When the truth is "created" and not discovered, then there is no such thing as a lie or a truth. The truth would be unattainable in a world without some moral absolutes and some absolute truths. When truth is relative, lying is not that big of a deal. In fact, if truth is relative, there is no such thing as a lie. Our culture should abhor lying, and should hold journalistic standards higher, instead rewards of tell-all trash book deals and other recognition. Thankfully, most people seem critical of lying in journalism other avenues.
When truth is relative, lying is not that big of a deal. In fact, if truth is relative, there is no such thing as a lie. Our culture does not punish liars, but instead rewards them with tell-all trash book deals and other recognition. In May of 2003, it was revealed that Jayson Blair of the New York Times had plagiarized, lied and even made up material for stories in the New York Times, many of which were front-page articles. In one example, he had described the fields near the house of the parents of Jessica Lynch, the private female American soldier that was rescued from an Iraqi hospital during the Iraq War. He later laughed about it and how he “fooled” his employer into thinking he was telling the truth (1). What a winner. He immediately got an agent and started to look for buyers for a book deal and possible movie deal.
Lying is often not only looked down upon, for some it’s essential for getting ahead. Many Americans think you will lose out if you don't lie. According to one survey conducted in 2002, seven percent of high school students cheated at least once during the year. Another study found that 52 percent of 3.8 million job applicants had lied on their resumes (2).
In California, Placer County Superior Court Judge Joseph O'Flaherty told to potential jurors to lie if they wanted to get out of jury duty in 1999 and 2000, if the jurors felt they were racially biased but did not want to admit it (3). An article featured on MSN Family/Learning section by Frances Stott, Ph.D., titled “The Truth About Lying” carried the subhead “Learning to fib is an important step in your child’s development (4).
Not surprisingly, many journalists have lost the respect of the public. But not as much for their bias, but because of these bad apples, Jayson Blair, Stephen Glass, Michael Moore and other hacks who make money with their outright lies. The annual Gallup poll found that reporters trail well behind auto mechanics, elected officials, and bankers in their perceived honesty by the public (5).
Michael Moore: A Successful Liar
In a world that sometimes rewards liars, it is no surprise Michael Moore is such a success. Moore has many outstanding errors, many of which are so obvious that one wonders if Moore distorted the facts, lied on purpose or is just a lazy researcher. Or maybe all of the above? He does have a few good points in some of his works. For example, while we should have the right to guns for protection, anyone who wants a machine gun or silencer is a bit off, since those are used only for evil deeds (machine guns are not suitable for hunting or self defense against an attacker; a gun should also make a lot of noise if it is used for self defense, since the victim should want the cops to know and come help). And I am not trying to demean him, even though he tries to demean anyone that disagrees with him.
But he is a very big fraud. One media myth that Moore has spread is that the United States gave $43 million in to the Taliban for cracking down on opium production. This prevarication first showed up in a column by Los Angeles Times writer Robert Scheer. Actually, the aid did not go to the Taliban, but instead went to famine-relief programs of the United Nations and nongovernmental organizations. Twenty-eight million dollars of the aid was in surplus wheat and $5 million of it was in food commodities. The remaining $10 million was in “livelihood and food security” (6). This was pointed out by the writers of Spinsanity.org, a web site devoted to pointing out distortions and lies from the media, pundits, columnists and politicians. This one small example shows us how the American public takes for granted that the corporate media is telling us the truth, when in fact it takes a small start-up web site to point out the facts.
Moore’s best-selling book Stupid White Men continued his tradition of telling lies, distorting facts and not even getting his quoted sources correct: Moore stated that over two-thirds of the $190 million George W. Bush raised for his 2000 presidential election came from a little over 700 donors. However, as Ben Fritz of Spinsanity.org pointed out, campaign finance laws prohibit any one person donating more than $2,000 to any one candidate (7). The most that 700 people would be able to give, assuming they all gave the maximum $2,000, would be $1.4 million, a fraction of the $190.
Moore cited the Center for Responsive Politics web site for his “facts,” but checking his sources actually prove him wrong (as they do for a significant portion of the book). According to the Center for Responsive Politics, (8) “only 52.6 percent of Bush's total $193 million in campaign funds came from individuals” (9). The other source Moore cited—an August 2000 New York Times article—actually stated that two-thirds of soft money for the Republican Party in general was raised by 739 people (10). Another example of Moore’s stinkers includes stating that over three-fourths of the Pentagon’s defense budget in 2001 was for work on a single type of plane.
Moore lies, distortions and half-truths persist in the fictional-but-purporting-to-be-non-fictional “Bowling For Columbine” documentary:
-Moore suggested that the Columbine killers might resort to violence because of “weapons of mass destruction” that were being manufactured in Lockheed Martin's Littleton assembly plant. The problem is that that plant doesn't make weapons, but instead it makes space launch vehicles for TV satellites (11).
