Biggest Liar of 2015: The Washington Post and Its Pinocchios
In its annual roundup of this year’s biggest lies and liars, the Washington Post forgot the largest liar of all: The writers and editors of the Washington Post.
We are of course talking about the Post’s recent decision to name the “hands up, don’t shoot’ campaign as one of its “Biggest Pinocchios of 2015.” But the collection of prevarications was curiously incomplete.
The Post reporter had no trouble identifying the biggest liars behind the other lies: Trump, Hillary, Kerry, Warren, whatever: The liars and lies were locked together.
Except for the biggest lie of all; the lie the Post left for last. The lie that took more ink, and went unchallenged by more professional skeptics than all the other lies put together. A lie that, apparently, told itself, because this was the only Pinocchio unmatched with a specific liar.
The Post, of course, was an early and gleeful adopter of the narrative of the unarmed black person shot for no reason whatsoever by racist police in Ferguson who apparently did that kind of thing all the time.
This Lie infected more than just miles and miles of newsprint in the hard news sections. It was also reported and spread in the sports, lifestyle, opinion, entertainment, and virtually every other nook and cranny of the Post -- even after the attorney general grudgingly admitted the entire thing was a hoax in March of this year.
The lies are legion. A few of the more deceitful:
The Post led the way in glorifying the hundreds of black Capitol Hill staffers who gathered for a photo op in their $1000 coats, soft leather gloves stretched into the air, proclaiming ‘hands up, don’t shoot.’
The Post took the lie hook, line, and press release and characterized the December dog and pony show as “quiet and dignified.”
But deceitful? Delusional? Or just plain denial? Not a hint.
Almost a year later, The Post enthusiastically reported on Elizabeth Warren’s Black Lives Matter speech where she talked about ‘hands up, don’t shoot.’ But by then, the paper had to grudgingly admit “conservatives have attacked (it) as a lie because the Justice Department concluded that Michael Brown's hands were most likely not up in the air when he was shot and killed by Darren Wilson.”
That’s kind of the point, isn’t it: only conservatives demanded that the thousands of editors and reporters at the Post and other papers around the country somehow justify their big lie.
But they could not. Did not. Many were too busy following the Post with their own fairy tales concocted for the benefit of the ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ mob.
Your humble correspondent figured it out, just a few days after the shooting, in an article called "The Ferguson Lie Comes Undone".
Lots of people did. But all we got from the Post and its minions was more denial, deceit, and delusion. Acres and acres of it. The liars loved it.
Even the attorney general’s announcement of 2015 did little to alter the Post’s willingness to print the Pinocchio as the Truth.
In July, the Post reviewed an art installation that featured the body of Michael Brown lying dead. The family objected because they were not getting a cut of the loot. But as for the whole idea that the entire show was based on a lie, not a word.
The Post even joined Jon Stewart in mocking some Fox News personalities who demanded that all the liars behind the ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ campaign should apologize.
Other columnists used the Dan Rather defense: We got the facts wrong, but the story was for a good cause so what’s the damn difference, said Alyssa Rosenberg on March 20.
The Sports pages were another enthusiastic and uncritical adopter of the Biggest Lie of Our Generation: There was no pushback to any of the pro football players -- including a Washington Redskin -- who insisted the lie was true, long after many reasonable people knew the lie was just another lie.
Last December, the Post featured Redskins defensive lineman Chris Baker making the ‘hands up don’t shoot salute’ on the field during a game. And just in case we missed it, they published a few musings from Baker’s Twitter account:
“They go out the way to put us in jail for dogs but kill us like dogs and go home and say #STANDMYGROUND”
“The BLACK MALE getting killed by white cops and there's never any justice. They get away with it every time. #THINGSNEVERCHANGED #racism.”
How many more lies do you want? That’s how many there are. The Post published the term ‘hands up, don’t shoot’ almost 700 times this year alone. Which is just a fraction of the stories that depended on this lie to tell even more lies.
Which the Post was even more eager to publish, with even less evidence. Lies are not evidence, for those who need a reminder.
One or two Post reporters came out of the ghetto to suggest that maybe they should take a fresh look at the facts. Even before the attorney general. But they were ignored, or their stories shuffled off to the back pages.
Curiously, the biggest truth teller in the Post during the entire ‘hands up don’t shoot’ campaign of deception came on the sports’ pages, none other than Iron Mike Ditka.
Ditka was talking about how he was disgusted that five members of the St. Louis Rams took the field in December with their hands up, as a tribute St. Michael of Ferguson.
Ditka tried to set the reporters straight.
“What do you do if someone pulls a gun on you or is robbing a store and you stop them?” asked Ditka, in a way that editors used to ask tough but simple questions. At least in the movies. “I don’t want to hear about this hands-up crap. That’s not what happened.”
But to the thousands of reporters and editors at the Post and their enablers around the country, that did not matter.
And now the Post wants to pretend that somehow it had nothing to do with the thousands of stories it has run that featured or depended on this Pinocchio?
That is the biggest lie of all.
Colin Flaherty is the only two-time winner of the Washington Post’s Summer Spy Novel writing contest. The paper dubbed him its “strong favorite.” Follow him on YouTube at ColinFlaherty712.