Just recently, Bill Maher (yes, that liberal who is sounding more and more moderate these days) has identified a trend that has become reality. The reality that politicians now shamelessly lie to the public and the public seemingly refuses to care. When did the public allow politicians to continue to openly lie, even when caught lying? When did anyone that fact checks become "suspicious" for proving lies are being told? When did lying by politicians become "acceptable?" It reminds me of the old joke about a politician telling an adoring crowd of supporters, "You know I am lying, but hear me out!" And what are we as a society doing about this new phenomena? Unfortunately, hearing them out and refusing to hold them accountable - unless the one lying is not "part of your team." In other words, when it comes to honesty and truthfulness, it all depends on what level of hypocrisy you employ. The more someone lies after being caught, seems to reflect some political skill to be admired rather than a shameless act of a conniver and a cheat. Why does integrity and honor mean so little these days? Did we as a society once care? Hasn't the Media some responsibility for perpetuating lies without calling them out? Shouldn't they at least hold candidates accountable for their dishonesty?
Last week Donald Trump refused to participate in the Fox News made for television debate. Claim whatever reasons for his absence, but ask yourself this key question. Trump held a fundraising rally for Veterans and the Wounded Warriors Project on the night of the debate. Does anyone find it interesting that the Associated Press ran a story on the Wounded Warriors Project's use of funding for "lavish parties" and high level managers the very day of his event? Surely, the Media already knew about the Wounded Warriors' use of their funds, but why the "coincidence" that an article was released and published on the very day Trump was highlighting an event for them? Does anyone see a connection between the Media continuing to set an agenda by "stirring the pot" against Trump? Don't get me wrong, I absolutely do not support Trump, but the media is becoming an obvious manipulator of the electorate by shaping opinions based not upon readers' positions, but instead the positions of the Media's ownership and management?
Yet Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio also continue to lie about the economy and immigration, and the Media refuses to call them out. And when others try to call them out for their lies, they seem to be shouted down by Media pundits and partisans. If the Media can't tell the truth when politicians lie, how are average Americans supposed to discern the truth from lies? When Americans seem to barely have enough capacity to appreciate what the presidency actually means, why do we as a society continue to expect the Media to be truth tellers? Even though the Framers protected the Media in the First Amendment so they would not be subject to retribution by the government for telling the truth, the Media and its concentrated ownership has devolved back into a modern form of Yellow Journalism, screaming about anything that will sell its viewers, listeners and viewers. All for the almighty dollar, with no apparent regard for the potentially permanent damage it may cause on our democratic-republic.
To my point, Clinton, Sanders, Bush, Christie, Rubio, Cruz, Trump, Fiorina, Huckebee, and Paul have all been caught in bold faced lies on the campaign trail. Instead of shaming them in the Media, they have somehow been embraced as heroes to the public. Instead of demanding sincere and honest solutions to real problems, the Media continues to prop-up fabrications in the forms of talking points and narratives - not designed to educate the electorate but to manipulate it. Think I am wrong? Watch ANY candidates on the campaign trail. If you do, I am sure you will hear at best half truths in their political rhetoric. Adding to this the notion that average citizens, rely on the Media's agenda, often share these lies over Social Media. When caught passing along the lies, what is their excuse for doing so? "I was just passing it along for further thought, reflection and discussion". What? I say "Nonsense!" If you know something is a lie and you share it under your name, you in fact become a liar as well. And let's be brutally honest - not all of us are right all of the time. I readily admit when I make mistakes (ask any of my students). It is certainly better to make a mistake and to admit it, than to tell a lie and instead "double down" when caught without a trace of honesty!
As President Abraham Lincoln once wrote; "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts." I fear if 'Honest Abe' was running today for president, the Media wouldn't be able to tell the difference between an honest and principled man from the bald-faced lying candidates we seem to accept as viable options for the presidency. And that is certainly to our collective detriment. Have a great week!