Fake News Watch: “Truth Isn’t Truth”

Okay, if “enemy of the people” is too strong, how about “incompetent and malicious professionals abusing the public trust by misleading and misinforming citizens for the purpose of destabilizing the government and undermining democracy”? How’s that? Better? But doesn’t such conduct make someone an enemy of the people? And it’s so much shorter!

I didn’t see the interview, but still knew immediately that Rudy Giuliani didn’t literally say and mean “Truth isn’t truth” as the news media was widely reporting yesterday. Rudy may have lost his edge, but he’s no idiot, and he is not going to fall into an “alternate facts” gaffe like Kellyanne Conway. If you didn’t know that with relative certainty, if you didn’t assume that the biased news media was intentionally trying to make Giuliani, and hence the Trump Administration, and thus Trump himself, inherently dishonest and ridiculous,  then you are gullible, dangerously ignorant of the complexity of language and the critical role of context, or stubbornly unwilling to accept what is res ipsa loquitur now, which is that journalism has become overwhelmingly partisan and cannot be trusted.

If one witnessed the interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd that produced the fake “gotcha!” and didn’t find that false representation outrageous, then one is simply a hopeless, principal-free “resistance” fanatic.

Here was the actual exchange:

GIULIANI: …So, what I have to tell you is, look, I am not going to be rushed into having him testify so that he gets trapped into perjury. And when you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he is going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, that’s silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth, not the truth. He didn’t have a conversation…

TODD: Truth is truth. I don’t mean to go like…

GIULIANI: No, it isn’t truth. Truth isn’t truth. The President of the United States says I didn’t…

TODD: Truth isn’t truth, Mr. Mayor, do you realize…

GIULIANI: No, no, no. Don’t do this to me.

TODD: Don’t do truth isn’t truth to me.

GIULIANI: Donald Trump says I didn’t talk about Flynn with Comey. Comey says you did talk about it. So tell me what the truth is?

TODD: Don McGahn might know.

GIULIANI: If you’re such a genius — Don McGahn doesn’t know. If that’s situation where you have two pieces of evidence. Trump says I didn’t tell him and the other guy says that he did say it, which is the truth?

TODD: At that point, you’re right. Under two people. No. You are right. I don’t read minds on that front.

“Truth isn’t truth” was referring both to Todd’s (adversarial, mocking, simple-minded) framing and the fact, and it is a fact, that two individuals may remember the same event differently, meaning that they are “telling the truth” but what they are claiming might not be objectively factual.

And note that by the end of the exchange, Chuck Todd agrees with the statement. Yet “Truth isn’t truth” was represented in the media as a foolish statement by Giuliani, which it was not, and no account included the addition, “and Chuck Todd agrees with him.”

This in one more example of how the news media is actively misrepresenting the news in order to undermine Donald Trump. a particularly nauseating example. Hanlon’s Razor would offer the defense that the journalists who didn’t understand the exchange above are just cognitively inadequate, a.k.a. stupid. I do think too many of them are stupid, but the case for malice is becoming too strong to deny.

One more time: you can’t trust these people.




17 thoughts on “Fake News Watch: “Truth Isn’t Truth”

    • Ethicists as a group are too frequently unethical, giving cover for a fee, or useless to assist normal people, because they are academics, remote, and isolated from the real world. And they have no code of ethics!

      I am not representative.

      • Jack’s words prompted memories of my experiences in becoming a law enforcement ethics instructor in the 1990s. Police ethics training did not then receive the attention it has in the past several years. I found few organizations / ethicists willing to embrace the “train the trainer” concept, preferring the “give a man a fish” rather than “teach a man to fish” approach. Plenty of ethics trainers were willing to schedule a lecture and/or sell me a book (many of which I already owned and had studied). I wrangled invitations to sit in on university courses on “public service ethics,” all of which were academic, completely theoretical in nature and would have caused most cops’ eyes to glaze over in ten minutes or less. A number of academics I consulted thought that ethics training for police officers was a novel idea and a worthy but impractical endeavor. I finally discovered, through a Texas colleague, a new and then little-known police ethics instructor training course that approached teaching ethical conduct by utilizing basic principles illustrated by real-world situations and dilemmas. One of the best training courses ever!

