Trump Failed The Truth Test At His Pennsylvania Rally

by Chris Tognotti
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On the night of Saturday, April 28, President Donald Trump thumbed his metaphorical nose at the media, skipping the annual White House Correspondents Dinner in favor of a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. To say it was a campaign-style rally would be an understatement, as he doesn't seem to be spending much time coming up with new material. But it was also disconcerting for the same reason that so much of what Trump does is worrisome: it was chock full off of pretty concerning remarks. Here are all the lies and inflammatory comments Trump made at his rally, marking the occasion of his 100th day in office.

At this point, it's not shocking anymore when the president says wildly untrue things ― not just opinions, to be clear, but flat misstatements of the factual record. No president has even been 100 percent honest with the public, sure, but it's usually expected that the country's leader at least feels the need to be subtle about it.

That, obviously, is not Trump's approach to presidential politics. During his rally, speaking in front of adoring fans, he said several things that were either flat-out wrong, highly misleading, vitriolic, or some combination of all three.

1. The Media Are A Disgrace

Before we talk about my first 100 days, which has been very exciting and very productive, let's rate the media's 100 days. Should we do that? Because as you know, they are a disgrace ... They are incompetent, dishonest people.

The first several minutes of Trump's speech were little more than an extended session of media-trashing, in which he labeled the press "a disgrace." This is not the first time Trump's taken a demagogic tone towards the media, and although it's clear that his supporters agree, it's no less concerning than it's ever been.

2. Does Anyone Remember Who Our Opponent Was?

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Does anyone remember who our opponent was?

Despite having defeated Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in November, Trump never tires of re-litigating his victory, nor of using his base's fervent hatred of her to his benefit. When Trump asked the crowd if they remembered Clinton, they replied with ― you guessed it ― another round of "lock her up" chants. Trump grinned throughout the chant and offered no rebuke, despite now saying he doesn't want to "lock her up."

3. We Broke The Attendance Record

I want to thank the fire marshals, they have a lot of people standing outside. We really maxed-out ― we broke the all-time record for this arena.

Unfortunately, despite Trump's penchant for exaggerating his crowd sizes, if he indeed broke the arena's all-time attendance record, that means it's never been full before. Photos from inside the venue clearly showed rows of empty seats in the back rows, and a smattering of empty seats throughout the crowd.

4. Beautiful Clean Coal

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At one point, Trump claimed that "we have ended the war on beautiful clean coal." In reality, coal is one of the dirtiest forms of energy there is, and while carbon capture coal plants are often referred to as "clean coal technology," the concept is much more of an energy industry fantasy than a reality.

5. Get Them Out

Like so many Trump rallies, his 100th day event was beset by protesters. And just like he did countless times throughout the campaign, he called them out from the stage, saying "Get them out." Trump's been criticized for his attitude towards protesters at his events in the past.

6. Fake News

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Trump seemed to claim credit for the very existence of the term "fake news." But this is not accurate ― the term rose to prevalence in the aftermath of the election, coined by the mainstream media to refer to conspiracy theories and wholesale hoaxes. Trump then appropriated it, using it as a line of attack against news stories he doesn't like regardless of their factual accuracy.

7. We're Gonna Have The Wall

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Oh, don't worry, we're gonna have the wall, don't worry about it.

Obviously, nobody can see the future. But as it stands now, the Democrats have staunchly refused to vote to fund the construction of a border wall, even if it means a government shutdown, leading Trump to back off from his demand. And, of course, the very fact that he needs congressional funding is a broken promise ― the administration has failed to secure the wall money that Trump over and over again said would come from Mexico.

8. We Will Protect American Lives

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As I campaigned across the nation, I met with the grieving mothers and fathers of children who had been killed, viciously killed, violently killed, by illegal immigrants. And I made them a promise: we will protect American lives, your family member will not have died in vain.

While some immigrants do commit violent crimes — that's simply the nature of humankind ― some number of people of all experiences and backgrounds are going to commit violent crimes. But immigrants actually commit crimes at a lower rate than American citizens do, meaning Trump promising to "protect American lives" by fixating on them is bad policy, before you even consider the moral arguments.

9. The Snake

Who has heard the poem called "The Snake?"

True to his form during the campaign, Trump read aloud the lyrics to Al Wilson's "The Snake," turning it into a halting, aggressively shouted diatribe against trusting or caring about those in need. It's clear enough that he intends this as a lesson against welcoming undocumented immigrants and refugees. And amid a catastrophic global refugee crisis with no end in sight, it's a very grim sentiment.

Needless to say, this doesn't begin to touch the full list the lies, misrepresentations, and needlessly inflammatory things Trump's said throughout his first 100 days as president. But whenever one of these rallies rolls around, he clearly loves to dust off some of his standard hits, no matter whether they help him, or hurt him, or bare any relationship to the truth.