Why does Donald Trump have so much trouble with the truth?  Not long after the beginning of Trump’s presidency, I weighed in with some thoughts on the matter, as part of H-Diplo’s “America and the World – 2017 and Beyond” series.[1]  In that essay, I made two primary claims.  First, with Trump it is difficult to distinguish deception from self-deception.  Second, deception in the Trump case appears to be as much a bottom-up phenomenon as a top-down one, insofar as partisan polarization has paved the way for the misinformation that Trump thrives on.

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A number of the essays in this series have grappled with the question of how big a departure Donald Trump’s presidency is from the theory and practice of American foreign policy and international relations more broadly.  Having published a book on presidential deception not too long ago, I have been reflecting on this theme with particular reference to Trump’s strained (perhaps broken) relationship with the truth.[1]  Trump’s carelessness with the truth is by now well known.  The fact-checking site PolitiFact awarded Trump’s statements “Lie of the Year” in 2015.  As of 3 February 2017, it had rated fully 69% of his statements either “mostly false,” “false,” or “pants on fire.”[2]  By comparison, Hillary Clinton, Trump’s Democratic rival in the 2016 presidential election campaign, was charged with making “mostly false,” “false,” or “pants on fire” claims 26% of the time.[3]

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