Mark L. Hopkins: Who deserves a ‘four-Pinocchio’ rating?
Earlier I wrote a piece on the organizations that check the truth of the “facts” given to us by presidential candidates as they speak on the circuit. One of those is called “Fact Checker” and they apply ratings that speak to the relative truth of candidate statements. The very worst rating a candidate can receive on a statement is called a “four-Pinocchio rating.” In short it means that the statement has no truth at all and the person who delivered it should, like Pinocchio in the children’s story, have a very long nose after telling it.
All candidates are guilty of some stretching of the truth. However, no one rivals candidate Trump in off-the-wall statements. Let me share some of his most outrageous four-Pinocchio statements.
Mr. Trump claimed that the Mexican government is sending criminals and rapist to the U.S. There is no evidence that immigrants commit more crimes than native born Americans and the crimes committed by Hispanics are generally much milder crimes. There is also no evidence that the Mexican government is involved in our illegal immigration problem.
Mr. Trump told us he never said “some of the things” claimed by debate questioner, Megyn Kelly. Trump’s slurs against women and over-the-top language cited by Kelly were, in fact, correct.
Mr. Trump stated that President Obama spent $4 million to conceal school and passport records. Like the Trump claims about President Obama’s birth certificate, there is no evidence that the President spent any money at all to conceal his records.
Mr. Trump claimed that the “real” unemployment rate is 42 percent not the 4.9 percent reported by the government. In truth, we have about 93 million, or 42 percent of the adult population currently unemployed. That number includes all retired people, stay at home parents, and handicapped people who either cannot or have no desire to enter the job market.
Mr. Trump has repeated over and over the claim that President Obama is planning to accept 200,000 Syrian refugees. Germany has agreed to accept 180,000 refugees but the U.S. administration has never stated an intent to take more than 10,000.
Mr. Trump told us that “thousands” of New Jersey Muslims celebrated the 9/11 attacks. A major search of all TV clips during that time period revealed no such celebrations.
Mr. Trump has claimed that his version of the border fence would cost $8 billion. Those who are professional builders say building such a fence would cost closer to $25 Billion. Further, Mr. Trump said that Mexico would pay for the fenced. The Mexican President said they would not pay for it.
Mr. Trump said he could save $300 billion a year on Medicare drugs. The entire Medicare program costs less than $78 billion a year. How do you save $300 billion when the budget is less than one third that amount?
Mr. Trumps says that now defunct Trump University received an “A” rating from the Better Business Bureau. The BBB reports that it gave Trump University a “D-” while it was still in operation before closing down.
One of the realities of politics is that if you say something often enough, despite its questionable truth, the public begins to believe it. There was so much talk about President Obama having been born in Kenya eight years ago that surveys tell us that close to one third of the public believes that false rumor today. That seems to be the strategy in the current election.
Candidates evidently believe that even the most ridiculous statement can be perceived as fact if you say it over and over.
Hopefully, the American public is not that gullible. We are the most educated country in the world and we are the oldest representative democracy in the world. Two-hundred-and forty years of experience should equip us to see through the rhetoric to the reality of our situation.
We should have learned by now to wade through the verbiage and arrive at truth. Let us hope that saner heads will prevail when it comes time to pull that lever in November.
— Dr. Mark L. Hopkins writes for More Content Now and Scripps Newspapers. He is past president of colleges and universities in four states and currently serves as executive director of a higher-education consulting service. You will find Hopkins’ latest book, “Journey to Gettysburg,” on Amazon.com. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.