DOES TELEVISION AND THE WEB MAKE REALITY OUT OF LIES?


Posted by Leonard Steinberg on August 15th, 2012

We are witnessing the very worst of THE BIG LIE, whereby just because something is displayed or said on television and online, it automatically becomes reality: This election cycle is amplifying this horrible phenomenon. The Obama campaign runs an ad. that blames Mitt Romney for the death of a steel worker’s wife because of Mitt’s doing. An outrageous lie, but viewed almost 1 million times online and run on talk shows and news channels, and all of a sudden tens of millions are exposed to what some may be perceived as the truth. Not to be outdone, Romney’s campaign runs an ad¬†¬†falsely stating that the president dropped work requirements from welfare. And on it goes in the most negative of presidential campaigns ever, surely a distraction from the fact that both campaigns have few, if any, sensible, non-partisan solutions for our country’s huge challenges.

Barbara Corcoran, along with other great leaders and thinkers, always says perception is reality….looking bigger than you are is easy: just say you are and look like you are. Great advice. Yet not reality. Just perceived reality. When a real estate broker goes on national TV claiming he sold $ 1 billion in real estate last year when we all know he sold about 10% of that, one has to wonder. Even Pinnochio would frown at the extent of this lie! When Jessica Simpson appears on TV as a great Fashion critic, or Snookie starts giving advice on becoming a mother, surely we have hit rock bottom? Real estate people claim they have 40% of a building in contract when in fact its closer to 25%. Brokers claim they have many offers on an apartment when they only have one. What is worse: the fact that these liars lie and make fact out of lies, or the audience that supports this garbage or at the very least does not denounce it publicly and loudly?

Looking back in history at some of the world’s greatest atrocities, most of them happened not only because of the perpetrators, but largely it was a result of those who stood by in silence. Yes, the web has democratized out ability to be heard, but the current extent and depth of lying has reached a new level, and I hope the tipping point has arrived where somehow this trend can be reversed. In a culture driven deeper into sound-bite thinking it seems doubtful that there are enough people willing to explore the truth just a bit more. Maybe its time for us all to demand some equally loud public humiliation with serious accountability for false claims?