Donald Trump wants you to know he’s such a great president that even though he’s only been in office one month, he has already boosted the economy and helped reduce the national debt. “The media has not reported that the National Debt in my first month went down by $12 billion vs a $200 billion increase in Obama first mo,” tweeted Trump at 8:19 a.m.
Those words sounded awfully familiar to anyone who was watching Fox News’ Fox & Friends early Saturday morning as former GOP presidential candidate Herman Cain espoused pretty much the same talking point an hour earlier on the show.
Cain, for his part, was pretty much parroting a recent piece by Gateway Pundit, a conservative pro-Trump blog that now has credentials for White House press briefings. Earlier this week, the blog that has peddled false information about Hillary Clinton’s health and voter fraud wrote about how Trump had cut the national debt, which is pretty much hogwash. Even though the debt has decreased “this is accounted for by ordinary rotations in intra-governmental accounts,” as the Atlantic’s David Frum wrote on Twitter. Plus the comparison is pretty meaningless anyway, considering the debt increased after President Obama took office because of a stimulus package that Congress had approved before he had even been sworn in. Under the same token, Trump is still working off last year’s budget so even if there had been a real decrease, his administration can’t take credit.
PolitiFact wrote that Trump’s statement was “mostly false” and said the numbers the president is touting don’t really mean much:
Trump would be wise to not read too much into this figure, which sounds more noteworthy than it actually is. The national debt fluctuates up and down depending on the day. While the debt is “down” after one month, experts say that trend will reverse and the debt will continue to rise.
This factoid is a gross misrepresentation of the state of the debt and the role the new president had in shaping the figure.
More than just another misleading talking point though, the tweet seemed to be a pretty clear illustration of how a talking point made its way from conservative blog post to a Fox News pundit to a presidential tweet, reflecting the conservative echo chamber that appears to be a key source of news for the administration. Just last week Trump acknowledged he had implied there had been a terrorist incident in Sweden after he watched a Fox News segment on the country’s refugee program.
Trump then followed up with another tweet celebrating the state of the economy and the rising stock market.
He also called on supporters to hold a mass rally, claiming it “would be the biggest of them all.”