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Accountability in a “fact-checking” world

There have been a lot of recurring themes revolving around President Donald Trump’s presidency over the last year. From a more comedic stance like “tiny hands” and his incredibly orange face, to more serious issues of being blatantly racist, xenophobic and misogynistic, this year’s presidency has been a whirlwind of recurring headline news.

However, one of the founding principles of journalism has had to step up and establish a theme that is more necessary and investigated than in previous presidencies: fact-checking. Starting with the presidential race, it was common to see headlines and social media posts touting fact checks of various politicians’ speeches and tweets. This component of journalism is crucial and heavily focused on during the election, because voters want to know the accuracy of the candidates’ statements, ideals and campaign points.

Journalists are always seeking out the truth, and regular fact-checking is routine process for writing an article. Yet this new form of basing articles around fact-checking itself has taken center stage, for one major reason.

Trump is a liar.

This was clear by the numerous publications of fact-checking articles after Trump’s first State of the Union address. Fact checking was done by The New York Times, CNN, AP, Washington Post and the list goes on. Trump lied about U.S. immigration policies, claiming that the lottery visa randomly hands out green cards without any background checks. He lied about passing the largest tax cut in the history of our country, when in reality it’s only the eighth largest. He lied about creating 2.4 million new jobs, when he is only credited with 1.8 million. He lied about wages, he lied about “clean” coal and he lied about unemployment rates.  

It has come to the point where these lies and abundant, long fact-checking articles do not come as a surprise. Trump continues to make the same exaggerated, misleading or false statements because he knows the majority of his supporters will rally and cheer in response, and accept what he says without question.

But the question is, how can we put up with this? How can the leader of our country continuously lie and mislead the very people he claims to serve, and get away with it?

Trump’s score card on the Politifact website totals up to 70 percent of his statements falling between the “Mostly False” and “Pants on Fire” sections of their spectrum, with only 4 percent residing in “True.”

At the end of Trump’s first year in office, the Washington Post compiled the statements made by the president that were incorrect or misleading, arriving at a total of 2,140 statements in just one year. That averages out to 5.9 lies per day.

It is not uncommon in human nature for us to lie. An experiment conducted by UMass Amherst found that 60 percent of people lied at least once during a 10-minute conversation. However, holding the president of the United States to the same standards of those we hold our everyday friends, colleagues and family to is a dangerous way to run a country.

A tremendous amount of power lies in the hand of Donald Trump. When he was sworn into office, he took an oath to be responsible and work for the citizens of our country. Yet, he continues to tell dangerous lies and misconceptions that hurt the very people he is supposed to help. It is time we stopped accepting the fact that Trump lies, and start holding him accountable.

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