Opinion

Lying Is America’s Biggest Political — And Media — Problem

Mark Tapscott Executive Editor, Chief of Investigative Group

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was bluntly exposed during Thursday’s House Select Committee on Benghazi hearing, so where did these headlines come from?

  • “Clinton emerges unscathed from high-stakes Benghazi hearing.” — The Washington Post
  • “Clinton largely unscathed by GOP Benghazi hearing.” — The Hill
  • “Hillary Clinton defends actions in Benghazi hearing.” — The Wall Street Journal
  • “Clinton seeks high ground during Benghazi panel’s 11-hour grilling.” — The Los Angeles Times
  • “Benghazi hearing concludes: Dems say panel uncovered ‘nothing new'” — USA Today

The digital front page examples above from the Post, Times and The Hill are actually editorial statements masquerading as news headlines. The Journal headline is accurate, but boring. The USA Today headline parrots the Democrats’ talking points. Unfortunately, these headlines capture the mainstream media’s dominant conclusion about Clinton and the Benghazi hearing.

The reality is that something new and quite significant was learned at the hearing: Within hours of the attack on the U.S. facility, Clinton told the Egyptian prime minister “we know that the attack in Libya had nothing to do with the film. It was a planned attack, not a protest.”

But two days later, while standing before the flag-draped coffins of the four Americans killed in the attack, grieving members of their families and millions of Americans watching on TV, Clinton attributed the tragedy to protests of “an awful Internet video that we had nothing to do with.”

I’m sorry, folks, but that circle cannot be squared. If “it was a planned attack, not a protest” and “had nothing to do with the film,” it could not have been caused by “an awful Internet video.” Yet Clinton — and President Obama, his spokesman Jay Carney, National Security Adviser Susan Rice and others in the White House — repeated the video lie over and over again for days thereafter.

Four Americans died, then Clinton, Obama, Rice, et. al. lied. And we wonder why nobody believes anything said by the government these days, and why the mainstream media has a profound credibility problem. Americans in flyover country know that liars cannot be trusted.

Before Republicans get too self-righteous, however, they better look at the beam of lies in their own eyes. For years, GOP leaders have promised they would reduce the size, costs and power of the federal government, but over and over again, once they get elected, too many of them act as if they never made that promise.

This problem isn’t a new thing with the GOP, either. The day after they lost the 2006 balloting, I wrote this: “When Republicans worry more about staying in government than about limiting government, they get thrown out of government. That’s the lesson of Nov. 7, 2006.”

Too little has changed since 2006. Less than a year ago, voters elected a Republican Senate and re-elected a Republican House largely on the basis of the same promise, starting with the repeal and replacement of Obamacare, the biggest expansion of federal power in decades.

They had hardly taken their oaths of office in January before Republican leaders were walking back their promise, saying there was no point in passing legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare because Obama would simply veto it. They knew before the election that Obama would be president after the election, so why did they make a promise they obviously didn’t intend to keep? That’s lying.

This country is in terrible shape. Our military is aging, worn-out and in the grip of debilitating political correctness. The national debt is nearly $19 trillion and much of it is owed to China. Hundreds of billions of tax dollars are redistributed every year from productive citizens to wasteful, ineffective federal programs that lock generations into a permanent cycle of poverty and dependence. Year after year, public schools graduate legions of students who can’t read, write a coherent sentence, do basic math, or explain why the American Revolution was fought.

But none of these profoundly serious problems can be solved as long as our leaders cannot be trusted. So here’s an idea: How about our political leaders in both parties stop lying, cease putting partisan self-interest ahead of the common good, and start facing the stark truth about why Washington doesn’t work and isn’t believed anymore, even if it means losing the next election?

As for my colleagues in the national media, it’s not too late to remember that our job is to hold all of the politicians’ feet to the fire, not to sing along in their hallelujah chorus.

Mark Tapscott is executive editor of the Daily Caller News Foundation. Follow Mark on Twitter