The Washington Post released it’s annual Pinocchio Awards for the year’s biggest falsehoods. To no one’s surprise, the 2015 winners are all involved in politics. No one gets to feel smug; all parties and political persuasions were represented.
I’m sure lying politicians are as old as politics. What was disheartening this year was the blatancy of the lies. Fifty one years ago, Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase, “The medium is the message.” In 2015 we may have seen the ultimate corollary of that: if you say it on TV with enough bravado, swagger, or apparent sincerity, some or many will believe you, regardless of facts. We, as a culture, prefer easy answers to truth.
Here are the winners:
Donald Trump for false and repeated assertion that he saw thousands of Muslims on TV celebrating the fall of the twin towers. Only in Trump’s fevered imagination did such an event play out.
Hillary Clinton for her defense of her husband’s signing of the anti-gay “Defense of Marriage Act,” with an assertion that it headed off an anti-gay marriage constitutional amendment. There may have been talk, but there was no momentum for such an amendment.
Donald Trump for his claims that immigrants commit more crimes than American citizens. While some on this list have cherry-picked their statistics, Donald apparently never looks at statistics at all.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn) for saying in June that there have been 128 school shootings since Sandy Hook. His stats came from an anti-gun violence advocacy group with a flawed methodology that included suicides and accidents in the numbers.
Donald Trump for his claim that Obama wants to admit 250,000 Syrian refuges to the US. The number is 10,000 Syrians, and the US maximum figure for all refugees is 180,000 over the next two years.
John Kerry for claiming he and Al Gore organized the 1988 Senate hearings on climate change. He was not even there.
Mike Huckabee for stating that “global freezing” was a serious concern 40 years ago.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren ( D-Mass ) for proposed regulations for car dealership loans based on “wildly” exaggerated statistics.
Rudolph Giuliani, former NY City Mayor, for saying Obama has never called America a great or exceptional country. Apparently Mr. Guiliani has never listened to an Obama speech.
President Obama for “dubious” claims about the Keystone pipeline.
Sen Rand Paul (R-Ky) for claiming an elderly man was in prison for “putting dirt on his land,” when in fact he was convicted of mail fraud, conspiracy, and environmental violations such as selling land with illegal sewage systems that were likely to fail.
Democratic legislators: On the house floor, staged a demonstration of solidarity with a black youth, shot by a white police officer in an incident that various investigations determined was legitimate self-defense.
Sex Trafficking Statistics: “There are not 300,000 thousand children at risk in the US, nor 100,000 children in the sex trade, nor is human trafficking a 9.5 billion dollar business, nor do girls become victims at an average age of 13, nor has the government arrested hundreds of perpetrators.” All of these were claims made by “politicians, advocacy groups, and government officials” in 2015.
I’d love to feel smug and wag my finger at the politicos, but I can’t. To paraphrase the Master whose birth we celebrated yesterday, “Let he who lives without falsehood cast the first aspersion.”
Politicians behave like this because it works for them, it gets them elected and reelected. For that, We the People are responsible. We can do better than this…