WASHINGTON — Critics of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign often complain about the way the media has reported on his candidacy. It is not just the incessant coverage that riles them. It’s the perceived lack of fact-checking.
Trump is known for making outlandish and dubious claims with little connection to the truth. The press corps, these critics argue, allows him to float along in a perpetual state of unreality.
The truth is, Trump is routinely fact-checked. It’s just that he makes so many statements in such a rapid and continuous fashion that it becomes virtually impossible to keep up.
On Wednesday, The Huffington Post assigned five and a half reporters to look into a roughly 12,000-word transcript of Trump’s town hall event on CNN the night before. It took us hours, but in all, we found 71 separate instances in which Trump made a claim that was either inaccurate, misleading or deeply questionable. That’s basically one falsehood every 169 words (counting the words uttered by moderator Anderson Cooper), or 1.16 falsehoods every minute (the town hall lasted an hour, including commercial breaks).
Below are our findings:
Claim: “’s home state is Texas. It may be Canada.”
Reality: Canada is not a state and Ted Cruz, while born there, calls Texas home.
Claim: “I don’t know what touch means.” — Trump, in reference to his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski grabbing reporter Michelle Field’s arm in an incident that has resulted in his arrest.
Reality: Trump knows what “touch” means. Everyone with a functioning brain knows what it means.
Claim: The security camera footage of the Lewandowski incident “exonerates him totally.”
Reality: It does not. It actually shows Lewandowski lied about his initial assertion that he didn’t know or remember Fields at all.
Claim: “All of a sudden story changed.” — Trump, discussing what happened after it was revealed that there was security footage of the incident.
Reality: Fields’ story hasn’t changed.
Claim: “I’m a loyal person.” — Trump on his decision to stand by Lewandowski.
Reality: Trump is famous for the phrase, “You’re fired.” His marital history also conflicts with this.
Claim: “If somebody in this audience gets whacked, or gets hurt, including me, you get hit a little bit. You go, ow. There’s no emotion.” — Trump on Fields’ reaction to being tugged.
Reality: People do not react the same to trauma. This is also an excuse routinely used to discredit domestic violence and sexual assault victims.
Claim: “She was grabbing me.” — Trump on Fields.
Reality: Footage shows she did not grab him. Here’s Trump’s own tweet:
Why is this reporter touching me as I leave news conference? What is in her hand?? pic.twitter.com/HQB8dl0fhn
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2016 8.
Claim: “She wasn’t supposed to be asking questions because the press conference lasted for 45 minutes.” — Trump on Fields.
Reality: Multiple reporters were asking questions of Trump as he left his event that evening.
Claim: “Did you see the protester grabbing the woman in front of him? With his hands on her neck?” — Trump on a protester who was also allegedly pulled by Lewandowski.
Reality: The video appears to show the protester bumping into a woman as he is trying to leave.
Claim: “She had a pen in her hand, which could have been a knife, it could have been just a pen, which is very dangerous.” — Trump on Fields.
Reality: Pens are carried all the time by reporters and are widely acknowledged as not being very dangerous.
Claim: “She wasn’t dragged to the ground.” — Trump on Fields.
Reality: Trump implies here that Fields said she was dragged to the ground. She never did.
She said, “I almost fell to the ground, but was able to maintain my balance,” which is what the video shows.
Claim: “I see Hillary with Benghazi, you know the famous ad, three in the morning, guess what, the phone rang, she wasn’t there.”
Reality: An email did surface showing that Clinton missed a briefing because she was sleeping. It was not a phone call. And it was at 10:43 a.m., with Clinton likely overseas.
Claim: “Nobody respects our president.”
Reality: This is false in the U.S. and abroad.
Claim: “We owe $19 trillion, we have another $2 trillion because of the very, very bad omnibus budget that was just signed.”
Reality: We do have a $19 trillion debt. But the omnibus was $1.1 trillion.
