Donald Trump uttered a lot of nonsense last night -- and according to Jeremy Peters of The New York Times, the person we should blame is Hillary Clinton:
Time after time, Mrs. Clinton passed up the opportunity to correct Mr. Trump on his misstatements and his frequent stretching of the truth.
In a typical exchange, Mrs. Clinton tried to refute Mr. Trump as he boasted of how he would have the greatest tax plan since Ronald Reagan. “That can’t be left to stand,” she said. “I kind of assumed there would be a lot of these charges and claims.”
But Mr. Trump quickly cut her off. “Facts,” he said. The conversation quickly moved on.
You'd never know from Peters's description that Clinton actually did refute Trump, or that any haste or lack of completeness in her refutation resulted not only from Trump's hectoring but from Lester Holt making one of his rare efforts to actually play moderator.
Trump evoked Reagan, said his plan would be full of tax cuts and deregulation, and asserted that Clinton's plan would raise taxes and increase regulations. Here's what happened after that:
HOLT: Let me get you to pause right there, because we're going to move into -- we're going to move into the next segment. We're going to talk taxes...
CLINTON: That can't -- that can't be left to stand.
HOLT: Please just take 30 seconds and then we're going to go on.
CLINTON: I kind of assumed that there would be a lot of these charges and claims, and so...
CLINTON: So we have taken the home page of my website, HillaryClinton.com, and we've turned it into a fact-checker. So if you want to see in real-time what the facts are, please go and take a look. Because what I have proposed...
TRUMP: And take a look at mine, also, and you'll see.
CLINTON: ... would not add a penny to the debt, and your plans would add $5 trillion to the debt. What I have proposed would cut regulations and streamline them for small businesses. What I have proposed would be paid for by raising taxes on the wealthy, because they have made all the gains in the economy. And I think it's time that the wealthy and corporations paid their fair share to support this country.
So she did refute him -- just not hard enough to satisfy Peters.
Oh, but this is my favorite Peters assertion:
There were times he made up his own facts. And Mrs. Clinton did not take the opportunities she had to prove him wrong.
She could have corrected Mr. Trump after he interrupted her to falsely claim that she was inaccurate in saying that murders in New York City were down.
Did you follow that? Peters is chastising Clinton because she didn't rebut Trump's assertions about crime in New York City after she'd already rebutted them. In other words, as far as Peters was concerned, it wasn't enough that Clinton asserted that the murder rate in New York City is down -- it didn't count as a rebuttal because she didn't say it twice.
Here's the exchange:
TRUMP: ... in New York City, stop-and-frisk, we had 2,200 murders, and stop-and-frisk brought it down to 500 murders. Five hundred murders is a lot of murders. It's hard to believe, 500 is like supposed to be good?
But we went from 2,200 to 500. And it was continued on by Mayor Bloomberg. And it was terminated by current mayor. But stop-and- frisk had a tremendous impact on the safety of New York City. Tremendous beyond belief. So when you say it has no impact, it really did. It had a very, very big impact.
CLINTON: Well, it's also fair to say, if we're going to talk about mayors, that under the current mayor, crime has continued to drop, including murders. So there is...
TRUMP: No, you're wrong. You're wrong.
CLINTON: No, I'm not.
TRUMP: Murders are up. All right. You check it.
She said it. He said she was wrong. She said, "No, I'm not." What else was she supposed to do after that?Recite all the incident-level data from memory? I'm not clear on where she fell short.
Incidentally, this was fact-checked in real time by the NYPD:
But Clinton failed, as far as Peters is concerned, because she didn't hector Trump into a state of abject submission. Sorry, but that wasn't her job. She did more than enough.