TRUMP: Chuck, I saw it on television. So did many other people. And many--CHUCK TODD: In Jersey City--DONALD TRUMP: --many people. I said hundreds. In the area. I--CHUCK TODD: --you saw during Jersey City? Okay.DONALD TRUMP: --heard Patterson. Excuse me. I've heard Jersey City. I've heard Patterson. It was 14 years ago. But I saw it on television. I saw clips. And so did many other people. And many people saw it in person. I've had hundreds of phone calls to the Trump Organization saying, "We saw it. It was dancing in the streets." Now, he tried to pull back, but the Washington Post reported tailgate parties and reports of tailgate parties.Tailgate parties means, like, for a football game where you have hundreds and hundreds, and maybe even thousands, of people having tailgate parties. I saw it at the time. I stick by it. Hundreds of people have confirmed it. You look at @realdonaldtrump, where I have millions and millions of people on there, between Facebook and Twitter. I have 10 million people between the two of them. You look at that. And I'm getting unbelievable response of people that said they saw it. Now--CHUCK TODD: But if you repeat something? Wait a minute.DONALD TRUMP: --you know, just go a step further. All over at the world at the time it was reported that Muslims were celebrating the downing. All over the world, forget about New Jersey for a second. All over the world, it was reported that Muslims were celebrating the fall of the World Trade Center.Two days ago, three days ago, there was a soccer game and there was a minute of silence in honor of the people that were slain, horribly, viciously slain in Paris, France. And a huge amount of people, a tremendous number of people started screaming out Muslim phrases. And all of the players on the field didn't know exactly what to do. That was well reported. I suppose nobody saw that either. I'm sure you reported it and you saw it.CHUCK TODD: But you're repeating, Mr. Trump.DONALD TRUMP: So, there is a problem here, Chuck, of hatred that is unbelievable.CHUCK TODD: But Mr. Trump, this didn't happen in New Jersey. There were plenty of reports. And you're feeding that stereotype.DONALD TRUMP: Chuck, it did happen in New Jersey. I have hundreds of people that agree with me.CHUCK TODD: But they want to agree with you--
It goes on (and on) but you get the idea.
Trump's argument boils down to this: I don't care what published fact-checks say. I have heard from people on Twitter who tell me they saw the same thing I did.
Trump uses the social media response he gets to the outrageous claims he makes as justification that those claims are correct. That is, of course, ridiculous. As Chuck rightly notes, many of the people who follow Trump simply want to see the world as he sees it and function and yes-men for him.
And, even if they aren't simply looking to agree with Trump, the idea that anecdotal evidence offered by un-vetted sources via Twitter can or should be used to directly rebut stories written by reporters who went to these alleged "parties" after Sept. 11 and found little or nothing makes no sense. (Yes, I am well aware of the story that Serge Kovaleski wrote in the Post following 9/11; go read our Fact-Checker on the story and get the, um, facts about it.)
Trump is far from the first presidential candidate to use anecdotal evidence as fact. During the 2012 campaign, then Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann repeatedly told the story of a woman who approached her on the campaign trail and insisted that the HPV vaccine caused mental retardation in her daughter. Bachmann used the story as evidence that the HPV vaccine was, in fact, broadly dangerous despite scads of scientific evidence that it wasn't.
Trump appears to not grasp the difference between being a wealthy businessman and a leading contender to be the Republican nominee for president. In the former role, popping off based on limited information or wrong information or a story someone told you that they heard from their uncle has a limited impact. In the latter role, popping off is far more dangerous. "You're running for president of the United States," Chuck, who gets the difference, told Trump on Sunday. "Your words matter. Truthfulness matters."
Donald Trump has created a perfect circle of illogical logic. Facts are fungible. The tweet from someone he has never met (and never will meet) about something he/she allegedly "saw" on 9/11 carries the same weight as actual information gathered by reporters hewing to journalistic standards.
I don't have to tell you that down that path lies real danger.
Update 7:27 a.m. Monday: Also appearing on TV on Sunday, Trump spokeswoman Katrina Pierson addressed her boss's many inflated claims and his apparent mocking of a New York Times reporter's physical disability, which Trump has denied doing.
"Here's the thing, if you don't like Mr. Trump, then, yes, you're going to side with that part of the story," Pierson told CNN.
Pierson also argued that denying thousands of Muslims celebrated on 9/11 is essentially tantamount to denying there are radical Muslims in the United States.