The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Time to stop counting Trump’s lies. We’ve hit the total for ‘compulsive liar.’

(Tom Toles)
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You might have noticed that in news coverage of Alex Jones, he is routinely referred to as a “conspiracy theorist” without attribution or cited evidence. This is a convention adopted when there is not serious dispute about the description. Alex Jones IS a conspiracy theorist. The evidence is ample.

Now, with regard to the current occupant of the Oval Office, can we please apply the same standard? Instead of counting up lies and putting them up on the big tote board, can we move on to the obvious conclusion? In any news story about the president, can we simply refer to him as a “compulsive liar”? I don’t see why not. The evidence is ample and beyond dispute.

And it isn’t just a matter of “why not?” There are enough reasons WHY we should do this. Counting up and/or refuting President Trump’s lies is an exercise with diminishing returns. It is like adding additional littering citations on top of a garbage landfill. Everybody knows now that Trump’s statements are more likely to be untrue than true. It’s time to start addressing the implications of that.

Counting up lies is starting to feel more like a parlor game than a response to a cancer. A culture of lies is being introduced and normalized in the government of the United States, and it is that culture that needs to be understood. Just like with Jones, it’s a waste of everyone’s time to try to fact-check and refute every new crazy theory that he introduces. Identifying him as what he is, a conspiracy theorist, gets to the heart of the problem. That Trump is a habitual liar is the heart of the problem of his communication to the American people.

But, you might say, Alex Jones isn’t president of the United States. And I would say even MORE reason to identify Trump for what he is. Reporting his statements without adding “compulsive liar” gives those statements a veneer of plausibility and respectability that they absolutely do not deserve.

Yes, Donald Trump, compulsive liar, is president of the United States. It is a circumstance you don’t want to contribute to prolonging.