Washington Post business and economics columnist Catherine Rampell has written a scathing rebuke of the Trump administration’s misuse of official government data, which she dubs the “war on statistics.”
Rampell starts out by noting that Trump lied about numbers on the very first day of his presidency when he falsely claimed to have had a larger inauguration crowd than former President Barack Obama in 2009, and he’s only gotten worse from there.
All of this has come to a head in the past two weeks, Rampell argues, when the president started putting pressure on government agencies to back up his false claims about Hurricane Dorian being a danger to his Alabama.
“Now, they’ve come for the weather forecast,” she writes. “And if earlier episodes in President Trump’s war on statistics threatened livelihoods, this one threatens lives.”
Rampell acknowledges that correcting the president’s misinformation can seem tiresome of even pointless since he never backs down or corrects himself. However, she says that his attacks on empirical data are in and of themselves massive scandals deserving of attention.
“Trump’s attempted manipulations of official metrics — and the aspersions he casts upon metrics he cannot manipulate — degrade our democracy, economy and public safety,” she writes. “Distrust in official data is deadly to voters’ ability to evaluate public policies, as well as the records of the officials crafting or overseeing those policies.”