President Trump just told his first lie. At least according to the Washington Post.
For the first time, The Fact Checker is labeling statement by a politician to be "a lie" –> https://t.co/F58jXb9Glf
— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) August 23, 2018
Trump’s bizarre interview Wednesday (in which he basically admitted to a federal crime), was the fact checker WaPo’s final straw. After 4,229 “false or misleading claims” to this point, from crowd size to deficits to chain migration, WaPo’s Fact Checker finally had to revert to the “L” word.
But in doing so WaPo proves how farcical the nature of fact checking actually is. Many argue it doesn’t even work in a “post-truth” society. WaPo and several other fact checking sites define a lie as an intentional mistruth. In other words, if there’s no proof that the person who lied knew what they were saying is bullshit, they don’t call it a lie. This is seemingly fine for objective journalism standards, but doesn’t exactly account for a complete bullshitter occupying the most powerful political office in the country.
Instead, the Washington Post winds up patting itself on the back for stating the inherently obvious. Read Kessler’s tweet again and then the headline. They want you to think this is a big deal, some Rubicon-crossing landmark in political journalism.
But it’s completely defined by their own parameters of what a lie is.
When Trump says Democrats are “obstructionists” and blames them for a government shutdown, he’s lying. When he says he cancelled his military parade over absurd costs and not because everyone thought it was a stupid idea, he’s lying. And when he tweets verbatim white nationalist talking points about land removal in South Africa, he’s lying. Trump lies (and spreads others’ lies) to score political points and push his own narratives. It doesn’t matter whether it’s intentional or if there are statistics to back it up.
It’s not like “lie” is a magic word that will bring an end to all untruths. But it’s simple and direct. It cuts through politispeak that plagues the punditry and journalism that has normalized Trump’s presidency from day one. And it shouldn’t have taken the Washington Post two years to verify a lie when he spouts them every single day.
It’s not indecent or unobjective to call something a lie. Sometimes it’s just the truth.