How often should Trump be fact-checked? Readers weigh in
We asked readers to share their thoughts on how often President Donald Trump should be fact-checked. They had strong opinions.
In our most recent weekly email to readers (sign up here), we noted that the Washington Post Fact-checker has released their latest count of Trump's falsehoods: 10,000 false or misleading statements since Trump assumed the presidency.
Sometimes people accuse PolitiFact of bias, saying that we go out of our way to find wrong statements from the president, fact-checking every slightly wrong thing he says. But that's clearly not what we're up to. The Post counts 10,000 wrong statements from the president; we've fact-checked and written complete reports on about only 669 of his statements (see them all). Perhaps we're not fact-checking him enough?
We asked readers: Should we fact-check Trump more? Should we fact-check him less? Should we aim for more frequency or for more in-depth analysis?
Their responses were mixed; here’s what they had to say.
"I don’t think it is necessary to fact-check every misleading statement made by President Trump. Focus and report on those that are most important and that are outright lies. Similarly, I think it is also important to address the statements he makes that others accuse of being lies but, in fact, are not."
"Please do as many of these fact checks as you can. Eventually we can hope to see a breaking point in public opinion on this lying, corrupt demagogue. We can’t just let everyone get used to this!"
"These fact-checking games with Trump have reached ridiculous heights. Everyone knows what he does. Use your excellent resources on the more significant work you do!"
"What’s the point? Trump is a well-established liar, but that doesn’t seem to result in any change. I wouldn’t waste money or manpower on it. Embarrassing emerging sycophants of his might be slightly more effective. A couple have lost their stomachs along the way with good results."
"For me, the fact checking needs to cover a broad spectrum of people and statements – not just Trump’s. If you spend time checking 10,000 false Trump statements, you will have time for no one else."
"You are doing it exactly right. Stay the course."
"I believe that PolitiFact is as unbiased a news report as can be accomplished during these extraordinary times and I appreciate that. Keep it that way and only fact check the things that are really essential for us to know."
"I urge you to fact check more! It is not normal or right to have the president lie, and to do it daily is obscene! Our nation is becoming used to his lies, like it is ‘normal,’ when we should be appalled -- every time!"
"In answer to your question, the Washington Post is counting up the lies without going into a deep dive on each one. You do the deep diving, and I am personally thankful each time you do, but I do believe that if you had tried to give full PolitiFact treatment to each of Trump’s lies, your head would have exploded. So maybe it’s better that you didn’t. Thank you for everything you do!"
"The cumulative effect of Trump’s many ‘false or misleading statements’ is that nobody takes him literally (and most don’t take him seriously). I’ve started asking my Trump-hating friends to name the most impactful ‘lie’ that Trump has told. They can all rattle off various falsehoods, but nothing that has actually materially affected us as a country or the economy. Has any law been passed because anyone believed one of Trump’s lies? In contrast, I look at Obama’s Lie of the Year in 2012. Obama is smarter and more articulate than Trump. He chose his words carefully, and he repeated them over and over to allay fears that opponents of Obamacare had justifiably raised. Given the close vote, It’s likely that Obamacare would not have passed if Obama had not repeatedly and convincingly lied about its impact on those of us who liked our insurance and wanted to keep it. That lie had a dramatic and profound impact on the country and the economy. All of Trump’s false and misleading statements, combined, don’t adversely affect me or, in my opinion, the country, as much as the lies Obama told to pass Obamacare. A little perspective on the impact of the statements would be useful."
"You are perfect just the way you are. Onward and upward!"
"Why don’t you fact-check Nancy Pelosi or Charles Schumer?"
"Stop counting unless you are going to count the misstatements by every person in Congress, every candidate for president and every newspaper … Better to report facts. If one looks for a double-meaning or quick answers you will find plenty from every person in the universe."
"I believe you approach this subject in the right manner, fact-checking the most egregious and disturbing statements told by this president that require an analysis to determine the severity of the lie. (I can’t believe I just said that, ‘The severity of the lie.’) Just continue to use your best judgement."
"There comes a point where you have to realize that Trump is a liar. Trying to keep up with all of his lies would be a waste of time. Track the really bad lies, but start focusing on others. There are a lot of Democratic Presidential candidates to watch."
"A number of the things he says on a daily basis are simply not important and are said just to massage his own ego and may not be worthy of fact checking ... However, when he gets into issues, historical facts, claims about his opponents, etc., then everything he says should be verified. Thank you for what you do. I would not want to see Trump persecuted for political reasons, but just held accountable."