President Donald Trump has told over 16,000 lies as president, according to the on-going count from the Washington Post. While some lies are flippant and meaningless, they’re entering dangerous territory.
Reporter Phil Bump wrote for the Post Thursday that the imaginary world Trump lives in is obviously a hell of a lot better than the rest of us. But a president that ignores reality is of greater danger to those of us forced to face the real world.
“It is a world in which more than half the country consistently views his job performance with approval though polls understate his approval by 10 or 20 points. Where the only news from Wall Street is when stocks are going up and one in which voters constantly gush over Trump because their retirement accounts are up by ’60, 70, 80, 90 and 100 percent,'” wrote Bump. “Where the jobs numbers under Barack Obama were horrible and fake and the same numbers during his presidency a sign of his success. A world in which the proper point at which to measure economic expansion is prior to taking office and in which bad economic news can be blamed on his possible successor.”
Numbers are stubborn and in the words of Brave New World writer Aldous Huxley, “facts don’t cease to exist simply because they are ignored.”
Wednesday night, Trump told the world that he believes World Health Organization fatality numbers on the coronavirus are “false numbers.” The WHO estimates the fatality rate is 3.4 percent, but Trump thinks that it is below 1 percent. In the United States, it is already nearing 7 percent and likely won’t come down until mass testing begins.
“The thing about numbers is that there are a lot of them and Trump has learned that sprinkling numbers on top of other numbers can create a mist of uncertainty and, by extension, some political breathing room. He uses numbers the way others use emoji, as approximations of how he feels or he wants you to feel,” wrote Bump.
It may seem innocuous when quoting false unemployment numbers or misrepresenting crowd sizes. When it comes to telling people that a fatality rate for a virus is lower than it really is, it can promote reckless behavior.
“So you can’t put that down in the category in the overall population in terms of this corona flu or virus,” Trump told Sean Hannity. “So you just can’t do that. So if we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better by just by sitting around and even going to work, some of them go to work, but they get better. And then when you do have a death … all of a sudden it seems like 3 or 4 percent, which is a very high number, as opposed to a fraction of 1 percent. But again they don’t know about the easy cases because the easy cases don’t go to the hospital. They don’t report to the doctor or the hospital in many cases.”
He then denied making the above statement.
“What Trump is arguing is that because some illness related to coronavirus is mild, which it is, some cases may not be tracked,” Bump explained, before walking through the way math works. The virus is certainly new, and given the United States hasn’t been testing, there’s an ambiguity in the number of people who have the flu and not the virus. The greatest barrier is that the Center for Disease Control bungled the testing kits leaving doctors scrambling.
The last thing Trump wants is panic over the virus. It’s already proved to drop the economy and incite enough panic that people are clamoring for one-use surgical masks that won’t even protect them. Sales of hand sanitizer and disinfectant are through the roof.
“We don’t know the mortality rate of coronavirus in the U.S. in part because we don’t know the spread of the virus thanks to the government’s slow, faulty start in measuring it. We do know, though, that, by themselves, numbers offered by Trump aren’t trustworthy. That the world he presents is often not the real one,” Bump closed.