In my 18 years as a journalist, I have never encountered the sheer amount of lying that I have seen this year among local officials. This is crazy, people.
It used to be an art form – politicians would try to choose their words carefully, so that they were not technically lying. My main gripe back in those good old days was that sometimes they’d word themselves so carefully that they’d end up intentionally misleading me.
I would have to tell them, sternly, that leading me astray means leading astray thousands of readers.
But in 17 years, there were three times that I caught a politician flat-out lying to me.
In my 18th year, I have lost count.
Here’s just a recent sample:
In this week’s Chronicle, Warren County Republican Committee Chairman Mike Grasso said that the Democratic Chair had FOILed for his committee’s ethics code.
That was not true.
He also said that his committee’s bylaws include an ethics code and “that is why we told the PS reporter we had no need to address the issue.”
Are you kidding me, man? When I called Grasso to ask if his committee was considering adopting an ethics code, he said: “I don’t think we need to do that, because that’s not what we do.”
I asked him to clarify and he said his party stands for honesty and ethical behavior.
Does he expect readers to believe I would just not say that he had an ethics code already? Did he think that not telling me he had one would help his cause somehow? Methinks he just didn’t know he had one...and then decided to blame the media for “spreading misinformation” rather than acting like a grown up and admitting he was wrong.
Likewise, attorney John Aspland sent out a public letter to the Warren County Republican Committee in which he said that the Post-Star never called him about his emails in the Hal Bain controversy. Did he forget that modern phones have logs that show every phone number you call? I called him multiple times, and he and his secretary know it.
It’s the bald-faced gall of these lies that surprises me. I am beginning to suspect that some people today think that they can lie to the press with impunity because everyone will believe the reporters were inexplicably making it up.
Please. When you lie to us, you are lying to thousands of people through us. Show some decency. I won’t take offense if you hate me and my confrontational questions on tough topics. But don’t hate the readers – who are your voters, by the way. Show them some respect. If you can’t tell the truth, just say “no comment.”
Next week: the related topic of lying while giving presentations or debating at public meetings. This has also become rampant and it’s got to stop.