In a political climate that has been described as “post-fact”, perhaps it should come as no surprise that facts—and so-called “alternative” facts—have played a huge role in the first few weeks of the Trump administration. Perhaps one of the first fake facts to be presented was the one that the immigration ban from seven predominately Muslim countries was successful. For those paying attention, of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
Not only did the entire country erupt in protests at airports, but customs officials were left in a lurch when the Executive Order went into effect. Since there was no lead time or much of an explanation, they ended up turning away some refugees who had been participating in the vetting process for years. One example was that of a man who served as an interpreter to the U.S. military—at his own peril—for several years. Then, of course, there was a denial from Trump’s people that it was a Muslim ban. From strange quotes by Kellyanne Conway to an admission from Rudy Giuliani that Trump had asked him specifically how to implement a Muslim ban, the waters became even muddier with this debacle.
During the campaign, Trump riled up many of his crowds by lambasting the mainstream media, so perhaps it should be no surprise that he has continued this rhetoric after moving into the White House. He recently made a claim that The New York Times, which he has long considered to be an enemy, has apologized to him for their coverage. But the record shows that the news outlet never made such an apology at all.
Moving on to Trump’s obsession with his election numbers, there was the claim that he performed better than other candidates with the Latino demographic. With a lead over Mitt Romney that is considered negligible—and numbers that were far lower than that of George W. Bush—this was also false. Trump’s assertion that he received 84 percent of the Cuban-American vote also was wrong. Real estimates hover around 54 percent.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who has been the target of many jokes himself, also stated that Trump was being “praised” for a Holocaust Remembrance statement that omitted all mentions of Jews who were killed. In reality, many groups admonished the administration for this omission. One of these groups was the Republican Jewish Coalition, which made a statement denouncing the glaring error.
Then there was the Australia debacle, in which Trump claimed that Obama had agreed to take in “thousands of illegal immigrants”. This, of course, was also false. Obama made the deal to welcome around 1,200 refugees who had been forced to flee their own countries. A great many of these refugees are young children.
Then there was the Yemeni raid, which Sean Spicer hailed as a success. However, the real facts indicate that there was a great loss of life for no real benefit. Witnesses did not report seeing troops extract any useful information or documents at all.
Although Spicer’s statement was egregious, it paled in comparison to Kellyanne Conway’s allusion to the “Bowling Green Massacre”—a made-up attack that never happened. When it comes to fact-checking, news organizations and citizens have had their hands full with the Trump administration, and this fact shows no signs of slowing down.