Truthiness and Trump's Presidential Campaign

[Donald Trump] is becoming ISIS’s best recruiter. They are going to people, showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.”

-Hillary Clinton

Donald Trump has a tenuous relationship with the truth. For example, four years ago he sent investigators to Hawaii to prove that the President was lying about his place of birth and reported that “they cannot believe what they’re finding.” While the results of that investigation were never released to the public, Trump still does not know if the President was born in the United States or “why he wouldn’t release his records.” In the real world, Obama had released his “certification of birth” during 1988, long before Trump had become the public face of the Birther movement.

During the speech before paid supporters announcing his entry into the current race for the presidency, he said “our gross domestic product...was below zero. Whoever heard of this? It’s never below zero.” The answer is “nobody” because in 2014 the United States had a GDP of positive US$ 17,419,000,000,000. Although it is a strange mistake for someone who is running as a successful businessman, he probably meant that the change in GDP had just been announced as below zero. However, this is a condition that has definitely happened before. In fact, “the technical indicator of a recession is two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth as measured by a country’s gross domestic product”.

It is unclear if Trump is lying or just living in an altered reality when he asserts that he has “a great relationship with the blacks.”In his mind everyone agrees with him when he says that he hates “black guys counting my money”, they just do not say it because it would be politically incorrect. After all, “the only kind of people” anyone would want counting their “money are little short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” However, his tweet that showed that in 2015 “81%” of “whites [were] “killed by blacks” definitely fell into the category of a poorly conceived lie. First, given that the three categories of police, whites and blacks add up to 100% for both the killings of blacks and whites, either the other racial groups are angelic or the statistics are completely made up. Also, even though the graphic claims that it is citing data from “2015, the year is not over, and no official numbers have been released.” The FBI’s official data from 2014 shows that 82% of whites were killed by other whites, not 16% as Trump claimed, 15% of whites were killed by blacks, not 81% as Trump claimed and 8% of blacks were killed by whites, not 2% as Trump claimed. Despite these discrepancies, not only has Trump not removed the tweet from his Twitter account, 11,395 people have liked it.

While Trump has spouted these and many other falsehoods during his bid to become the next President, he apparently holds Hillary Clinton to a higher standard. On Sunday, Trump dismissed Clinton’s allegation that ISIS is “going to people, showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists” as “just another Hillary lie.” On this point he could be considered correct as Clinton was extremely sloppy in her delivery of this allegation and as yet has not provided any proof that ISIS has shown a video of Trump’s islamophobic rhetoric in their propaganda war against the United States. Her campaign chairman, John Podesta, compounded the problem when he stated that “she stands by this comment” rather than offering the needed corrections. This was a huge mistake for a candidate that already has trust issues with the electorate. However, Trump could not leave his win alone.

Perhaps it is his massive ego or maybe just an inability to comprehend the issues being discussed, but Trump felt the need to add that Clinton “just made this up in thin air” to the end of his statement. This situation is not like Carly Fiorina’s Planned Parenthood video, that clearly exists only within the confines of the conservative bubble. Trump’s speeches calling for the innocent family members of terrorists to be killed and banning Muslims from the United States exist and have surely been propagated to the Middle East. It is only unproven that ISIS has directly used them.

During the last Republican debate, many of Trump’s adversaries condemned his rhetoric, including Lindsey Graham who stated that “ISIL would be dancing in the streets, they just don’t believe in dancing.” The Clinton campaign cites an expert that states that ISIS tells people “we told you America hates Muslims and here is proof.” As a candidate for the highest office in the land, Clinton should have been more accurate with her accusation. However, Trump is lying to himself and to the American people if he thinks she pulled her statement out of “thin air.”