The prevarications of city aide Rachel Noedringer, author Lena Dunham and ObamaCare architect Jonathan Gruber all fell apart this year.
Bowe Bergdahl, the IRS’s missing e-mails, Lena Dunham. “Hands up, don’t shoot.” Jonathan Gruber, GM and that faulty ignition switch, Andrew Cuomo and that anti-corruption commission. The Secret Service and that White House intruder, Rachel Noerdlinger and her “disabled” son, Rolling Stone and gang rape.
2014 was the year when truth was optional. 2014 was the year when convenient fabrication was the weapon of choice for celebrities, activists, big business and politicians. 2014 was the Year of the Lie.
In each case, the liars used their powerful positions to intimidate, harass, marginalize or just plain bilk ordinary people who lacked access to a megaphone with which to shout back.
Mostly the liars didn’t suffer any repercussions for spreading falsehoods, and most didn’t even seem particularly embarrassed when they were exposed.
Activists told us Michael Brown, who was shot by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., on Aug. 9, was a “gentle giant” who had his hands in the air and was running away when he was shot.
Video images later showed that he had robbed a convenience store shortly before the police confrontation. Then an autopsy report confirmed that Brown was so close to Officer Darren Wilson that he had gunpowder residue on his hand, and that all of the bullets that hit him came from the front, none from the back. Nor where Brown’s palms raised, according to analysis by forensic pathologist Dr. Judy Melinek.
Protesters shrugged at all of this, declaring they would continue to honor Brown’s memory by chanting, “Hands up, don’t shoot.”
Demonstrators chant “Hands up, don’t shoot!” on the steps of the National Portrait Gallery in protest a day after the Ferguson grand jury decision to not indict officer Darren Wilson in the Michael Brown case Nov. 25.Photo: Getty Images
“Even if you don’t find that it’s true, it’s a valid rallying cry,” Ferguson protester Taylor Gruenloh told The Associated Press. If a few black-owned businesses get destroyed, and others are forced out of business by rising insurance costs, who cares? At least the protesters feel righteous.
Similarly, we all know rape is a rampant problem in elite-college fraternities, even if the smoking gun turned out to be a toy pistol. After Rolling Stone’s UVA rape story led to protests, vandalism and cancelled donations, the magazine appended a shrug of a disclaimer to the story and continued to publish the 8,000 word opus on its website.
Feminists keep saying that there is a “larger truth” here — that we are suddenly living in a “rape culture” in which this hideous crime is widely condoned, even though the rate of forcible rate is at its lowest level in 40 years. When such data don’t bear out the narrative, activists rely heavily on anecdotal evidence like the Rolling Stone story — then say false anecdotes don’t matter either.
“We have a society where rapists are given the benefit of the doubt, often despite overwhelming evidence,” wrote Sally Kohn of CNN, adding that “[Feminists] cannot apologize for erring on the side of a fair, compassionate and credulous hearing of a woman’s account.”
Except being “credulous” with a liar means you aren’t being fair to those she is lying about.
If rape accusations serve as a useful weapon against despised groups, it doesn’t matter whether any individual rape story is accurate. Lena Dunham, who said in her book “Not That Kind of Girl” that she was raped at Oberlin College by Barry, the campus’s “resident conservative,” let this lie simmer for months without anyone calling her on it. Then National Review’s Kevin Williamson wrote that a few seconds of Googling led directly to a prominent Republican who was at Oberlin at the same time as Dunham and has the highly unusual name Barry.
This Barry, who was getting increasingly worried that people were whispering that he was a rapist, seemingly had no recourse against Dunham’s lie. Though he has never met her, filing suit would make him a public figure, one forevermore associated with rape (albeit a false accusation thereof). It wasn’t until he began soliciting donations for a legal fund that Dunham’s publisher offered to write a check and Dunham herself finally acknowledged that no “Barry” had sexually assaulted her. She had, she said, merely picked the name as a pseudonym.
So it was just one of those unfortunate coincidences that she happened to accidentally smear an easily identifiable proponent of a political party she despises.
Dunham clearly thinks of herself as one of our betters, hence unbound by troublesome truths.
So did the $170,000-a-year ex-chief of staff to the first lady of New York City, Rachel Noerdlinger, who lied by omission during a city background check when she failed to disclose, as required, that she was living with not only a felon but a convicted killer — her boyfriend.
Khari Noerdlinger walks out of court after after his arraignment.Photo: R. Umar Abbasi
Required to live in New York like other city employees, Noerdlinger had asked for and received a “hardship” exemption based on the physical and emotional fragility of her son, who had been in two car accidents and supposedly had to remain in New Jersey to be near his doctors at all times.
Then we saw the pictures of Khari Noerdlinger. Far from being in traction, he was in cleats: He recorded 41 tackles and two sacks while playing linebacker for his high-school football team last year.
In response, Mayor de Blasio was enraged — that anyone had called Noerdlinger on her lies.
“A lot of really nasty stuff was done here,” he said. “When you start going into a child, you know, when you start going into a boyfriend — where are we going? Where are we going?” he asked. He called the truthful revelations a “smear” and compared them to McCarthyism. Noerdlinger is currently on indefinite leave from her City Hall job.
Occasionally, lies can kill.
GM placed an urgent order for 500,000 ignition switches in December of last year, nearly two months before it finally informed regulators of deadly flaws in the switch.
GM CEO Mary BarraPhoto: Reuters
A GM engineer lied under oath about his role in the fiasco, said Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) during hearings on the issue.
