Donald Trump says a lot ofinsensitive things. Some of his comments are disparaging, such as attacking women’s looks, and others are bigoted, such as his remarks about Mexicans or Muslims. But lately, Trump’s statements have gone beyond simply sharing his opinion to falsifying facts in a way that closely resembles the pattern of fear-mongering propaganda used by Germany in the late 1930s to sway public opinion regarding entire groups of people.
While it is no surprise that Trump has a loose relationship with the truth (or at the very least with facts), a report by the fact checkers at Politifact found that a whopping 74 percent of Trump’s statements are false. That means that for every four claims made by Trump, expect three of those to be false to some degree.
According to Politifact, the non-partisan fact-checking group that analyzed 71 statements made by Trump since he announced his campaign in June, none of his statements were completely true zero. About 7 percent were “mostly true” and 18 percent were “half true.” However, 13 percent were “mostly false,” 41 percent were “false” and 21 percent of his statements were categorized as “pants on fire” false.
Trump’s most recent statements have all fallen in the “pants on fire” category.
During a campaign rally in Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday, where he was making a case against allowing Syrian refugees into the country and supporting a database of U.S.-based Muslims, Trump said he saw thousands of people cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
“I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down,” Trump said. “And I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.”
According to Politifact, “This defies basic logic. If thousands and thousands of people were celebrating the 9/11 attacks on American soil, many people beyond Trump would remember it. And in the 21st century, there would be video or visual evidence.Instead, all we found were a couple of news articles that described rumors of celebrations that were either debunked or unproven.”
In fact, The Associated Press on Sept. 17, 2001, described “rumors of rooftop celebrations of the attack by Muslims” in Jersey City but said those rumors were “unfounded.”
To further highlight the refugee “problem,” Trump, speaking with conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, said the Obama administration is deliberately sending Syrian refugees to states led by Republican governors while sparing states with Democratic governors. “They send them to the Republicans, not to the Democrats, you know because they know the problem why would we want to bother the Democrats”
Trump added that the number of Syrian refugees already in the United States is “as high as 250,000 people.” According to The Associated Press, however, approximately 1,500 Syrian refugees have been accepted into the United States since January 1 about 1,000 into states with Republican governors and about 500 to states led by Democratic governors. The AP further points out that the number of Republican governors outweighs that of Democratic governors 31 to 18.
According to Politifact, “The numbers show that Democratic-led states recently received almost as many refugees as and by some calculations, even more refugees than Republican-led states on a per capita basis.” The organization goes on to say that,
“People who have taken part in the process say that the administration leaves it up to private groups,mostly faith-based groups,to determine where refugees should go, with the decision based on family links, the availability of language resources locally and the ability of local groups to handle the new workload.”
Pivoting his attention from Muslims and refugees to African-Americans, Trump on Sunday tweeted out a racially loaded image with statistics showing that Blacks killed 81 percent of white homicide victims in 2015. The tweet, incidentally, came a day after a Black protester was physically assaulted and removed from Trump’s Alabama rally.
Trump’s tweeted image, which cites as its source the non-existent “Crime Statistics Bureau San Francisco,” shows a masked Black man holding a handgun in a threatening manner and includes a list of “USA Crime Statistics 2015”:
“Blacks killed by whites — 2%”
“Blacks killed by police — 1%”
“Whites killed by police — 3%”
“Whites killed by whites — 16%”
“Whites killed by blacks — 81%”
“Blacks killed by blacks — 97%”
However, the latest U.S. crime data from the FBI only covers full-year 2014; 2015 data is not yet available. Still, that is the least of the inaccuracies.
The image shared by Trump shows Blacks as the primary killers of whites, but the exact opposite is true, according to Politifact: “By overwhelming percentages, whites tend to kill other whites. Similarly, blacks tend to kill other blacks. These trends have been observed for decades.”
Using FBI data, Politifact produced a more accurate chart comparing the data Trump shared to the FBI’s numbers:
Blacks killed by whites: Trump number 2 percent; FBI number 8 percent
Blacks killed by blacks: Trump number 97 percent; FBI number 90 percent
Whites killed by whites: Trump number 16 percent; FBI number 82 percent
Whites killed by blacks: Trump number 81 percent; FBI number 15 percent
“Almost every number in the image is wrong,” said Politifact. “The statistics on white victims are exaggerated five-fold. The police-related deaths are off as well.”
In its most basic definition, propaganda is defined as “a form of communication, often biased or misleading in nature, aimed at influencing the attitude of a population toward some cause, position or political agenda.”
Trump, with approximately 5 million Twitter followers and the ability to command news coverage pretty much when he wants it, does exert a huge amount of influence on his followers, fans, supporters and many less-educated undecided voters to whom Trump appeals to with his tell-it-like-it-is, Washington-outsider persona. For many of these people, Trump’s views, tweets, information and statistics are nothing but true and are then regurgitated within the Trump and far-right echo chamber with little regard or desire for the truth.