Donald Trump and Ford: Trump's claim he kept the auto manufacturer in Kentucky is false

Donald Trump and Ford: Trump's claim he kept the auto manufacturer in Kentucky is false
Source: AP
Source: AP

Donald Trump repeatedly told his supporters on the campaign trail that if elected, he would strong-arm American companies to keep production and manufacturing jobs in the United States. "We can stop them from leaving. We have to stop them from leaving," Trump said in the first presidential debate, saying he would slap an import tax on products manufactured by American companies that moved production overseas.

On Thursday night, the president-elect implied via Twitter that he'd had his first victory in the war to keep jobs in America: Ford Motor Company would continue manufacturing cars in Kentucky instead of Mexico.

Trump's tweet suggested that through hard work, he somehow convinced Ford to continue production of Lincoln cars in the U.S. But however Trump wants to spin this news, the reality is that Ford was never moving a "plant in Kentucky" to Mexico.

Details matter

In a statement to the Washington Post, Ford said that it did plan to shift production of the Lincoln MKC — one model — from Louisville, Kentucky, to Mexico. But the company informed Trump production of the MKC would remain in Louisville.

CNN reported that production of the MKC in Louisville was relatively small. Annually, Ford produces 20,000 Lincoln MKCs and 306,000 Ford Escapes at its Louisville plant. Last year, Ford announced it planned to move MKC production out of Louisville, but increased Escape production was planned to offset the loss of the MKC, meaning there would be no jobs cuts.

The key word in this exchange: "plant." Tweeting that Ford planned to keep relatively small production of one vehicle in Kentucky does not sound substantial. But saying Ford kept a plant in the U.S. suggests thousands of jobs were saved, and frames Trump as successful and honest to his campaign promises. 

His supporters immediately spread the false news on Twitter.

And then, this

As the car manufacturer announced earlier this year, Ford still plans to move a good portion of its production to Mexico. But the shift away from Detroit will be balanced by a commitment to invest $9 billion in its American plants, Ford's CEO said, adding that "zero" jobs will be lost in the U.S.

The statement was prompted by Trump's assertion in the first presidential debate that "Ford is leaving; their small car division leaving. Thousands of jobs leaving Michigan, leaving Ohio."

As New York magazine's Jesse Singal pointed out, Trump's statement contributes to a proliferation of fake news, especially when he is the one generating it.