The 45th President of the United States may be vehemently against the idea of “fake news,” but he’s been known to stretch the truth on more than one occasion. Pretty much every speech he makes is peppered with fallacies or “alternative facts” depending on how you want to look at it. Here are some alternative facts he has spewed during his short stint in office that are proven to be completely inaccurate.
94 Million Americans Are Unemployed
In the president’s first congressional address, he stated that “94 million Americans are out of the labor force” in an attempt to shock the masses about the country’s unemployment rate. This is a wildly misleading statement. As of June 2016, America’s unemployment rate has fallen to 4.9%, a record low since 2008’s massive recession which saw a rate of 10%.
While this statement may be technically true – 94 million people are not members of the workforce – it fails to consider the fact that most of these people don’t intend to part of the workforce. According to PolitiFact, about 37.5 million of those people are over the age of 65 and heading into retirement. About 11.9 million people are between the ages of 16 and 19, meaning they’re in high school and college. About 8 million people are between the ages of 20 and 24, and likely college or graduate students not looking for fulltime work. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 7.6 million people were unemployed in January – not 94 million.
American Borders Are Wide Open for Anyone to Cross
During 45th’s congressional address he supported plans for building a wall across the Mexican border with some alternative facts. He said, “We’ve defended the borders of other nations while leaving our own borders wide open for anyone to cross.” That’s simply not true.
While there’s no physical wall separating the borders of Canada and Mexico, you can’t just walk from one side to the other. According to The New York Times, the borders are guarded by 21,000 Border Patrol agents and around 21,000 Customs and Border Protection offers at the 325 official ports of entry (this includes airports, seaports, and land crossings). America’s borders are protected.
The New York Times, CNN, CBS, ABC and NBC Are “Fake News”
Trump has long been touting the idea of “fake news.” He even went as far to say that “fake news media is the enemy of the people.” In a tweet, he listed The New York Times, CNN and all three major broadcast networks as fake news. This is false.
Many of the reports Trump has called “fake” simply paint him and his administration in an unfavorable, albeit factual, light. One of the most egregious examples is The Washington Post’s original story reporting Michael Flynn’s possible conversation with Russia. This story included eight anonymous sources which Trump deemed “fake news;” however, The White House later admitted that this was, in fact, true. Flynn misled them about discussing sanctions with Russia and later resigned from his post. James Murdoch, the CEO of 21st Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News, admitted in a press conference that the idea of “fake news” has been “co-opted by a political class to denigrate things that they don’t want to hear.”
Immigrants Cost the Country Billions
It’s technically true that immigrants cost the country billions, but they end up more than making up for it. In 2016 the National Academy of Sciences reported that immigrants cost the U.S. economy $57.4 billion between 2011 and 2013; however, children of immigrants made the country $30.5 billion. Third-generation immigrants well exceeded the cost of their predecessors by pulling in $223.8 billion.
When added up, immigrants boosted the American economy by $196.9 billion between 2011 and 2013.
All People on Welfare Do Not Work; Welfare Rates Are “Out of Control”
On Jan. 26, 2017, President Trump said, “We want to get our people off of welfare and back to work. So important. It’s out of control. It’s out of control.” This is misguided for a number of reasons. Firstly, just because people receive government assistance does not mean they are out of work. Secondly, not everyone who can get welfare even collects it. Most of these benefits are also contingent on the recipients actively seeking work.
In addition, participation in welfare programs like the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as food stamps) has declined over the past 15 years.
The First Travel Ban Was Not a Muslim Ban
Trump and his administration had largely touted the idea that the executive order banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries – including Syria and Iraq — was not a Muslim ban. This one is tricky – especially after it was ruled to be illegal. While the order didn’t ban all Muslims around the globe, it certainly banned Muslims from the seven countries listed. The order allowed for the immigration of only religious minorities from these countries (i.e. Christians). Iran, Yemen, Iraq, Somalia, Sudan and Lybia are all over 96 percent Muslim. Syria is 90 percent Muslim; therefore, as the majority religion, Muslims were, effectively, not allowed to enter the country.
In addition, Trump called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” in December of 2015. Before the executive order was signed, Rudy Giuliani admitted that Trump had called him up and asked him how to “legally” perform a “Muslim ban.”