Claim: “It’s a disgrace, which gives everything that Obama wanted.” — Trump on the omnibus.
Reality: President Barack Obama asked for but did not receive additional spending.
Claim: “We get nothing.” — Trump on how Republicans fared in the omnibus spending bill.
Reality: As noted by a GOP aide, the party did get some wins, including lifting the oil export ban, tightening the visa waiver program, and stopping the IRS from going after 501c4s.
Claim: Because of the omnibus, the debt would climb to $21 trillion.
Reality: The omnibus, as mentioned, is $1.1 trillion. Also, it won’t be chiefly or mostly responsible for the rising debt.
Claim: “Most people didn’t know that we are taking care of Japan’s military needs.”
Reality: Japan actually spends money on U.S. military installations in Japan.
Claim: “Iran is going to have within 10 years.”
Reality: The Iran deal rolls back and freezes the country’s nuclear program for 15 years. Many aspects of the deal are permanent, including the rigorous inspections and the ban on ever researching, making or possessing a nuclear bomb.
Claim: “It’s going to happen anyway. It’s going to happen anyway.” — Trump, on Japan, South Korea and Saudi Arabia getting nuclear weapons.
Reality: As Joseph Cirincione, the president of Ploughshares Fund, notes: “Since the height of the Cold War, we have reduced global nuclear stockpiles from almost 70,000 weapons to just over 15,000 weapons.”
Claim: “We don’t have money.” — Trump on America.
Reality: We’re the richest country in the world, and maybe in world history.
Claim: “I thought it was a nice picture of Heidi.” — Trump on a picture of Ted Cruz’s wife, Heidi Cruz, contrasted with his wife, Melania, that he re-tweeted.
Reality: There is no way to dip into Trump’s brain. But it’s fair to say that he didn’t think it was a kind or nice picture of her.
“@Don_Vito_08: “A picture is worth a thousand words” @realDonaldTrump #LyingTed #NeverCruz @MELANIATRUMP pic.twitter.com/5bvVEwMVF8“
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2016 23.
Claim: “No, it’s not.” — Trump, when told that his insistence that he “didn’t start” the fight over wives with Ted Cruz sounded like the argument a 5-year-old would make.
Reality: “I didn’t start it” is the argument of toddlers and small children.
Claim: “He sent out a picture” — Trump, stating that Cruz was responsible for spreading a photo of Melania Trump posing nude for GQ.
Reality: Cruz didn’t send out the picture. An anti-Trump super PAC sent it out.
Claim: “They were Romney people.” — Trump, switching blame for the person(s) who sent out the Melania photo.
Reality: Liz Mair, the Republican operative who did send out the picture, is not a Mitt Romney person.
Claim: “No, everybody knows he sent it out.” — Trump, blaming Cruz again for sending out the photo.
Reality: Make America Awesome Again PAC, Mair’s group, sent it out.
Claim: “I wouldn’t have China walking away with trade deficits of $505 billion a year.”
Reality: The trade deficit was $365 billion in 2015.
Claim: “We have a president who won’t talk about it.” — Trump on Obama and radical Islam.
Reality: Obama won’t use the term “radical Islam,” but he regularly talks about terrorism perpetrated by ISIS.
We are not at war with Islam. We are at war with people who have perverted Islam. President Barack Obama 29.
Claim: “If bullets were going in the opposite direction, you wouldn’t have had the problems in those two places, that I can tell you.” — Trump, on the terrorist attacks in San Bernardino and Paris.
Reality: The United States has a Second Amendment — and still has more gun deaths than anywhere else. Also, arming more citizens leads to more unintentional shootings.
Claim: “I was against the war in Iraq. OK.”
Reality: Trump spoke supportively of the invasion in 2002.
Claim: “We have no idea who they are, we have no idea where is their paperwork. They have no paperwork; they have no identification.” — Trump on Syrian refugees.
Reality: Syrian refugees are the most heavily vetted group coming to the U.S. The process takes a year and a half to two years.
