Over the years, I've been very critical of Donald Trump — beginning long before he was in politics, when he was starring in "The Apprentice."
I was there on multiple occasions when Trump told self-aggrandizing whoppers. And that rubbed me the wrong way.
Frankly, I was always amazed/amused when he flat-out lied about the ratings of his show to a group of people who cover TV. We knew what the numbers were, so it never made the slightest bit of sense when he made false claims about "The Apprentice" and "The Celebrity Apprentice."
That's not opinion. His disinformation is easily documented.
I will admit that I always assumed a big part of Trump's bravado was an act. That he was performing for us the way he performed on his TV show.
And, in my heart of hearts, I always sort of thought that once he was in the White House, he would drop the act. That he'd act like an adult. That he'd act presidential.
I will readily admit that I was completely wrong about that.
Trump's recent train wreck of a news conference sent a chill down my spine because of the simple fact that, as president, he's exactly the same liar he was as a reality-show star.
In the news conference, he bragged that, with 306 electoral votes, his was "the biggest electoral college win since Ronald Reagan." When NBC's Peter Alexander pointed out that both of Barack Obama's wins (365 and 332) were larger, as were Bill Clinton's (370 and 379), Trump said he was just talking about GOP wins.
That was more fake news. George H.W. Bush got 426 electoral votes in 1988.
And Trump's excuse rang a bell for me: "I was given that information. I don't know. I was just given it," he said.
Two years before his inauguration, Trump told TV critics that, split off as a separate show, the second hour of "Celebrity Apprentice" was "the No. 1 show on television."
That was total fiction. The two-hour block ranked 41st, and even just taking the second hour — aka cheating with the numbers — it wouldn't have been close to No. 1.
Asked if he was really claiming his show was No. 1, Trump said it was among viewers "18-49." (It was No. 24 in that demographic.) Pressed on that, Trump claimed the second hour of "Celebrity Apprentice" was No. 1 in 18-49 "for that night."
Also untrue. Called out on that, Trump said, "That's what I had heard. That's what I was told."
No, lying about TV ratings isn't particularly important. But caught in a lie, Trump shifted the blame. He's still doing that today.
Then as now, he lived in a world where facts don't matter. He lied as a matter of course.
I'll admit, I laughed derisively in 2015. But the joke is on us. Trump is exactly the same guy we saw on TV. It was no act.
His address before Congress on Tuesday (7 p.m., multiple channels) ought to be, um, interesting.
Scott D. Pierce covers TV for The Salt Lake Tribune. Email him at email@example.com; follow him on Twitter @ScottDPierce.