Tag Archives: integrity

Rachel Dolezal, Winnie-the-Pooh, Brian Williams #Liars #Integrity #Deception #Duplicity #Truth

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O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive!

Walter Scott

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When I was a very young mother, I read often to my first son, Thing 1, who is almost a senior in high school now. I still call him Thing 1 here on my blog because should colleges go looking for him online, they won’t find him by name here. Just by admitting that, am I practicing the art of deception? I suppose so, but I’m trying to let him establish his own cyber DNA and tell his own stories, so that’s that. “Deception” only comes into play when we are intending to get away with something. Seeing as how my son is not a horrible person, and has honestly worked hard academically, I’m just trying to let him have his own life.

I digress.

I used to read to him from a collection of Winnie-the-Pooh books. The first story “In Which We Are Introduced to Winnie-the-Pooh and Some Bees, and the Stories Begin” actually covers deception, so we know what kind of characters Winnie and Christopher are.

In that story, Pooh hears bees while on a walk. Instinctively, he figures that buzzing means bees and bees mean honey. Pooh wants honey (as usual). The problem is that the beehive is perched high up in a tree. Pooh has no respect for the bees. He says right from the start, “the only reason for being a bee that I know is making honey … And the only reason for making honey is so as I can eat it.”

Immediately, we get the sense that Pooh Bear is all about Pooh Bear, and that’s just that. He’s of a single focus, a one-track bear, and he doesn’t really sweat the details of a) exploiting the supply of his desire and b) allowing that bees exist for purposes other than sating his desires.

Pooh goes after the honey unsuccessfully. He falls out of a tree, he lands in a “gorse” bush with prickers in his backside and he’s almost out of gas, but he’s still a strong enough bear to want what he wants, gorse bush or no gorse bush. Then he thinks of Christopher Robin. (Who knew that CR was Pooh’s chump?) Pooh devises a plan, which requires a blue balloon to match the sky so that the bees won’t notice it, because y’know, bees are stupid, according to Pooh.

Christopher being smart, asked Pooh about the bees noticing Pooh beneath the balloon.

“You can never tell with bees,” said Pooh. So he considered a bit more and then said, “I shall try to look like a small black cloud. That will deceive them.” Pooh decides to roll in the mud, to look more like a black cloud. In order to deceive the bees. So he can get his honey. Because it’s all about him.

So as the story goes on, Pooh gets the balloon to lift him to the hive and he shouts down an inquiry to Christopher Robin, “What do I look like?”

Christopher Robin said, “You look like a Bear holding on to a balloon.”

“Not, not like a small black cloud in a blue sky?” Pooh asked.

“Not very much,” said Christopher.

Now hold your horses. Before you start saying that I’m comparing Pooh’s mud bath with fallen NAACP-Spokane’s embattled Rachel Dolezal and her repeated appearances since her NAACP transracial (wow, spellcheck did not correct that) scandal broke, as she masqueraded as a black woman (thus perpetuating the stereotype) I want you to take a breath.

Just let me say this: you’re absolutely right.

But this isn’t even the part in the story where Christopher Robin was implicated. Later on, Pooh asks Christopher to fetch an umbrella and say, “Tut-tut, it looks like rain…” (Now I’m not sure of the motive for lying about the rain…) and Pooh continued, “If you did that, it would help the deception which we are practising on these bees.” Sadly, Christopher indulged.

As the rest of the story goes, it turns out it was the wrong sort of bees who were at the hive and Pooh had no way to get down unless he let go of the balloon. Christopher ended up shooting the balloon with his pop gun and Pooh came down, aggressively and landed in a bit of pain. Then Pooh’s arms were stuck in “hanging from a balloon in the sky” pose for a week. The moral of the story: don’t practice deception. Tell the truth. Or you will fall on your ass and your arms will get stuck. I think my sons mostly got the point. No one is perfect, but they know that telling the truth means a lot less trouble than lying.

So at least Winnie was honest about being deceptive. At least he was clear in his intentions: to get honey for himself. At least he didn’t continue a narrative in which he didn’t correct other peoples’ mischaracterizations and misidentifications of him. He didn’t practice the art of syntax and semantic masturbation. He didn’t keep rolling in the mud to look like a black cloud to deceive bees. He didn’t lie and call Christopher Robin his ‘dad.’

Lies: we have direct falsehoods and they suck. We have omitting truths (aka “sins of omission”) which has grades of harm, depending on range and depth of the omission — “No one ever asked me if I put the envelope in the mail to pay my taxes four years in a row” is a pretty big sin of omission. Then there’s “energetic” and “intention” misrepresentations based on syntax and semantics (make sure your voice raises by the end of this sentence): a tacit understanding that everyone believes the same thing? That’s akin to “well, she didn’t ask me outright if I slept with that woman repeatedly while we were married…” — that’s bullshit that people like to hide behind because they don’t have the guts to come out and express themselves in the actual inauthentic persona they’re trying to portray.

