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Why politicians lie


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strongRichard Nixon/strong, who resigned as president after the Watergate scandal, famously said during a 1973 press conference: In all of my years in public life, I have never obstructed justice...People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook. a href='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sh163n1lJ4M' target='_blank'Source/aRichard Nixon, who resigned as president after the Watergate scandal, famously said during a 1973 press conference: “In all of my years in public life, I have never obstructed justice…People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook.” Source

strongBill Clinton/strong, who was impeached in 1998, narrowly denied having sexual relations with that woman, former intern Monica Lewinsky. a href='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gV6yhEbEw9c' target='_blank'Source/aBill Clinton, who was impeached in 1998, narrowly denied having “sexual relations with that woman,” former intern Monica Lewinsky. Source

Former Washington, D.C., mayor strongMarion Barry/strong was convicted in a drug and sex scandal in 1991 that ultimately drove him from office. When asked by Park Police about cocaine found in his car: It's all made up... I don't know what happened. iSource: The Washington Post: 26 March 2002. pg B2/iFormer Washington, D.C., mayor Marion Barry was convicted in a drug and sex scandal in 1991 that ultimately drove him from office. When asked by Park Police about cocaine found in his car: “It’s all made up… I don’t know what happened.” Source: The Washington Post: 26 March 2002. pg B2

After being confronted with allegations of a mistress and child, strongJohn Edwards,/strong the one-time presidential hopeful told the National Enquirer: The story is false... It's completely untrue, ridiculous. a href='http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/03/edwards-denies-millionaire-madam-john-report/' target='_blank'Source/aAfter being confronted with allegations of a mistress and child, John Edwards, the one-time presidential hopeful told the National Enquirer: “The story is false… It’s completely untrue, ridiculous.” Source

Former Congressman strongAnthony Weiner/strong, who got caught up in a Twitter photo scandal, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer: I had no idea what happened that night...Sometimes a prank is a prank. a href='http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/2011/06/01/rep-weiner-i-dont-know-what-photographs-are-out-there-in-the-world-of-me/'Source/aFormer Congressman Anthony Weiner, who got caught up in a Twitter photo scandal, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: “I had no idea what happened that night…Sometimes a prank is a prank.” Source

strongEric Massa,/strong the former Congressman from New York who resigned after being investigated for inappropriate conduct with male staffers, first said he didn't grope staffers but had been involved in a tickle party. Later he told CNN's Larry King, No, it is not true. Period. I don't know how else to answer your question. a href='http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/03/09/eric_massa_transcript_larry_king_live_104723.html' target='_blank'Source/a
Eric Massa, the former Congressman from New York who resigned after being investigated for inappropriate conduct with male staffers, first said he didn’t grope staffers but had been involved in a “tickle party.” Later he told CNN’s Larry King, “No, it is not true. Period. I don’t know how else to answer your question.” Source

strongRod Blagojevich,/strong the convicted Illinois governor, left, denied that he tried to sell Barack Obama's vacant Senate seat: I will fight, until I take my last breath. I have done nothing wrong. a href='http://articles.cnn.com/2008-12-19/politics/blagojevich.speaks_1_ed-genson-illinois-governor-illinois-politics?_s=PM:POLITICS'Source/aRod Blagojevich, the convicted Illinois governor, left, denied that he tried to sell Barack Obama’s vacant Senate seat: “I will fight, until I take my last breath. I have done nothing wrong. Source

Louisiana congressman strongWilliam Jefferson/strong was convicted of corruption charges after the FBI found $90,000 in his freezer. The $90,000 was the FBI's money, he said. a href='http://articles.boston.com/2007-06-09/news/29229504_1_cash-bribe-prosecutor-mark-lytle-fbi-agents'Source/aLouisiana congressman William Jefferson was convicted of corruption charges after the FBI found $90,000 in his freezer. “The $90,000 was the FBI’s money,” he said. Source

