Washington Post fact-checker introduces 'Bottomless Pinocchio' rating to call Trump on repeated false claims

Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler is introducing a new rating inspired by President TrumpDonald TrumpDOJ asks Supreme Court to revive Boston Marathon bomber death sentence, in break with Biden vow Biden looking to build momentum for Putin meeting DOJ tells media execs that reporters were not targets of investigations MORE’s repetition of false claims.

In a column published Monday, Kessler announced “the Bottomless Pinocchio” to rate politicians “who repeat a false claim so many times that they are, in effect, engaging in campaigns of disinformation.”

“Trump’s willingness to constantly repeat false claims has posed a unique challenge to fact checkers,” Kessler writes. “Most politicians quickly drop a Four-Pinocchio claim, either out of a duty to be accurate or concern that spreading false information could be politically damaging.”


Kessler writes that in order to receive the “dubious distinction” of a Bottomless Pinocchio, a politician will have repeated a claim at least 20 times — the claim itself must also have been previously rated three or four Pinocchios.

Though the standard can apply to any politician, Kessler notes that, other than Trump, no other current elected official meets the standard — and 14 statements from Trump have already made the cut.

“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,” Kessler writes. “[Trump] is not merely making gaffes or misstating things, he is purposely injecting false information into the national conversation.”

The Bottomless Pinocchio statements that Trump has made so far, according to the Post, cover a wide range of topics — from falsely claiming 87 times that the U.S. pays for most of the cost of NATO to accusing special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE’s staff of being “angry Democrats” on 30 separate occasions.

Trump claimed 123 times before the midterm elections that the GOP tax cut was “even larger than that of President Ronald Reagan,” by the Post’s count, despite Reagan’s 1981 tax cut being more than twice as large as Trump’s.

The fact-checker has documented thousands of false claims by the president and in August of this year, referred to one statement as a “lie” for the first time.