Brian Williams Remembers What He Disremembered

tightrope-niagara

There you go again, Twitter folks!

Turning on the light to bang those damn cockroaches scuddling down the wall.

You can’t do that, people!

Not to NBC News anchor, Brian Williams.

Is everything just fair game to you guys?

Doesn’t show much gratitude to a man who’s spent his life getting at the truth.

And I really resent your making me into a dumb ass just because I like the guy.

But Brian, I know full well someone like you, clean-cut, ageless all-American boy that you are, could never stoop to any kind of falsehood, though I know you’re no George Washington, who never, ever told a lie, even about that cherry tree.

Tell me I ain’t wrong, Brian!

You simply disremembered. That’s it!

I know you said your helicopter came under fire while you were reporting on a news story back in Iraq in 2003.

A really long time ago, huh?

I know it took you a some time to remember again and you needed help from the people who got to the light switch

But now you’ve got the story right.

Anyway, it doesn’t the f–k matter.

I know you walked a tightrope over Niagara Falls.

I’ve got this photo that proves it. Pictures don’t lie.

And you were in the first wave, hitting Omaha Beach.

I would never have believed it. You look so young.

Like the song says, “They can’t take that away from me.”

I think that was written for you.

What, you wrote it?

I never knew that either.

I really like how you stand-up for yourself.

No, you don’t need to say anything more.

You were just in a mental fog.

We’ve all had days like that.

Months, years?

Hey, what the hell!

Let me say my piece, Twitter people!

Give the guy a break!

You think he should be fired?

Well, I can tell you right now it ain’t happening.

Fortunately, he works at NBC and we know their loyalty to their people.

Take Al Sharpton at sister MSNBC….

He’s got this whole show to himself.

He says the rich should pay more in taxes.

He should know.

After all, he’s rich and is just dying to pay his full share.

Yeah, I know he’s 4 million behind in back taxes.

You gotta give a guy time to remember what he’s disremembered.

He’ll catch-up.

But back to you, Brian.

You’ve got real balls.

No apologies.

And why should you?

I love this in you!

A lot of others like it, too.

Like Al Gore, who invented the Internet.

Especially these guys in politics like Mark Kirk, Richard Blumenthal, and Tom Harkin.

They all disremembered, too, when it came to war.

But the people understood and made damn sure they got elected.

We’ve got your back, Brian.

What, you were with Clinton when he unzipped his fly in the Oval Office?

Wow, and you’ve held back till now?

Yeah, you disremembered this, too, but now you’ve got it right.

Yeah, I can understand why you waited.

You guys were cronies for years.

Hey, Brian, old faithful here can’t wait to see you on the news tonight.

You’re interviewing Armstrong?

Oh, I know Lance finally fessed up to being on dope all those years.

What do you expect a guy to do in a stress event like The Tour de France?

Yeah, it took him a while to remember, but he got it right.

Now he just hit two cars the other day and got so shook up that he disremembered again and thought it was his girlfriend driving.

But he got it right this time much quicker, remembering what he disremembered.

Just like you, Brian!

–rj

Note:  Williams apologized on his newscast last night:  “I made a mistake in recalling events of twelve years ago.”  The facts show he repeated his version on several occasions, the story growing with the telling.  It’s one thing to make a “mistake”; it’s another thing to lie.  I don’t buy into the twelve years ago excuse either.  If it hadn’t been for the military, Williams would still be exploiting the story for personal advantage.  Meanwhile, MSNBC didn’t cover the apology until 10:45 pm.  It’s been my experience that when caught, liars are disingenuous with language.

Reflections on the psychology of lying

LanceArmstrong_620_011513I’ve always found it hard to understand how there are people who can look you in the eyes, never blink, and spin the biggest lie.  Of all the kinds of deceit, lying is probably its most common form.  My mind boggles at some of the big names across the years, not surprisingly, political:  Congressman Dan Rostenkowski; Washington mayor Marion Barry; and then there’s Bill Clinton (“I did not have sex with that woman”).

Lately, icons from the sports world have swollen their numbers, though like most liars, they’re often teflon coated when it comes to making the allegations stick. Think Bonds, Clemens, McGuire.  And now there’s Lance Armstrong and a confession–of a sort.

I probably don’t need to tell you that lying is also endemic to the business community.  It’s estimated that the average consumer is exposed to up to 200 lies daily via advertising.

But let’s not be self-righteous.  The truth is we all lie, so maybe our outrage is simply projection rather than seeing ourselves in the mirror.  Psychology Today (May 1, 1997) cites the 1996 study of lying  by University of Virginia psychologist Bella DePaulo, who found “most people lie once or twice a day.”

Lying sometimes comes with the territory, say law, politics, car sales.

Sometimes it may even seem the moral thing to do. Should a doctor tell every terminal patient his/her prognosis?

Sometimes lying may seem the only way to avoid being punished for telling the truth.  Should you tell your boss you were late because you got stuck in traffic rather than the truth you overslept?

Sometimes it may be wiser to tell your wife you like her new dress or hair-do than blurt out, “What were you thinking?

From another vantage point, lying can often be viewed as an ego prop for those with low self-esteem to boost themselves in the eyes of their beholders. The bigger the fish story, the better the payoff in admiration.

Lying is generally motivated by a desire to achieve a goal or to avoid responsibility for a behavior, e.g., overspending, drug addiction, etc.. There is, however, the  compulsive liar who does so inversely related to any goal.  Such behavior hints at a pyschiatric disorder, requiring treatment.  This also gets us into the criminal mind of the sociopath who can lie and even kill without remorse.  I think of Susan Smith (1994) who drowned her children, but initially claimed a black man had done it.

While granting that lying is an intrinsic human behavior, I still draw the line between the Lance Armstrongs who lie to mask their wrongdoing such as wholesale cheating or abuse of power and everyday Johns and Janes who lie to cover their embarrassment, or to prevent friction, or to opt for kindness.

What really arouses my disgust is when these self-serving schemers repeat their lies endlessly.  We had a decade of this in Armstrong’s case.

Ironically, we often reward our consummate liars. Though they didn’t make it into baseball’s Hall of Fame this year, Bonds and Clemens were candidates and drew over a third of the votes.  We also have two recently elected senators, one of whom falsely claimed service in Vietnam repeatedly; the other, to claims of Native American ancestry, presumably to take advantage of affirmative action. In reality, those who vote for such people share the same bottomline rationale of the end justifies the means.

The worst lies, the ones that grieve us and erode our trust, occur when we’re deceived by those we’ve invested our emotions in most, our family and friends. The medieval poet Dante assigned such people to hell’s deepest circle in The Inferno to keep company with the likes of Judas.

Liars are hard to detect because they ape sincerity, empowering their ability to manipulate the rest of us who want deeply to believe we’re being told the truth. This is why polygraphs aren’t always accurate, as they can’t readily filter out the feigner of sincerity.

Some have written in depth on the refined art of lying and strategies for its detection, the best of these being Paul Ekman’s classic 2009 book, Telling Lies:  Clues to Deceit in the Marketplace, Politics, and Marriage.  You’ll find his take on body language fascinating, although I’m dubious about this since body language can also be feigned.   Nonetheless, as an expert on emotions, he brings the closest thing to science on the subject, though he confesses the frequent difficulty, even then, of spotting the skilled liar.  Our best defense, in my own view, borrows from Reagan’s maxim:  “Trust and verify.”

We do know we resent people like Lance Armstrong, perhaps because he and others remind us of our own vulnerability to manipulation and the hurt we’ve experienced when our trust is violated

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