ANALYSIS: In questioning authenticity of 'Access Hollywood' tape, President Trump seeks to define own reality

Trump privately questioned the authenticity of the "Access Hollywood" tape.

— -- Even in the realm of the whoppers that have defined the Trump era, this stands out.

No shred of evidence has been introduced to back up any part of such a theory.

When the 2005 tape’s emergence last October looked as though it might sink the campaign, candidate Trump broke his typical no-apologies rule to explicitly admit the voice on the tape was his, saying in a video statement, “I said it, I was wrong, and I apologize.” He repeatedly referred to the comment as “locker-room talk” when subsequently asked about it.

On one level, questioning the tape’s authenticity in private conversations might be an attempt by Trump to gain some credibility during a moment of cultural reassessment around sexual abuse and harassment.

“Let me just tell you, Roy Moore denies it,” Trump said last week. “That’s all I can say. He denies it. By the way, he totally denies it.”

There is another and potentially darker level to what might be the most audacious attempt by this president to define his own reality.

Even today, Trump suggested a contest to determine “the most dishonest, corrupt and/or distorted” television network. He tweeted that, except for Fox News, “they are all bad. Winner to receive the FAKE NEWS TROPHY!”

The truth is that he regularly employs false or misleading statements in the normal course of a presidency that is anything but normal.

The Washington Post last month tallied more than 1,300 such statements over his first nine months in office. That list included everything from faulty superlatives about legislative accomplishments and goals to his false claim that “Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory.”

It is sometimes said of Trump that he gets in his own way by following his instincts, that his tweets and other utterances often get him and his agenda off track.

But denying indisputable facts is something different. Denying the authenticity of a tape Trump knows full well to be of him carries larger — and potentially far more troubling — meaning than a typical baseless claim.