BREAKING: A nice play by the Washington Post!


Glenn Kessler uses his words:
The Washington Post makes a nice play on this morning's front page.

It's based on the famous "bottomless cup." Glenn Kessler explains it like this:
KESSLER (12/11/18): Trump’s willingness to constantly repeat false claims has posed a unique challenge to fact-checkers. Most politicians quickly drop a Four-Pinocchio claim, either out of a duty to be accurate or concern that spreading false information could be politically damaging.

Not Trump. The president keeps going long after the facts are clear, in what appears to be a deliberate effort to replace the truth with his own, far more favorable, version of it. He is not merely making gaffes or misstating things, he is purposely injecting false information into the national conversation.

To accurately reflect this phenomenon, The Washington Post Fact Checker is introducing a new category—the Bottomless Pinocchio.
That dubious distinction will be awarded to politicians who repeat a false claim so many times that they are, in effect, engaging in campaigns of disinformation.
At the Post's Fact-Checker site, a pol will receive a "bottomless Pinocchio" if he repeats a false claim at least twenty times. That's a whole lot of faux repetition.

According to Kessler, "The Fact Checker has not identified statements from any [pol] who meets the standard other than Trump." No one else has misstated that much. But the Post has already placed fourteen different false statements by Trump on this creative new list.

While we have you here, we'll suggest you take a look at something Kessler does in his essay. He goes on at great length about Trump's false statements, but he never employs the term "lie."

Given the nature of his presentation, we would have advised Kessler to consider the term "apparent lie." But in this report, Kessler shows how many ways there are to identify misstatements without dropping the once-forbidden L-bomb, a term which routinely creates distracting side discussions which let the misstater escape.

For decades, journalists didn't say "lie." On balance, that policy made good sense.

Kessler follows the old ways today. As he accepts this discipline, he clobbers Trump over the head.


  1. There's all kinds of lies and mistruths. There's half lies. There is making statements when you have no evidence that what you are saying is true. There are lies so as not to hurt someone's feelings. there's lies when the true answer is no one's business. There is slanting the truth. There are innocent misstatements. There are out and out bold faced lies. Some people are pathological liars. Some times someone believes what he/she said is true, but it isn't, or it's debatable. There is a lot of nuance. With some statements made without evidence (e.g.,universe is only 6000 years old, or is flat) , or in defiance of evidence, the better response might be that the statement is ridiculous or absurd, rather than using the term "lie." "Lie" doesn't really capture it. Though bear in mind, I'm not a trained lie-ologist.

    1. "There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statisitics"--Mark Twain

  2. Dear Bob. All communication is manipulation of signal-receiver by signal-sender. This is true for all kinds of animals, including humans.

    There's no such thing as a "lie", or "apparent lie"; saying that someone told an "apparent lie" is just another attempt to manipulate signal-receivers...

    1. Mao, if all communication is manipulation of signal-receiver by signal-sender, that presumably applies to you.
      There is such a thing as a "lie." If A reports to the police that he saw B break a window, when he knows he saw no such thing, (and add to that he knows he's the one who broke the window) A is telling a lie.

      C might sincerely believe that A is lying based on reasonable evidence, but not have definitive proof - it's somewhat subjective, but I don't see the falsity of C calling what A said "an apparent lie." The observation has utility.
      To the extent that every communication is "manipulative" to the extent it is intended to influence the recipient in some way or other, maybe so. But there are different kinds of manipulation if you use your definition, benevolent, malevolent, neutral, etc.
      Haven't you called people liars? If there are no lies, there are no liars.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. You respond to shitboy. Why?


    4. Take it up with Richard Dawkins, AC; his words, not mine.

      Anyhow, to take your own example: someone is trying to manipulate the police reporting a phenomenon he didn't directly observe. The same exact situation occurring in a theater play is not a "lie", correct?

      Which makes it apparent that "lie" is merely a social construct. Much like, say, "profanity" or "heresy". And as such, it's nothing but a tool in the hands of the society's priesthood.

      Every word out of the mouth of Barry The Demigod or The Old Psycho-Witch was, in my personal view, brazen bullshit. But the country's official priesthood all but sanctified them. Fine. But if tomorrow there is a revolution, and a different regime comes to power, they will be described in history books as the biggest liars ever.