strongEdwin Edwards,/strong the former Louisiana governor served nine years after being convicted of 17 counts of fraud and corruption. I did not do anything wrong as a governor. a href='http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2008/12/13/and-you-thought-blago-was-brazenly-corrupt.html' target='_blank'Source/aEdwin Edwards, the former Louisiana governor served nine years after being convicted of 17 counts of fraud and corruption. “I did not do anything wrong as a governor.” Source

strongKwame Kilpatrick,/strong the former Detroit mayor pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice after investigators showed text messages between him and his mistress involving sex that he said never happened. In response to her text about whether he missed her sexually, he replied: Hell yeah! You couldn't tell. I want some more. a href='http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080124/NEWS05/801240414theme=KILPATRICK082007' target='_blank'Source/aKwame Kilpatrick, the former Detroit mayor pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice after investigators showed text messages between him and his mistress involving sex that he said never happened. In response to her text about whether he missed her sexually, he replied: “Hell yeah! You couldn’t tell. I want some more.” Source


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Washington (CNN) — Wolf Blitzer and Donald Trump’s heated showdown this week over claims of a conspiracy to conceal President Barack Obama’s true birthplace was, at its core, an argument about lying.

Trump and other “birthers” believe the president, mainstream media outlets, the courts and the state of Hawaii are all lying, conspiring in a cover-up that began with Obama’s birth announcement in a Honolulu newspaper in 1961.

Those who maintain the president was born in Hawaii — and has produced an authentic birth certificate to prove it — believe Trump and the other side are willfully ignoring the facts in front of them and spreading lies for political gain.

Despite a frustrated GOP, anti-Obama ‘birthers’ still persist

“It’s very complicated, the way we process information,” said Ron Riggio, an organizational psychology professor at Claremont McKenna College speaking broadly about the nature of lying. “It’s the politics of audacity. The more outrageous and audacious the lie is, the more people say ‘that’s got to be true because why would someone make something like that up?’”

U.S. Sen. John Edwards, center, and other senators discuss President Bill Clinton's impeachment trial on February 3, 1999. More than a year later, Vice President Al Gore reportedly put Edwards on his short list as a running mate on the 2000 Democratic presidential ticket (before picking Joe Lieberman).U.S. Sen. John Edwards, center, and other senators discuss President Bill Clinton’s impeachment trial on February 3, 1999. More than a year later, Vice President Al Gore reportedly put Edwards on his “short list” as a running mate on the 2000 Democratic presidential ticket (before picking Joe Lieberman).

Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Edwards at a news briefing in Kennedy's office in 2001.Sen. Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts and Edwards at a news briefing in Kennedy’s office in 2001.

In 2004, Democratic vice presidential candidate Edwards speaks in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.In 2004, Democratic vice presidential candidate Edwards speaks in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, greets his running mate, Edwards, at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential candidate, greets his running mate, Edwards, at the Democratic National Convention in Boston.

Edwards appears on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno in October 2004.Edwards appears on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” in October 2004.

A month later, the candidate for vice president speaks at an Election Night campaign rally in Boston. A month later, the candidate for vice president speaks at an Election Night campaign rally in Boston.

Edwards' wife, Elizabeth, meets with children after a town-hall gathering in Iowa in 2007. She passed away in 2010 from breast cancer after separating from Edwards.Edwards’ wife, Elizabeth, meets with children after a town-hall gathering in Iowa in 2007. She passed away in 2010 from breast cancer after separating from Edwards.

In September 2007, Edwards attends a Democratic presidential debate in Hanover, New Hampshire.In September 2007, Edwards attends a Democratic presidential debate in Hanover, New Hampshire.

During his poverty tour, Democratic presidential candidate Edwards toured eight states. Here he speaks in Pittsburgh in July 2007.During his “poverty tour,” Democratic presidential candidate Edwards toured eight states. Here he speaks in Pittsburgh in July 2007.

Edwards campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination in Waterloo, Iowa, in December 2007.Edwards campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination in Waterloo, Iowa, in December 2007.

Speaking to Iowans during a New Year's Day 2008 campaign event, Edwards tries to earn votes for the upcoming Iowa caucuses.
Speaking to Iowans during a New Year’s Day 2008 campaign event, Edwards tries to earn votes for the upcoming Iowa caucuses.

