But TRUMP is constantly massively lying, look at politifacts, there are hundreds of well documented lies. In a typical week, Trump lies about 20 times. That’s a record.

It occurs to me that arguing over which pile of shit is worse than another is not a productive activity. :-)

But, to your point, and having played this fact-checking game myself for over a decade: there is a difference between “false statements”, “questionable statements”, “debatable statements”, “exaggerations”, “interpretations”, “ambiguous statement”, and lies.

Some years ago, somebody threw me a list of “Fox News Lies”, 33 lies long, that I assume came from Media Matters. These were all statements from the NEWS organization, not the pundits. I was bored that day, so I decided to do the research.

Out of the 33, precisely ONE was clearly a lie; surprisingly, the offender was the reputable Brit Hume. Every one of the others could have been believed to be true when it was said, OR could be rationally debated as being true, using either different data or, in some cases, even the SAME data; it’s just that the supposed “lie” opposed the conventional wisdom of the left on that particular topic.

I realized at that point that the “fact checking game” was as biased as media reporting; and that the pawns in that game are those who assume a source (even a fact-checking source) is true without critical thinking. Fact checking works for figuring out how much gravel it takes to cover your driveway two inches thick; for pithy economic policy issues…….doesn’t work so well.

Further, it became clear that when the GOP was the alleged liar, a very different standard was being used than when the Dem was the alleged liar. For the GOP speakers, even ambiguous statements were being chalked up as “lies”, while the Dem politician was always given the benefit of the doubt.

(The above is a general rule with exceptions. Politifact has four pages of Obama “false statements”, and Politifact is simply wrong on several of them. But, my general point stands.)

A couple of examples:

  1. Sessions. A review of the video shows that Sessions was asked an ambiguous question by Franken concerning campaign/Russian interaction which he answered in ambiguous fashion, then proffered the information that he personally had not spoken to the Russians. No reasonable observer would conclude that Sessions was lying by claiming that he NEVER spoke to any Russians; his answer had to be taken in the context of the (ambiguous) question, which was in the context of the campaign. Yet, it’s been all over the news that “SESSIONS LIED”.
  2. Another: During Trump’s speech the other night, he stated that “since my election, [lists companies] had announced that they would keep or create some thousands of jobs in the US”. The statement was perfectly accurate as phrased. However, it was all over certain sites that HE LIED, because those jobs were (supposedly) going to stay or be created anyway. That fact is irrelevant because of the phrasing, but that didn’t stop the “factcheckers”; just the vague insinuation that anyone might think that Trump was instrumental in the job creation was enough for them to throw out their penalty flag (or, show the red card, depending on what sort of football you like.)

That all said, Trump is annoyingly ambiguous when he speaks. But, it’s not correct to accuse ambiguity of being a falsehood. When he makes a categorical statement and it turns out not to be true, nail him on it; but let’s all have the intellectual honesty to remember that reasonable people can disagree on political matters based on different reads of research and fact.

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Data Driven Econophile. Muslim, USA born. Been “woke” 2x: 1st, when I realized the world isn’t fair; 2nd, when I realized the “woke” people are full of shit.

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