By Veronica Mackey
The annual State of the Union address is always fodder for political pundits and fact checkers. Technology has so advanced that facts are instantly available, and are either confirmed or contested during the speech almost immediately.
The 80-minute speech given Tuesday by President Donald Trump drew rebuttals and praise on every point from national security to job creation. Critics viewed it with distrust not only because some statements didn’t add up, but because of Trump’s tendency to exaggerate and take credit that he doesn’t deserve. Those in his base blame Democrats for dividing the country.
Making the speech more complex is the fact that Trump changes his mind on just about everything, so what he says today is likely to be reversed tomorrow, or even the same day.
Here is how Trump’s SOTU address was received by activists, celebrities and fact-checkers:
“A lot of people are wondering which Donald Trump is going to show up tonight, but in truth there’s only one—the one who is dangerously unfit for his job, the one who has tried to politicize our justice system to shield himself from prosecution, the one who panders to the far right and belittles women and people of color… Our democracy is in crisis, and the pageantry of a big speech doesn’t change that fact.”—People For the American Way (a progressive advocacy organization.
“President Trump’s State of the Union address tonight showed a president transitioning into the role of Commander-in-Chief. The country is currently very divided, and this speech went a long way in trying to repair that divide. I congratulate President Trump for a well-written and well-delivered speech.”—Christopher Arps, member, Project 21 (an organization of black conservatives, sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research).
L.A. Times Fact Checkers:
Here are a few statements made by Trump when compared to the facts:
Trump: “Since the election, we have created 2.4 million new jobs, including 200,000 new jobs in manufacturing alone.”
Fact: He’s correct on the number at least. Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that the economy added 2.37 million jobs from November 2016 through December 2017, the most recent data available. But taking credit for job growth beginning with his election is a stretch, economists said.
Trump: African-American unemployment stands at the lowest rate ever recorded, and Hispanic American unemployment has also reached the lowest levels in history.
Fact: The part about black unemployment is correct. The part about Latino unemployment is not. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported last month that the unemployment rate for blacks dropped to 6.8% in December, the lowest since the government began tracking the figure in 1972. The unemployment rate for Latinos, which the Bureau of Labor Statistics has tracked since 1973, was 4.9% in December. The record low is 4.8%, reached earlier in 2007 and in 2006.
Trump: “Just as I promised the American people from this podium 11 months ago, we enacted the biggest tax cuts and reform in American history.”
Fact: The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget estimated in October that the tax cuts as a percentage of total economic output — also known as gross domestic product — would be the 12th largest since 1918.When adjusting for inflation, the Trump tax cuts would be the fourth largest since 1940, the group said.
Celebrities chimed in on Twitter:
When does he thank Russia? @AlbertBrooks
Black people are not impressed! @LarryWilmore
All I want to hear tonight is Stormy‘s (Daniels) State of Stormy’s union. I’m pro Stormy @KathyGriffin
Remember Morse code? I’m hoping that our #FirstLady knows it, and can blink the words …
“HELP ME” tonight, if she needs us. Hang in there #Melania! State Of The #UNIOM @ArsenioHall