Edwards greets supporters in New Hampshire in January 2008.Edwards greets supporters in New Hampshire in January 2008.

Presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton, Edwards and Barack Obama point to supporters and family members in the audience after a debate in New Hampshire in January 2008.Presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton, Edwards and Barack Obama point to supporters and family members in the audience after a debate in New Hampshire in January 2008.

Days before South Carolina's 2008 Democratic primary, Edwards speaks to the press in Bennettsville.Days before South Carolina’s 2008 Democratic primary, Edwards speaks to the press in Bennettsville.

Edwards, who bowed out of the presidential race, speaks to the media with his family -- Cate, left, Emma Claire, Jack and his wife, Elizabeth -- in New Orleans in late January 2008.Edwards, who bowed out of the presidential race, speaks to the media with his family — Cate, left, Emma Claire, Jack and his wife, Elizabeth — in New Orleans in late January 2008.

Edwards endorsed Barack Obama after Hillary Clinton won the West Viriginia primary.Edwards endorsed Barack Obama after Hillary Clinton won the West Viriginia primary.

Rielle Hunter, Edwards' former mistress, holds their daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter, in August 2009. Prosecutors accused Edwards of using nearly $1 million in illegal campaign contributions to keep his pregnant mistress under wraps as he ran for president in 2008. Defense attorneys argued the donations could not be considered campaign contributions. They said Edwards was guilty of being a bad husband but had committed no crime.Rielle Hunter, Edwards’ former mistress, holds their daughter, Frances Quinn Hunter, in August 2009. Prosecutors accused Edwards of using nearly $1 million in illegal campaign contributions to keep his pregnant mistress under wraps as he ran for president in 2008. Defense attorneys argued the donations could not be considered campaign contributions. They said Edwards was guilty of being a bad husband but had committed no crime.

Former Edwards aide Andrew Young and his wife, Cheri, listen during a 2010 hearing in North Carolina. Defense attorneys argued that Young used the money for his own gain and to pay for Hunter's medical expenses to hide the affair from Edwards' wife.Former Edwards aide Andrew Young and his wife, Cheri, listen during a 2010 hearing in North Carolina. Defense attorneys argued that Young used the money for his own gain and to pay for Hunter’s medical expenses to hide the affair from Edwards’ wife.

Edwards and two of his children, Emma Claire and Jack, leave the funeral service for Elizabeth Edwards, who died at 61 after a six-year battle with breast cancer in December 2010. Edwards and two of his children, Emma Claire and Jack, leave the funeral service for Elizabeth Edwards, who died at 61 after a six-year battle with breast cancer in December 2010.

Edwards' mug shot was released after the former presidential candidate pleaded not guilty in June 2011 to charges of accepting illegal campaign contributions, falsifying documents and conspiracy.
Edwards’ mug shot was released after the former presidential candidate pleaded not guilty in June 2011 to charges of accepting illegal campaign contributions, falsifying documents and conspiracy.

Edwards enters a Greensboro, North Carolina, courthouse for his federal corruption trial with daughter Cate on May 21, 2012. Edwards enters a Greensboro, North Carolina, courthouse for his federal corruption trial with daughter Cate on May 21, 2012.

Edwards addresses the media after his acquittal and mistrial, with his daughter Cate and his parents Wallace and Bobbie Edwards at his side, outside the Greensboro courthouse on Thursday, May 31, 2012. After nine days of deliberation, a jury acquitted Edwards on one count but deadlocked on five other counts in his corruption trial. It's unclear what the Justice Department will do next, but Edwards says his years of service aren't over.Edwards addresses the media after his acquittal and mistrial, with his daughter Cate and his parents Wallace and Bobbie Edwards at his side, outside the Greensboro courthouse on Thursday, May 31, 2012. After nine days of deliberation, a jury acquitted Edwards on one count but deadlocked on five other counts in his corruption trial. It’s unclear what the Justice Department will do next, but Edwards says his years of service aren’t over.


