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Sexting, Lies, & Hard Drives

June 8, 2011
There are few nudities so objectionable
as the naked truth.
Agnes Repplier (American essayist)

Unfortunately, Reese Witherspoon was too late with her sage advice on MTV’s 2011 Movie Awards show.  “If you [take] naked pictures of yourself on your cell phone, you hide your face, people! Hide your face!” Maybe if she had just shared this information 11 months ago before Rep. Anthony Weiner started tweeting questionable pictures of himself, the media would not be going crazy over “Weinergate.”  Surely, Rep. Weiner had no idea that naked pictures of famous people inadvertently appear on the Internet on a daily basis.  Maybe it’s just that he didn’t know the difference between a tweet and a direct message.  That Twitter thing is pretty confusing.

Ultimately, this media circus is much bigger than Rep. Weiner just sending ill-advised photos of himself to random women.  Whether that is a forgivable offense is up to his wife, constituents, and fellow Democrats.  And while Brian Williams, anchor of NBC News, originally refused to report this because he did not think it was an important story, in reality, it was potentially the most important story.  The problem is the fact that so many focus on the wrong issue.  This story has nothing to do with sexting, infidelity, and inadequate social media skills.  This is about lying.

From the moment that Rep. Weiner opened his mouth on May 28, 2011, everyone listening knew he was not telling the truth.  It is also unlikely that the lying only started a day after he tweeted an obscene picture of his gray boxer briefs to a 21 year-old college student.  Rep. Weiner’s indiscretion with the truth is indisputably not an isolated incidence.   It can’t be.  When is it ever?

In fact, it would be hard to believe that the lying began 11 months ago as Rep. Weiner stated in his confession on June 6, 2011.  Most likely we can trace the lies back to the beginning of Twitter, or Facebook, or maybe the advent of the Internet.  Somewhere along the way, Rep. Weiner developed a sense of entitlement and a loose grip on the truth.

What is crazy is that telling the truth is much easier than telling a lie in our modern news cycle.  A lie will keep appearing.  Just like an untreated sore, a lie will fester and get bigger.  A wound does not go away by being ignored.  It goes away with quick treatment.  Tell the truth to the media and within a couple days they are on to the next story.  Rep. Weiner took the opportunity to lie and then try to ignore the scandal for ten days.  Now the sore is infected and amputation is the only cure.

When Rep. Weiner was literally caught with his pants down, his best course of action would have been to step in front of the swarm of media and tell the truth.  Did no one in his circle of influence tell him that?  Instead, Rep. Weiner made up possible (but far from plausible) stories and then tried to pretend like it was over and ignore the many questions; which only pointed more to the fact that he had been lying.

At one point Rep. Weiner even tried the Bill Clinton approach.  Clinton, as everyone remembers, tried to create confusion by questioning the definition of “is.”  Rep. Weiner tried to hedge by claiming that he could not say “with certitude” that the photo was not of him.  Ironically, Rep. Weiner has pretty close connections with the Clintons considering that the former President officiated his wedding.  Could it be that Weiner received his moral training from his friend?  Now, Rep. Weiner’s wife will be able to receive directives from Secretary of State Clinton on dealing with infidelity.

It is unfortunate, that in this day, the public is too willing to accept liars as leaders.  In fact, in many cases the public expects it.  It’s a running joke.  Everyone assumes that politicians are lying.  Were George Washington and Abraham Lincoln our last politicians to adhere to the policy of truth telling?

No one should expect politicians to be perfect, but it is certainly reasonable to expect them to be honest.  Why don’t voters ask themselves first whether the politician is qualified and then second if he/she is honest before pulling the lever?  It doesn’t have to be an either/or decision.

We’ve heard it said that everything we need to know we learned in kindergarten.  While this might not be completely accurate, somewhere in our youth we were all taught that honesty was the best policy.  It still is.  And that’s the truth.

So before you send out your next tweet, remember that even though a tweet is measured in only 140 characters, the attached picture can lead to a thousand lies.

(This is a re-post of a post I wrote for my law firm The Foster Group.)

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