All over the country (and probably around the world) there are kids having accidents and breaking things.
When the parent finds out, the kids all clam up. “I didn’t do it.”
Then if there’s a trouble-maker in the midst, this is sometimes followed up with, “He did it, not me!”
In this line of work, I often feel like the other child in that scenario, the one whose eyes suddenly widen as he can’t believe his sibling lied like that.
For example, earlier this year, Hillary Clinton was campaigning against Bernie Sanders and felt like she needed to sound more liberal to gain supporters. She came out and said she was a big supporter of LGBT rights and always had been. She said anyone who says she isn’t a supporter is telling a lie.
So, like any good journalist should, reporters did a little background searching and found interviews with Clinton where she said she did not support gay marriage.
“I believe that marriage is not just a bond, but a sacred bond between a man and a woman,” she said on the floor of the U.S. Senate in July 2004.
Now, I personally believe the sign of a good leader is someone who can gather all the information around him or her and make informed decisions. As the evidence is gathered, it shouldn’t be surprising that new facts could change a good leader’s point of view.
If Clinton had come out and said she had reconsidered her opinion at great length and had come to a change of mind, then I would support that. Instead, in the interview I watched she said she’s always been a supporter, and those who claim otherwise are making it up.
Now I mention Clinton as an example, but it happens all the time with politicians, professional athletes and celebrities. They make a mistake, cheat or lie, then they get caught at it. So what do they do? They blame us journalists.
“The media is biased,” they say. “The press is making me look bad.”
Nope, it isn’t us. You did that to yourself.
All of this reminds me of that Shaggy song from 2001. This young man gets caught cheating on his girlfriend. He asks his best friend what he should do. He tells the young man to deny it all.
She caught me on the counter (Wasn’t me)
I even had her in the shower (Wasn’t me)
She even caught me on camera (Wasn’t me)
Newspaper columnist Walter Lippmann wrote in 1920: There can be no higher law in journalism than to tell the truth and to shame the devil.
Only in today’s society, when the press tells the truth, the devil isn’t shamed. Instead, he denies it all and says the media is against him. And somehow it works. Followers aren’t swayed at all by proof of wrongdoing.
Ray Rice knocked his then-girlfriend out cold in an elevator, and there were still supporters saying she deserved it for getting aggressive with Rice.
Barry Bonds’ head kept getting bigger and bigger with the Giants in the late 1990s. Some of the first internet memes were of Bonds’ swelling head with humorous captions. Yet, he denied all accusations of using performance-enhancing drugs — even after others in the BALCO case had confessed.
Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada, two writers for the San Francisco Chronicle, spent 15 months investigating PEDs and pro athletes before breaking the big story in 2004.
During that investigation and even after the stories started pouring out, these athletes — like baseball’s Bonds and Jason Giambi and track and field’s Marion Jones and Tim Montgomery — completely denied all charges. Some outright lied at Congressional hearings.
Then years later, once their playing careers were long behind them, some of these offenders finally came clean. Why did they wait so long to confess? Easy, they had contracts and endorsement deals to consider during their playing days.
Politics is another matter. Playing to the age of 40 is rare in pro sports, but some senators and representatives have been in office for decades.
There is no good reason to confess and plenty of reasons to keep up the lies.
With several more weeks before the November elections, expect to hear more claims that it’s all the media’s fault.
It wasn’t me.
Jeff is the associate editor and can be reached at 415-4692.