Industrial Strength Irony

“Irony is a term I tend to overuse. Wikipedia has an entire entry for it, but I have my own take. I often use “irony”when “absurdity” would be more appropriate. Here is an example of industrial grade irony. During Senate hearings yesterday Senator Martin Heinrich of Missouri was questioning former (fired) FBI Director James Comey. And he remarked, “A lot of this comes down to who should we believe. Do you want to say anything as to why we should believe you?”

Oh, my God! A United States senator has asked a former FBI director to explain why we should believe him rather than President Donald Trump. And I have to hand it to James Comey for not blurting out, in response, “You have got to be kidding me!” He could have, and I would have responded with Four Weeks In:

History is waiting. Here is number 80 and the last in the series:

80. Feb. 16, 2017 — White House press conference

The claim: “I guess it was the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan.”

In fact: George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all earned bigger margins in the electoral college than Trump did.

Daniel Dale’s list has since grown. As of 18 April the count was up to 179. How long can our president keep this up? Better yet, how long can I keep this up?

I am sure were I on the dock, as James Comey was yesterday, I would not be able to stop with number 80. Something inside would force me to go on:

Here is number 79:

79. Feb. 16, 2017 — White House press conference

The claim about former campaign manager Paul Manafort: “He said that he has absolutely nothing to do and never has with Russia. He said that very forcefully. I saw his statement. He said it forcefully. Most of the papers do not print it because it’s not good for their stories.”

The 5 other front page stories the Star could run after Trump’s wild presser

In fact: The New York Times story Trump was criticizing included Manafort’s denial, in which he said he never “knowingly” had contact with Russian intelligence officers. Other major outlets that followed up on the story also printed a denial from Manafort.

And more:

Here is number 77:

77. Feb. 16, 2017 — White House press conference

The claim: “Remember, I used to give you a news conference every time I made a speech, which was like every day. OK?”

In fact: This is not even close to true. Trump indeed gave near-daily speeches during the campaign, but he did not do a single news conference over the last three months of the campaign.

And more:

Here is number 74:

74. Feb. 16, 2017 — White House press conference

The claim about labour secretary nominee Alex Acosta: “He’s a member and has been a member of the National Labor Relations Board.”

In fact: Acosta is not currently a member of the board. He served on it from 2002 to 2003.

And more:

Here is number 70:

70. Feb. 16, 2017 — White House press conference

The claim: “And the people mentioned in the story, I notice they were on television today saying they never even spoke to Russia.”

In fact: One of the people mentioned in the New York Times story, Trump associate Roger Stone, went on television to deny having any contact with any Russians. But the other people mentioned in the story did not issue such categorical denials in any medium. Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, told the New York Times that he never “knowingly” had contact with Russian intelligence officers, adding that such people do not “wear badges.” Former Trump adviser Carter Page he had only “said hello to a few Russian officials over the course of the last year or so”; he also gave a speech in Moscow.

More:

Here is number 60:

60. Feb. 12, 2017 — Twitter

The claim: “Just leaving Florida. Big crowds of enthusiastic supporters lining the road that the FAKE NEWS media refuses to mention. Very dishonest!”

In fact: There were some supporters along the road, but they were far outnumbered by protesters, according to reporters on scene.

More:

Here is number 50:

50. Feb. 7, 2017 — Meeting with the National Sheriffs’ Association

The claim about the Dakota Access Pipeline: “Years of getting approvals, nobody showed up to fight it, this company spends tremendous — hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars — and then all of a sudden people show up to fight it.”

In fact: While protest against the pipeline greatly intensified in 2016, it is false that “nobody” was fighting it before it was granted approvals. “Bakken pipeline protesters flooded the Iowa Utilities Board headquarters in Des Moines on Thursday morning, delivering 1,000 written grievances about the consequences of building the pipeline in the state,” read a Des Moines Register article in Oct. 2015. Iowa’s WHOTV reported in Nov. 2015 about intense opposition from Iowa farmers.

More:

Here is number 40:

40. Feb. 5, 2017Super Bowl interview with Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly

The claim: “California in many ways is out of control, as you know. Obviously the voters agree, otherwise they wouldn’t have voted for me.”

In fact: It is hard to fact-check nonsense, but this is nonsensical. California governance was not one of the subjects debated during the national campaign, and not even pro-Trump pundits argued that his victory was a reaction against California. Further, Trump was trounced in California voting: 62 per cent for Hillary Clinton to his own 32 per cent.

More:

Here is number 30:

30. Feb. 1, 2017 — Black History Month “listening session”

The claim: “I don’t watch CNN.”

In fact: All available evidence suggests that Trump is at least an occasional CNN viewer. Though he has repeatedly claimed since May 2016 that he was boycotting the network, he has frequently commented on its content within a week of doing so — sometimes live, during a show. Eight days after this latest claim to not be watching CNN, he tweeted immediate criticism of an interview by CNN morning host Chris Cuomo.

More:

Here is number 20:

20. Jan. 26, 2017 — Interview with Fox News’s Sean Hannity

The claim (on refugees): “We’ve taken in tens of thousands of people. We know nothing about them. They can say they vet them. They didn’t vet them. They have no papers. How can you vet somebody when you don’t know anything about them and you have no papers?”

In fact: Refugees to the U.S. are rigorously vetted. The process includes multiple kinds of background and security checks and at least two interviews with U.S. representatives. Regardless of their paperwork situation, and regardless of one’s opinion on how good the vetting is, the U.S. knows far more than “nothing” about the refugees it approves.

More:

Here’s number 10:

10. Jan. 25, 2017 — Interview with ABC’s David Muir

The claim: With regard to his speech to the Central Intelligence Agency earlier in the week: “They showed the people applauding and screaming and they were all CIA. There was — somebody was asking [press secretary] Sean [Spicer] – ‘Well, were they Trump people that were put’ — we don’t have Trump people. They were CIA people.”

In fact: Most of the audience was indeed made up of CIA personnel, but Trump is wrong that there were no “Trump people.” Spicer told the press that “maybe 10” people in attendance were part of Trump’s entourage; CBS News reported that an official familiar with the event said Spicer was inaccurate, as Trump and his allies brought about 40 people.

I have to stop here. And it’s not because I’m running out of material. Daniel Dale, of the Toronto Star, continues to post fallacies perpetrated by President Trump. Dale cataloged 80 in the first four weeks, and his page now lists 212, and that’s just since Trump took office. That means I am leaving out one of my favorites:

The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.

Trust Comey? Have to. Nobody else with any credibility, or sense of irony, was in the room.

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One thought on “Industrial Strength Irony

  1. Pingback: Industrial Strength Irony | Skeptical Analysis

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