Did you know that U.S. General John Pershing shot 49 terrorists with bullets covered in pig’s blood?
But presidential candidate Donald Trump told that story to at least 2,000 people at a campaign rally recently.
The story is nothing more than Internet rumor, according to Snopes.com. It found “nothing that documents” the story about General John Pershing in the Philippines more than 100 years ago.
Trump’s story on General Pershing is one of a large number of untrue or unconfirmed statements from the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Is this an unusual campaign season?
There is no “scientific way” to know if more lies are being told in this campaign than any other, according to Dartmouth College political scientist Brendan Nyhan.
“With that said, I think it is fair to say Donald Trump is” going beyond “norms for inaccuracy among top presidential candidates,” he said.
Long history of telling a lie in politics
Telling a lie or falsehood is not new to American politics. Even the 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, known as “Honest Abe,” did not always tell the truth.
He did not tell members of Congress about negotiations to end the Civil War in 1865, according to a 2014 James Conroy book on Lincoln. It is called, “Our One Common Country: Abraham Lincoln and The Hampton Roads Peace Conference Of 1865.”
A newspaper backing John Adams for president in 1800 said that if his opponent, Thomas Jefferson, was elected, terrible things would happen.
“Murder, robbery, rape, adultery and incest will be openly taught and practiced,” the newspaper said. That information comes from the Miller Center at the University of Virginia.
Telling a lie in the 2016 campaign
PolitiFact.org is a news site that studies and rates the accuracy of claims from government officials and political candidates.
Among leading Republican presidential candidates, Politifact reviewed 93 statements from Trump and rated 77 percent of them as false. It rated 59 percent of Senator Ted Cruz’s 79 statements and 42 percent of Senator Marco Rubio’s 136 statements as false. Cruz is from Texas, and Rubio from Florida.
On the Democratic side, the site rated 28 percent of Hillary Clinton’s 150 statements and 32 percent of Bernie Sanders’ 64 claims as false.
The website also has a “Pants on Fire!” rating for the most inaccurate claims from the candidates. Trump again leads all candidates in that rating.
During his victory speech in New Hampshire in February, Trump called the 5 percent unemployment rate reported by the government as “phony.” He said, "The number's probably 28, 29, as high as 35. In fact, I even heard recently 42 percent." Not true, according to PolitiFact.
Trump rejected PolitiFact’s criticism. He said the group is a “left-wing group” and treats him unfairly. PolitiFact said it holds conservatives and liberals to the same fact-checking standards.
During a January debate in Iowa, Senator Cruz claimed that President Barack Obama’s health care program is the nation’s “biggest job killer.”
Not true, Politifact said. “Not only has the number of jobs gone up, but the number of unwilling part-timers has gone down.”
In January, Senator Rubio said to the Meet the Press news program that he would not negotiate prisoner exchange with Iran. The Republican candidate said, “When I become president of the United States, … it will be like Ronald Reagan, where as soon as he took office the hostages were released from Iran."
Not true. Politifact wrote, “The Carter administration negotiated the deal months before Reagan’s inauguration, without involvement by Reagan or his transition team. Rubio’s claim is an imaginative re-reading of history.”
PolitiFact labeled false Hillary Clinton’s statement: “We now have more jobs in solar than we do in oil." And it also called false this statement by Bernie Sanders: “Not one Republican has the guts to recognize that climate change is real."
Lou Jacobson, a senior correspondent for PolitiFact, said some voters want candidates to tell the truth and do not like it when they do not. Other voters, however, “do not always trust or believe” reports that “their candidate” is not telling the truth, he said.
Trump is not only delivering more false statements than his top competitors for president. He has been a victim of a few, as well.
FactCheck.org said this about a Ted Cruz advertisement ,saying Trump bulldozed the home of an elderly widow to build a parking lot for his New Jersey casino:
“The ad leaves the false impression that the widow lost her home, and she didn’t,” FactCheck said. What did happen was that a government agency, acting on behalf of Trump, tried to obtain the home. But the courts blocked them.
I'm Bruce Alpert.
Words in This Story
rumor -- n. information or a story that is passed from person to person but has not been proven to be true
inaccuracy – adj. not correct
adultery – n. sex between a married person and someone who is not that person's wife or husband
incest – n. sexual intercourse between people who are very closely related
inauguration – n. to introduce a newly elected official into a job or position with a formal ceremony
transition – n. a change from one government to another
bulldoze – v. knock down
widow – n. a woman whose husband has died