The First Travel Ban Was Similar to What President Obama Did in 2011
President Trump wrote, in a Facebook statement defending his executive order, “My policy is similar to what President Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months. The seven countries named in the Executive Order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror.”
This isn’t true. Obama identified the seven countries in Trump’s executive order as “countries of concern” but didn’t prevent people from entering the U.S. Obama simply slowed down the process of admitting Iraq citizen’s stemming from the arrest of two Iraqis whose fingerprints were found on an improvised explosive device targeting Americans.
Trump Vows to “Promote Clean Air and Clear Water”
During Trump’s congressional address, he vowed to “promote clean air and water.” None of Trump’s previous claims or current actions have proved this initiative to be true. During Trump’s campaign, the former reality-TV star vowed to either “cancel” or renegotiate the Paris Agreement. Through this agreement, which puts tight regulations on air pollution, the U.S. has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 26 to 28 percent below the levels found in 2005. Without the agreement, regulations of how much greenhouse gasses companies are allowed to produce will be lifted.
In addition to defunding the EPA and withdrawing the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, Trump signed an executive order aimed at rolling back a major environmental regulation that protected American waterways from pollution.
Trump Had the Largest Audience to Ever Witness an Inauguration
President Trump boldly stated that he believed “a million-and-a-half people” attended his inauguration and the crowd “went all the way back to the Washington Monument.” Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed this notion by saying Trump had “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period, both in person and around the globe.”
This is 100% false. If the photos shared of Obama’s 2009 inauguration compared to Trump’s 2017 inauguration weren’t convincing enough, organizers of the event said they estimated that 700,000 to 900,000 people attended the inauguration. That’s no number to scoff at, and certainly more than the 400,000 people who attended George W. Bush’s second inauguration, but it’s still nowhere near the numbers recorded at the Obama inauguration in 2009. Obama drew 1.8 million people, which is double the attendance seen by Trump.
Trump Had the Most Electoral College Votes Since Ronald Reagan
In a news conference on Feb. 16, 2017, President Trump said, “We got 306 because people came out and voted like they’ve never seen before, so that’s the way it goes. I guess it was the biggest Electoral College win since Ronald Reagan.”
This is false. Trump won 304 electoral votes, which is hardly impressive. Several presidents have garnered a larger number. George H. W. Bush won 426 electoral votes in 1988; Bill Clinton won 370 in ’92 and 379 in ’96; and Barack Obama won with 365 in 2008.
Thousands of People Were Bussed across State Lines to Vote
Even though Trump won the election, he still claimed that there was widespread voter fraud. The Associated Press reported that during a closed-door meeting with 10 senators, the former reality TV-star said “thousands” of people were “brought in on buses” from Massachusetts to illegally vote in New Hampshire.
This is completely unsupported by any evidence. Officials at both the secretary of state office and US Attorney’s Office in New Hampshire and the attorney general’s office in Massachusetts told BuzzFeed that there was zero evidence supporting Donald Trump’s claim.
There’s Been a “Dramatic Expansion of the Federal Workforce in Recent Years”
Press Secretary Sean Spicer made a very misleading claim about Trump’s executive order to freeze federal government hiring. He claimed it was necessary because there has been a “dramatic expansion of the federal workforce in recent years.”
This is false. It’s true that the federal workforce has grown since 2014, but the increase is hardly dramatic. The workforce grew from 2.7 million in May 2014 to barely over 2.8 million in December of 2016. The federal workforce is actually smaller than it has previously been. It was consistently above 3.1 million workers in the 1980s when Ronald Reagan was in office.
84 Percent of Cuban-Americans Voted for Donald Trump
Donald Trump told CBN News that a whopping 84 percent of Cuban-Americans voted for him – though, it’s not clear where that number came from. According to the Pew Research Center, this number is completely fabricated. In Florida, home to two-thirds of all Cuban-Americans that are eligible to vote, only 54 percent cast their vote for the former reality TV-star.
In fact, according to Pew, Cuban-Americans are less Republican than ever. In 2002, nearly two-thirds of all Cuban-Americans identified as Republican or Republican-leaning. As of 2013, just 47 percent of them claimed to be Republican.