-Moore also puts forth ludicrous arguments, including a work-to-welfare program causing a kid to go shoot people in Michigan. He argued that because the mother wasn't able to spend that much time with him, that he was somehow driven to use a gun to shoot people. He failed to mention that his mother had sent him to go live in a drug-and-gun-filled house with her brother and his friend (12).
-Moore also stated that North Country Bank & Trust in Traverse City, Michigan offered a gun for every person that would open a new bank account. In the “documentary,” he walks into the bank and walks out with a gun, joking that “Here's my first question: Do you think it's a little dangerous handing out guns at a bank?” But this was actually staged, because the guns are given to those that get a long-term CD and they have to go to a different city and pick up the gun after a background check (13).
The film relies on faulty logic throughout. Moore argues that violent media moguls such as Marilyn Manson have no blame at all, not even a contributing indirect influence, even going to the extent to interview Manson himself and including his music video on the DVD version, but that a satellite manufacturing plant that converts old technology for peaceful purposes does contribute to the Columbine massacre. He often attempts to take the blame away from the perpetrator of the crime to society in general, but only parts of society that he dislikes. He blamed the satellite vehicle plant instead of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, and he blamed the work-to-welfare program instead of the perpetrator or his mom who put him in a drug-and-gun-filled house.
The film won prizes from the 2002 Cannes Film Festival, the National Board of Review's “Best Documentary” prize, and was voted as the best documentary of all time by some voting members of the International Documentary Association. Too bad it wasn’t a documentary.
When Lou Dobbs of Moneyline interviewed Michael Moore about “glaring inaccuracies” in his Stupid White Men book pointed out by Salon.com, Moore responded, “I don't respond to that sort of stuff, you know.” He also stated strangely, “How can there be inaccuracy in comedy?” even though Moore is purporting his comedic pieces to be fact. When Dobbs continued to try to mention specific examples from Salon.com, Moore kept cutting him off, adding some sorry excuse such as that other liberals were jealous (14). Perhaps Moore did not want those glaring inaccuracies pointed out by way of example on the show.
Not surprisingly, Moore states the lie that unborn children are not worthy of protection.
Hack “journalists” are not alone in their quest for untruths. Some liars can be found in the intellectual community as well. In June of 2001 it was revealed by the Boston Globe that Joseph J. Ellis, a history professor employed by Mount Holyoke College of South Hadley, Massachusetts, told several lies about himself—enough to make it a parody of lying itself. The Pulitzer Prize-winning author told his students that he had fought in the Vietnam War, that he had become an antiwar activist when he got back to the United States, and that he had risked his safety to participate in civil-rights work in Mississippi—all of it was a big fat lie. He had also told a reporter that he “scored the winning touchdown for his high-school football team in the last game of his senior year.” But the Boston Globe investigated and discovered that Ellis’ story was a complete concoction of bull. He had never been on the football team, and the team had lost its last games anyway during the time Ellis supposedly scored the “winning touchdown” (15). As one could imagine, various historians and newspaper editorials called for his resignation.
Corporations Claim the ‘Right to Lie’
When Marc Kasky caught the Nike Corporation in a number of specific lies about the way it was cleaning up its practice of employing sweatshop laborers in third world countries, he cited a California law that prohibits corporations from deceiving consumers in their statements on purpose and sued Nike. Nike didn’t respond by trying to prove that they were not lying, but instead argued that corporations should basically have the right to lie. Citing how individual citizens have the “free speech” right to deceive people in their own personal lives, Nike claimed that it should have the right to lie in its statements as well. The decision went up to the California Supreme Court, where Nike lost.
Some defended Nike’s call for the right to lie, such as Bob Herbet of the New York Times, who stated that “In a real democracy, even the people you disagree with get to have their say.” But, as Thom Hartmann pointed out, “But Nike isn’t a person--it’s a corporation. And it’s not their ‘say’ they’re asking for: It’s the right to deceive people” (16).
Lying Part of Democracy?
A report written by Glen Newey, a political scientist at Britain’s University of Strathclyde, asserted in 2003 that “lying is a key part of democracy.” The report stated that “Politics should be regarded as less like an exercise in producing truthful statements and more like a poker game. And there is an expectation by a poker player that you try to deceive them as part of the game.” In what seems to resemble double-speak, he told the London newspaper Observer that “politicians need to be more honest about lying.” Newey also stated that the public “has a right to be lied to” in some cases, such as when they expect to be lied to; one example being during war.
