PolitiFact, the nonpartisan fact-checking outlet based in Florida, is out today with its mid-year report on the 2016 election. It's an attempt to take a step back from the day-to-day grind of the campaign and see which candidates are telling the truth and which aren't.
Donald Trump isn't.
Of the 158 Trump claims that PolitiFact has checked out, 95 have been rated either "False" or "Pants on Fire." That's 60 percent of all Trump claims. As PolitiFact notes, if you include the Trump statements rated "mostly false" in that group, 78 percent of all of Trump's fact-checked claims have been scored "mostly false" or worse.
That's not even the most amazing fact in the PolitiFact report. That honor goes to this: "Trump has more statements rated Pants on Fire, 30, than the 21 other candidates for president we’ve fact-checked this cycle combined." Ben Carson comes in second in "Pants on Fire" ratings -- with four!
Now, there's some context that's necessary here. Trump was the most fact-checked of all the 2016 candidates. Of the 650 fact checks PolitiFact conducted, 158 were on Trump -- good for 24 percent of the total. Hillary Clinton was fact-checked 120 times over that same period, approximately 18 percent of the total. As PolitiFact notes, the number of Trump fact checks is to be expected because "he made himself more available on television in the early part of his campaign than his Democratic or Republican rivals. Trump also participated in more debates (11 by our count) than either of the top Democratic contenders Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders."
So, yes, Trump has been fact-checked 38 more times than Clinton. And, yes, PolitiFact was the one deciding what statements to fact check. This is not a comprehensive guide to the relative truthfulness of every word uttered by Trump or Clinton in this campaign. But, the number of times his statements have been ruled "false" or "pants on fire" is still substantially higher than it is for her.
PolitiFact is not alone in finding Trump as a much more significant bender/breaker of the truth than the people he ran or is running against.
As of July 1, The Washington Post Fact Checker — the duo of Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee — has fact-checked 46 statements by Donald Trump. Thirty-two of those (70 percent) have been awarded Four Pinocchios, meaning that the statement is a "whopper" as defined by Kessler and Lee. (You can see all of Trump's Four Pinocchio claims here.)
Most politicians tend to earn Four Pinocchios 10 to 20 percent of the time. (Moreover, most of the remaining ratings for Trump are Three Pinocchios.)
… Since Trump never takes anything back — and often repeats the same false claims — voters are likely to hear these time and again during the campaign season.
And we have.
Fact checkers, as you probably have figured out by now, don't mean much to Trump. In fact, the very idea that the "mainstream media" says he isn't telling the truth regularly is all the evidence many of his backers need to be convinced that he is the only one telling the truth.
Which is fine. But numbers don't lie. And these numbers suggest Trump does.