I know—I need to settle on a consistent name for this particular train wreck. I’ve used at least three. Luckily, it is clearly going to be rolling along, causing ethics havoc in its wake, long enough for me to be consistent.
Wow! They must be all-tingly on the Newtown Massacre Aftermath Express–Bill Clinton! The architect of one of the great ethics train wrecks of American history has deigned to come on board! What other A-listers will follow? Oprah? David Letterman? Even the President himself! Now, anything is possible.
The nation’s grandmaster liar bought his ticket with this Newtown-inspired statement, uttered at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Jan. 9, 2013
“Half of all mass killings in the United States have occurred since the assault weapons ban expired in 2005, half of all of them in the history of the country.”
This was classic Bill, false and self-glorifying. After all, that ban that expired had been signed into law by Bubba himself. But as the Washington Post’s fact-checker, Glenn Kessler confirmed, his striking “fact” was a whopper.
With Clinton being the virtuoso liar that he is, there is some deceit mixed in too. There were no mass killings at all in the 1900’s, or before the 1900’s—you know, when everyone was carrying guns in holsters in the Old West?—unless you count the Civil War or political incidents like Nat Turner’s uprising or John Brown’s raid, so Clinton really means since 1900, when the phenomenon really began. He could have just as accurately said “half of all of them since the Jurassic Era,” but Bill is canny enough to know that’s pushing it too far. In fact, there had been only 28 mass killings in the U.S. prior to 1970.
Kessler explains that depending on your definition of “mass killing,” the correct figure for Clinton’s quote would be 20% or around 40%, but there is no support at all for “half.” He also correctly notes that Clinton’s statement is misleading: the uptick in the number of mass shootings since the 1980s can be attributed to the interaction of many causes, such as the de-institutionalization of the mentally ill and (though Kessler doesn’t mention it), the round-the-clock, saturation publicity and infamy bestowed on shooters by the mass media, which has made going out in an explosion of bullets and blood that much more attractive to suicidal crazies wince the advent of cable news.
Kessler, who is reflexively lenient to Democrats, says that he “cut Clinton a bit of slack” by only awarding three Pinocchios to this lie rather than the four (Kessler’s most damning score) such a statement would usually warrant. I agree with the call, though not with his reasoning. Clinton is capable of so much more outrageous lies than this. Giving him the maximum score for what for Bill is slumming will never keep him on his game. Kessler’s reasoning is ridiculous: he subtracts a Pinocchio because of “the fuzziness of the data and questions about definitions.” This is Bill Clinton, and he has aides, researchers and resources at his disposal. He knows what the facts are. As usual, he wanted to embellish, twist and misrepresent them to fool the remarkably large number of gullible Americans who still believe what he says.
Move to the back, Piers!
You too, David Gregory!
Bill Clinton is now riding First Class.
Facts: Washington Post