Trump Slams Fake News By Making Three False Claims | John L. Micek

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — President Donald Trump, who likes to denounce the “fake” news media, threw himself into the warm embrace of Fox News host Sean Hannity on Wednesday night, where he regurgitated at least three claims that were demonstrably false.

Over the course of an hour-long interview in a cavernous hangar of the Pennsylvania Air National Guard’s 193rd Special Operations Wing, Hannity seemed less an interrogator than an enabler. The host told Trump more than once how unfairly he’d been treated by the Washington press corps, how the president’s tax cut package had been inaccurately portrayed, and he got a crowd of mostly truckers to offer up throaty cheers for the nation’s 45th chief executive.

Calling his proposed tax cut program “the biggest in the history of country,” Trump again repeated his inaccurate claim that the United States is the “highest tax country in the world.”

In fact, the United States ranks toward the middle of the international pack, CNBC reported, citing data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

The United States’ tax burden lags behind such NATO allies as France and Germany, but does finish ahead of Canada and the United Kingdom, the international research body found.

Hannity allowed that claim to pass unchallenged, observing later that “Anytime I talk to anyone else in the media but Fox, they call it tax cuts for the wealthy. It’s not really true this is a tax cut for the wealthy like they’re portraying it.”

Except that claim isn’t true either: Trump’s tax plan eliminates the estate tax, a move that would help the wealthiest Americans, including the president himself. It also gets rid of the alternative minimum tax, which is designed to prevent tax avoidance. In 2005, that levy forced Trump to pay an additional $31 million in taxes, The New York Times reported.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center also found that, rather than lowering taxes, the White House’s plan “would raise taxes for almost 30 percent of filers making $50,000 to $150,000 per year,” Bloomberg reported.

Those inconvenient truths didn’t stop Trump from proclaiming to Hannity that working- and middle-class Americans are “going to get a massive tax break.”

At the beginning of his interview, Hannity credited Trump for sparking economic growth, including a higher performing Wall Street, a higher labor-participation rate and “the lowest number people on food stamps in seven years.”

That claim is true. But the reasons behind it are complicated. For one, states dropped waivers prompted by tough economic times. New work requirements have also driven people out of the program.

More people could lose benefits if Congress follows through on a committee’s recommendation to trim $150 billion to food stamps, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, as it’s officially known, over the next decade. Trump’s own budget proposal called for a $193 billion reduction.

Despite those unchecked whoppers, including Trump’s ongoing insistence that claims of Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign were fabricated by Democrats, the president continued an attack on the press begun earlier in the on Wednesday.

“The media is bad. They’re very dishonest people. They’re very bad,” he said. “There’s such dishonesty.”

Trump’s comments came hours after he denied an NBC News report suggesting that he had pressed for expanding the United States’ nuclear arsenal. He also questioned whether licenses should be taken from NBC stations as a consequence of the network’s report.

“It’s frankly disgusting the way the press is able to write whatever they want to write and people should want to look into it,” Trump told reporters, as he met with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Bloomberg reported.

In suburban Harrisburg, with Hannity, however, Trump was all smiles as he wrapped up his second broadcast interview with a friendly media outlet in less than a week. On Sunday, Trump sat down for a softball interview with former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee that aired on the Trinity Broadcasting Network.

“You have been so great and I am very proud of you. What you have done is incredible And it’s an honor to be on your show,” Trump told Hannity.

The host gushed back: “This is how I’ve always felt — I only want one thing … to help the forgotten men and women, that’s our prayer for you and for the country.”

So this is what falling through the looking glass feels like.

An award-winning political journalist, Micek is the Opinion Editor and Political Columnist for PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Readers may follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek and email him at

More in Opinion

Trump’s 99th week in office | In cartoons

Our cartoon chronicle of the 45th president continues with a look back… Continue reading

Cards for Bill Hemp will brighten his holiday | Letter to the editor

To the editor: Just seven years ago, my Uncle Bill Hemp decided… Continue reading

Artists grateful for community support | Letter to the editor

To the editor: Gregg and I would like to thank the community… Continue reading

Republicans Give Trump a Get Out of Jail Pass | Blair Bess

President Trump had it right when he claimed, “the system is rigged.”… Continue reading

Primates Are Us – Being Self, Being Others (Aping Around The Holidays) | J.P. Linstroth

As the holidays approach, we often remind ourselves of family time and… Continue reading

My Fantasy World | Peter Funt

Millions of anxious fans are now watching their fortunes rise or fall… Continue reading

Evangelicals Vote, ‘Nones’ Falter | James A. Haught

In the 2018 Election, America’s shrinking segment of white evangelicals mobilized strongly… Continue reading

Pelosi Gives Trump an Important Civics Lesson | John L. Micek

Somewhere, Dorothy Parker is smiling. In one withering remark on Tuesday, once… Continue reading

Top 10 Comedic News Stories of 2018 | Raging Moderate

Sit the kids down. Let the dogs out. Prop the grandparents up.… Continue reading

Most Read