Usually, when I talk about the administration’s lies, I try to provide context. I make it a point to explain what it is that I mean by “lies,” and offer some kind of justification as to why I think it’s important that we acknowledge these events. Today, though, I’m just going to jump right into it… I think, by now, we all know what’s going on, right?
Here are the three latest lies to catch my attention.
1. This past Tuesday morning, speaking with a number of county sheriffs, Trump repeated a lie that he’d said several times on the campaign trial concerning the murder rate in America. “The murder rate in our country is the highest,” he said. “Did you know that? Forty-seven years. I used to use that… I’d say that in a speech and everybody was surprised, because the press doesn’t tell it like it is. It wasn’t to their advantage to say that. But the murder rate is the highest it’s been in, I guess, from 45 to 47 years.”
But, of course, that’s not true. Not even remotely.
The United States murder rate in 2015, according to the FBI, was 4.9 per 100,000 people, which, as you can see in the following graph, is considerably lower than it has been for decades. While there’s been a bit of an uptick this past year, we’re still pretty much at a 50-year low. But that’s not a story that will justify building walls, restricting immigration, and putting more military grade weapons in the hands of the police, is it?
2. On Tuesday, Trump said that “obstructionist Democrats” had kept him from getting his full Cabinet in place. It was, “the longest such delay in the history of our country,” he said. As BBC senior North America reporter Anthony Zurcher, and others, quickly pointed out, however, that’s simply not true. Obama did not have a complete Cabinet in place until April 28, when Kathleen Sebelius was sworn in as Secretary of Health and Human Services, a full two months after she’d been nominated.
But, again, the truth doesn’t support the narrative that he’s trying to push, which is that he’s being unfairly attacked to a degree that no president in history has been… Speaking of which, did you happen to see the interview Kellyanne Conway gave a few days ago with Jake Tapper on CNN? Toward the end, she said the following about the unprecedented degree to which Trump has been disrespected. “(W)hen we read certain words being used to describe the president of the United States — it’s never been done,” she said. “It wasn’t done about President Obama. It wasn’t done about either President Bush, President Clinton, because people have a certain respect for and recognition of the dignity for the office of the president.” Of course, it’s total bullshit that people respected “the dignity for the office of the president” when Obama was President, and we’ve got video to prove it… Just to jog your memory, Trump himself not only suggested that President Obama was a Kenyan-born Muslim, but that he may have been responsible for the untimely death of the State Health Director who verified his birth certificate…. To Obama’s credit, he never complained publicly about the abuse. In stark contrast, however, Trump seems to revel in the role of victim, going so far as to alter the facts in order to demonstrate abuse. And, as history has shown us, the cult of victimhood can be powerful stuff. Just look at what Hitler was able to do with it.
3. Speaking to U.S. Central Command on Monday at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Trump said that the media was intentionally not reporting terrorist attacks. Talking to the assembled military leaders, Trump went off script and said the following: “You’ve seen what happened in Paris, and Nice. All over Europe, it’s happening. It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that.” This, as many immediately pointed out, is simply not true.
In an attempt to quiet the subsequent media uproar, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, the following day, told reporters that Trump had meant to say that some terrorist attacks, in his opinion, were under-covered. “He felt that members of media don’t always cover some of those events to the extent that other events might get covered,” Spicer said, before reading a list of 78 attacks that the White House thought could have been reported in more depth. [This list, bizarrely, included such unbelievably well-covered events as the murder of 14 in San Bernardino on December 2, 2015, and the Orlando nightclub attack that left 49 dead this past June, both of which generated thousands of lengthy media reports.] An analysis by Politifact shows found that, of the 78 attacks noted by the White House, “the media reported on every one of the incidents in some fashion, except an alleged October 2015 non-deadly attack in Egypt that we could not independently verify.”
For what it’s worth though, Trump is actually right when he says that some terrorist attacks aren’t being discussed. It’s not the press that’s ignoring them, though. It’s the White House. Take for example the recent murder of six Muslim men in Quebec that was perpetrated by a white Trump supporter. For some reason, Trump has yet to mention it, choosing instead to talk at length by a non-deadly attack at the Louvre, which was perpetrated by a Muslim.
While, to my knowledge, Trump hasn’t been asked about this directly by the press, his advisor, Kellyanne Conway, has. Here’s a clip from the transcript of her discussion yesterday with CNN’s Jake Tapper on this subject.
TAPPER: President Trump was clearly saying that the media does not cover terrorist attacks that we clearly cover, and he was saying we don’t do it because we don’t want to do it and because we have some sort of ulterior motive in that. That’s not what you’re saying right now, but that is what he’s saying.
But while we’re on the subject of not addressing a terrorist attack, I want to ask you — in Quebec City last week, a white, right-wing terrorist opened fire on a mosque, a mosque filled with innocent men, women, and children. Six people were killed. President Trump has not said or tweeted one public word about this. You want to talk about ignoring terrorism? Why hasn’t the president offered his sympathy to our neighbors in the north?
CONWAY: I know he’s sympathetic to any loss of life. It’s completely senseless and it needs to stop, regardless of who is lodging the attack. We, of course, are very sad about loss of life here. And he is talking about trying to stop terrorism in people who want to do harm to this country, and I’m sure in the case of our neighbors to the north, I’m glad that the prime minister of Canada is coming here next year — next week, excuse me. I’m sure they’ll talk about that if he’s coming soon, as I understand.
But the fact is that he — I will ask him. He doesn’t tweet about everything. He doesn’t need to comment about everything, but I can tell you that the entire point that I do think has been misinterpreted many places about why he wants extreme vetting, in this case temporary and through seven very narrowly prescribed countries, that the Obama administration, President Obama’s administration in Congress thought needed more quote, serious screening. He is doing that in response to what he sees and he hears in his briefings as the advance and the continued threat of terror attacks, not unlike the one that you’re citing to our friends in the north. And of course, put us on record as always being sad about the senseless loss of life.
TAPPER: He tweeted when there was an attack at the Louvre Museum where nobody was killed. I don’t understand why he wouldn’t tweet when six Canadian citizens were murdered, except for the fact that the undercovered document that the White House distributed the other day — last night, rather, also did not mention any attacks other than those committed by Muslim terrorists. And obviously radical Islamic terrorism is a big problem, but there are all sorts of kinds of horrific terrorism that take place. We saw some of that in South Carolina recently. And I guess the question is, are these victims any less dead than the ones killed by Islamic radical terrorists?
Then, Conway, after going off on a tangent about how veterans are important to her, eventually got around to playing the victim card herself, saying that she’s “being attacked by the media.” She then concluded by saying,
“We have a very high respect for the truth.”
Speaking of the truth, and how important it is to this administration, I was just reading the other day that some of the parents who lost children at Sandy Hook Elementary School, and their fellow residents of Newtown, Connecticut, plan to send a letter to Trump, asking him to please sever his ties with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who has convinced many of his followers that their children were not really murdered, and that the whole incident was a false flag operation perpetrated by the government in order to take the guns of American patriots. It takes a strong stomach, but, if you can, try to read the recent LA Times story, which talks with residents of Newtown about the resurgence of conspiracy theorists, emboldened by the Trump win, who have begun to descend on their town to “investigate” the December 14, 2012 shooting that left 20 children between the ages of six and seven years old, as well as 6 staff members, dead.
The truth matters. And we need to keep fight to protect it. We cannot allow this to continue. It will be the death of us all, if we do.