And Nothing But The Truth (From February 2015)
Telling the truth, it is said, is the best approach, because if you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what it is you said. I would like to say that I am always 100% truthful, but that in itself would be a lie. It is human nature to use fabrications to avoid responsibility for things, or to make ourselves seem more interesting than we are.
NBC News Anchor Brian Williams has said some things in the past that don’t seem to have been entirely true. His stories were embellished in some cases and fabricated in others. He isn’t the first public person to do so, and he’s surely not the last.
I have a friend who, while serving in Viet Nam at a post well out of harm’s way, heard gunfire when afternoon, and saw a reporter and cameraman at the edge of a path, with soldiers firing into the grass at nothing. That reporter, as the story goes, was Dan Rather.
Secretary Clinton was taken to task about a helicopter landing story she remembered incorrectly. And, Al Gore invented the Internet. So, I guess there is a storyteller in all of us waiting to get out.
The problem with news people and elected officials making things up is that we have an informal contract with them that says they will be honest with us and that we will be able to trust what they say.
Did Brian Williams rescue a puppy? I don’t care. Were his reports from Katrina accurate, or contrived? Well, I guess I do care about that. Making news isn’t part of a reporter’s job. Making themselves look heroic is one step away from painting someone else to be uncaring.
When all is said and done, if we strip down to who we are as people, without jobs or homes or status, our honesty, or lack of it, is who we are.
I think there is a lot of lying going on in Washington and elsewhere these days. A consultant on healthcare has told numerous audiences that they lied about the Affordable Care Act because if they had told the truth it wouldn’t have been approved. That’s maybe a worse like than Brian Williams told, except I’m not sure Brian reported on those statements, which would be covering up someone else’s lie.
Brian Williams seems like a nice guy. It seems like he wanted to be seen as an even nicer, braver, more compassionate guy, so perhaps he told some stories. Is that really such a big deal?
Sadly, it probably isn’t, because so many people lie so freely and without shame that a person telling the truth must immediately be doubted, or prove that his truth is genuine.
To paraphrase the statement our mothers all said to us, if you can’t say something truthful, it’s best not to say anything at all.
Wouldn’t a quieter world be nice?