Which Candidate Lies Most?

Philip Bump: “Every time a candidate says something that sounds too good to be true, The Post’s Glenn Kessler and team try to determine whether it is. By now, The Post’s fact-checking team has amassed more than 100 ratings of statements from the 2016 candidates, allowing us, at last, to do a bit of meta-analysis

The Post’s Glenn Kessler and his colleague Michelle Ye Hee Lee “issue a certain number of ‘pinocchios’ to candidate statements, ranging from zero to four. Zero pinocchios means that the statement was true. Four? Quite the opposite.”

“We took all of the fact checks that the Post has done for all of the 2016 candidates and compared them.”


“Lindsey Graham — fact-checked once and found wanting — has the worst average. Several candidates have two-pinocchio averages, which is as good as it gets.”


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  • tiredofit

    Not really. you can’t trust these “fact” checkers.

    • MC Planck

      Christ Christie – of Bridgegate – is the most honest candidate?


      • pisher

        See, this measures quantity of lies. This is how statistics can mislead. Christie tops them all in quality of lies. It’s like saying somebody has a higher career RBI than Babe Ruth–but that doesn’t take into account how far the Bambino knocked them out of the park, or the way he called his shots. It doesn’t factor in STYLE. Chris Christie is the Babe Ruth of lies. And I don’t just mean because they’re both fat. Though that probably is what brought the analogy to my mind. 😉

        • Rondova

          No, it doesn’t measure quantity of lies either. What it measures is something less helpful: how untruthful a candidate’s questionable-seeming statements are, on average.

          The fact-checkers only take note when “a candidate says something that sounds too good to be true.” And the chart doesn’t indicate how often this happens, but rather the size of the whoppers, on average. So, if someone lies a lot but also says a lot of stuff that sounds crazy but really is mostly true, their average will be lower than someone who mostly speaks without controversy, but every once in a while tells a big whopper.

          (love the Babe Ruth metaphor, though!)

          • pisher

            Okay, that’s just dumb–when somebody like Christie denies all knowledge of Bridgegate that’s not ‘too good to be true’–it’s not provable either way–but we all know he’s lying. He’s become almost legendary in New Jersey political and journalistic circles for his ability to look people right in the eyes and lie to them with such sincerity that even his enemies believe him–until it comes out that yeah, he was lying.

            Most of the really important lies don’t fall into the ‘too good to be true’ category–like WMD’s in Iraq. That was almost too bad to be true, but it would have been true–it had been true for some time–but the evidence it was true in 2001 was manufactured by the Bush Administration, planted in important newspapers by dishonest sources.

            That’s galaxy class lying, but would it even register on this scale?

      • Wynstone

        He has effectively covered his tracks on that score. Powers of deduction and common sense would dictate he’s not telling the truth, but those who could verify that assumption are not saying anything.

      • JustEddie76

        Well when you never say anything of substance, lies are less necessary.

      • morriganinoregon

        Yeah, I thought the same thing until I remembered, he isn’t getting much air time to say anything.

    • dectra

      Agreed. The Washington Post’s version of ‘fact checker’ is clearly a closet GOP supporter.

  • toeknee

    But this doesn’t say who lies the most, it says who has the biggest lies. Based on this chart, Lindsay Graham could have said one lie and it rated a 4 and Chris Christie told 100 lies that averaged out to 2. This doesn’t really tell us anything.

    • pisher

      If this measured who told the biggest most baldfaced lies, Christie would be at the top of the list. Bear in mind, a lot of Christie’s lies aren’t on the public record–he basically lies to everybody he talks to. Huckabee’s whole life is a lie. Jeb’s entire rationale for running is a lie. Cruz probably never even figured out the difference between true and false.

      It’s very hard to come up with an objective accurate measuring stick for human dishonesty.

    • Lou Alexander

      Your comment about Lindsay Graham is exactly what the story says: “Lindsey Graham — fact-checked once and found wanting — has the worst average.”

  • RadicalCentrist

    Every politician lies. Every human lies. Picking a President on perceived “honesty” is dumb.

    • pisher

      To some extent, every politician has to lie, but some lies matter more than others. If the only lie Bush ever told was that Iraq was getting nukes and we have to go in there or get blown up, that would still make him unfit to be President.

      • RadicalCentrist

        And that’s the idiocy of this type of article, since they treat all lies equally.

        • pisher

          I wouldn’t say idiocy, but I do think it’s a bit of a logical fallacy. We expect politicians to say things that aren’t true. The question is, how DESTRUCTIVE are their lies?

          Interesting though, that Hillary and Bernie are neck and neck.

  • nowaRINO

    John Kasich’s whole resume during his time as Gov is a lie. Starting with the rainy day fund lie.

  • Pirini Scleroso

    I guess Christo-fascist Huckabee is ignoring that “bearing false witness” part of the bible….

  • Laura616

    Well Carly has told some real porkers lately, she should be way up there.

  • woodt

    This is the stupidest Graph I ever seen. It makes it look like Dems lie as much as Republicans.
    The is the average Pinocchios. So you could have one major lie the get 4 and you would come out as worst despite only lying once.

    • Ken Foye

      I agree. It should show the Dems lying more than the Republicans. That would be a more truthful assessment.

  • As other commenters have noted, the methodology is ridiculous. Lindsay Graham could tell 100 lies in the next week that were each rated at 3.5 pinocchios and IMPROVE his overall rating! How about a graph of each candidate’s TOTAL pinocchios? (Even then, it would be dependent on how often a candidate’s lies were even rated, but at least it would be a step in the right direction.)

  • Is this a trick question?

  • dectra

    The “Pinocchio’s”, as provided by the Washington Post, almost without fail slide to supporting Republican claims. They couch terms as “well, it’s technically true…but we don’t like “how” it was said….” when discussing claims from members of the Democratic Party.

    It’s bullshit skewering of verifiable facts.

  • JustDaFacts

    I was going to give this a good read but after glancing at the chart and seeing Fiorina’s name as one of the “least lying-est” I decided the article wasn’t worth the time. lol

  • Ken Foye

    I wonder who fact-checks the fact-checkers.

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