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There's nothing surprising about the idea that the Donald Trump campaign would lie in an ad, since Donald Trump needs falsehoods like the freaky misshapen mutant koala atop his head needs a steady supply of eucalyptus leaves and human blood. The only surprise about this one is that it's such a stupid, obvious lie: a clip from a Hillary Clinton speech in which Clinton says, "Trump wants to cut taxes for the super rich. Well, we’re not going there, my friends. I’m telling you right now, we’re going to write fairer rules for the middle class..." and then, in a slightly muddy bit of audio, follows that with "...and we aren't going to raise taxes on the middle class!" The audio -- and yeah, Clinton's inflection -- are just unclear enough that the Trump campaign (and about 40 jillion rightwing websites) thought it sounded like Clinton said "and we are going to raise taxes on the middle class!” That's it. Hell, to hear it the right way, all you have to do is listen to it with the volume up a little bit -- the n't is quite clearly audible. Or maybe if you slow the audio way down as the ad does, you can make the n't vanish altogether.

NBC News put together a comparison of the somewhat fuzzy Trump ad and the somewhat less-fuzzy source video, where "aren't" is definitely clearer:


Gotta appreciate their "fair and balanced" caption at the end where they treat what she really says as if it were an open question.

PolitiFact took their checking a few steps further -- spoiler alert: they give the ad yet another "Pants on fire" rating -- and, not content to rely simply on reporters' accounts or the Clinton campaign's transcript of the speech, they went and scienced the shit out of it:

Alan Yu, a linguistics professor at the University of Chicago who specializes in phonology, ran the audio through a computer program called Praat, which analyzes phonetics.

By analyzing the sound waves, we can see that Clinton was saying "aren’t," because she definitely pronounced the "n," though she didn’t really hit the "t."

Here’s a screenshot of the results:

As you can see, the phoneme (unit of sound) highlighted in pink is an "n," though there’s not a "t." That still suggests she was trying for the word "aren’t."

For backup, they consulted another cunning linguist:

Edward Flemming, a linguistics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, also ran the audio through Praat and came up with the same results. But even if we didn’t have Praat, he said, context alone sways the argument in the Clinton camp’s favor.

"Also if she was going to say ‘we are going to’, wouldn’t she contract it to ‘we’re’, as she does a few words earlier?" Flemming pointed out. "To my ears, it is clear that she is saying ‘aren’t’."

And then there's the actual Clinton tax plan, which, as PolitiFact notes, "does not change the tax rates for the middle class and instead targets the wealthy through small reforms."

Finally, of course, there's basic logic: No politician in their right mind would ever contrast their opponent's plans to cut taxes for the wealthy with a plan to raise taxes on the middle class, nor would any audience cheer for a middle-class tax increase, and most important of all, we cannot believe we have wasted 600 words on such unspeakably lazy Trump bullshit.

Needless to say, Hillary's "promise to raise taxes on the middle class" is already permanently cemented in the rightwing imagination, right along with that time Barack Obama "admitted" he was a Muslim.

[ThinkProgress / DailyWire / PolitiFact / Snopes]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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