How The Right-Wing Media Echo Chamber Bolstered Donald Trump's “Many Campaign Misstatements”

Right-wing media spent 2015 defending, praising, and peddling several of GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump's debunked falsehoods, which PolitiFact rounded up as one big “lie of the year.”

PolitiFact Designates Donald Trump's “Many Campaign Misstatements” As “2015 Lie Of The Year.”

PolitiFact: “When It Comes To Inaccurate Statements, The Donald Was On Fire.” PolitiFact awarded “the many campaign misstatements of Donald Trump as [the] 2015 Lie of the Year,” noting that “no other politician had as many [false] statements” as Trump. The fact checker highlighted some of Trump's more egregious falsehoods, including myths about thousands of Muslims cheering in New Jersey on September 11, the Mexican government sending criminals to the United States, and the unemployment rate:

In considering our annual Lie of the Year, we found our only real contenders were Trump's -- his various statements also led our Readers' Poll. But it was hard to single one out from the others. So we have rolled them into one big trophy.

To the candidate who says he's all about winning, PolitiFact designates the many campaign misstatements of Donald Trump as our 2015 Lie of the Year.

When it comes to inaccurate statements, the Donald was on fire:

  • “I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down,” he said at a Nov. 21 rally in Birmingham, Ala. “And I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.” Pants on Fire. There is no video of thousands of people in Jersey City cheering. Weeks later, Trump continues to stand by his claim but has not been able to point to evidence to back it up. Public safety officials on the ground in New Jersey say it never happened.
  • “The Mexican government ... they send the bad ones over.” Pants on Fire. There's no evidence to show the Mexican government encourages criminals to cross the border. Most illegal immigration comes from people seeking work. Recent estimates show illegal immigration from Mexico dropped off dramatically during the recession and has remained low.


  • Sept. 28: The unemployment rate may be as high as “42 percent.” Pants on Fire. The highest alternative unemployment-rate measure we could come up with that had any credibility was 14.8 percent. [PolitiFact,12/21/15]

Right-Wing Media Defended, Praised And Peddled Trump's Debunked Claims

Right-Wing Media Defended Trump's Claim That Muslims Cheered In New Jersey On 9/11

Rush Limbaugh: “The Bottom Line Is That A Lot of Americans Are Well Aware That Muslims Were Cheering.” During the November 23 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh defended Trump's claim about Muslims cheering on September 11, stating, “we saw video on the news” and “regardless the specific details” a lot of Americans are “well aware that Muslims were cheering”:  

RUSH LIMBAUGH: I mean, this is the funny thing, they're fact-checking Trump, they're claiming Trump is making this up. Now Trump, if I have this right, Trump says that he saw tens of thousands of Muslims cheering in New Jersey, on 9/11. And the media promptly went into gear, and trying to prove that he's lying, and made it up. So they went in into every news archival database they could think of, to see if there were stories about this. And they couldn't find any, so they've concluded that Trump was lying. One of the fact-checkers is a guy that works at The Washington Post, then for some reason he didn't check his own paper's archives, because The Washington Post had a story about cheering Muslims in New Jersey on 9/11. The difference is it wasn't thousands, the story did not say it was thousands. But Trump is standing by it.


LIMBAUGH: And, so here comes Trump saying that he saw Muslims cheer on 9/11, he adds tens of thousands there. The bottom line is that a lot of Americans are well aware that Muslims were cheering. Maybe not in New Jersey in great numbers, but around the world they were because we saw the video. On 9/11 and in the aftermath, we saw video on the news, unquote of Muslims all over the world, in certain places, cheering. So, regardless the specific details, the American people and a lot of Trump supporters know, I mean it was militant Islamists who conducted 9/11, it's militant Islamists that make up ISIS. [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show11/23/15]

Fox's Eric Bolling: “I Know There Were Muslims” In U.S. “Who Were Happy That The World Trade Center Came Down.” On the December 1 edition of Fox News' The Five, co-host Eric Bolling said, “I remember the news reports” of people “on the roofs watching the planes fly in. They were tipped off prior to the thing.” Bolling continued his defense of Trump's claim adding, “I know there were Muslims and Muslim groups who were happy that the World Trade Center came down and they were in the United States when that happened”:

ERIC BOLLING: So I remember this day, and I stood on the New York side and I watched the plane fly into the tower. I remember the next day and I remember the news reports and I remember specifically the news reports about Jersey City. They said people were on the roofs watching the planes fly in. They were tipped off prior to the thing. And this was a narrative that was going on. I remember video, I don't remember if it was Pakistan or Patterson. But there was also a lot of talk. Now the reason why I know this, is cause I was in the building in 1993 when it was blown up by Sheikh Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was the “Blind Sheikh,” who devised the plan to blow up the World Trade Center in 93. It didn't work. But he was the Jersey City imam. And I remember that there were claims his group, his whole mosque was cheering the planes actually doing finally what he tried to do in 1993. Whether or not it was a thousand, thousands, a few hundred, a handful? Who cares?


BOLLING: It doesn't really matter to me, because I know there were Muslims and Muslim groups who were happy that the World Trade Center came down and they were in the United States when that happened. [Fox News, The Five12/1/15]

Laura Ingraham Twice Defended Trump's Debunked 9/11 Claim After Previously Doubting It. Conservative radio host Laura Ingraham defended Trump's falsehood twice after initially admitting her skepticism. Ingraham argued that “there were individuals in the United States, Muslim background, who were celebrating” and alleged during that “there were people on rooftops celebrating, so much so that they had to raid the building in Jersey City”:  

LAURA INGRAHAM: All I'm saying is that they focus on Donald Trump how could he say -- this is all false, didn't happen. Chris Christie said it didn't happen. Maybe there weren't -- we don't have video of thousands of people on the rooftop, but is that really the point here? Yeah, you be as accurate as you can, clearly. But to listen to the media criticism of Trump, there was nobody. Every Muslim in the United States was celebrating, was united against terrorism.


The point is, there were people on rooftops celebrating, so much so that they had to raid the building in Jersey City.


Who cares if it's 1000 or 50? And in the end, we have a problem if we have American citizens or people here in this country cheering on the attacks. Imagine if it was a handful of people cheering on, publicly cheering on the beating of a African American person, public cheering it on. Not protesting the police or protesting a unfair police interaction or illegal or violent interaction with an African American, but let's say there were people cheering that on. Do you think the media would care about whether it is 1000 or a handful? [Courtside Entertainment Group, The Laura Ingraham Show11/23/1512/1/1512/2/15]

Fox's Neil Cavuto: “The Only Mistake Trump Might Have Made Is Assigning A Number To It.” On the December 1 edition of Fox News' Your World, host Neil Cavuto claimed that “the only mistake that Trump might have made is assigning a number to” the number of allegedly cheering Muslims:

RUDY GIULIANI: Okay. So I will read to you from an article September 14th, 2001, Fred Siegel, New York Post. This is back then. “Here in New York it was easy to get angry listening to Egyptians and Palestinians and the Arabs of nearby Paterson, New Jersey celebrate as they received word of the murderous attacks in New York and Washington. Mayor Giuliani, who has been tireless and magnificent in this crisis, rightly warned New Yorkers that it would be wrong to take that anger out on the city's Arab and Muslim residents. Attacks on Arab-Americans in Paterson or elsewhere are utterly indefensible.” And over the years -- now we get beyond that. Over the years I've had people report to me things like that. That there were celebrations. I had a person call me today and tell me his friend was in a cab and the Muslim cab driver was celebrating what he heard about --

NEIL CAVUTO: So the only mistake that Trump might have made is assigning a number to it. I sort remember covering it at the time that there were celebrations around the world, particularly in the Middle East --

GIULIANI: And there were -- and I can tell you reported to me -- I didn't see them. Could be wrong.

CAVUTO: Understood. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto12/1/15]

Right-Wing Media Praised Trump's Disparaging Comments About Mexican Immigrants, Giving Trump A Pass On The False Claim That  The Mexican Government “Send[s] The Bad Ones Over”

Fox's O'Reilly  Suggested  Trump Was Inartfully “Highlighting A Problem ... That Is Harming The Nation.” On the June 29 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly justified Trump's claim about Mexican immigration, saying he was inartfully “highlighting a problem ... that is harming the nation, and just didn't speak to it in a specific way -- I don't think Donald Trump was trying to demonize all Mexican people. I think he was trying to show that the present administration and the country itself doesn't have the will to stop the carnage.” [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor6/29/15]

Fox's Crowley: Trump “Is Saying Things That Need To Be Said.” On the July 2 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Fox contributor Monica Crowley instructed GOP presidential candidates to echo Trump's immigration rhetoric, arguing that Trump “is saying things that need to be said.” [Fox News, America's Newsroom7/2/15]

