It has been widely accepted by now that Donald Trump simply does not mind citing false information, or as Kellyanne Conway put it, “offering alternative facts.” Shepard Smith of Fox News put it best when he said: “It’s crazy what we’re watching every day. It’s absolutely crazy,” Smith said, “he keeps repeating ridiculous, throwaway lines that are not true at all” (YouTube – Fox News’ Shepard Smith response to Trump’s Press Conference).
Sunday, February 19th, President Trump once again cited information at a rally in Orlando that was seemingly created out of thin air. Donald Trump said, “We’ve got to keep our country safe. You look at what’s happening in Germany, you look at what’s happening last night in Sweden” (Vidible – Wall Street Journal’s Trump Orlando Rally). The problem is that nothing happened last night in Sweden that could possibly be linked to America’s security or safety. This is the second event (the Bowling Green Massacre being the first) that has been referenced by his administration or himself to support his political agenda that simply does not exist.
The question I decided to look for an answer for is: Where did he get this misinformation from? Is it the same person, news cites, magazines, or websites? I decided to look into a few things that our President has stated that can be easily proven to be false and figure out where the information he cites originated from.
Trump Claims Obama was not Born in America
Let’s start with a popular falsehood by President Trump; Obama was not born in the US. Donald trump went to Twitter in 2012 and claimed that “An ‘extremely credible source’ has called my office and told me that @BarackObama’s birth certificate is a fraud” (Donald Trump’s Official Twitter Account).
This was despite the fact that President Obama actually succumbed to the pressure before his tweet in 2011 and produced his long-form birth certificate. The Hawaiian Health Director stated that “I have seen the original records filed,” and “the fact that he was born in Hawaii.” The Hawaiian State Registrar also certified the copies.
It seems the only conclusion we can draw here is that Mr. Trump received information from an unidentified “extremely credible source” that he trusted enough to tweet out to the world despite having no evidence or factual information to bring to support this claim.
Trump Says the “Real” Unemployment Rate is 42 Percent
In a Time magazine interview posted on August 18th, 2015, Donald Trump stated that “Our real unemployment rate is 42 percent.” He backed up a little but claimed another number during his presidential announcement speech when he said that the “real” unemployment rate was now 18 to 20 percent.
At the time the Bureau of Labor Statistics gave an unemployment rate of 5.3 percent, and even the completely different measurement of the “labor underutilization rate” (which includes people who have not looked for work recently enough to be counted) was at 10.8 percent.
Interestingly if you look at the Bureau of Labor and Statistics you can see that there are about 95 million people not in the workforce at any time. As most people know this includes retired people, stay-at-home parents, and other situations where people aren’t looking for work.
Even more interesting is that if you look directly under the number of people out of the workforce you can also see a column labeled “unemployment rate” that currently shows it being between 4.6 and 4.9 percent. Could Trump be getting his bad information because he simply doesn’t know how unemployment is measured? Or could it be the one other article that was able to be found by David Stockman, a former Reagan Official, who wrote a blog attacking the current Federal Reserve’s Ben Bernake using this same number? (David Stockman)
Trump Says There is No System to Vet Refugees
Donald Trump gave a speech on June 13th, 2016 stating that there is “no system to vet” refugees YouTube – Donald Trump Manchester, NJ Speech. He also vowed at this point to suspend immigration from high risk countries which we then saw him try and accomplish with an executive order.
The fact is that, although no one thinks it is a perfect system, what the truth is and having no system to vet refugees is false. In fact, the 20-step vetting process has been in use for over 30 years and was amended after 9/11 to prevent future attacks (Public Law 96-212) and usually takes over two years NYT – Refugee Vetting Process.
The steps of vetting refugees are:
|1. Registration with the United Nations.||11. Third fingerprint screening.|
|2. Interview with the United Nations.||12. Case reviewed at United States immigration headquarters.|
|3. Refugee status granted by the United Nations.||13. Some cases referred for additional review.|
|4. Referral for resettlement in the United States.||14. Extensive, in-person interview with Homeland Security officer.|
|5. Interview with State Department contractors.||15. Homeland Security approval is required.|
|6. First background check.||16. Screening for contagious diseases.|
|7. Higher-level background check for some.||17. Cultural orientation class.|
|8. Another background check.||18. Matched with an American resettlement agency.|
|9. First fingerprint screening; photo taken.||19. Multi-agency security check before leaving for the United States.|
|10. Second fingerprint screening.||20. Final security check at an American airport.|
Source: New York Times – Refugee Vetting
So where did this belief come from? Looking for information online I found an article on WND and multiple Breitbart articles that suggest the same things in their titles but concede in the article itself that it is difficult vetting from 3rd world countries with no records, not that there is not a vetting process.
Donald Trump Claims Terrorist Attacks are not being Reported
On February 6th, 2017, the President gave a speech in Tampa, FL where he asserted that terrorism was now at a point that “gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported.” To make their point the White House released a list of 78 attacks that it felt were not fully covered.
Not only was the list filled with typos, questionable inclusions and exclusions, many that didn’t result in fatalities when omitted ones were, and not a single one includes an attack on a non-Western victim. Many news outlets responded by publishing a database of all their news stories they reported on with terrorism. One of those was USA Today which published a listing of 200 articles that focus on terrorism specific to the President’s list of unreported attacks.
So where does this belief stem from? I was able to find an article published online by InfoWars (which is run by Alex Jones who believes the government controls tornados, we have a gay bomb, and 911 was an inside job). On July 29th, 2016, InfoWars released an article titled: “SCANDAL: MASS MEDIA COVERS UP TERRORISM TO PROTECT ISLAM” (InfoWars). The Washington Post started to notice that InfoWars also continued with 5 more stories of similar titles From July to December of 2016 (Washington Post – InfoWars). It should be noted that no other news outlet seems to have been reporting this.
Based on the information here you can start to form a pattern about how President Trump gets his false information.
He either blindly believes anyone who supports his worldview without factual evidence (very reliable source), has trouble comprehending basic information (BLS unemployment rate), is reading alt-right online news sources, or somehow still comes up with the same type of self-created information that these types of “research” styles would create.
Although I cannot assert for sure that any of these are how he came across his information, the fact is that he thinks in-line with some of the most extreme and unsubstantiated alt-right people in this country.