Donald Trump
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

Donald Trump stepped over the line for many major news outlets when he chose to Rick-Roll the press and double down on the lies about his birther nonsense. All of the sudden they became more comfortable with using the “L” word about him. Now…just before the first presidential debate, the meme that “Donald Trump is a liar” seems to have caught on.

For example, there was this headline from the New York Times: “A Week of Whoppers From Donald Trump.”

Donald J. Trump has unleashed a blizzard of falsehoods, exaggerations and outright lies in the general election, peppering his speeches, interviews and Twitter posts with untruths so frequent that they can seem flighty or random — even compulsive.

However, a closer examination, over the course of a week, revealed an unmistakable pattern: Virtually all of Mr. Trump’s falsehoods directly bolstered a powerful and self-aggrandizing narrative depicting him as a heroic savior for a nation menaced from every direction. Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist, described the practice as creating “an unreality bubble that he surrounds himself with.”

The New York Times closely tracked Mr. Trump’s public statements from Sept. 15-21, and assembled a list of his 31 biggest whoppers, many of them uttered repeatedly.

The Los Angeles Times weighed in with: “Scope of Trump’s falsehoods unprecedented for a modern presidential candidate.

Never in modern presidential politics has a major candidate made false statements as routinely as Trump has. Over and over, independent researchers have examined what the Republican nominee says and concluded it was not the truth — but “pants on fire” (PolitiFact) or “four Pinocchios” (Washington Post Fact Checker)…

PolitiFact, a Tampa Bay Times site that won a Pulitzer for its coverage of the 2008 election, has rated 70% of the Trump statements it has checked as mostly false, false or “pants on fire,” its lowest score. By contrast, 28% of Clinton’s statements earned those ratings.

“As we noted when we awarded Trump our 2015 Lie of the Year award for his portfolio of misstatements, no other politician has as many statements rated so far down the dial,” PolitiFact writer Lauren Carroll reported in June. “It’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen.”

Politico documented “Donald Trump’s Week of Misrepresentations, Exaggerations and Half-Truths.”

We subjected every statement made by both the Republican and Democratic candidates — in speeches, in interviews and on Twitter — to our magazine’s rigorous fact-checking process. The conclusion is inescapable: Trump’s mishandling of facts and propensity for exaggeration so greatly exceed Clinton’s as to make the comparison almost ludicrous.

Though few statements match the audacity of his statement about his role in questioning Obama’s citizenship, Trump has built a cottage industry around stretching the truth. According to POLITICO’s five-day analysis, Trump averaged about one falsehood every three minutes and 15 seconds over nearly five hours of remarks.

In raw numbers, that’s 87 erroneous statements in five days.

The Washington Post reported, “Trump’s week reveals bleak view, dubious statements in ‘alternative universe.’”

An examination by The Washington Post of one week of Trump’s speeches, tweets and interviews show a candidate who not only continues to rely heavily on thinly sourced or entirely unsubstantiated claims but also uses them to paint a strikingly bleak portrait of an impoverished America, overrun by illegal immigrants, criminals and terrorists — all designed to set up his theme that he is specially suited to ‘make America great again.’

Josh Voorhees at Slate narrowed the list down a bit in “Hey, Lester Holt: We Made a Cheat Sheet of Trump’s Favorite Lies for You.”

To help Monday’s debate moderator Lester Holt out, below is a list of some of the most common lies Trump has told on the stump this past year, which he will likely repeat at the debate, debunked.

Finally NBC News took a little different approach with, “A Full List of Donald Trump’s Rapidly Changing Policy Positions.”

After a year of campaigning, hundreds of interviews, stadium rallies, and press conferences, it is still difficult to glean a platform from the Republican nominee’s powerfully incoherent rhetoric and constantly evolving views.

Donald Trump changes his mind so frequently and so dramatically that a compilation of his current policies would not tell the whole story, nor would it be up to date for very long — he once offered up three different views on abortion in eight hours. By mixing facts with exaggerations and outright falsehoods in hundreds of interviews while simultaneously refusing to offer specifics — insisting that unpredictability is an advantage he’ll use to cut better deals — Trump and the Republican Party that’s nominated him are putting forward the most elusive presidential platform in modern history.

To wit: This list features 117 distinct policy shifts on 20 major issues, tracking only his reversals since he announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015.

That all adds up to a powerful indictment of the candidate who promised to forego political correctness and “shoot straight” with American voters. Although, coming from the press – which his supporters trust even less than they do establishment politicians – it likely won’t have much impact on his base of supporters. But the question remains: Is there a market for truth in this election?

Beyond that, there is something I’d like to see the press notice as we head into the debate portion of this election season. If the standard by which Trump is judged in these debates is whether or not he is able to comport himself as “presidential,” doesn’t being a serial liar pretty much address that before we even begin?

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