The Washington Post’s “Pinocchio” system has become a recognizable standard for fact checking politicians, but what happens when a politician just doesn’t seem to care when he’s been proven wrong?
That’s where the new “Bottomless Pinocchio” comes in.
Post fact checker Glenn Kessler announced an addition to his current rating system on Monday to account for President Donald Trump’s tendency to near endlessly repeat falsehoods and misstatements.
Kessler explained that most of those in Washington who earn the Post’s dreaded “Four-Pinocchio” rating rarely continue making the disproven claim. But Trump isn’t most politicians in Washington, and Kessler has recognized the need to adjust his system.
Trump’s tendency to repeat false information can have serious consequences, as Kessler noted:
“The president keeps going long after the facts are clear, in what appears to be a deliberate effort to replace the truth with his own, far more favorable, version of it. He is not merely making gaffes or misstating things, he is purposely injecting false information into the national conversation.”
The new “Bottomless Pinocchio” system will identify either three or four Pinocchio rated claims that have been repeated 20 or more times. The Post has already identified 14 different falsehoods Trump has made that would qualify for the new rating.
By the Post’s count, Trump’s false claim about his 2017 tax cut has been repeated 123 times. A new interactive tool allows readers to easily see when and how the claim was repeated.
“The Fact Checker has not identified statements from any other current elected official who meets the standard other than Trump,” Kessler wrote.
The “Bottomless Pinocchio” was the butt of a number of jokes on Twitter early Monday:
“bottomless Pinocchio” sounds like a drink at Disney World https://t.co/pwNsddqeXP
— Jessica Taylor (@JessicaTaylor) December 10, 2018
Also, the Olive Garden's least successful promotion ever https://t.co/pmw8r9VEVX
— Will Bunch (@Will_Bunch) December 10, 2018
But some weren’t happy with the new rating:
Not a fan of giving a cute name based on a cartoon character to Trump's vicious, deliberate, manipulative dishonesty. There's nothing cute or fun about what he's doing. https://t.co/P4mijnxmPS
— Charles Johnson (@Green_Footballs) December 10, 2018
While opinions may be divided on the merits of the new rating, one thing is certain: the “Bottomless Pinocchio” probably won’t stop Trump from spreading falsehoods, misstatements, and outright lies — but it just might help keep track of them.
Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.