Because I’m a word freak, I’m often open to interpretations and nuances and intentions. That said, when we use words commonly understood as being quite clear in their definition and traditional interpretation, you better be singing from the same sheet of music as everyone else is. A contract isn’t a nice idea, it’s a binding agreement. Skilled liars will make it so hard for the rest of us: in that we have to ask such pointed questions (as in the Clinton testimony during the Lewinsky scandal) that it’s work because they are deft manipulators and compartmentalizers.

Regarding the black older man Dolezal marched and paraded with and called him her “father” or “dad” she used the argument so many like to use, “Anyone can be a father; not everyone can be a ‘dad'” and other embarrassing concepts like that. We all know what we really mean, and you do too, Rachel, so … just cut the shit.

Words mean things, they have specific definitions. If you don’t think words really mean things; that it’s all “energy” and “intention,” peeps, then stop using them. Just stop. Intentionally obscuring the definition of the word, in order to suit your own “energetic” or “intentional” means agenda is plain crap and you need to get a grip.

I’m just going to come out with it: liars are weak. They are fearful. They practice duplicity or let you ride on a wave of naivety because you’re a good person. You believe what people tell you. You believe your understanding of a widely used word, say, “cheat” is the same understanding that any person would have. Unless you’re talking to a cheater, and then all bets are off.

It’s like when Bill Clinton famously TESTIFIED, “It all depends on what your interpretation of ‘is’ is.”

Look, we’re not idiots. Don’t jack with us.

Yet, we look away from Clinton’s testimony, now with hazy memories and perhaps softer hearts — not because we decide to let bygones be bygones, but because we realize that people, everywhere, are all a little crazy and that when your hand is in the cookie jar, you better have a) a really good reason; b) permission from mom; c) a great story to tell; or d) an admission and request for mercy. Just for the record, none of those things happened from Clinton and it’s unlikely they will happen with fallen NBC anchor Brian Williams who “misremembered” (which I didn’t know was a word until last winter) nor will they happen with Dolezal. She sits proudly and determinedly, in her stew of semantics, omissions, energetic intentions, emotional nuances and … oh yes, complete lies.

The Doleful Doleful Doleful (ha! spellcheck!) Dolezal interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer on the Today show blew my mind:

She smiles and laughs at the interview. Like she just won a patent trial against Samsung. Lauer doesn’t bat an eye. She’s all “ha ha… I’m smug … it all depends on what your definition of ‘definition‘ is…”

Who knows why anyone does anything anymore. Anyway…

Around 46 seconds into the interview, Lauer’s voice starts to shake. His mouth tightens. I’ve been there — it’s likely starting to go numb because all the blood is draining to pump his heart to keep his legs where they are so he doesn’t leap and kill her for her attitude. It’s as though he can’t believe he has to say the words he’s having to say. He sounds as though he’s ready to come unhinged and scream at her, “ARE YOU FREAKING CRAZY?! DO YOU EXPECT US TO BELIEVE YOU?!”

At 4:50, he asks her SPECIFICALLY about blackface. In her current form, she decried the practice.

Yesterday morning, I wondered, why am I so bothered about this? None of this has anything to do with me and it likely never will. It bothers me because blackface is so completely horrible and racist and offensive and yet she denies she perpetuates it — all of it — because she gets to say (after she probably paid a PR hack a few thousand dollars), “I identify as black.”

Before Dolezal’s parents outed her as being duplicitous (I don’t even want to KNOW what that relationship is all about), it never would have occurred to someone to doubt another person’s racial integrity these days; we’re supposed to be working on being “color blind.” The NAACP has had white officers before. Its founders include white people. So, when I think of Rachel Dolezal in 2015, I have to ask: why would a member of the press need to do that? And why would anyone lie about it? The whole thing baffles.

Her story is just jarring for me. It’s like my “Earth Wind & Fire” station on Pandora. I’m bopping and jamming to “September,” and then “Brick House” and then “Play that Funky Music” and then a song by The Archies comes on. What the what…?

I was reading social media comments about this and someone, who is black, put it very clearly: “you can identify WITH blacks, but not AS black because you are NOT.” Semantics? No. I get to defer to that man, and any other African American because this issue, while it deeply offends me, is not about perpetuating a lifestyle, but only in the easy, good parts. Dolezal gets to choose her dad now; she got to adopt one of her sons who was first her adopted brother by her parents, and she gets to darken her skin and not understand the questions and skirt the facts when intelligent people confront her with intelligent questions.

She should run for president.

I’m left-handed. I don’t identify as right handed. I don’t identify with right handed people; I am forced to because the world is geared toward right handed people, but that doesn’t mean I AM giving up my left-handedness.

