Politics

CNN Fact-Checker Looks Back On His Weirdest Moments Debunking Trump


CNN’s fact-check reporter Daniel Dale has had a wild ride interpreting and debunking President Donald Trump’s lies over the past four years.

On the eve of Trump’s Jan. 20 departure from office, Dale, a Canadian journalist based in Washington, D.C., shared his reflections on the rollercoaster presidency, during which Trump made tens of thousands of false or misleading claims.

“I had to email the Boy Scouts to find out if the President had invented a nonexistent phone call from the head of the organization. (He had.),” Dale wrote in an article published on CNN.

“I had to email a Babe Ruth museum to find out if the President had made a bunch of false claims about the baseball legend while awarding him a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom. (He had.)

“I had to email some of Michigan’s most prominent organizations to find out if the President had actually received a state “Man of the Year” award he kept claiming he once got. (Nope.)”

According to Dale, Trump’s ever-present lies transcended the usual motives politicians have for being untruthful ― dodging scandals, inflating achievements ― and often appeared to exist for no obvious reason.

“This was lying as a way of life,” he said. “And it took over much of my own life.”

Dale also dove into the evolution of Trump’s dishonesty, which he said worsened dramatically with each passing year. What started out as a side project as the Washington correspondent for his hometown newspaper, the Toronto Star, progressed to a job at CNN for two reporters.

And while some of Trump’s bizarre claims were occasionally amusing in an “absurdist comedy” way, Dale noted, there were dark consequences for many of them.

“People almost certainly died because of Trump’s Covid-19 lying. And people died at the Capitol because of Trump’s lying spree about the 2020 election,” he wrote.

Dale described the overwhelming routine he needed to keep up with the deluge of misinformation coming day-in and day-out, and even when he was asleep.

He concluded with a thought on perceptions of media bias for checking the president’s every word:  

Telling people what is true and what is false is a core responsibility of every news reporter and every outlet. Pointing out a lie is objective reporting, not bias. And as interesting as all of this has been for me, fact checking should not be left to the designated fact checker.

While Dale will continue to fact-check Trump and other politicians, his large Twitter following ― over 1.2 million ― gave him a virtual round of applause and celebrated his freedom on Trump’s final full day in office.




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