travel. But it was not a definitive call to end air travel and, in any case, Ocasio-Cortez retracted the FAQ within days.”

On these matters, he FAQ sheet read: “The Green New Deal sets a goal to get to net-zero, rather than zero emissions, at the end of this 10-year plan because we aren’t sure that we will be able to fully get rid of, for example, emissions form cows or air travel before then.”

It also took Trump to task for saying, “When the wind stops blowing, that’s the end of your electric.” The Post responded: “Nope. Wind turbines do not generate power when there’s no wind, but the power grid can handle this variability.”

As of today, wind accounts for an all-time record of 6.6 percent of America’s electric power. The power grid can handle this variability – indeed, it doesn’t count on much help from wind – because 5/6ths of it is powered by fossil and nuclear fuels, which the Green New Deal would outlaw.

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