Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump is greeted by his family after the third and final debate with Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton in Las Vegas, Nev., Oct. 19, 2016. 
Photo by Joe Raedle/Reuters

At the debate, Trump gets caught in the wrong kind of lie

To no one’s surprise, Donald Trump said all kinds of things that weren’t true in the third and final presidential debate. He lied about opposing the war in Iraq from the beginning; he lied about his positions on nuclear proliferation; he lied about 100% of the Trump Foundation’s money going to charities; he lied about Syrian refugees; and on and on.

But one falsehood in particular stood out for me. Consider this exchange between Trump and Hillary Clinton last night.
CLINTON: Well, every time Donald is pushed on something which is obviously uncomfortable, like what these women are saying, he immediately goes to denying responsibility. And it’s not just about women. He never apologizes or says he’s sorry for anything.

So we know what he has said and what he’s done to women. But he also went after a disabled reporter, mocked and mimicked him on national television….

TRUMP: Wrong.
Here’s the thing: we’ve all seen the tape.

After the vice presidential debate two weeks ago, New York’s Jon Chait argued persuasively that Mike Pence lost, not because he lied, but because he lied about the wrong kind of stuff. Summarizing a helpful rule that should live on forevermore, Chait wrote, “You should not lie about things that can be easily disproven with short video clips.”

Which brings us to last night and Trump’s violation of the newly inaugurated Chait Rule.

Nearly a year ago, Trump was campaigning in South Carolina and was in the process of defending himself against an unrelated lie (he’d falsely claimed to have seen “thousands” of American Muslims celebrating the night of the 9/11 attacks). As part of his bogus argument, Trump took aim at Serge Kovaleski and the reporter’s physical disability – because Kovaleski had the nerve to point out the truth.

“You gotta see this guy,” Trump said at the South Carolina rally last November. Mocking the journalist and his condition, Trump waved his arms around, and while using a bizarre, ridiculing voice, the presidential candidate tried to mimic Kovaleski, saying, “Uh, I don’t know what I said! Uh, I don’t remember!”

Again, this isn’t opinion. Politicians “should not lie about things that can be easily disproven with short video clips,” and in this case, we have the short video clips.
MSNBC Live, 11/27/15, 8:31 AM ET

Trump denies he mocked NY Times reporter

Donald Trump is denying he mocked New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, whose article he claims proves “thousands and thousands of people were cheering” in New Jersey when the Twin Towers collapsed in 2001.
Donald Trump is denying he mocked New York Times reporter Serge Kovaleski, whose article he claims proves “thousands and thousands of people were cheering” in New Jersey when the Twin Towers collapsed in 2001.
The GOP nominee later said he couldn’t have mocked Kovaleski’s condition because he didn’t know anything about him. “I have no idea who this reporter, Serge Kovaleski is, what he looks like or his level of intelligence.,” Trump said, adding, “Despite having one of the all-time great memories I certainly do not remember him.”

Kovaleski noted soon after, “Donald and I were on a first-name basis for years.”

I can appreciate why Trump finds all of this embarrassing now. The Clinton campaign has made an effort to frequently remind voters about the incident, and for good reason: anyone who mocks others over their physical disabilities invariably looks monstrous.

But when Trump interrupted Clinton last night to deny his mockery of Kovaleski, he was only adding insult to injury.