Editor's Pick: Originally Published Tuesday, Dec. 22
When it comes to that whole truthiness thing, Pinocchio's got nothing on Donald Trump.
Political fact-checking project PolitiFact, which rates the accuracy of claims made by politicians and elected officials, dubbed the campaign misstatements of the current GOP presidential frontrunner its 2015 "lie of the year."
"Donald Trump doesn't let facts slow him down," editor Angie Drobnic Holan and staff writer Linda Qiu wrote in the announcement of the decision. "Bending the truth or being unhampered by accuracy is a strategy that he has followed for years."
Of the 77 Trump statements checked by PolitiFact, more than three-quarters are rated as "mostly false," "false" or "pants on fire." In fact, just one of the billionaire businessman's fact-checked contentions -- that Vladimir Putin has an 80% approval rating in Russia -- falls into the Pulitzer Prize winning project's "true" category.
Previous biggest lies of the year include exaggerations about Ebola in 2014, President Barack Obama and other Democrats' claim that Americans would be able to keep their health plans post-Obamacare in 2013, and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin and other Republicans' contention that proposed health care reform included "death panels" in 2009. Another GOP candidate, Mitt Romney, earned the crown of lies in 2012 over an ad suggesting Jeep was pulling out of Ohio and headed to China.
So what have Trump's biggest 2015 lies been?
His contention at a campaign rally in Birmingham, Ala. in November that he saw "thousands and thousands of people" cheering as the World Trade Center fell in 2001. The claims have been widely discredited, and Trump has been able to produce no video proof that such a thing actually happened (besides his "world's best memory"). Still, he has continued to insist on the veracity of his account, mocking the disability of a reporter who challenged it.
Another of Trump's major fibs: his claim the Mexican government sends "the bad ones" over the border to the United States at the first Republican debate in August.
Another: his retweet of an image laying out false crime statistics. "Whites killed by whites -- 16%. Whites killed by blacks -- 81%. Blacks killed by blacks -- 97%," the image read.
The former reality television star acknowledged the racially charged tweet may have been factually challenged, but he was quick to distance himself from any culpability in an interview with Fox News' Bill O'Reilly. "Bill I didn't tweet -- I retweeted somebody else that was supposedly an expert," he said.
The expert in question: @SeanSean252, whose Twitter profile reads "NEVER EVER VOTE RINO AGAIN!" and asks non-Conservatives not to follow him.
More Trump lies:
- President Obama wants to take in 250,000 people from Syria.
- The Obama administration is pushing refugees to states with Republican governors.
- The Trans-Pacific Partnership is designed to let China come in "through the back door."
- Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders is "gonna tax you people at 90%."
And he started off on the right foot: All of the five fact-checked statements from Trump's June 16 campaign announcement were deemed inaccurate by PolitiFact.
Pre-presidential candidacy, Trump has had issues with telling the truth as well. Remember his whole crusade to prove President Obama was not born in the United States? Trump went as far as to offer to donate $5 million to charity if the president released his college records and passport applications -- because his birth certificate wasn't enough.
Trump's lies haven't done him a ton of damage in his business career and so far they haven't hurt him much in politics, either. The former real estate magnate continues to lead the GOP pack, and it appears that nothing that he says or does can deter his supporters (see The Daily Show segment where two Trump fans say they would back him even if he proposed creating a national registry of Jews).
A RealClearPolitics national average of polls has him leading with 34.4% support, with second-place Ted Cruz far behind at 17.1%. Even scarier news for the GOP establishment: because some of his supporters may be ashamed to admit that they're on the Trump bandwagon in real life, his support could be even greater.