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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Drowning In BullshitLink

by digby

This is interesting:

James B. Stewart made an appearance on the Today show this morning talking about the most famous cases of perjury that he's written about in his new book "Tangled Webs: How American Society Is Drowning In Lies."

What "Tangled Webs" examines is people at the pinnacle of their professions--Martha Stewart, Barry Bonds, Scooter Libby, people from Wall Street right up to the White House--"brazenly lying." They're role models, and their behavior trickles down to society. "Why do they lie," asks Stewart? "Because they think they can get away with it."
While James Stewart says there are no statistics showing an increase of lying, he feels it's an epidemic, happening at the highest levels and that as a society we've become too tolerant of lying in our homes and in the world. When you take an oath, you must tell the truth: "Our justice system depends on it."

Fascinating. And where do you suppose this all this lying started?

Maybe it was here:

The manifest failure of the month long assault on Hillary Clinton to yield evidence of wrongdoing was not ignored everywhere. New York Times columnist Anthony Lewis became the first important voice at his newspaper to break ranks. "Three years and innumerable investigations later," he wrote on January 15th, "Mrs Clinton has not been shown to have done anything wrong in Whitewater. One charge after another has evaporated."

Lewis compared D'Amato's performance to that of Senator Joseph R McCarthy during the anti-communist witch hunts of fifties. But Lewis noted one major difference. "On Whitewater the press seemed all too eager an accomplice of the accusers...

Still other celebrated journalists continued to predict the first lady's probable indictment as the election year began, most notably Pulitzer Prize winning author James B Stewart. Published by Simon and Shuster in 1996 to the accompaniment of a multimedia publicity campaign, Stewart's book Blood Sport claims to be the inside story of "the president and first lady as they really are." Set forth as a sweeping narrative, it includes dramatized scenes and imaginary dialog purporting to represent the innermost thoughts of individuals whom the author had in some cases never met, much less interviewed.

"Scenes that Mr Stewart could never have observed first hand," complained New York Times reviewer Michiko Kakutani, "are recounted from an omniscient viewpoint. Mr. Stewart rarely identifies the sources for such scenes not does he take into account the subjectivity and oftens self-serving nature of memory. The reader never knows whether the quotes Mr Stewart puts into the mouth of an individual... are from a first or second hand source."
-- The Hunting of the President, Conason and Lyons

You have to read the book for the full catalog of mistakes, errors of omission and downright lies in that hideous book. The idea that this guy is now rending his garments about Americans being a land of lies is pretty amazing. I guess he thinks he can "get away with it."

Rick Perlstein has coined a phrase "mendocracy" to describe how our elites have completely disavowed the very notion of honesty, even in fields like business and economics where one would assume that an agreement on the basic facts would be necessary to function. James B. Stewart is the walking proof of its existence.

h/t to bz