All politicians bend the truth to fit their purposes, including Hillary Clinton. But Donald J. Trump has unleashed a blizzard of falsehoods, exaggerations and outright lies in the general election, peppering his speeches, interviews and Twitter posts with untruths so frequent that they can seem flighty or random — even compulsive.
However, a closer examination, over the course of a week, revealed an unmistakable pattern: Virtually all of Mr. Trump’s falsehoods directly bolstered a powerful and self-aggrandizing narrative depicting him as a heroic savior for a nation menaced from every direction. Mike Murphy, a Republican strategist, described the practice as creating “an unreality bubble that he surrounds himself with.”
The New York Times closely tracked Mr. Trump’s public statements from Sept. 15-21, and assembled a list of his 31 biggest whoppers, many of them uttered repeatedly. This total excludes dozens more: Untruths that appeared to be mere hyperbole or humor, or delivered purely for effect, or what could generously be called rounding errors. Mr. Trump’s campaign, which dismissed this compilation as “silly,” offered responses on every point, but in none of the following instances did the responses support his assertions.
Tall Tales About Himself
Mr. Trump’s version of reality allows for few, if any, flaws in himself. As he tells it, the polls are always looking up, his policy solutions are painless and simple and his judgment regarding politics and people has been consistent — and flawless. The most consistent falsehood he tells about himself may be that he opposed the war in Iraq from the start, when the evidence shows otherwise.
He said a supportive crowd chanted, “Let him speak!” when a black pastor in Flint, Mich., asked Mr. Trump not to give a political speech in the church.
“I was against going into the war in Iraq.”
He said any supportive comments he made about the Iraq war came “long before” the war began.
He said he had publicly opposed the Iraq war in an Esquire interview “pretty quickly after the war started.”
Before the Iraq invasion, he said, he had told the Fox News anchor Neil Cavuto something “pretty close” to: “Don’t go in, and don’t make the mistake of going in.”
He said that when Howard Stern asked him about Iraq in 2002, it was “the first time the word Iraq was ever mentioned to me.”
“You see what’s happening with my poll numbers with African-Americans. They’re going, like, high.”
“Almost, it seems, everybody agrees” with his position on immigration.
He has made “a lot of progress” with Hispanic and black voters, and “you see that in the polls.”
He was “never a fan” of Colin Powell.
Mr. Trump said that after The Times published an article scrutinizing his relationships with women, “All the women came out and said they think Donald Trump is terrific.”
“Unlike other people” who only raise money for themselves during presidential campaigns, he also raises money for the Republican Party.
Unfounded Claims About
Critics and the News Media
It’s not just Mrs. Clinton whom Mr. Trump belittles and tars with inaccurate information. He also distorted the facts about his Republican critics, including President George Bush and Gov. John Kasich of Ohio. And he claimed that Lester Holt, the NBC anchor moderating the first presidential debate, is a Democrat — but Mr. Holt is a registered Republican.
In the primaries, Mr. Kasich “won one and, by the way, didn’t win it by much — that was Ohio.”
Lester Holt, the NBC anchor and debate moderator, “is a Democrat.”
The presidential debate moderators “are all Democrats.” “It’s a very unfair system.”
He said it “hasn’t been reported” that Mrs. Clinton called some Trump supporters “deplorable.”
Inaccurate Claims About Clinton
Mr. Trump regularly dissembles about his opponent, attributing ideas to Mrs. Clinton that she has not endorsed, or accusing her of complicity in events in which she had no involvement.
“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it.”
Mrs. Clinton had “the power and the duty” to stop the release of unauthorized immigrants whose home countries would not accept their deportation after they were released from prison.
Mrs. Clinton has not criticized jihadists and foreign governments that oppress and kill women, gay people and non-Muslims. “Has Hillary Clinton ever called people who support these practices deplorable and irredeemable? No.”
“Do people notice Hillary is copying my airplane rallies — she puts the plane behind her like I have been doing from the beginning.”
Mrs. Clinton destroyed 13 smartphones with a hammer while she was secretary of state.
He said Mrs. Clinton is calling for “total amnesty in the first 100 days,” including “a virtual end to immigration enforcement” and for unauthorized immigrants to receive Social Security and Medicare.
Mrs. Clinton is “effectively proposing to abolish the borders around the country.”
“Hillary Clinton’s plan would bring in 620,000 refugees in her first term alone,” and would cost $400 billion.
Stump Speech Falsehoods
Some warped or inaccurate claims have become regular features of Mr. Trump’s stump speech. He routinely overstates the scale and nature of the country’s economic distress and the threats to its national security, and exaggerates the potential for overnight improvements if he were elected.
“Our African-American communities are absolutely in the worst shape that they’ve ever been in before — ever, ever, ever.”
Fifty-eight percent of black youth are not working.
Many dangerous refugees are being welcomed by the Obama administration. “Hundreds of thousands of people are being approved to pour into the country. We have no idea who they are.”
“We have cities that are far more dangerous than Afghanistan.”
Ford plans to cut American jobs by relocating small-car production to Mexico, and may move all production outside the United States.
“We have a trade deficit this year with China of approximately $500 billion.”
Mr. Trump often dissembles on subjects of passing interest, like the news of the day or the parochial concerns of his local audiences. But his larger pattern of behavior still holds: These misstatements, too, accentuate the grievances of his supporters, and cast his own ideas in a more favorable light.
Senator Bernie Sanders fell victim to “a rigged system with the superdelegates.”