Donald Trump has lied an average of 13 times a day since becoming president, analysis finds

Large majorities of Trump supporters believe most, although not all, of his lies. This amounts to 1 out of 6 adults

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published August 12, 2019 11:24AM (EDT)

 (Getty/Chip Somodevilla)
(Getty/Chip Somodevilla)

Donald Trump has lied an average of 13 times a day since becoming president, a new analysis finds.

Between the day of his inauguration (Jan. 20, 2017) and Aug. 5, 2019, Trump has made 12,019 statements that were either false or misleading, according to the Washington Post. While that averages out to 13 such statements a day since Trump assumed office, the number has increased recently. Since April 26, when Trump made his 10,000th false or misleading statement, he has averaged 20 such statements every day, or one every 72 minutes.

The Post went into detail about the specific categories of Trump's misstatements:

About one-fifth of these claims are about immigration, his signature issue — a percentage that has grown since the government shut down over funding for his promised wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. In fact, his most repeated claim — 190 times — is that his border wall is being built. Congress balked at funding the concrete barrier he envisioned, so he has tried to pitch bollard fencing and repairs of existing barriers as “a wall.”

False or misleading claims about trade, the economy and the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential campaign each account for about 10 percent of the total. Claims on those subjects are also among his most repeated.

One possible explanation for the increase in the number of Trump's lies is that as the president has continued to lie with relative political impunity, he has grown desensitized to the instinctive reluctance most people feel about saying that which they know to be severely exaggerated or flat-out untrue.

"Research done in our lab, not on the president, suggests that the emotional response that people have to their own lies is reduced every time they lie," Tali Sharot, an associate professor of cognitive neurosciences at University College London, told MSNBC last year. "Now they don’t have that negative arousal that comes with lying so there is nothing carving their dishonesty, and so dishonesty just escalates over time."

She added, "I think the way to think about it is, it’s a bit like perfume. You buy a new perfume, you put it on and it smells quite strongly. Over time you put it again and again and after a while, you can’t smell it anymore because you have adapted — you really need to apply it more liberally in order to smell. So your own dishonesty, repeated dishonesty, is a bit like perfume that you just adjust to over time and you can’t adjust to it anymore."

Despite the prevalence of Trump's lying, a Washington Post Fact Checker analysis published in December found that large majorities of Trump supporters believe most, although not all, of his lies. This amounts to roughly 1 out of 6 adults. Overall, fewer than 3 out of 10 Americans believe Trump's most common inaccuracies, indicating that he has developed a reputation for untrustworthiness due to the transparency of some of his fibs, such as claiming that he passed the largest tax cut in history or that the American economy is stronger now than ever before.

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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