Claim: “Lots of things happening in the mosques, that’s been proven.” — Trump on terrorism plotting activities.
Reality: There haven’t been mosques connected to Islamic State attacks in the U.S. It’s the mosque leaders experiencing death threats and vandalism.
Claim: “They had bombs on the floor. Many people saw this. Many, many people.” — Trump on the San Bernardino shooters.
Reality: A couple neighbors of one shooter’s mother, in a different town, noticed packages being delivered. Nobody saw bombs.
Claim: “Nobody wants to call it a war.” — Trump on the fight against terrorism.
Reality: The Bush administration coined the phrase “War on Terror.”
Claim: “It’s such lies.” — Trump on accusations that he wasn’t a successful businessman.
Reality: There are real questions about how Trump actually managed his money, with outlets pointing out that he would have done better just investing in an index fund.
Claim: “Brooklyn had not a lot of value. Brooklyn was not a great place to be.” — Trump, explaining that his father had limited his earning potential by operating in an outer borough.
Reality: If Brooklyn had been its own city in 1960, it would have been the third-most populous city in the U.S. behind the rest of New York, Chicago and LA.
Claim: “I started off with a very, very small amount of money.”
Reality: His father gave him a $1 million loan, which is objectively not a small amount of money.
Claim: “My father didn’t leave a great fortune.”
Reality: Citing the Trump family’s own estimate, the New York Times reported that when Fred Trump died in 1999, he was worth $250-300 million. That’s about $356-427 million in 2016 dollars, per the BLS calculator.
Claim: “Now I’m worth over $10 billion.”
Reality: Estimates of Trump’s worth vary wildly. But Forbes put it at around $4.5 billion.
Claim: “Only a fool would give a tax return .”
Realty: Lawyers do advise against doing this. But nothing about being audited prevents Trump from releasing his tax records.
Claim: “Well, the greatest function of all by far is security for our nation. I would also say health care, I would also say education.”
Reality: Trump didn’t mention that he has called for disbanding the Department of Education, which would make it a non-priority for the U.S. government under his presidency.
Claim: “Thousands and thousands of people are infiltrating our country.”
Reality: While immigration estimates are tough to measure, there is no evidence that “thousands and thousands” of terrorists are infiltrating our country. Even fearful estimates say 82 specific individuals with ties to ISIS have entered the country since March 2014.
Claim: “Our military is being eaten away.”
Reality: The Associated Press fact-checked claims that President Barack Obama has gutted the military and found that “Total spending for the modernization for major weapons systems actually has remained stable” since 2009.
Claim: “If I get in, our military will be bigger, better, stronger than ever before. It’s the cheapest thing we can do.”
Reality: The U.S. already spends more on defense than the next seven countries combined. Trump hasn’t outlined a specific plan for expanding the military — other than saying he will make it “so big, so strong and so great, so powerful” — but estimates of the costs of other GOP plans for expanding the military have placed them at upwards of $17 billion a year.
Claim: “Obamacare is a disaster.”
Reality: It’s actually pretty OK.
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES 46.
Claim: “The government can lead , but it should be privately done.”
Reality: We don’t know what this means. Even under the Affordable Care Act, the actual insurers are private.
Claim: “We should probably have — we have to have private health care.”
Reality: The health care system is, and has been for many decades, a private-public mix, and that barely budged because of the ACA.
Claim: “The problem that we have in our country is we don’t have competition.”
Reality: The entire ACA apparatus is built on insurers competing for customers on a regulated private market.
Claim: “I am self-funding.”
Reality: Politifact evaluated this and determined that it was only “sort of” true, as he accepts individual donations.
Claim: “Obamacare, if you take a look at your premiums, they’re going up 35 percent, 45 percent, 55 percent.”
