No clear-eyed observer can honestly deny that President Trump is far more detached from the truth than even other politicians. If you wanted to say that Trump lies more — far more — than Obama, I couldn’t argue.
But the liberal media’s Wonkosphere being what it is, it was inevitable we would get what we got today from the New York Times: a GRAPH(!) PROVING(!) with DATA(!) that Trump is exactly 68.67 times as dishonest as Obama.
That’s the conceit of this New York Times bit of data journalism:
The headline talks about "lies." The rest of the piece uses the word "falsehoods." The original premise is that the Times has caught every one of Obama’s and Trump’s line. The next premise is that Barack Obama, in his eight years as president, made only 18 times.
Seriously. The Times claims this. As a hard fact that it's willing to put in a graph.
I glanced at the chart and immediately saw just how incomplete the Lie List was, without a moment of research.
The Times omitted my favorite Obama falsehood: “We have excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs.” I know the Times didn’t miss that claim, because Obama made it during the inauguration. It wasn’t hard to see that it was false, because Obama had hired dozens of lobbyists in policymaking jobs by that point, including four in his cabinet, a Goldman Sachs lobbyist as chief of staff at the Treasury Department, and a Raytheon lobbyist as deputy Defense Secretary. The Times reported on the line, but it never informed its readers that it was false. So, I guess that means it doesn’t count as a falsehood in the data sense.
“If you like your plan, you can keep it,” the central falsehood to sell Obamacare, counts only once in the Times’ line graph, although Obama said it at least 36 times.
So far, that’s one claim in Obama’s first State of the Union, the central promise of his central legislative accomplishment. So, let’s throw in a central plank of Obama’s attack on Mitt Romney in 2012: That Romney opposed all support for failed automakers in Detroit.
“You were very clear that you would not provide, government assistance to the U.S. auto companies, even if they went through bankruptcy,” Obama said, citing a Romney op-ed that stated, “The federal government should provide guarantees for post-bankruptcy financing and assure car buyers that their warranties are not at risk.”
Besides "GM is Alive," "War on Women" was the other pillar of Obama's campaign. Do you remember when Obama said thousands of women rely on Planned Parenthood for mammograms? Did the Times forget this, or do they actually believe that Planned Parenthood provides mammograms? (It doesn’t.) Alternatively, they might omit the falsehood because there’s some potential interpretation of these words which is true.
I could go on and on and on with Obama's falsehoods the Times missed, but I don’t want to count them all — because counting falsehood in this way is a stupid way to approach the question of a politician’s honesty.
Not every question is made for a line chart and DATA(!) journalism.
This is a perennial problem in center-left mainstream media attempts at data journalism. Buzzfeed published a dreadful line graph claiming Fake News “beat” real news at the end of Election 2016.
A final point: That the Times missed three Obama falsehood that immediately, without research, jumped to my mind reinforces something I’ve said since the election. The paper that claims “The Truth Matters Now More Than Ever” is suggesting that it didn’t care as much about the truth from 2009 to Jan. 20, 2017.