The venerable New York Times took it upon itself to list what its editorial board saw as every Trump lie since taking office.
Predictably, that got Twitter going. Conservatives lashed into the “fake news” of the Times, while liberals cheered and hoped to make the post go viral.
The Times took quotes from President Trump and then bracketed a fact check immediately after in an exhaustive list of statements. On January 23, for example, Trump said “Between 3 million and 5 million illegal votes caused me to lose the popular vote.” He was referring to his still-unproven claim that illegal immigrants or unregistered voters had cost him the popular vote. The Times immediately bracketed the quote with “(There’s no evidence of illegal voting).”
Other famous Trump quotes? On March 4, Trump tweeted “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!” That claim led to some hairsplitting amongst partisans. While former FBI Director James Comey did say that there was no explicit “wire-tapping” of Trump tower, a process that would involve physically accessing the tower’s phone lines, some of the Trump campaign’s communications were intercepted in what’s referred to as “incidental sweeping.” That’s when intelligence agencies, searching for something else, end up gaining access to information unrelated to their original investigation. They are not allowed to act or use that evidence, however, if it is not covered by the original surveillance warrant.
So while Trump Tower itself was never wiretapped, the Trump campaign did have eavesdroppers for unrelated reasons.
Some were more cut and dry. On April 28, Trump said, “The trade deficit with Mexico is close to $70 billion, even with Canada it’s $17 billion trade deficit with Canada.” But as the Times noted, the U.S. had a surplus with Canada last year, not a deficit. Either Trump didn’t know what he was talking about, or he was genuinely lying. The Times was not sanguine about which it thought he was.
Plenty of liberals on Twitter celebrated the catalog. In an era of fake news and hard-to-prove claims, the list came across as a breath of fresh air for accountability of a president whose entire career has had run-ins with lawsuits and depositions.
Conservatives sharpened their knives for the New York Times itself.
That being said, the Times is not “failing,” as both Trump and many supporters claim. Both shares and subscribers are up. CEO Mark Thompson said “there is no question we have got some rocket fuel in the subscription business in recent quarters,” according to CNBC, much of it attributable to its coverage of Trump.
Others hit the Times for being “fake news.”
While the detailed fact checking of the piece was still out as of press time, the Times has a robust tradition of correction and editing that usually keeps errors to a minimum. The statements of President Trump, many made on Twitter, could still be accessed online. Trump’s worst enemy seems to be his inattention to detail, as many of his statements include half-truths, like the one he made about the battle of Mosul. There, Trump stated the battle was expected to only take weeks, but has become much more brutal than anyone imagined. Yet there are no sources for who might have claimed it would be an easy battle, let alone anyone who thought ISIS would lose their largest city in a quick fight.
Some liberal outlets, like The Atlantic, see a president losing his legitimacy in these kinds of fights. But don’t tell that to Trump supporters; they still overwhelmingly back the president.
[Featured Image by Mario Tama/Getty Images]