The Murder Rate in Philadelphia Has Been Steadily Increasing
Trump is concerned about the murder rate in Philadelphia. In his Jan. 26 remarks to the congressional Republicans, he said, “Here in Philadelphia, the murder rate has been steady — I mean just terribly increasing.”
This is completely false. The murder rate in Philadelphia has significantly declined over the past decade. It has dropped from 397 in 2007 to just 277 in 2016. The number has been below 300 for four years straight. In the ’90s, the rates peaked at around 500 murders a year. In fact, violent crimes are down overall. According to police records reviewed by the Philadelphia Inquirer, 2016 saw the lowest amount of violent crimes since 1979.
Two People Were Shot and Killed in Chicago During Obama’s Farewell Speech
On Jan. 25, Trump told ABC News’ David Muir about the overwhelming rise of violent crimes in Chicago – except, the crimes he mentioned never happened. “Look, when President Obama was there two weeks ago making a speech, a very nice speech. Two people were shot and killed during his speech,” he said. “They weren’t shot at the speech. But they were shot in the city of Chicago during his speech.”
Chicago Police told BuzzFeed News that no people were killed by gun violence on Jan. 10, the day of Obama’s speech. There were five non-fatal shootings that day in total, but none of them happened during Obama’s speech.
The Construction of the Keystone Pipeline Will Create 28,000 Construction Jobs
Donald Trump inflated the numbers of how many jobs the Keystone Pipeline would actually create. He said, “This is on the Keystone pipeline. … A lot of jobs, 28,000 jobs. Great construction jobs.” This isn’t actually true.
The project does create a lot of temporary jobs. According to the State Department, it will create 10,400 part-year jobs in four states. This adds up to about 3,900 annual construction jobs. 12,000 other annual jobs would stem from direct spending on the project – these jobs will not be construction jobs. In total, the Keystone pipeline is expected to create 16,000 jobs, most of which are not in construction.
NAFTA Costs the U.S. $60 Billion in Trade Deficits with Mexico
In a Jan. 26 remark to congressional Republicans Trump said, “NAFTA has been a terrible deal, a total disaster for the United States from its inception, costing us as much as $60 billion a year with Mexico alone in trade deficits.”
Yes, it’s true that America has about a $60 billion trade deficit with Mexico, but that’s not money that passes from government to government. It cannot be used to fund a wall like Trump has suggested. All the trade deficit means is that Americans are buying $60 billion more of goods from Mexico than Mexico is buying from America.
Beating ISIS Is as Easy as Taking Their Oil
In an interview with ABC News, Trump suggested that the way to beat ISIS is to take their oil. He said, “If we would have taken the oil, you wouldn’t have ISIS, because ISIS formed with the power and the wealth of that oil.” This is not at all a feasible solution. Not only does this violate international law (Trump called the experts who said this “fools”), but it has a whole host of other problems.
Iraq produces enough crude oil in one day to fill more than 700 Trump Towers. To secure that amount of oil, it would require a gigantic military force. This force would have to be larger than the one that invaded Iraq in 2003. In addition, billions of barrels worth of oil sit underground in conventional reservoirs. How would it be possible to walk away with that? The Washington Post suggests that seizing that massive amount of oil would take literal decades.
Millions of People No Longer Have Health Coverage Because of the Affordable Care Act
In the same ABC News interview whereTrump suggested we destroy ISIS by stealing Iraq’s oil, he also said the Affordable Care Act left millions who had health insurance uninsured. This is grossly lacking context.
About 20 million people gained health insurance because of the Affordable Care Act. Only 2 million people were told they no longer qualified for their old plans. Most of those people received wavers that kept them on their plans until 2017. Those whose plans were terminated were given the option to choose a different plan.
Lies Are “Alternative Facts”
This is perhaps one of the most obvious fallacies Trump has perpetuated, and may even be the reason he continues to spout fallacies at random. During a Meet the Press interview on Jan. 22, the U.S. Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, defended Press Secretary Sean Spicer’s false statement about how many people attended Donald Trump’s inauguration as “alternative facts.” By definition, facts cannot be lies.
According to Meet the Press moderator, Chuck Todd, “Alternative facts are not facts. They’re falsehoods.” Conway’s use of the phrase was widely mocked on social media and criticized by journalists and media organizations like Dan Rather, Jill Abramson and the Public Relations Society of America.