Horrid Hillary’s latest embarrassing moment came in response to Scott Pelley’s question, “Have you always told the truth?” Looking as though Uncle Bernie had rammed a cold metal rod up into that area of Hillary where the sun don’t shine, she awkwardly answered, “I’ve always tried to.” It brought back memories of that charming old sexual predator from the past who not-so-cleverly answered a pointed question about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky with, “It depends upon what the meaning of the word is is.”
But I don’t want to pick on the Clinton’s here. Hillary already has enough problems to contend with, especially those that are being brewed by her admirers at Comey & Co. The fact is that lying is an integral part of politics. Cruz accuses Trump and Rubio of lying. Trump and Rubio accuse Cruz of lying. And all of them are probably right.
Then there’s the media, which, on the whole, is probably at least as dishonest as the average politician. A large number of media types relish in dealing in distortions, misleading information, and outright lies (sometimes lies through omission, other times by quoting people out of context). Some of the worst offenders include Glenn Beck, Rachel Maddow, and Chris Matthews, all of whom could be legitimately described as psychopathic liars.
Which brings me to Donald Trump. While I’m not an apologist for Trump, and find him to be his own worst enemy by sometimes saying things that come across as mean-spirited, I can sympathize with him when it comes to media dishonesty. The aforementioned Glenn Beck leads the way on painting Trump as the reincarnation of Jack the Ripper, but there are many other anchors and contributors on all three networks and the cable news channels — not to mention publications like National Review and The Weekly Standard — who clearly are on a crusade to destroy Trump.
Which brings me to an article you may have read in the August 2015 issue of Forbes titled “Donald Trump Wins Through Intimidation.” (You may have to search Forbes’ site to get to the article, because the magazine constantly changes its links.) I didn’t mention the article until now, because I long ago tired of defending myself against media lies. But with lying now such a popular topic in the news, I thought perhaps it’s a good time for me to vent.
In his article, Forbes contributor Steve Denning went into a lengthy tirade of half-truths, out-of-context quotes, and outright lies to make his case that books like Winning Through Intimidation are the cause of a lack of civility in today’s political debates. (He also discusses another book, Hardball: Are You Playing to Play or Playing to Win, which I cannot comment on because I have never read it.)
Not surprisingly, it was the same old claptrap stuff the media has said about Winning Through Intimidation for years. You can read the full article on Forbes’ website and judge for yourself, but following are a few examples from the article that make my point about the media’s reckless disregard for the truth.
Example No. 1: “It (Winning Through Intimidation) starts from a sour view of human nature.”
My comment: Wrong. I have never said, nor implied, that I have a sour view of human nature. What I pride myself on is having an accurate view of human nature. But I certainly have a “sour view” (negative view is probably a more appropriate term) of some people with whom I have dealt over the years. And unless you’re divine, I’d venture to guess that you have as well.
Example No. 2: ““The world, says Ringer, is full of jerks.”
My comment: Wrong. I have never said, nor implied, that “the world is full of jerks.” But I certainly have noticed that there are a lot of jerks in the world — and Mr. Denning appears to be among that group.
Example No. 3: “Human beings are basically rotten to the core.”
My comment: Wrong. I have never said, nor implied, that human beings (which implies all human beings) are basically rotten to the core. Some human beings are rotten to the core, of course, but I do my best to avoid interacting with such people and have always urged my readers to do the same. There are more than enough good people in the world to deal with, so, as I have said so often, dealing with “rotten” people isn’t necessary.
Example No. 4: “Basically, Ringer says, everyone else is dishonest.”
My comment: Wrong. I have never said, nor implied, that everyone is dishonest. Denning bases this whopper on a gigantic and disingenuous leap from a point I made in my book, i.e., when it comes to being paid a commission that’s owed to you, the last thing in the world you’re interested in hearing from the person who is supposed to pay that commission is a long-winded speech on how honest he is.
A self-serving speech on honesty is not a satisfactory substitute for getting paid. All you want is for him to pay you your commission!
I find great comfort in the words of Ayn Rand whenever this kind of truth-twisting pops up in the media: “Freedom comes from seeing the ignorance of your critics and discovering the emptiness of their virtue.”
Nevertheless, here’s the biggest problem with lies: The more outrageous the lie, and the more often it is repeated, the more people are likely to believe it. That’s not being pessimistic, just realistic.
In politics, this is especially true, because a large percentage of the electorate has such a small bank of knowledge. That’s why, going forward, the GOP candidate who proves to be the most adept at exposing lies in a way that the average person can easily understand will have a decided advantage over the rest of the field.
Finally, while lying is a special problem in politics, the unfortunate reality is that everyone, to one extent or another, has to deal with lies in both their business and personal life. That being the case, it’s a good idea to decide, in advance, the best way to handle lies.
Going all the way back to what I wrote in my second book, Looking Out for #1, unless you’re a politician, I still believe that the best response to slander and defamation is no response at all. If someone mentions something untrue that someone has said about you, state the facts — in a calm, clear, and brief manner — then stop. The worst possible way to handle a lie is to drone on endlessly about it and risk coming across as the lady who protests too much.
Above all, never be guilty of displaying self-righteous indignation. It doesn’t work with people who have IQs above 70. If you know that what’s been said about you is untrue, a good tonic is to look in the mirror and say to yourself, “If my hands are clean, and my cause is just, and my demands are reasonable, I have nothing to worry about.” Then move on with your life.
It works for me, and I’ve had to deal with a whole lot of Steve Dennings in my life.