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Politicians’ right to lie

Post by Cheryl Tucker on May 25, 2010 at 2:51 pm with 3 Comments »
May 25, 2010 2:51 pm

The very good website gets to the truth behind issues and what public officials say about them. It also answers questions in its weekly mailbag feature. It recently got this plaintive e-mail from a Yakima man:

Week after week you expose the lies and distortions being propagated by our politicians. What is so depressing is that this behavior continues nonetheless, week after week.

I think that it should be a felony for a politician (or anyone else for that matter) to deliberately mislead and lie to the American voter. If a lie in a campaign ad isn’t deliberate, I don’t know what is. But in the name of “freedom of speech” politicians are allowed to twist, distort and outright lie with impunity. And it will continue if there are no negative consequences. The reality is that sometimes people win BECAUSE OF their lies and distortions (e.g. remember the Swift Boat campaign?).

Public exposure doesn’t seem to bother these shameless liars. If this were an honest country, we wouldn’t even need a FactCheck! We could trust that what our officials were telling us was the truth — even if we had to take the “spin” out of it.’s response: “Unfortunately, as we’ve written before, it’s probably not feasible to make laws about honesty in campaigning.”

Here’s an article it ran on the issue from 2004. Prominently mentioned is a Washington State Supreme Court ruling in “The Case of the Killer Ophthalmologists.”

It’s a good read and timely as we head into the election season (filing week is June 7-11), when sensational claims are likely to be made left and right. Essentially, the court rules that political speech, even when it’s outrageously false, is protected.

“Instead of relying on the State to silence false political speech, the First Amendment requires our dependence on even more speech to bring forth truth. … The First Amendment exists precisely to protect against laws such as [the Washington state truth-in-advertising law] which suppress ideas and inhibit free discussion of governmental affairs.”

Taking notice
Leave a comment Comments → 3
  1. nwcolorist says:

    It’s been my observation that, not only do our elected officials lie as a rule, there are some that actually make a game out of it. The ‘winner’ of the game is the politician who can tell the biggest lie and get away with it. Kind of goes with the saying, “honor among thieves”.

  2. Please don’t be sucked in by this website. The fact that somebody puts factcheck in their blatantly partisan website does not make it factual. Spend 30 minutes reading the way they classify blatant lies by Obama as partially true,
    This is one of their “facts” I just pulled off their website ■Will require 16,500 armed IRS agents to enforce. (No. Criminal penalties are waived.)
    LMAO!!!! The administration has acknowledged there will be 16,500 new IRS agents(note throws in ARMED to be able to state it it not true). Talk about a misleading tiptoeing through the tulips website, pretending to have a non-partisan fact based look at things. McClatchey and the TNT show their own partisanship by trying to push readers to this University of Pennsylvania propaganda machine that represents itself as the authority on who is telling the truth-while spinning everything positively for the administration.

  3. The “Swift Boaters” ferreted out JFKerry’s lies…

    A more current example would be Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) lying about serving in Vietnam…

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