I am not sure whom Newey was speaking of, but I would rather hear truth than lies, and the public should never have a “right” to be lied to. Newey explains that politicians lie when the public, journalists or other branches of government probe into the dealings of a government organization that would rather not be delved into. One example was the Monica Lewinsky affair. But instead of stating that the solution is to not lie, he proposed that less probing by the public would cause less lying by politicians (17). We all know politicians lie, but this study seems to reflect a trend of excusing lying instead of reprimanding it.
There is one place in the United States where people cannot be prosecuted for their speech, such as for libel or slander—the United States Congress. Congressmen can tell any untruth on the floor of the congress and can escape prosecution. In the Constitution it states: “for any speech or debate in either House, they [members of Congress] shall not be questioned in any other place.” The Supreme Court has even let Congressmen tells lies that were related to a larger conspiracy, by liberally interpreting the Constitution in this case. In United States v. Johnson, “two House members were charged under federal conspiracy and conflict-of-interest statutes with allegedly accepting payoffs to try to influence U.S. Justice Department personnel in connection with an investigation into certain savings-and-loan practices” (18). One of the two Congressman-conspirators gave a speech in Congress in favor of the Maryland savings-and-loan industry. He was convicted, but later it was overturned in the Supreme Court because it was interpreted that the congressmen can say anything they want, “and not be questioned in any other place,” basically sending the message that lying even when related to bribery and conspiracy can be excusable. No wonder Senators Barbara Boxer and Russ Feingold can infer the partially-born child is not a child worthy of protection. These lies cannot be prosecuted currently.
Lying Related to the Abortion Debate
The claim that the unborn child is not a human being is a lie based on scientific fact. But to defend this inaccuracy, the courts and media are willing to even accept false testimony. Ramesh Ponnuru exposed how lying was accepted in court testimony, especially when it comes to promoting politically-correct but morally depraved agendas such as abortion-on-demand. During the Supreme Court case Webster v. Reproductive Health Services, a group of historians filed a brief with the court in support of abortion-on-demand. Ponnuru points out the hypocrisy and double standard in the some sections of the intellectual and journalistic community: while many justifiably called for the resignation of journalist Joseph Ellis after he made up contrivances, they looked the other way when 400 historians fraudulently signed a legal brief not surprisingly in support of abortion-on-demand, based on history revisionism. It claimed that during the writing of the constitution, abortion was protected under common law. Amazingly, not many journalists or academics noticed the fabrication:
The brief was a complete fraud. In truth, the law always restricted abortion, and the 19th-century movement to tighten the law sought to protect what it regarded as fetal life. And the brief didn’t come by its bad history honestly. The truth was readily available. The sources on which the brief purported to rely contradicted its argument; so did the published work of many signatories to the brief. For example: The brief praised Abortion in America (“widely regarded as accurate and comprehensive”) by James Mohr, a signatory, and cited it to support the claim that abortion was a “common-law liberty.” Most of the cited pages in the book are irrelevant to the claim, but on one of them (page 3) Mohr writes, “After quickening, the expulsion and destruction of a fetus without due cause was considered a crime” (19).
Sadly, and outrageously, the mainstream press coverage of the brief in 1989 assumed it was accurate, but a few writers called attention to the complete and fraudulent lie, such as Gerard Bradley in First Things and Ponnuru in National Review.
Sometimes the truth, when displayed on a horror-filled picture, can be offensive to those even that support what has happened in the picture. Ironically, pro-abortition pundits complain against displaying pictures of abortions, even though this is what they are fighting for. But as Naomi Wolf, a pro-abortion “feminist” even admitted, when the pro-abortion pundits and organizations complain about pro-lifers displaying photos or posters of fetuses aborted from a late-term “D & C” abortion, they are just denying the truth.
False Writings on Euthanasia
Abortion-on-demand and moral relativist pundits, who rely on many fallacies such as the unborn or even newborn are not “human,” often write complete falsehoods when speaking on subjects such as euthanasia. Joseph Fletcher, an advocate on abortion-on-demand and active euthanasia, declared that “the Nazis never engaged in euthanasia" (20). This simply is not true. One can look at a wide range of books, articles and other sources that refer to the horrors such as euthanasia done by the Nazis, such as Robert J. Lifton’s The Nazi Doctors, as well as E. Klee’s Euthanasie im NS-Staat: Die “Vernichtung lebensunwertes Lebens and Dokumente zur Euthanasie. Parents could even write to "The Leader" to ask for mercy killing of their child. At the turn of the 21st century, the Netherlands was the first country since Hitler’s Germany to legalize euthanasia.
