Donald Trump Doesn’t Like to Get Caught Lying, but He’s Racking Up Pinocchios Anyway

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Donald Trump speaks to supporters during a town hall meeting on March 14, 2016, at the Tampa Convention Center in Florida. Brian Blanco/Getty

Way back in the 1700s, when George Washington was just 6 years old, legend has it he obtained an ax. As kids are wont to do, he began to play with it and promptly hit his father’s cherry tree. But when his father discovered what he’d done, Washington broke with the norm and confessed, famously admitting, “I cannot tell a lie.”

The story may be a myth, but the nation’s focus on presidential honesty has persisted for centuries. And on Monday, President Donald Trump became the latest American leader to talk about lying—specifically, about how he hated getting called out for doing it.

Related: Does Trump lie? Comey’s testimony more trustworthy than president’s word, poll finds

Speaking at the “Made in America” product showcase he hosted in the White House on Monday, Trump bragged that he’d signed more bills than any president ever in his first six months. Then he immediately walked his claim back, saying, “I think we have everybody [beat].” 

“I better say, ‘think,’ otherwise they’ll give me a Pinocchio—and I don’t like those,” Trump added. “I don’t like Pinocchios.”

Trump was likely referring to The Washington Post’s Fact Checker, which assigns public figures Pinocchio icons on a scale in order to indicate how false their claims were. The story of Pinocchio goes back to an old fairy tale, popularized in a 1940 Disney movie, about a puppet who comes to life and whose nose grows whenever he tells a lie.

Though Trump is far from the only public figure to earn regular Pinocchio ratings from The Washington Post, he is a frequent target. During last year’s campaign, for example, The Washington Post gave him nearly 60 four-Pinocchio designations, while his rival Hillary Clinton scored seven. In an end-of-year wrap-up, the Post wrote, “There has never been a serial exaggerator in recent American politics” like Trump, who “not only consistently makes false claims but also repeats them, even though they have been proven wrong.”

But even though Trump condemned the Pinocchios on Monday, he didn’t take the action necessary to stop receiving them. As Huffington Post pointed out, just eight minutes after Trump’s remark, he claimed to have generated 45,000 coal mining jobs.

In reality, he's created 800.

Trump has been caught lying by other outlets as well. PolitiFact found that nearly 300 of the Trump claims it has checked for accuracy have been mostly false, false or pants-on-fire false. The New York Times reported Trump publicly said something misleading every day for the first 40 days of his term.

Despite his comment Monday, there’s no indication he’ll stop earning those Pinocchios.