“… Pants on fire”
a hotly contested political race, the candidates are inclined to
embellish their resumes. The voters expect that they will have to
endure some exaggerations. However, in order to make rational decisions
in the voting booth, the voters have to believe that representations
made by the candidates are essentially true.
press has a major role to play in order for the democratic process to
work effectively. When a candidate chooses to feed the public lies, it
is up to the media to publicize the truth. It ought not be the
responsibility of the other politicians to become embroiled in a battle
over the veracity of the offending candidate. That would give the
appearance of “going negative.”
Hillary Clinton’s blatantly false story about ducking from sniper fire
in Bosnia was clearly refuted by the press. After insisting for some
time that the story was true, Clinton acknowledged the error when a
video of her and her daughter safely on the tarmac in Tuzla, Bosnia ran
on television. Clinton’s excuse was that she “misspoke.”
The audacity of Clinton’s story should cause the press to inquire about
the truth of other statements. For example, in a Jan. 13, 2008,
interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Clinton asserted that she had the
experience to be president because she was a close confidante of her
husband on every major issue. Then host Tim Russert asked her if she
was involved in the pardon of Marc Rich, “someone who had been
convicted of tax evasion, fraud and making illegal oil deals with Iran.”
Clinton answered, “No, I didn’t know anything about that.”
Russert later said, “Your two brothers proposed people for pardons and
were paid money. One brother, you asked to give the money back.”
Clinton quickly averred, “That’s right. That’s right.”
Russert then asked, “Were you aware your brothers were involved?” To which Clinton answered, “No, I was not.”
Who can believe that President Bill Clinton’s brothers-in-law submitted
names for pardons and he never mentioned it to his wife? There is no
videotape to prove that her answer was false, but common sense tells
the voter all that’s necessary to know.
Sen. Clinton’s mendacity and guile should be a matter of great concern
to the voter. Does she really believe that her proposals have any
chance of success in Congress? Some senators seem to believe that her
compulsory health insurance proposal is dead on arrival.
Never before has the press faced a greater challenge. The blogosphere
and YouTube have the capacity to disseminate widely a falsehood in the
blink of an eye, and people have the tendency to believe stories they
see on television or on their computers. Just think of the shelf life
of the rumor that Barack Obama is a Muslim.
The only way the press can counter the enormous technological capacity
for the communication of falsehoods is to hold candidates to a higher
standard of veracity. Candidates should know that the press will
publicize extensively their propensity to lie.
In this campaign, Hillary Clinton has not been held to that high standard.
“Man, she will say just about
anything to get elected.”