Trump vs truth

    Donald Trump
    Von Susanne Krause

    In issue 1/18 of Business Spotlight, we look at the topic of managing truth at work. Someone who hasn't been particularly successful at doing so is the current president of the United States, Donald Trump. In this quiz, you can test yourself and find out how many of Trump's falsehoods and contradictions you can unmask.

    1. Trump on his election:

     “We got 306 [electoral college votes] because people came out and voted like they've never seen before so that's the way it goes. I guess it was the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan.”

    16 February 2017

    source: Washington Post

    Donald Trump was referring to Ronald Reagan's election victory in 1984, when the former actor won his second term with 525 electoral college votes. Since then, three presidents have received more electoral college votes than Donald Trump did in 2016. George H.W. Bush won 426 in 1988, Bill Clinton won 379 in 1996 and in 2008 and 2012, Barack Obama won 365 and 332 electoral college votes respectively.

    2. Trump on crime statistics:

    “The murder rate in our country is the highest it’s been in 47 years, right? Did you know that? Forty-seven years.”

    7 February 2017

    source: PolitiFact

    In 1995, the murder rate in the US was 8.2 homocides per 100,000 people. By 2014, this figure had dropped to 4.5. There was a slight increase from 2014 to 2015, when the murder rate increased by 0.4 per cent — but it is still significantly lower than twenty years ago. Trump announced later that what he had actually wanted to say was that the country’s largest cities experienced their biggest annual increase in homicides — which clearly isn't the same as proclaiming the highest overall murder rate in decades.

    3. Trump about the FBI:

    “But the FBI person really reports directly to the president of the United States, which is interesting.”

    In an interview published in the New York Times on 19 July 2017

    source: USA Today

    The president of the United States does nominate the FBI director and has the authority to fire him or her (as Trump did with former FBI Director James Comey in May 2017). However, the FBI director doesn't directly report to the president. In fact, Comey stated that he only spoke to President Obama twice in three years. Instead, the FBI director reports to the attorney general, who is the head of the United States Department of Justice. The attorney general, by the way, is appointed by the president and must be confirmed by the Senate — just like the FBI director.

    4. Trump on signing legislation:

    “You know, one of the things that people don’t understand — we have signed more legislation than anybody. We broke the record of Harry Truman.”

    27 December 2017

    source: PolitiFact, CNN

    At the time of this quote on 27 December 2017, Donald Trump had signed 94 bills – fewer than any other president since the Second World War in their first year in office. However, he at least secured fourth place if you count the total number of pages that these bills contained (2,038 pages of legislation). The most bills in their first year were passed by John F. Kennedy (684 bills) and Dwight Eisenhower (514 bills). The most pages of legislation were passed in the first year of Obama's presidency (3,473 pages of legislation). By the way, Trump did catch up a little before his first year was officially completed on 20 January 2018 (passing 117 bills), but this is still far short of JFK’s record.

    5. Trump on positive thinking

    “I believe in the power of positive thinking, but I never like to talk about it.”

    7 October 2015

    sources: Washington Post, Elle, Politico

    In Trump's defence: he uttered these statements over several decades. Here’s the chronology:
    • “I never think of the negative.” (1983)
    • “I always go into the deal anticipating the worst.” (1987)
    • “I don’t think positively, I don’t think negatively.” (2005)
    • “I believe in the power of positive thinking, but I never like to talk about it.” (2015)
    The odd one out (“There is a sense that things, if you keep positive and optimistic about what can be done, do work out.”) is a quote by Hillary Clinton taken from an interview she gave in 2012.