Fact-checkers had a field day with President Trump's address to Congress

Donald Trump addresses Congress
(Image credit: Jim Lo Scalzo/AFP/Getty Images)

When presidents address joint sessions of Congress, they "generally are careful not to stretch the truth," say Glenn Kessler and Michelle Ye Hee Lee at The Washington Post. But despite the high-profile stage, "President Trump's maiden address to Congress was notable because it was filled with numerous inaccuracies," including several he "trots out on a regular, almost daily basis." There are a handful of "four Pinocchio" whoppers sprinkled in among the 13 notable claims Kessler and Lee fact-check, but generally the verdict — as at similar reality checks by CNN, The New York Times, PolitiFact, and USA Today — is "true but misleading."

A widely cited example is Trump's technically accurate but practically absurd claim that 94 million Americans are out of the labor force. Some 75 percent of those people (pretty much every American over 15 without a job) are students, stay-at-home parents, disabled people, and retirees who aren't looking for work; the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the number of unemployed people at 7.6 million in January. Trump's claim that the U.S. has spent $6 trillion on wars in the Middle East is also wildly inflated, counting the $1.6 trillion to $3.8 trillion the U.S. has spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001 plus future spending for three decades on veterans' care, interest on the debt, and other costs. This unspent money could not, obviously, have been used to rebuild America's infrastructure. There were other hard-to-verify statements like this:

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Peter Weber, The Week US

Peter has worked as a news and culture writer and editor at The Week since the site's launch in 2008. He covers politics, world affairs, religion and cultural currents. His journalism career began as a copy editor at a financial newswire and has included editorial positions at The New York Times Magazine, Facts on File, and Oregon State University.