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Photos: The rise and fall of John EdwardsPhotos: The rise and fall of John Edwards


Busting the Obama ‘birther’ conspiracy


‘Birther’ office proposal

While many politicians are truthful, honest public servants, too many politicians and their surrogates often lie, and voters often let them get away with it, Riggio contends. In the world of politics, lies are that relative no one really likes but everyone reluctantly invites to Thanksgiving dinner.

From Richard Nixon — “I’m not a crook” – to Bill Clinton — “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky” — to Marion Barry — “It’s all made up… I don’t know what happened” — to John Edwards — “The story is false… It’s completely untrue, ridiculous” — American politicians have had a history of political deception, or at least stretching the truth.

Edwards not guilty on one count; mistrial on other charges

In 2007, Edwards, who at the time was a leading candidate for president, lied about his mistress and baby when the National Enquirer caught him at the Beverly Hilton Hotel visiting the child. The jury in his conspiracy and illegal campaign contributions trial Thursday found Edwards not guilty on one of six counts. The judge declared a mistrial on the other five counts.

And last year, disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner looked CNN’s Wolf Blitzer in the eye and lied when confronted with evidence of illicit Twitter photos. He later admitted the deception and resigned from office.

Birther satire: Prove Mitt’s not a unicorn

“From a leadership perspective, so often the lies politicians are involved in are part of leaving an impression about information,” Riggio said. “So much of it is the little white lies that are part of the social fabric. But when it crosses the line that the public truly believes is important, then it becomes a big problem.”


Romney surrogate: Trump will be Trump


Trump hammers at “birther” issue


Blitzer calls Trump ‘ridiculous’

Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colorado, found himself straddling the line between deception, confusion and evasion after reports leaked that he questioned the president’s citizenship at a recent fundraiser.

“I don’t know whether Barack Obama was born in the United States of America. I don’t know that,” Coffman reportedly said. “But I do know this, that in his heart, he’s not an American. He’s just not an American.”

Why does Mitt Romney continue to put up with Trump?

The ensuing media storm over Coffman’s comments forced the congressman to backpedal and issue a statement that he does believe Obama is an American citizen but that the president doesn’t share the lawmaker’s belief in “American exceptionalism.”

But Coffman’s gaffe seems to fall more along the lines of what some behavioral experts call a dodge or an evade.

“Most dodgers, they’re not lying. They just create a false impression,” said Michael Norton, an associate business professor at the Harvard Business School who studies how and why people lie. “Occasionally politicians get caught in a lie, but it’s quite rare. If they are doing their jobs they don’t lie, they just evade.”

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The Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact website has made its mark by grading the shades of accuracy in politicians’ statements on the “Truth-O-Meter.”

“I think voters are well aware that politicians stretch the truth — sometimes to the breaking point,” said Bill Adair, editor of PolitiFact and Washington bureau chief of the Tampa Bay Times. “And I think voters are also savvy enough to realize there are shades of gray that turn a seemingly accurate statement into a half truth.”

However, unlike the days when webs of political deception were tougher to untangle, savvy voters now have more tools on hand.

“What’s different today is that there is so much information available to help people make sense of the political discourse and discern the difference between an exaggeration and a pants-on-fire lie,” Adair said.

When Gilberto Hinojosa, who was seeking the Texas Democratic Party chairmanship, declared “a large majority of the Republican Party believes that (Obama) is a Muslim and was born in a foreign country, was not born in the United States,” at the Central Texas Democratic Forum last month, the would-be chairman rated a “false” on the Truth-O-Meter.

Similarly, most claims about the president’s birthplace as Kenya and the falsity of his Hawaiian birth certificate rate a flaming “Pants on Fire” on the Truth-O-Meter.

Not that any of those ratings will convince Trump, those who agree with him or those who believe the president was born in America. And it doesn’t matter how much or how hard either side defends their position, Norton said.

“We’re much more likely to notice evasive behavior with politicians we already disagree with,” Norton said. “But we forget people in our party are doing the same thing.”






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