        • Many years ago, the local Police Psychologist invited me to participate in training exercises (usually as a terrorist, but once as a hostage, the President of Mexico). In one such exercise, our scenario called for three of us to ‘make a break’ for it. Having done so, gotten caught and watching from just out side the perimeter, I observed the assault team make a well-executed entrance into the building where our ‘leader’ was still holed up. I heard “Don’t shoot, don’t shoot!”…BLAM. His excuse was that he ‘was excited’. To a man the S.W.A.T. team condemned this guy, and confirmed he intended to shoot the perp (blanks, of course) but it turns out that this guy was a real cowboy. He didn’t last very long.

          • The new video training systems are interesting. Show where the shot went, as well as if you got shot, while providing a realistic scenario for the LEO on the street.

            Hesitation is not your friend.

            That said, the results of civilians taking the test are interesting. The gung ho would all be in jail for bad shoots, or be dead from hesitation. Training is paramount!

            Which ties back to the comments about training

  1. Truth isn’t truth” was referring both to Todd’s (adversarial, mocking, simple-minded) framing and the fact, and it is a fact, that two individuals may remember the same event differently, meaning that they are “telling the truth” but what they are claiming might not be objectively factual.

    That depends on the meaning of the words “is”.

  2. I have wondered why every utterance of Trump whether it is has been some banal hyperbolic marketing speak or important policy issue has been fact checked. Trump’s use of superlatives when describing that which he has touched have always been declared false. This leads to the creation of the narrative that Trump is a chronic liar and you cannot trust him to tell the truth.In contrast, all those that have been shown to have bias against him are portrayed as heroic truth tellers.

    The question at hand regarding truth is who will be deemed more credible. It seems to me that the media and his detractors want to play up the less than accurate statements as lies. As HRC said you can’t shake the slime. The goal is to slime Trump and ensure the label of being a liar is prominantly tattooed on his forhead. Trump unfortunately seems to walk right into this label. However, Trump’s rhetoric is in my opinion no less honest than most politicians. He is simply less artful in his denials of what he said.

    Is Trump a bigger liar than Harry Reid, Teddy Kennedy, Adam Schiff, or HRC? That depends on who you ask. Thus that which you accept as truth is often what you want to believe.

    • Voters are quickly realizing that lies are a part of a politicians toolkit.

      They also realize that the media has it in for common Americans, so they care less about Trump’s verbal vomit.

  3. The gist of his argument was clear, but for a lawyer and an experienced politician, that was an unforgivably ham-handed way of expressing it.

    • No argument regarding that: Rudy was careless, and should assume that he cannot use shorthand like that without being misrepresented. This was the thrust of Turley’s criticism as well. It does not excuse the media’s dishonest spin.

  4. One more time: you can’t trust these people.


    No worries. Never have, never will. At this particular point, they have lost all claim to credibility, and this trumpeting of “truth isn’t truth” is just the latest, and hardly most egregious example.

    The first thing I did when I saw the “Giuliani says that the truth isn’t truth” headline was go to the transcript, which makes it obvious that he was contrasting what someone remembers with maybe a recording, or even an FBI agent’s understanding of the “truth.”

    The “truth” is, the FBI can charge you with lying for any discrepancy, whether or not it is explainable by a deficient memory or any other plausible, even reasonable explanation. Mike Flynn is exhibit A, where the FBI was first satisfied with his recollection, then Mueller decided he wasn’t and charged him.


  5. PolitiFact presented Giuliani’s “Truth isn’t truth” remark as an expression of the idea that “the truth is whatever you make it.”

    The implication was that Trump was the one making the truth, of course, not that the prosecutor could bring charges based on the prosecutor’s making the truth.

    PolitiFact used the example to help fuel an appeal for money.

    And they struggle to understand why conservatives don’t offer them more trust.

    Thanks for writing about this.

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