In Trump’s planned remarks, he paints a picture of America in disarray. Crime is on the rise across the country, people are being murdered on the streets of America’s cities, and no one is doing anything. Here’s a relevant snippet:
Homicides last year increased by 17 percent in America’s fifty largest cities. That’s the largest increase in 25 years. In our nation’s capital, killings have risen by 50 percent. They are up nearly 60 percent in nearby Baltimore.
In the President’s hometown of Chicago, more than 2,000 have been the victims of shootings this year alone. And more than 3,600 have been killed in the Chicago area since he took office.
Trump is right that many American cities have murder rates that are unacceptable. But there are a lot of problems with this section of the speech, the biggest being that it’s just not really true. Blaming the national government for crime in cities is questionable at best. And though Trump is right that murders did spike last year in many American cities, they are still occurring much, much less frequently than they did a few decades ago. By using a year-over-year statistic, Trump is obscuring the broader truth. As Chase Madar pointed out on Twitter, he is using America’s most dangerous cities as a kind of “life raft” for a demagogic argument.
Thankfully—for Trump at least—his campaign has settled on the perfect explanation for why statistics do not remotely match his argument about crime: The FBI bungled the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails.