(CNN) — Alternative facts. Lies. Distortions. Exaggerations. Misstatements. Half truths.
Call it what you want, but there’s one indisputable fact: Donald Trump does a stunning amount of it.
According to a count maintained by The Washington Post’s Fact Checker and updated Tuesday morning, Trump has now made 1,628 false or misleading claims in his 298 days in office. That’s an average of 5.5 a day. Five and a half misleading or outright false statements for each day — including weekends! — that Trump has been president.
By the Fact-Checker’s estimates, Trump — if he keeps up his current pace — will blow past 2,000 misstatements and/or untruths in his first year in office.
Stop. Go back and read that last sentence. Then read it again.
The President of the United States has misled or lied more than 1,600 times since January 20. That’s so important I am going to repeat it — and underline it: The president of the United States has misled or lied more than 1,600 times since January 20.
There are consequences to that remarkable record of misleading. And they are already being realized in our culture.
Trump, through his rhetoric and his conduct, has redefined “truth.” Truth, now, lies in the eye of the beholder. There is no agreement on settled facts. Everything is seen through the lens of “fake news.”
Take the ongoing Roy Moore situation in the Alabama Senate race.
Five days ago, The Washington Post wrote a story in which four women accused Moore, the GOP nominee and a two-time former state Supreme Court chief justice, of pursuing sexual relationships with them when he was in his 30s and they were between 14 and 18 years old. On Monday, a fifth woman, named Beverly Young Nelson, went public — this time alleging that Moore sexually assaulted her when she was 16.
Moore has totally denied all of the accusations and insisted the entire thing is the product of some sort of broad-scale conspiracy involving Democrats, the media and establishment Republican types like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“Fake news,” Moore insisted — and lots and lots of people believe him.
The facts, however, are as follows: None of the five women knew one another. None of them contacted The Washington Post to tell their story. All of them have gone on the record and allowed their names to be released to the public. The Post spoke to more than two dozen corroborating witnesses who knew Moore when he was serving as a district attorney between 1977 to 1982 — when these alleged episodes occurred. At least two of the women voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 election. Nelson showed a 1977 high school yearbook in which Moore had written an inscription calling her “beautiful” and signing it “Love, Roy Moore D.A.”
When you compare these facts to Moore’s denials, it’s not a close call. The facts far outnumber Moore’s insistence that this is all one big Democratic-media conspiracy.
None of that is a partisan statement. Facts are not partisan. They are just facts.
Unfortunately, we as a country can’t agree on the facts anymore. Fact and opinion have become conflated. Lots of people confuse the two — or have no clue where one ends and the other begins. It feels like New York Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s famous dictum — “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts” — comes from another time. Hell, it feels like it came from another universe.
Not all of this lies at the feet of Donald Trump. But the President sets the tone. And this President has — from the moment he announced his presidential bid in June 2015 — shown a total lack of concern for facts. Not only that, he has flaunted his lack of adherence to established facts as a sort of badge of honor — a symbol of his lack of commitment to politics as usual.
Telling the truth isn’t politics as usual, however. It’s just plain decency. And Trump violates that, on average, 5.5 times a day. Every day.
(©2017 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved. By Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large.)