All politicians keep fact-checkers busy. They make promises that they can’t keep. They use cherry-picked data to make a case. They duck and dodge, sidestep and fudge.
Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton got tripped up more than once on claims about her private email server. Ben Carson, the strong-running GOP candidate, has been placed on the defensive by questions about the veracity of his biographical information.
But rarely, if ever, has a high-profile candidate treated truth and accuracy as contemptuously as Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump.
Just over the past few days, Trump stated he’d seen television footage of “thousands and thousands” of people in New Jersey cheer the collapse of the twin towers of the World Trade Center on 9/11. That’s “where you have large Arab populations,” Trump added.
Never miss a local story.
But police in the city where this supposedly happened, Jersey City, say the claim is patently untrue. No television footage of that day’s tragedy supports Trump’s outrageous statement.
Trump also asserted that the Obama administration wants to let in 200,000 refugees from Syria next year. Maybe even 250,000.
Wrong, as Trump undoubtedly knows. The correct number is 10,000.
And he tweeted out blatantly false information inflating the percentage of white homicide victims who are killed by black persons.
Actually, more than eight of 10 murders of white victims are committed by persons who are also Caucasian, not by black persons, as Trump alleged.
Trump lies blithely and refuses to back down. Indeed, he often expands his falsehoods. His lies denigrate and cast suspicion on whole groups of people. They are intended to whip up fear and anger among citizens who are either uninformed or predisposed to believe hateful rumors even when faced with evidence to the contrary.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of those people around, and they vote in Republican primaries. Trump leads nationwide polls of GOP voters. Other candidates, namely Carson and Ted Cruz, are taking note and following his lead in singling out Muslims for criticism.
People who care about truth and accuracy must keep calling Trump out. He is not a victim of the liberal media, or a refreshing antidote to excess political correctness.
He is an intentional purveyor of falsehoods intended to divide America and that makes him a dangerous force.