Donald Trump, after announcing that he needs attention and has chosen to get it by “running for president,” is now being rightfully fact-checked, accused of being a social media fraud and, most importantly, dissed by Neil Young.
Where to even start with Trump’s mess of a presidential announcement? As the “ham that looks like it’s wearing a merkin” went on and on about Obamacare and how our country doesn’t have victories anymore (“we used to have them, but not anymore,” Trump explained helpfully, making sure we got it), I was struck by the fact that people were actually cheering.
Who are these people, I wondered, who would not only take the time to attend a Trump campaign event in their off-time but also happily cheer as he he explained that people who don’t understand air conditioners would never be able to beat ISIS? (Fun thing about the speech: it makes no sense with and without context).
Turns out they’re confused tourists, and also actors.
From The Washington Post:
“This is beyond anybody’s expectations,” he [Trump] said to a crowd that he described as “thousands,” though it looked more like hundreds. “There have been no crowds like this.”
In reality, members of team Trump spent the hour before the event out in the streets of midtown Manhattan trying to lure tourists in to fill out the crowd. A man in a pressed suit who would say only that he “worked for Trump” offered passersby free T-shirts and already-made signs, many handwritten, to hold if they would come on in and see the show.
According to the Post, Trump’s street team was billing the event as “only in New York” and a great time to “make memories” for the small price of wearing a shirt (and cheering enthusiastically) and listening to Trump speak for way longer than any human being should be able to stand hearing. Of course, some of the people there were hoping Trump could actually do something for them.
Anastasia Anastasiadis said: “I got an e-mail from Facebook saying I should come. If Mr. Trump could give me a job, that would be good.”
The Post went even further into Trump’s announcement, moving past the charade that anyone really thinks this guy could win and actually fact-checking his speech which, while accurate in some places—Trump knows approximately how much we owe other countries and how many Iraqi humvees were captured by ISIS—was wildly wrong in others. On unemployment rates in America, with Trump’s words in bold:
“A lot of people up there can’t get jobs. They can’t get jobs, because there are no jobs.”
This is totally false. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “the number of job openings rose to 5.4 million on the last business day of April, the highest since the series began in December 2000.”
On who decides the tax rates:
“I would say, ‘Congratulations. That’s the good news. Let me give you the bad news. Every car and every truck and every part manufactured in this plant that comes across the border, we’re going to charge you a 35-percent tax, and that tax is going to be paid simultaneously with the transaction, and that’s it.’”
In Trump’s fantasy conversation with the head of an auto company planning a factory in Mexico, he apparently forgot that Congress, not the president, sets tax rates. This threat would presumably also violate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
And the state of his finances:
“I have assets — big accounting firm, one of the most highly respected — [says] 9 billion, 240 million dollars. And I have liabilities of about $500 million. That’s long-term debt, very low interest rates.”
The Fact Checker has learned from long experience never to trust Trump’s numbers when he talks about his wealth. Our colleague Allan Sloan dissected Trump’s claim of $9 billion in assets and found it wanting for six key reasons. As Sloan put it, “Trump’s balance sheet is certainly over-inflated and doesn’t seem to be tethered to much of a financial reality….If he had presented this balance sheet to me in a personal finance class, I’d have given him a short message: ‘You’re fired.’”
But wait, there’s more!
First of all, Neil Young, whose anti-Bush (senior!) song “Rockin’ In The Free World” was inexplicably played during Trump’s campaign speech—it’s really almost like Trump has no idea what he’s doing—has issued a statement saying that he hadn’t allowed The Donald to use his music and that even if he could, he wouldn’t be backing Trump for the position of president.
Donald Trump was not authorized to use “Rockin’ In The Free World” in his presidential candidacy announcement. Neil Young, a Canadian citizen, is a supporter of Bernie Sanders for President of the United States of America.
And then, finally: According to Vocativ, Trump may be bulking up his supporter numbers by purchasing Facebook likes from “like farms” in developing nations, because there’s really no reason that this guy should suddenly be as popular among Filipino and Malaysian users as he is.
In fact, Vocativ reports that the likes occurred in a pattern that suggests that the fraud was trying to avoid Facebook detection.
Yet, there’s something strange about a lot of the fans. Only 42 percent of Trump’s 1,694,561 followers on Facebook are American, while most come from developing nations like the Philippines, Malaysia, India, South Africa, Indonesia and Colombia, a Vocativ analysis shows.
Vocativ asked Michael Fire, a researcher who studies fake social media profiles, to examine two years’ worth of Facebook like activity on Donald Trump’s page, mapped in a graph pictured below. Fire said a significant portion of Trump’s followers can be attributed to Facebook fraud. “If you look at Google trends you don’t see a sudden interest in … Donald Trump. So, the increase in likes looks strange,” Fire said. “Moreover, the pattern of the graph also looks like it tries to avoid detection by the Facebook protection systems, because it increases slowly and then seems to stop.”
But you know, keep doing you, Trump. While you’re not going to win by a long shot, your presence in this election will hopefully be the death knell of whatever public affection remains.
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