Daniel Dale, a reporter for the Toronto Star newspaper recounts how it all started in a piece for CNN, how he accidentally became the pre-eminent voice on cable news cataloguing Trump's daily blizzard of lies.
I started counting Trump's false claims in September 2016, late in his race against Hillary Clinton, when I was the Washington correspondent for my hometown newspaper, Canada's Toronto Star. I started because I was frustrated by a gap in most US media coverage. Trump's incessant dishonesty was barely being mentioned in news copy, let alone treated as what it was: a central story of that campaign.
So I thought I'd tweet out an occasional list of the false stuff Trump was saying. Then Michael Moore, the filmmaker, tweeted that I made a list "every single day." I suddenly got thousands of eager new Twitter followers. And I thought: My God, I guess I need to do this every single day...
I thought Trump's deception was bad then. It got much worse. In 2017, Trump averaged 2.9 false claims per day. By 2018, it was 8.3 false claims per day. What started as a side project I could handle in a few hours a week started requiring regular all-nighters. By the time I joined CNN in mid-2019, it required a second reporter, Tara Subramaniam.
Trump's 2017 dishonesty tended to be impromptu ad-libbing. His 2018 dishonesty was much more scripted; he used serial lying as a deliberate strategy in the midterm elections. Then he used serial lying as a deliberate strategy in his 2019 Ukraine scandal. Then he used serial lying as a deliberate strategy in his response to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic -- holding daily "briefings" so wildly dishonest that CNN needed me to go on TV right afterward to debunk the nonsense viewers had just heard.
Here's a bemused Anderson Cooper as Dale rattles off a litany of Trump's lies in rapid-fire succession.