“Shoebiz,” “hamberders,” “leightweight.” “Rupublicans.” “Infair.”
President Donald Trump has a serious problem with spelling, as many news outlets and late-night hosts have pointed out. He has even misspelled his wife’s name on Twitter. He recently mistyped his Defense Secretary’s name, too.
But some of his typos have been deleted and corrected. Others have been forgotten — “covfefe” being a funny exception. There doesn’t seem to be a comprehensive list.
So CNN’s “Reliable Sources” asked the Factba.se website, which tracks every word uttered by Trump and other politicians, to come up with a count.
“Everybody makes spelling mistakes,” CNN’s Brian Stelter commented on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources.” But on Twitter, he said, “Trump makes a lot more of them than most people.”
Referring to Trump’s typo-ridden tendencies, Stelter said, “it’s not the biggest thing in the world, but it still matters. Accuracy always matters.”
Researchers at Factba.se went a step further and looked for misspellings by other members of Trump’s family and the 2020 presidential candidates who want Trump’s job.
Two things make Trump’s errors stand out: The quantity and the absurdity.
The researchers gave Trump the benefit of every doubt and skipped things like punctuation errors.
Still, they counted 188 misspellings since @realDonaldTrump took office. That’s a misspelling about every five days. And they’ve been happening more often lately.
The misspeller-in-chief should “turn on autocorrect,” said Bill Frischling, the CEO of FactSquared, who led the project.
His company is set to debut a new tool that will track Trump’s misspellings in real time.
These typos and other errors “are things that could have been avoided,” Frischling pointed out. “Since he’s the 11th largest Twitter account in the world, somebody should be checking it.”
Trump’s most frequently misspelled terms include “councel,” “Barrack Obama,” and “Capital Hill.”
Other notable examples include “Marine core,” the “boarder,” and “smocking” gun, just to name a few.
Factba.se analyzed Trump’s tweets from inauguration day 2017 until October 31, 2019 and identified 188 misspellings, though the total is quite conservative, given the site’s methodology.
Since Halloween, Trump has also spelled wonderful as “wonerful,” people as “prople,” and hijacked as “highjacked.”
It’s not just English teachers who are embarrassed by this pattern of poor spelling. Some of his critics have argued that it testifies to Trump’s lack of fitness for the presidency.
To put Trump’s typos into perspective, Frischling’s team compared Trump’s errors to Democratic candidates, his family members and past presidents.
“Even with the benefit of the doubt — erring always on the side of ‘is this possibly correct’ such as judgement and judgment — eight of the top 10 [biggest misspellers] are either Trump family members, current or former White House officials, or the Trump corporation itself,” Frischling said.
Ivanka Trump, for example, has only posted 14 tweets with typos since her father took office. The official account for the First Lady, @FLOTUS, has posted just four.
Elizabeth Warren has posted only five tweets with misspellings in the Trump era. Joe Biden has posted one.
When compared with the previous president, Barack Obama, Trump’s volume of errors becomes even more clear. Counting from when Trump started tweeting in May of 2009 and when Obama started tweeting in November 2012, Trump has made at least 350 spelling mistakes while Obama has only made four.
Trump has an error rate of 1.40% while Obama has an error rate of just 0.06%.
Methodology: As a raw method of sorting, the grammar and spelling from PerfectTense was first applied by Factba.se. Due to the prevalence of space-saving techniques in tweets, and the commonality of casual language, nearly all grammar rules were ignored and only three rules were kept as follows: spelling, homophone swap and incorrect multi-word phrase.
Factba.se did not count retweets, replies or any tweet beginning with “@”. Incorrect punctuation and grammar conjugation were not counted. Further, the spelling rules were given the benefit of the doubt. If any spelling was possibly correct, e.g. non-American spellings such as judgement and cancelled, they were not counted as an error. If any phrase could be slang or an accepted abbreviation given the context, it was not counted as an error. Accents and emphasis with extra letters e.g. soooooo were not counted. Any multi-word phrase that was a run-on, or repeated word, was subjected to the same benefit of the doubt.
If words were in a language other than English (Spanish and in one particular account Hawaiian), they were not checked for spelling and removed from the count.
Similarly, misidentified people, e.g. “Melanie” when Melania was clearly referenced, were counted as a spelling error.
Data is from account creation through October 31, 2019 at 11:59:59 PM ET