Opinion » Letter From The Editor

Where the Truth Goes to Die

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Have we ever lived through an era when more lies were being foisted on the American public by their own government than now? Sure, we had Watergate, and the Vietnam years were filled with lies from several administrations. And, sure, governments have always covered up things they didn't want the public to know. But I don't believe there's ever been a time in our history like what's happening now, where we are told bold-faced, easily disprovable prevarications by our own president and his enablers on a daily basis.

Trump lies so brazenly and so frequently that The New York Times, the Washington Post, CNN, Politico, and several other media organizations have set up webpages to track them. Trump's tweets are in a class by themselves, filled with falsehoods, exaggerations, bluster, and (increasingly) transparent fear, as Robert Mueller's Russian investigation begins to out the collaborators in his administration.

But it goes beyond the president. Way beyond. Trump, in fact, has created a thriving growth industry of prevaricators who are paid to reiterate and/or explain his many falsehoods and misstatements.

It began in the first week of his presidency, when the president sent out press secretary Sean Spicer, who proclaimed that Trump's Inaugural crowd was the "largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period." It wasn't, of course, not even close, but Spicer persisted, even berating reporters who dared point out the obvious evidence to the contrary. "Who you gonna believe," Spicer seemed to be saying, "the facts or President Trump?" That moment set the tone for Trump's entire presidency, thus far.

In the ensuing weeks, Spicer's daily press briefings became a sideshow, as the beleagured spokesman attempted to spin his boss' misinformed tweets and daily blather into some semblance of reality. He eventually became a running joke on Saturday Night Live.

But Spicer was only the first of many to sell his soul — or, at least, his integrity — for Donald Trump. Since then, the list has become a lengthy one, and is growing each week, as the Russian plotlines unfold.

Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who took over Spicer's role as chief presidential explainer and apologist, is a much better liar. Not that she's more believable; she's just more comfortable at spewing bullshit with conviction and attitude. Spicer at least tried to be likeable.

The truth is, anyone in this administration who wants to keep their job has to be willing to lie for their boss. For example, at Trump's direction, Vice President Mike Pence spent tax-payer money to fly across country to a football game just so he could walk out during the national anthem. Pence's soul (such as it is) has long been sold.

And let's not forget Kellyanne Conway, perhaps the most enthusiastic liar ever to appear on the national stage. Or Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who's lied to Congress twice to protect his boss (and his own butt). And there's Trump's chief of staff, General John Kelly — once perceived as a beacon of truth and integrity in this administration — who's now been outed as someone willing to make up lies for his boss, and defend them, even after they've been disproven.

It's gotten to the point where it's difficult to name someone in this adminstration who hasn't been caught in a lie. Go ahead, see if you can think of someone. Tom Price? Betsy DeVos? Steve Mnuchin? Scott Pruitt? Ryan Zinke? Wilbur Ross? All cabinet members who've been outed as liars. Steve Bannon? Jared Kushner? Mike Flynn? The list is seemingly endless.

This is the biggest crowd of liars ever assembled in any single administration. And that's not counting media sycophants like Sean Hannity — and Fox News, which has morphed into some sort of crazed branch of state media.

It's been said that the truth will out. And I have enough faith in the American system to think that it will eventually, even with this bunch. But if I said I was confident it would happen soon, I'd be lying.


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