In the television show Whose Line Is It Anyway? "Everything's made up and the points don't matter."
It almost sounds like President Trump's White House, doesn't it?
On August 2, the president claimed that not only had he received a phone call from the Boy Scouts that was full of ebullient praise for the speech he gave at the 20th National Jamboree at the end of January, the president of Mexico also apparently called, praising the United States for their border enforcement skills. There's one tiny little problem, though; neither of the calls actually happened, and while White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was busily trying to avoid saying that Trump lied about receiving either phone call, that is ultimately what seems to have happened.
This isn't the first time that Trump has lied to an audience, nor is it likely to be the last. In fact, it was a practice he endorsed in his 1987 book, The Art of the Deal.
“People want to believe that something is the biggest and the greatest and the most spectacular,” Mr. Trump wrote. “I call it truthful hyperbole. It’s an innocent form of exaggeration — and a very effective form of promotion.”
Huckabee Sanders said that the praise received about his National Jamboree speech that Trump referred to was received in the immediate aftermath of the speech in Glen Jean, West Virginia, and the praise he received from Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto actually occurred during the Group of 20 summit meeting in Hamburg, Germany.
In a July 25 interview with The Wall Street Journal, Trump claimed, “I got a call from the head of the Boy Scouts saying it was the greatest speech that was ever made to them.”
The problem is, the Boy Scouts of America issued a statement apologizing for his speech on July 27. In addition, Peña Nieto's representatives say that there has been no call to Trump at all.
"That's a pretty bold accusation," Huckabee Sanders said to claims that Trump lied about receiving the phone calls from the Boy Scouts of America and Mexican President Peña Nieto.
What Trump continues to forget, time and again, is that he is now regularly fact checked. After all, he's the president now, and if he's regularly lying to the public, journalists everywhere will be on top of him for it. Some journalists, such as Arthur S. Brisbane, Public Editor for The New York Times, have said that journalists should function as "truth vigilantes," calling out politicians when they don't tell the truth to the public. Effectively, what that means is that Brisbane, like other journalists, believes that journalists bear a degree of responsibility in taking politicians to task when they do lie.
There's also the function of websites like www.factcheck.org, which routinely screens advertisements, debates, speeches, interviews and press releases to check the "factual accuracy" of what the big United States political players say. With these presumed checks and balances in place throughout North America, why on Earth would Trump still feel the need to be hyperbolic seven months into his tenure as President?
It seems also that his staff is not checking facts before they step in front of the cameras. Senior White House aide Stephen Miller went toe to toe with CNN reporter Jim Acosta, who asked whether the new merit-based green card proposal was in keeping with U.S. traditions, and when he suggested that the Statue of Liberty was a symbol of "American liberty lighting the world" rather than a beacon of hope for the "huddled masses" looking to start a new life, he became a target on social media by society at large and by immigrant rights advocates - and, for that matter, during the press conference.
The line - "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,” - came from the sonnet "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus (herself a descendant of Jewish immigrants) that was written for a fundraising auction to construct a pedestal for the Statue of Liberty, and is now inscribed on a metal plaque on said pedestal. The poem was written in late 1883, two years before the Statue of Liberty found its permanent home on Bedloe Island. Miller claimed that the poem was not part of the "original" Statue of Liberty, and his insinuation that it had little to do with immigrants set off a firestorm.
It would appear that, as Charles M. Blow put it, Trump and his administration are "allergic" to the truth, and while many politicians might offer up any range of truths to society, there is at the very least some kernel of truth in anything they might say. These continued fabrications by the House of Trump will only continue to bash America's reputation for truth and justice. While those two qualities might indeed have come from the comics, they are qualities that many might believe that America, in its many centuries of existence, has been imbued with, and qualities that are most certainly at risk due to its current president.