Whoever is careless with the truth in small matters cannot be trusted with important matters.— Albert Einstein
I won the popular vote if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally. — Donald Trump
Here’s some breaking news: The president-elect once again said something that is not true.
The Washington Post called his claim that “millions of people voted illegally” baseless. In another article, they gave the statement “Four Pinocchios.”
The New York Times headline read: “Trump Claims ‘Millions’ Voted Illegally, Citing No Evidence.”
CNN used this headline: “Without Evidence, Trump Says Fraud Cost Him Popular Vote.”
Without evidence. Baseless claim. Four Pinocchios. There is another well-established and much more accurate way to describe Trump’s claim:
It’s a lie.
The last year has done great damage to America’s core institutions and values — from attacks on the media, to doubts about the courts, to accusations of rigged voting…We can’t afford to have another one of our essential values fall victim to an endless barrage from Trump and his minions.
It’s time for the media and all of us to stop using euphemisms and playful measurement scales that count the number of Pinocchios a claim has earned.
This is not a children’s story like the tales of Pinocchio. We know that in part because if it were, the description of lying would be a lot more accurate. Pinocchio’s nose didn’t grow each time he made a baseless claim or failed to cite evidence. It grew when he lied.
In writing that “what people believe prevails over the truth,” Sophocles may have been the ultimate predictor of our 2016 presidential election results. Yes we are concerned by the spread of fake news, but the sad reality is that the best thing one can do to avoid fake news is to unfollow our president-elect on Twitter.
Trump lied as a businessperson. Trump lied as a candidate. But now, like it or not, he is speaking for us. And if we don’t call a lie a lie, then we’re aiding and abetting a serial liar who’s determined to take a jackhammer to the building blocks on which our republic stands.
In a letter, George Washington once wrote: “Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains taken to bring it to light.”
One of those pains is to stand up to falsehoods, to reject the post-truth era, and to — at long last — call a lie a lie.