Yet CEO Mary Barra is still in charge despite her credulity-straining claims that she didn’t learn of the problem, a topic of intense discussion within GM going back a decade, until last year.
Private corporations, though, can at least be held responsible: They can be forced to pay out damages in court, their stock price can plunge, boards can become restive.
Governments mainly laugh at attempts to hold them to account.
Consider Gov. Cuomo, who announced in 2013, with much blaring of trumpets and unfurling of banners, that he would drain the cesspool of corruption in Albany via an investigative body called the Moreland Commission.
When evidence led the group to subpoena a firm that placed ads for Democrats, including Cuomo himself, an aide of his ordered it withdrawn.
Then Cuomo, who had promised the Moreland Commission would work for 18 months and had the authority to investigate anyone, including himself, quietly pulled the plug after nine months.
Cuomo hoped ignorant voters wouldn’t notice what he was up to, just as MIT economist Jonathan Gruber repeatedly boasted that when he helped design ObamaCare, the law was designed to mislead voters.
The law, Gruber said, “would not have passed” if the citizens understood it, so deception was “really, really critical to get the thing to pass.”
For example, a tax hike was designed “in a tortured way” to make it appear not to be a tax. President Obama downplayed Gruber’s role, calling him “some adviser who never worked on our staff,” as if Gruber were not a central figure who was paid nearly $400,000 by the administration to help craft the law and millions more by state governments to promote it.
National Security Adviser Susan Rice also counted on the stupidity of the American voter when she tried to sell the sordid tale of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl as a political victory that would make people forget about the horrifying VA hospital scandal. Berghdahl, a POW for whom we traded five Taliban in the worst swap since the Red Sox sold Babe Ruth for $100,000, “served with honor and distinction,” Rice claimed.
Sgt. Bowe BergdahlPhoto: EPA
Though Bergdahl’s desertion of his buddies in Afghanistan was indeed a distinctive move, it was about as honorable as blaming the Benghazi attack on a spontaneous outburst of film criticism.
As is usually the case in such matters, the administration promised to get to the bottom of the matter by launching an investigation that never seems to reach its completion. The Army inquiry, launched in June, was complete by October but could have embarrassed the White House in the days before the November elections. So the report was held. It still hasn’t been released. No doubt it will require a lot of careful proofreading over the final 25 months of the Obama era. In the meantime, Bergdahl, who happily serves the Army in a desk job in Texas, and Rice continue to draw public paychecks.
As does IRS Commissioner John Koskinen, who swore that Lois Lerner’s e-mails were destroyed in an unfortunately timed series of hard-drive crashes and hence “unrecoverable.” In November, the inspector general informed Congress that backup tapes do exist and have yielded some 30,000 Lerner e-mails.
At least the head of the Secret Service was forced to resign after its shocking incompetence placed the president in personal danger. An armed intruder at the White House ran past the stairway leaving to the presidential family quarters and made it all the way into the East Room. The Secret Service’s initial claim, that the intruder had been apprehended upon entry, was simply false.
Where on earth could all of these people have gotten the idea that lying is acceptable? Maybe they’re all just marching to the cadence of the Liar in Chief.
Last winter, President Obama said there was “not even a smidgen of corruption” in the IRS scandal — the investigation of which was and is ongoing. Obama’s statement wasn’t true: He can’t know the outcome of a game that is still being played. For all we know, there’s an e-mail out there from Joe Biden telling Lois Lerner, “I want you to tie up these Tea Party bastards with everything you’ve got. Literally.”
On Nov. 16, Obama said, “Actually, my position hasn’t changed” on executive action regarding immigration, at the exact moment when he was executing a frantic U-turn. Earlier he had said, “The problem is that, you know, I’m the president of the United States. I’m not the emperor of the United States. My job is to execute laws that are passed, and Congress right now has not changed what I consider to be a broken immigration system.”
[Lies during the Obama years] perpetuate the fairy tale that the IRS acted properly, that government isn’t corrupt, that ObamaCare is working just fine.
In January, talking to The New Yorker, he referred to ISIS as a “J.V. team,” then when Chuck Todd called him on it months later, said, “I wasn’t referring specifically to [ISIS].” Wrong.
In March, Obama said on “Between Two Ferns,” “Most young Americans right now, they’re not covered” by health insurance.” Not true.
In February, Obama said, “We’ve got close to 7 million Americans who have access to health care for the first time because of Medicaid expansion.” Incorrect. The real number was well under half that.
In his State of the Union address Obama said, “We have doubled the distance our cars will go on a gallon of gas,” which was laughable. Apparently what Obama was referring to was a federal goal to double gas mileage by 2025. Let’s apply that thinking to dieting: Just say, “I’m going to lose 20 pounds.” It’s the same thing as actually losing 20 pounds!
In the Obama years, lies are no longer lies. They’re essential tools to keep at bay the McCarthyites and their nasty slurs; they’re narratives that serve a larger, political function such as ruining fraternities or the life of a guy who dared to be a Republican on a liberal campus. They perpetuate the fairy tale that the IRS acted properly, that government isn’t corrupt, that ObamaCare is working just fine.
In his reporting on Obama’s autobiography, David Remnick called it, “A mixture of verifiable fact, recollection, recreation, invention and artful shaping.”
So: three-fifths lies? If the IRS questions your 60%-false tax return, try telling them you were just following Obama’s lead. You’ll quickly discover that lying isn’t allowed among the little people.