I have a bone to pick with Wall Street Journal Editor-in-Chief Gerard Baker when he spoke last Sunday with NBC’s Meet the Press about President-Elect Trump’s little problem with lying. “I’d be very careful about using the word ‘lie.’” Mr. Baker said. “’Lie’ implies much more than just saying something that’s false. It implies a deliberate intent to mislead.”
Now that is really splitting hairs. The way I grew up, and the way I brought up my children regarding lies is simply that a lie is a lie is a lie. You can call it a big lie or a small lie, a fib, a falsehood, a misstatement, a myth, or outright perjury. Whatever you want to call it, the implication is that the statement made is not based on fact and is most likely the opposite of the truth. Mr. Trump is an adult and should be treated as such. When he asserts that thousands of Muslims celebrated 911 on the rooftops of New Jersey, or that President Obama was born in Africa, those are mendacious claims. A child would be called out, perhaps even punished, for lies such as those. So why the careful pussyfooting around Mr. Trump and his unfortunate habit of lying? Mr. Baker goes on to say that: “The word ‘lie’ conveys a moral as well as factual judgment. To accuse someone of lying is to impute a willful, deliberate attempt to deceive. It says he knowingly used a misrepresentation of the facts to mislead for his own purposes.” Yes, I would agree. But then one has to go on and say that Mr. Trump’s lies are willful and do convey moral as well as factual judgment.
So please, Mr. Baker, have the courtesy to call out our president-to-be just as he deserves. Why treat him with kids’ gloves or as if he were a baby? Yes, he reacts with major Twitter storms whenever someone dares criticize or tell the truth about him. So what? It is of utmost importance for the press to report accurately even if they blanch at the thought of retaliatory attacks against them on the part of our new leader. There’s enough false news out there, and more than enough people who fall for blatant falsehoods – to whit, Secretary Clinton running a child sex ring out of a D.C. pizza parlor. Look where that led – to a man entering the restaurant brandishing a gun because he thought it was his duty to protect those poor trafficked kids. OMG! We, as a nation, depend on leading journalists like you to report with total and unflinching accuracy, and not worry about the poor president-elect’s outrage or hurt feelings. If you can’t do that, tragically, it will only mean another nail in the coffin of democracy and the democratic process.