Even before President Donald Trump entered the White House, he and his allies provided a constant barrage of misinformation to the American public -- an effort that didn't stop once in office. By six months into the presidency, the New York Times -- which had been keeping an exhaustive list of his falsehoods -- simply gave up on the effort, perhaps finding it just too difficult to stay current.
But now -- nearly a year into Trump's term -- the administration continues to make misleading claims that support their policies. And to emphasize just how little they care about public perception at this point, officials are no longer even trying to offer evidence in support of their assertions.
For a team that has made touting falsehoods a constant in their governing, the idea that they should simply be trusted at their word is laughable -- yet that's exactly what they expect.
Earlier this week, in response to massive blowback from constituents over the new tax cut bill and its projected impact in adding to the national debt, the Treasury Department responded with a literal memo saying, "Don't worry, the cuts will pay for themselves."
Yet Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin didn't provide much in the way of facts to back up the statement. And what little he did offer was easily refuted. The Washington Post reports:
Take your pick of independent analyses refuting Treasury's conclusion, because all of them do. A new look from the Penn Wharton Budget Model on Monday found that even factoring in growth, the Senate bill adds $1.5 trillion to $1.8 trillion to the national debt over a decade. The outlet adds that, "37 of 38 economists across the ideological spectrum surveyed by the University of Chicago Booth School of Business agreed the bill will add to the debt substantially (the 38th misread the question).
And the tax cut debate isn't the only issue prompting the Trump administration to make baseless claims. In an effort to end net neutrality, FCC Chair Ajit Pai has repeatedly asserted that ending the regulations on internet service providers would be a boon for small ISPs who were unable to expand under the current system.
But as Arstechnica reports, it looks like Pai actually made the story up:
But Pai's announcement offered no data to support this assertion. So advocacy group Free Press looked at the FCC's broadband deployment data for these companies and found that four of them had expanded into new territory. The fifth didn't expand into new areas but it did start offering gigabit Internet service. These expansions happened after the FCC imposed its Title II net neutrality rules. (Title II is the statute that the FCC uses to enforce net neutrality rules and regulate common carriers.)
That isn't the only lie Pai told, either. Like the large telecoms themselves, Pai has insisted that net neutrality regulations have kept telemedicine from expanding – a statement Motherboard aggressively debunks:
Pai packs several falsehoods tightly into this statement. One, again, nothing in the current rules bans telemedicine app and service prioritization. Two, Pai's claims that 'robust transparency requirements' and 'FTC-led consumer protection' will remain post repeal are largely debunked by the fine print in his own plan, which indicates the agency intends to eliminate both the legal justification and enforcement mechanisms that actually require ISP transparency. Pai also ignores that the FTC's authority over ISPs is currently in doubt thanks to an ongoing court battle against AT&T.
There is little doubt that the administration believes it should simply be able to make statements and have them accepted without question. And that's pretty ironic, considering their ongoing war on the traditional media -- perhaps the lone gatekeeper of facts in a country now swimming in misdirection and distortion.
Just this week, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders escalated that battle again by essentially calling mainstream media a pack of liars whom the public shouldn't trust and claiming that these outlets are willfully and purposefully attempting to discredit the administration.
"Yes, there is a big difference between honest mistakes and purposely misleading people by reporting information that you know to be false," agrees CNN's political pundit Chris Cillizza. "But, there's absolutely zero evidence -- cited by Sanders or anyone else in the Trump administration -- that any reporter covering the Trump White House has published something they knew to be false. Not any."
Even when it comes to claiming that the media is lying, the Trump administration still can't be bothered to support its claims. Once again, these officials expect Americans to take them at their word -- no matter how meaningless it might be.