Fox's Hasselbeck: In Wake Of Trump's Comments “Some Are Bending Their Opinions” After Hearing Immigration Statistics. On the July 9 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, host Elisabeth Hasselbeck said that while Donald Trump, “initially fac[ed] backlash for his comments about illegal immigrants coming from Mexico,” the substance of his remarks is resonating with people: “When you start to hear the statistics, some people are bending their opinions.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends7/9/15]

Fox's Doocy: “We're Talking About This Because Donald Trump Brought This Up As A Campaign Issue.” On the July 9 edition of Fox & Friends, host Steve Doocy credited Trump with pushing the network to cover immigration:  

STEVE DOOCY: You know why it's so confusing? It's because, you know, while we're talking about this guy -- It happens every day out there. Because of the sanctuary city laws, and we heard yesterday 200 different cities all across the country -- everybody's got different laws. The reason we're talking about this at all, because it happens all the time, and sadly people are murdered all the time by illegalsas we have detailed on this program. We're talking about this because Donald Trump brought this up as a campaign issue. As it turns out, this weekend he's going to be meeting with a man whose son was killed by an illegal. And he's also going to be making a speech, at a private event for Clint Eastwood, and then he's going to go to Freedom Fest in Arizona, and on top of that he told NBC yesterday that he's going to wind up winning the Latino vote! [Fox News, Fox & Friends7/9/15]

Limbaugh Praises Trump's “Blinding Achievement” In “Chang[ing] The Entire Debate.” On the July 8 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh observed that he and Trump say “similar things” about immigrants before praising him for having “changed the entire debate.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show7/8/15]

Michael Berry Praises Trump For Appealing To GOP Base, Demonstrating “An Understanding Of The Marketplace That Most Politicians Don't Have.” On the July 9 edition of iHeartRadio's The Michael Berry Show, syndicated radio host Michael Berry argued that Trump's immigration comments have tapped into an important public sentiment among the GOP base, demonstrating “an understanding of the marketplace that frankly most politicians don't have”:

MICHAEL BERRY: You want them to think you care about them at election time, and then once you're elected, you go and do what you want to because the people you want to be close to once you're in office are the exact opposite of the Tea Party base that got you elected. And so you can kind of spit on the base until just late enough in the game, and then you pull out the old gay marriage thing -- the homos are coming to get you -- the problem is people are sick of it. And the other problem is, this illegal immigration thing is getting so bad ... it is no longer something that the public is willing to ignore. Everybody has been affected in one way or another by illegal immigration. Everybody. And that's becoming a real serious issue. And that's what Donald Trump has tapped into. That's an understanding of the marketplace that frankly most politicians don't have. [iHeartRadio, The Michael Berry Show7/9/15]

Right-Wing Media Peddled Trump's Myth That More Than 40 Percent Of Americans Are Unemployed

Fox Business Pushed The Jobs Falsehood Twice During Its Republican Presidential Debate. During the November 10 Republican presidential primary undercard and primetime debates, moderators Trish Regan and Maria Bartiromo parroted Trump's falsehood that upwards of 40 percent of Americans are unemployed. Regan stated during the undercard debate that “More than 90 million Americans are unemployed or they are not in the workforce altogether,” while Bartiromo claimed during the primetime debate that “almost 40 percent of Americans are without a job and are not looking.” [Fox Business Network, Republican Presidential Candidates Debate11/10/1511/10/15]

Rush Limbaugh Parrots Unemployment Rate Myth Twice In Two Months. Rush Limbaugh echoed Trump's debunked claim about the unemployment rate twice, first stating during the August 20 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show that “here in the United States we have 94 million not working, and they are all eating.” During his October 14 show, Limbaugh claimed “Today, there are 46 million Americans unemployed. And 94 million not working.” [Premiere Radio Networks, The Rush Limbaugh Show8/20/1510/14/15]

Fox's Bret Bair: “It's Important To Note” That 94 Million Are “Not Participating In Workforce.” On the December 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report, host Bret Baier hyped Trump's claim that 94 million people are “not participating in the workforce” in an attempt to undercut the strong November jobs report:

BRET BAIER: Stocks surged today, fueled by a November jobs report that showed a gain of 211,000 positions. The unemployment rate remains at 5 percent, but it beat expectations, it's important to note the number of people without a job, not participating in the workforce is still over the 94 million mark for the fourth month in a row. [Fox News, Special Report12/4/15]