      And so it goes...

  3. It is interesting to me that only Trump makes the list for over 20 times. Nobody else has ever done this?

    How many times did Obama say "If you like your health plan, you can keep it."? (In his defense, he may have thought that was going to be true. Or, if memory serves, he said a few times something like "we need to pass the stimulus or unemployment will exceed 10%".

    I wonder if his statements were not sifted with a fine toothed comb, that we could not find some "bottomless" cups.

    What about George W. Bush. I mean, we used to say that he told lies about the Iraq war. Were some of those NOT repeated twenty or more times?

    What about his dishonesty about his tax cuts? How many times did he say that they were a huge benefit to the poor. In fact, he carefully stated things to make it sound like the poor benefited more than the rich. Oh, it was "technically true" but it was meant to be deceptive. "The poor get the greatest percentage tax cuts." Never mind that a poor person gets $100 to the rich person's $5,000, let's talk about percentages. Then $100 becomes 100% and $5,000 becomes 5%.

    Did the WaPo ever call him out on that? How many times?

    1. Obama could say it 20 times and not make the list because IT WAS TRUE. Every plan at the time ACA was passed was grandfathered in, so yes if you liked your plan you could keep it. This is not the first time you have been informed of this fact, so repeat the lie that Obama lied 19 more times, and you will join Trump on the list.

      No, Obama Didn't Lie to You About Your Health Care Plans

    2. Yes, dembot, zombie demigods don't lie. By definition.

    3. Mao - you are a minority here, which gives you the opportunity to persuade some of opportunity you did not take.

      I must say that I always thought Obama's "you can keep your plan" was pretty close to being true, that most real plans would survive, even if it was a bit of an overstatement. That said, I found the link from Anonymous@10:20PM rather illuminating, and it seemed to put Obama's statement arguably much closer to the completely true category. Did it not strike you that way? Are there errors in the linked article, or am I misunderstanding it?

      Alternatively, you could call me a zombie dembot and settle the issue once and for all.

    4. Hi Mark,
      Convincing people is a big business, and this place here wouldn't be the right venue anyway.

      Nah, I'm just killing time here.

      As for Obama, I don't care what particular bullshit his handlers typed on the teleprompter for him to read out loud.

      In general, the story is perfectly clear to me: he promised a lot (including, incidentally, to definitely renegotiate NAFTA), got elected, huge enthusiasm, and then, after 8 years, a huge disappointment. A lot of excuses (oh, if not for that damned Lieberman!), and no hope-change at all.

      And that's what I'd call a 'lying politician'...

    5. Mao - Are you using "lying" when you mean "of limited success"?

      We got a stimulus bill along with other non-austerity fiscal policies, which in my view were responsible for the difference in post-crisis performance between the US and Europe.

      We got the affordable care act.

      And then we got a Republican Congress that was openly committed to making the administration fail.

      You may not like some of those achievements, but the fact that nothing happened legislatively after the first two years is hardly due to "lying".

    6. Non-austerity for banks and the big business. I don't think the fed even paid for the tents for millions of the new homeless living in new tent cities.

      And ASA was nothing but a way to fortify the unnatural healthcare-for-profit system, collapsing, at the time, all over the place.

      As for the committed congress, like I said, that's just an excuse. Ah, it's such a terrible mean congress, so sorry, now it's "no, we can't".

      The fella was 100% establishment puppet.

  4. If the role of journalists is to repeat what politicians say without judgement, then they probably shouldn't use the term "lie" - or maybe not even do fact-checking. If their role is to try to bring out the truth or to bring truth to power then they need to make severe judgements when called for. Not to use the term gives a very false picture of what politicians do, which is lie (but rarely as much as Trump). Trump obviously took advantage of the failure of journalists to be judgemental.

  5. Kessler is a hollowed-out soul, like so many around him. A servant to the guild. People are dead all over the world because of what this empty soul did.

  6. I do see a potential issue with the "bottomless Pinocchio". Fact checkers are not omniscient...sadly they have, on occasion, classified statements that are varying degrees of true as false. One can foresee a politician pushing back against the fact-checkers, and repeating the statement, possibly even explaining why she disagrees with the fact checker, and so triggering the bottomless Pinocchio while acting in good faith.

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