Only with someone like Donald Trump as president would journalists have to come up with scientific indicators to measure and describe the extent of the president’s dishonesty and untrustworthiness.
But because Trump’s a serial liar, we’re in uncharted territory here.
Daniel Dale, the Washington bureau chief at the Toronto Star, said he has come up with the “first detailed statistical analysis of Trump’s dishonesty.” Many reporters have been keeping track of Trump’s lies, which has been no small feat. As Dale pointed out last year, Trump lied about the weather on the day of his inauguration. The next day, he lied about the crowd size. He lies about seemingly everything, even when there is no apparent advantage to doing so.
The Star analyzed no fewer than 1,340,330 words Trump has said since his inauguration speech on Jan. 20, 2017 through July 1 of this year. The newspaper said it had found 1,929 false claims during that period. But, Dale added, “Readers wanted more than just this raw number. They asked us, for example, to explain why the number of false claims per week has increased since early 2017. The key question: is Trump just talking more, or are his words denser with dishonesty than they used to be?”
According to Dale, Trump’s “dishonesty density” is increasing. “The issue isn’t just that he’s talking more these days. It’s that what he’s saying is less truthful,” he said.
For example, Trump has said a “false word” every 19.4 words, according to the report. In 2017, the percentage of Trump’s words that were part of a false claim was 3.8 percent. That figure is now reportedly 7.3 percent, Dale said. A graphic accompanying the story shows Trump’s “dishonesty density” line clearly is moving upward and to the right.
The analysis also noted that Trump is talking more than he used to, too (sigh), by a figure of 20 percent.
According to the study:
The number of words Trump utters in a week varies widely depending on what happens to be on his schedule — it often jumps in weeks when he holds one of his hour-long campaign rallies, for example — but it is generally increasing over time. Trump has averaged 484 more public words per day in 2018 than he did in 2017 — 2,856 vs. 2,372, a 20 per cent increase.
Star staffers think that the increase in how much Trump talks and how much he lies is partly attributable to the fact that he appears to be ad-libbing more these days, which is guaranteed to generate more lies than when he sticks to a pre-written script.
You can read the entire story and learn how the Star made its calculations here. Keep in mind that Dale thinks he and his team actually were conservative in their decisions when compiling the data. God help us all.