Reality: Politifact looked at this one and rated it half-true. “Some insurance plans in the federal exchange will see price hikes at the levels that Trump is suggesting. But he’s cherry-picking the high end of premium changes to come. Estimates for the national average are far below Trump’s figures, ranging from 4.4 percent to 13 percent.”
Claim: “We take the small loans, the people that send $17.50, or $250, even $1,000…” — Trump on donations to his campaign.
Reality: Loans? Really?
Claim: “No, I don’t really think so.”— Responding to a question about whether he solicits donations on his website.
Reality: There is a donate button on his website.
Claim: “I am not soliciting money from insurance companies and from lumber companies and from banks and from — if I did, I would have made Jeb Bush look like a baby.”
Reality: He made Bush look like a baby anyway.
Claim: “Just the other night, I’m in Florida, and a very, very rich friend of mine comes up, ‘Donald, I’d like to give you $10 million, I’ll give you anything…’”
Reality: Highly dubious. You can’t give a candidate money like that. You could give a super PAC that kind of money.
Claim: “I think in terms of small donations, I think we’ve received $6 million up until this point.”
Reality: Cooper corrected him that several times it was $7 million.
Claim: “We’re spending a tremendous — billions and billions of dollars on NATO.”
Reality: Actually, America’s direct spending on NATO is about $500 million annually.
Claim: “You don’t have Germany talking about Ukraine.”
Reality: Yes, you do.
Claim: “When Romney came out against me he ran one of the worst races in the history of presidential politics.”
Reality: Not even the top five.
Claim: “Millions of people are coming in and voting, in all fairness, for me.”
Reality: Here is a list of numerous false statements made by Trump compiled by PolitiFact.
Claim: “I’m a unifier.”
Reality: He’s the most unliked candidate.
Claim: “Sen. Jeff Sessions, one of the most respected men in the Senate.”
Reality: Depends on who you ask.
Claim: “As one of the magazines recently said, Donald Trump is a world-class businessman.”
Reality: Trump appears to be quoting himself.
Claim: “Do you ever notice my biggest problems are repeats and retweets? I don’t problem with what I say.”
Reality: Trump routinely draws controversy for his own ideas, including, but not limited to, pledging to ban Muslims from traveling to the United States and proposing to build a wall on the Mexican border.
Claim: “The debates, they give you 15 seconds, what would you do in terms of war and peace, OK?”
Reality: Contenders typically have about one minute to respond.
Claim: “Every — Drudge, they do an online poll right after the debate, Time magazine, Slate, many groups do — I think I’ve won every single poll by a lot on debating.”
Reality: Trump is omitting the fact that online reader polls are basically meaningless. Actual polls, by contrast, haven’t shown him doing as well.
Claim: “A lot of people are sending goods over to other countries, and especially goods that can spoil like what you do. They send over to other countries, and the other country refuses to accept them, and yet we accept their goods without tax, without anything.”
Reality: The process Trump is describing does not occur. The U.S. is not accepting the dregs that are left over after Brazil or France turn away rotten food at their border. But there are legitimate concerns about food safety standards in U.S. trade, particularly with respect to seafood.
Claim: “Right now we have illegal immigration, we have illegals all over the country. We have at least 11 million. Some people think it could be 31 million, it’s somewhere in between. It’s probably 12, 13, 14.”
Reality: Robert Warren, a fellow at the Center for Migration Studies and a former demographer with the Census Bureau and the Immigration and Naturalization Service, told PolitiFact, “there is virtually no evidence that the real number could be even a few million higher than 11 million.”
Claim: “The world is taking advantage of the United States and it’s driving us into literally being a third world nation.”
Reality: The United States is not “literally” turning into a third world nation. According to the United Nations, the U.S. is still a major developed economy.
Claim: “We come home and we land at LaGuardia with potholes all over the place.”
Reality: There was one major pothole reported at LaGuardia Airport recently. However, the U.S. does, in fact, have outdated and deteriorating infrastructure.
A request to talk about this list, made to the Trump campaign, was not returned.