Donald Trump has been “president” for six months now. It is not normal for one of the nation’s top papers to celebrate the six month anniversary of a new administration with a column reminding readers that the new leader is a lying sack of crap, but we do not live in normal times.
So it goes with Trump, the most fact-challenged politician that The Fact Checker has ever encountered. As part of our coverage of the president’s first 100 days, The Fact Checker team (along with Leslie Shapiro and Kaeti Hinck of the Post graphics department) produced an interactive graphic that displayed a running list of every false or misleading statement made by the president. He averaged 4.9 false or misleading claims a day.Readers encouraged us to keep the list going for the president’s first year. So at the six-month mark, the president’s tally stands at 836 false or misleading claims. That’s an average of 4.6 claims a day, not far off his first 100-day pace.
This may still count as a charitable interpretation of his behavior. As the weeks wind on it’s becoming more evident that Trump lies not merely in an attempt to puff up his accomplishments and stature, but because he has only a limited understanding of events surrounding him. His NATO claims have been gibberish; his most recent interview was not characterized by lying as much as by sheer incoherence. His attempts to sell the Senate’s healthcare bill have been especially instructive, as he has repeatedly made claims about what the bill does that bear no relation to its actual contents—in front of the very senators he’s attempting to court.
He may not be intentionally lying. He may be unable to grasp even basic concepts about the world he now finds himself in. He may genuinely believe that NATO “owes” America cash, or that he brilliantly negotiated his way through agreements that were in fact negotiated years before he gained office. He may be, in other words, a moron.
One Friedman Unit into Donald’s White House tenure, the nation’s press is in agreement that the president of the United States lies, and lies a lot. Television chyrons are regularly reminding viewers that some particularly egregious thing the POTUS has said is not in fact true; the contents of White House press briefings are more valued by the nation’s comedy writers than by the reporters covering them, and it is generally understood that the office functions more as a therapy outlet for Trump’s latest obsession than as a substantive White House connection to the outside world.
It is likely that six months from now, we will have similarly settled on the near-universal acknowledgement that the president is, in fact, not merely a liar but suffering from a more severe mental impairment. What we will do about it is still up in the air, but it seems clear that the day is coming.