How the Coining of Truthiness Predicted a Revolution Nobody Needed

Stephen Colbert predicted Donald Trump on October 17, 2005. He just didn’t know it yet.

When the Colbert Report made its satirical debut, Stephen Colbert presented the world with a word he created:

Truthiness:

  • “Now I’m sure some of the ‘word police,’ the Wordanistas over at Webster’s are gonna say, “Hey, that’s not a word!”

This was October 17, 2005. Colbert described his character as a “well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot”.

The American Dialect Society named truthiness Word of the Year in 2005.

Merriam-Webster named it Word of the Year in 2006.

It is defined, formally, as the belief or assertion that a particular statement is true based on the intuition or perceptions of some individual or individuals, without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts.”

A little over 10 years later, Donald Trump is elected president.

Politifact awards Trump the Lie of the Year almost every year.

He won in 2015, 2017, and 2019.

On the Wikipedia page, Veracity of statements by Donald Trump, there are 215 references documenting various lists with lies and falsehoods he has spoken since taking office.

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False/misleading claims by Trump. Source: Washington Post.

Pretty much anybody who has worked with Donald Trump has stated he lies or exaggerates. The architect who designed the Trump Tower, Der Scutt, said “He’s extremely aggressive when he sells, maybe to the point of overselling. Like, he’ll say the convention center is the biggest in the world, when it really isn’t. He’ll exaggerate for the purpose of making a sale.”

Philip Johnson, another architect, said in 1984 that Trump often lied.

It isn’t necessarily that other politicians don’t lie, as stated by Professor Robert Prentice:

“Here’s the problem: As fact checker Glenn Kessler noted in August, whereas Clinton lies as much as the average politician, President Donald Trump’s lying is “off the charts”. No prominent politician in memory bests Trump for spouting spectacular, egregious, easily disproved lies. The birther claim. The vote fraud claim. The attendance at the inauguration claim. And on and on and on. Every fact checker — Kessler, FactCheck.org, Snopes.com, PolitiFact — finds a level of mendacity unequaled by any politician ever scrutinized. For instance, 70 percent of his campaign statements checked by PolitiFact were mostly false, totally false, or “pants on fire” false”

An average of around 15 lies per day, or 18,000 lies in just 1,170 days of office by one study.

It’s not that you need one example of Trump lying to use. Trump is the example.

He’s the very definition of what Colbert joked truthiness was about. Except, this isn’t a satirical comedy show. This is real.

In the middle of a global pandemic; with a well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot. As our president.

Written by

UC Berkeley, mathematics. Los Angeles. Long-time runner. Top writer on Quora, 100M+ total content views. New to Medium. Inquiries: Moumj@berkeley.edu

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