Trump lies about foreign policy (e.g. we were on the verge of war with North Korea, we cannot tie Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder), his own election statistics, his approval rating among Republicans, the state of the economy, the state of the border, climate change and even his internal polls showing that he is a loser in general-election match-ups against former vice president Joe Biden.
As to the latter, “After being briefed on a devastating 17-state poll conducted by his campaign pollster, Tony Fabrizio, Mr. Trump told aides to deny that his internal polling showed him trailing Mr. Biden in many of the states he needs to win, even though he is also trailing in public polls from key states like Texas, Michigan and Pennsylvania,” the New York Times reports. “And when top-line details of the polling leaked, including numbers showing the president lagging in a cluster of critical Rust Belt states, Mr. Trump instructed aides to say publicly that other data showed him doing well.” He is too embarrassed to tell his followers, not to mention his opponents, that his unpopularity and political weakness are not products of media deception. No, he’s the one explicitly trying to con the voters.
Trump will lie about things captured on tape (e.g. calling Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, “nasty”), about things in writing, about events witnessed by multiple people and about his own words and positions. He has no shame; he dares one to affirm what is obvious, verifiable and utterly at odds with his lies.
Just as Trump lied that he never considered firing former special counsel Robert S. Mueller III — and told his White House counsel Donald McGahn to lie about being told to fire Mueller — Trump’s lies often require his aides to lie for and about him. We have seen this enumerable times, from the hapless Sean Spicer telling us not to believe our eyes regarding the relative crowd size for the inauguration of Trump and President Barack Obama to Sarah Sanders lying to the White House press corps that the president had received complaints from members of the FBI about former FBI director James B. Comey and lying about Trump’s knowledge of payoffs to an adult-film star before the 2016 election.
Trump’s secretary of state misleads about progress on North Korea talks and about evidence of the Saudi crown prince’s involvement in Khashoggi’s murder. His treasury secretary lies about the requirement to turn over Trump’s tax returns. His former chief of staff lied about the events leading up to the resignation of White House staff secretary Rob Porter. To work for Trump is to inevitably and repeatedly lie for him.
A Trump announcement of good news (no North Korea threat) is very likely to be false. One has a better chance of processing that information if one assumes that some things are not as they appear. And yet the media credulously still reports news as "X" rather than “Trump claimed X, but we have reason to believe that’s false.” It is part of the media’s attachment to a bygone era in which the president and his administration generally tried to get things right, would not deliberately mislead and would voluntarily correct errors. The media stubbornly continues to assume good faith — 10, 796 lies later — even to the point of making itself look gullible.
Trump, no matter how many lies he tells, can always count on Fox News hosts, certain right-wing outlets and commentators as well as virtually every Republican member of Congress to play along. They either parrot his blatant untruths, decline to comment or take issue with the facts without calling Trump out for lying. Republicans continue to enable and echo lies for fear of being at odds with Trump and his cult followers. The thought that they might be primaried and lose their jobs (mercy me!) has so terrified them that even the least craven among them try to avoid truth-telling at Trump’s expense.
The irony of Trump decrying “fake news” should not be lost on those outside his cult, nor by historians of this era. Trump has created an entire administration that operates on lies, exaggerations and distortions — all reinforced by a right-wing media and Republican Party members. Long after Trump has left office, the White House staff, the politicians and the right-wing media who sustained his lies will be remembered for their lack of integrity and honesty. Documenting how they debased themselves and the offices they held is critical to holding them responsible, to prevent them from holding positions of trust in the future and to serve as a warning to those too eager to convince themselves that they can work for an inveterate liar without becoming morally compromised.