Lying Liar Who Wrote a Book about Lying Liars
Pro-abortion comedian and leftist political activist Al Franken has complained about people on the Right lying. He wrote a book entitled Lies and the Lying Liars that Tell Them. Ironically, but not surprisingly, Franken lied in the course of writing this book. He wrote to Attorney General John Ashcroft asked him for a personal testimony on staying a virgin until marriage, pretending to an author of a book acalled "Saving It!" He lied and told Ashcroft that he had already gotten a response from people such as Condoleeza Rice and Rick Santorum. He later apologized to John Ashcroft (21).
The Big Lie: Unborn Life is not Life
Telling kids to have sex as soon as possible so they can avoid abortion makes no sense. Educating children that abstinence until marriage is the only sure-fire way to avoid pregnancy or STDs; but if teens or consenting adults want to engage in sex, then it is wise to use condoms on course. But pro-abortion groups such as Planned Parenthood encourage even children to engage in sex, and they also aim to take rights away from parents. Then abortion is offered as a “quick fix” solution to the “problem” of an unwanted child. But quick fix solutions never fix the situation at hand, and often they make the problem much worse. If abortion is viewed as readily available and on-demand then that has just encouraged people to be even more irresponsible. Guys refuse to use condoms because they can just pressure the girl to abort. This does not fix the problem of irresponsibility.
In The Unreality Industry: the Deliberate Manufacturing of Falsehood and What it is Doing to our Lives, Ian I. Mitroff and Warren Bennis point out how quick fix solutions don’t work: “The constant search for quick fix solutions is itself on the principle features of U.S. culture. Quick fix solutions, however, nearly always perpetuate the problems they are intended to solve, and often make them much worse” (22).
These writers also point out that one mechanism for unreality production is “image engineering.” The more bizarre the image, the “better” (23). The fallacies behind unfettered support for abortion as birth control and even partial birth abortion are indeed very bizarre.
1.Sridhar Pappu, “Jayson Blair Talks: ‘So Jayson Blair Could Live, The Journalist Had to Die,’” New York Observer, May 21, 2003.
2. G. Jeffrey MacDonald, “Lying,” Christian Science Monitor, June 23, 2004.
3. “Judge rebuked for encouraging lying,” Associated Press, September 30, 2004.
4. Frances Stott, Ph.D., “The Truth About Lying,” MSN Family/Learning: http://family.msn.com/tool/article.aspx?dept=learn&sdept=lea&name=sc_110504_lying>1=5816.
5. Greg Mitchell, “Reporters Trail Badly (Again) in Annual Poll on Honesty and Ethics,” Editor and Publisher, December 7, 2004.
6. Brendan Nyhan, “9/17 Brendan: The Taliban aid trope re-emerges," Spinsanity, September 17, 2001, http://www.spinsanity.org/post.html?2001_09_16_archive.html#5742282.
7. Ben Fritz, “One Moore stupid white man,” Spinsanity, April 3, 2002, http://www.spinsanity.org/columns/20020403.html.
8. Center for Responsive Politics, President George W. Bush: Campaign Finance Figures, http://www.opensecrets.org/2000elect/index/P00003335.htm.
9. Ben Fritz, “One Moore stupid white man,” Spinsanity, April 3, 2002, http://www.spinsanity.org/columns/20020403.html.
11. Daniel Lyons, “Bowl-o-Drama,” Forbes, December 9, 2002, http://www.forbes.com/forbes/2002/1209/059.html?_requestid=2372.
14. Michael Moore, interview by Lou Dobbs, Lou Dobbs Moneyline, CNN, April 12, 2002, “Suicide Bomber Kills Six in Middle East; Venezuelan President Ousted,” http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0204/12/mlld.00.html.
15. Ramesh Ponnuru, “Liars for the cause,” National Review, August 6, 2001: 24-25.
16. Thomm Hartmann, “Corporations Claim the ‘Right to Lie’: but the Big Lie is that Corporations are People,” in Abuse Your Illusions: The Disinformation Guide to Media Mirages and Establishment Lies, ed. Russ Kick, 127-129 (New York: The Disinformation Company, 2003).
17. “Politicans lie, new study shows,” MSNBC, May 17, 2003, http://www.msnbc.com/news/915027.asp?0dm=C25LN.
18. M. Hirsch Goldberg, The Book of Lies: Schemes, Scams, Fakes, and Frauds That Have Changed the Course of History and Affect Our Daily Lives (New York: William Morrow and Company, 1990), 29.
19. Ramesh Ponnuru, “Liars for the cause,” National Review, August 6, 2001: 24-25.
20. Joseph Fletcher, “Ethics and Euthanasia,” American Journal of Nursing 73, no. 4, (April 1973): 671.
22. Ian I. Mitroff and Warren Bennis, The Unreality Industry: The Deliberate Manufacturing of Falsehood and What it is Doing to our Lives (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), 125.
23. Ibid., 49.