Service of Lies II

November 10th, 2016

Categories: Lies, Politicians, Politics, Winning

After the results of the presidential election it became clearer than ever that people believe what they want to hear. When you peel everything away, it’s often because they don’t know the facts and/or are uninformed.

There are plenty of people in my business—PR and marketing—who make an exemplary living by promising the world—i.e. lying–and it works: They get the business.

A typical conversation:

  • Potential client–“We want an article in The Wall Street Journal.”
  • PR person’s response—“No problem. Some of my best friends are WSJ reporters/columnists.”

The potential clients are often the smartest in their industries, but they don’t know mine: Even a PR person’s brother-in-law can’t guarantee a story in The Wall Street Journal. Getting a hearing doesn’t automatically translate into coverage, but that doesn’t stop people from promising the moon to win.

Candidates also grab at anything to get elected. Most recently one pledged to bring back manufacturing jobs–this from a person so concerned about jobs here that the goods he sells are manufactured abroad.

Do people similarly believe him because they are uninformed? Do they think that he won’t short-change them as he does his vendors and suppliers?

We tend to remember when we’ve been lied to. President George H.W. Bush said “read my lips: no new taxes.” Who knows if he meant it or said it to get elected? In the day some familiar with the realities of the economic situation may have known better. We remember the lips bit but not his often repeated phrase about “a thousand points of light” to encourage the public’s participation in community organizations.

However this time many of us hope that the winner does NOT accomplish what he promised from withdrawing from NATO and the recent international environmental agreement to cancelling, rather than tweaking, Obamacare.

We need to get back to business and hope like the dickens that things don’t work out as badly as some of us fear. President Obama is urging us to give the man a chance: We’re all Americans and on the same team.

If a friend, colleague or relative lies to me, I do what my mother used to advise that I’ve often noted here: “Bury the bone but remember where you buried it.” We’ll all be walking on lumpy ground from all those buried bones for a while.

My NYC friends and colleagues who tried to calm my anxieties before the election make clear that we’ve all been shortsighted and gullible. Here in this island cocoon we haven’t a clue of America’s mindset. 

Why do you think people believe what they want to hear?

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13 Responses to “Service of Lies II”

  1. DManzaluni Said:

    Not sure you are right.

    Oversimplifying it a bit, it is all to do with cord-cutting. There are apparently tens of millions out there who no longer have access to news analysis or who wouldn’t dream of using it.

    Their whole lives are kimkardashian’s Photoshopped bum and donaldtrump. I suppose it could be said that they LIVE in an alternate reality and they simply dont know the real news about Trump.

    They hear the name and all they know is the authoritarian-looking strong man who they have seen for a decade or so pretending to fire people and they genuinely think it is real. Give that type of person a choice for president and they are bound to vote for the strong man they know. Curiously, the founding fathers made provision for this and for the possibility that some demagogue might try his hand at electioneering. It’s called letting the electoral college vote for the dummy red-necks.

    It is all set out reasonably clearly in Gibbon’s Decline and Fall.

  2. ASK Said:

    Take comfort in the fact that the NY Times didn’t get it right either…

  3. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Well put.

    I took a milquetoast approach to the results of this election on purpose. I didn’t want to spill out the rant I felt inside. I’d be no better than the person about whom I’d be screaming about.

  4. Mervyn Kaufman Said:

    It’s Orwellian, I think. If you tell the Big Lie often enough,
    people will believe it. Worse, you can put out some
    outrageous story and, a day or so later, correct or
    retract it. But the initial impact is what will count—that’s
    what people will remember. This was brought home to
    me not long ago when I heard an otherwise intelligent,
    seemingly well-informed woman, when interviewed on
    Public Radio, insist that “Obama is a Muslim.”

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Another example: the discredited info about vaccinations for children causing autism.

    It’s scary what those who either don’t want to or don’t know how to research or question will believe. Voters put into office a person who freely pointed to everything that’s wrong–who can’t do that?–and didn’t bother to spell out solutions to the problem. Reminds me of my first memo to a client in my first PR job. I spelled out all the options and my boss said, this is good as far as it goes. Now “tell them which option you recommend and why.”

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I need all the comfort I can find! Until we see how much damage is done many will be holding their collective breaths. Wall Street is gleeful! Why? They predict costly constraints about irritating issues such as the environment that kept them in check will be history. I worry about people with access to healthcare who may once again be without. And on……

  7. Hank Goldman Said:

    In the recent case of our new “ugh” president, half of our country bought the sham/lies, hook line and sinker.

    “Irony” is: A white, alt-right billionaire, moving into a 225 year old house that was built by slaves and being vacated by a Black American family.

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:

    Oh Hank,

    While yours is a serious comment, one of the things I thought about this gang moving into the White House was “PLEASE say you’ll stay at your hotel and leave the White House alone.” The decorating taste of the man is ormolu galore–a lot is not enough. I shudder to think what he and his will do to the elegance of the place. Clearly this represents the least important impact he’ll have on this country, but still….maybe he can glitz up his dinner tables and Christmas tree and leave the rest of the house alone.

  9. hb Said:

    I have spent many hours over a lifetime preparing to testify in court as a fact, and once as an expert witness, in both New York and London. Since my testimony would be given under oath, counsel was careful not to ask me to lie, but they inevitably coached me to twist what I said around to their advantage … to the point where I hardly recognized what I thought I remembered.

    As a result, my actual testimony often turned out, in reality, to lead to conclusions different from those which I had initially remembered. Was this actually lying? I DON’T KNOW.

  10. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You ask an excellent question only you can answer. If what you ended up saying was wrong [the car that ran over the woman was red and you said it was green] then yes.

    But if you have a tendency to emphasize negative aspects of a situation where they need not be mentioned and the lawyer weeded out these extraneous points, then no. It would be up to the other lawyer to ask the right questions to pull out this info–if relevant.

    Are there “sins of omission” when a person testifies? I don’t know the answer.

    As we covered in a previous post, the winner of the election wiggled out of answering most questions by attacking the interviewer as having asked something stupid. The resulting dodge is transparent but clearly millions of voters didn’t notice or care.

  11. David Reich Said:

    We unfortunately have come to take for granted that politicians lie to us to get elected. And yes, some PR people will promise the Wall Street Journal to get a client.

    In the case of the lying PR person, if you don’t produce, you’ll be fired after a few months. In the case of a president, we’re stuck for four years before we can make a switch. So I can see why many will lie to get elected. It’s a guaranteed job for four years, with great health care and an awesome pension, even if you’re thrown out after one term. Might be worth a lie or two, if you have no ethics.

  12. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I worked for an agency whose model seemed to be what you describe: The owner lied to get the business and handed the client to an AE who had the job of explaining the realities of what could be done. The client paid for a few months, the AE got stomach ulcers trying to perform miracles and the client left frustrated–and poorer–never again trusting in PR. I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

    I like to think that Bernie Sanders is as clean a politician as we’ll see at his level. I’m a Pollyanna and like to think that there are and will be more.

  13. Lucrezia Said:

    Having been lied to ever since I can remember, I hear, accumulate information, but neither believe nor listen. I’m much happier that way, and I suspect so are those who act likewise.

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