Monthly Archives: March 2017

Lies and obfuscations

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[today’s run:3.5]

When we were on a vacation awhile back we were fortunate to hear the NPR “Fresh Air” show and an interview with Dean Baquet the executive editor of the New York Times (from December 8, 2016).

They talked about the difficulties of covering President Trump.

I found this exchange interesting:

GROSS: Can I read that headline?


GROSS: The headline was “Donald Trump Clung To Birther Lie For Years, And Still Isn’t Apologetic.” Is that the headline you’re thinking of?

BAQUET: Right, that’s the headline I’m thinking about. And the story throughout uses the word lie. A lie implies that it was done with complete, total knowledge that it was a falsehood and that the person pushed it despite all evidence against. And I think what Donald Trump pushed about President Barack Obama not having been born in the United States was a lie. And I think there’s no question he knew it was a lie. He said at various points that he had hired detectives to examine it. And the detectives had come back and said and found things that were really important and a big deal.

I don’t think there’s any question that that was – that all of that was a lie in retrospect. That is different from the normal sort of obfuscation that politicians traffic in. That’s different from the politician who says, my tax plan will save a billion dollars and when in his heart of hearts, he knows it’s $1.9 billion that it’s not going to save, that, in fact, it’ll cost people. That’s different. And that’s different partly because it’s sort of the way people have accepted politicians talking. It’s also – there is no clear answer to it.

That’s just – I thought this was just a different order of business. But we use baseless, we use incorrect. I think lie is an important word. I have – I’m not reluctant to use it again, but it would have to be the right calculation.

GROSS: Lie implies intent. So…

BAQUET: Lie implies intent…

GROSS: …Is that part of the calculation? Yeah.

BAQUET: Yes. To my mind, lie implies intent and longstanding intent, not just intent as of yesterday but intent over a long period of time. And I think Donald Trump pushed the birther lie for a long, long period of time. And to my mind, that makes no question that it was a lie.

I have no problem with saying that President Trump lies.  The part I found very interesting was that parsing of the “normal obfuscation that politicians traffic in”.

I firmly believe that one of the reasons Trump made it into office is his lies are so obvious they seem transparent to more people, not less.  You don’t have to be in the upper reaches to know he is giving you a whopper.  The other politicians are also giving you a whopper, but you can’t tell that and so you might be tempted to believe them, which is what they want, which is the same as telling a dastardly lie for all intents and purposes.

(I think I may have posted on this before.  I apologize if I’m wearing it out.)


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