I realize my dexterity comparison is faint, that it’s weak, but it’s all I got. I also know that I have no dog in this race. That I’m a white woman who doesn’t have one clue about what it’s like to be any other ethnicity. I haven’t bothered to try; that would be false of me. That would be lying. I have compassion for all races and all people, but I don’t need to fake being anyone other than myself because as I said in my post about Caitlin (nee Bruce) Jenner, being who I am is hard enough as it is.

I grew up with people who lied, who bent the truth and who outright set out to deny, deceive, and deflect in order to keep only a certain type, the “no one gets hurt by my choices” light shining on them, which usually is another self-deception and a complete untruth. Anytime you lie, you are hiding who you are from people. That hiding grows and becomes part of your fabric. If your story is based on a lie, then you lie all the more. Whatever the impetus: fear, shame, arrogance, narcissism, smugness, assholicry, you are slowly shredding away at the relationships you’ve formed with people who rely on you to be the person you are. They begin to not trust you. Your reputation follows you. You have to work hard to regain trust.

I have worked hard in my adult life to be real. To separate myself from those who continue to practice duplicity, and I won’t willingly partake in anything in which deception is exercised. I can’t; bending truth is in direct conflict with my sense of who I am. My yoga practice requires truth. My personal philosophy demands it. My cousin once called me “the troubadour of truth” and I wear the mantle proudly. The truth, while it might be inconvenient, engenders a clear conscience, which is so much easier to sleep on.

Thank you.

Brian Williams: Why? WHY?!?!?! NnnNNnnnnnnNnnn

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My dad is a journalist; well, a columnist now. But he was a newspaper man from carrier to executive editor and reporter to columnist for all of my life. He still is. You can read him at this address if you’re so inclined. Now, he’s an op-ed writer. His topics vary wildly and he has a fatherly bent to everything he writes. He went to Brown, then he got a duly impressive Stanford fellowship for something government / policy / newsy-related (I’m sure I will hear about the details over the phone or on email) when I was born. But I love my dad because he’s my dad, and I respect his career choice and his education.

When I was younger and living in Buffalo, NY, Dad had a high-intensity job as an executive editor at a daily morning newspaper called The Buffalo Courier-Express. He often told me that he had the same job that Mark Twain / Samuel Clemens did at the same paper. The EE is the person who decides whether to kill the presses for a story and explain the massive loss of time and income to the publisher. I think I remember him telling me of ONE occasion when he decided that what was going on was worthy of shutting down the presses. And Brian Williams was there.

No, he wasn’t.

I couldn’t resist.

Anyway, my dad’s adherence to the code of truth and personal integrity was forged in me as how one forges a sword. I can’t stand lying. I see no need for it. My entire childhood was set on the stage between a truth teller (Dad) and a fabricator (Mom); were there inconsistencies of portrayals? Of course, because it’s a very thin line which separates them. But I’m not here to write about that.

It’s that division between truth and untruth in my father that put bread on our table, paid for my violin lessons, sent me to camp, educated me as a kid, then put me through college. Every freakin’ penny paid toward my betterment and the betterment of my brothers, was earned on the scales of journalistic integrity, the difference between truth and fallacy. We lived under the banner of the Fourth Estate and we did not live like Williams, earning stealing $10m a year TO LIE TO US.

My dad’s income was enough. We had a nice house, we had some nice things and luxuries that most people don’t have, so I’m forever grateful that my father told the truth, wrote about it, encouraged others to tell the truth and never gave in. Still. To this day.

So I hope everyone knows the story now about how Brian Williams “misremembered” the facts (because as far as he’s concerned, it’s really hard to distinguish a rocket-propelled grenade from a hand gun and being shot down versus fired upon) and is chalking his recollection of his antics in Iraq 2003, shortly after the start of our war there to “conflation” and “the fog of memory.”

Here’s me: Aren’t the events enough on their own? Isn’t the fact that he got to sit in his $5,000 suits on camera every night with his strangely shaped face (which I really don’t want to go into but it is off-putting and disarming: his crooked smile and weird chin and nose that wants to go its own way), and announce the news enough? That’s all he did, it’s all we expected. He wasn’t actually reporting on most of it, he was the lead who told us about the story to come that the other people did the reporting on. From that perspective, it’s ok, but once he got in the mix, started holding the mic, that’s when things get dicey.

When I first saw him take over the desk, I thought, “Meh. Ok. It’s apparent. He’s no Brokaw [whom I admired and respected]. He’s no Tim Russert [whom I REALLY respected (woot! woot! to my hometown boy, may he rest in peace)]. He’s Brian Williams… he’s perpetually tan, he’s white [shocker], he’s sort of engaging and monotone… he’s earned his stripes on that $300 Brooks Brothers rep tie.” My understanding now is that when he told that story about the RPG and the Chinook in 2003, Brokaw was still at the desk and no one called him on it. It was an easily verifiable claim.

Branding

NBC Nightly News “With Brian Williams” — that’s the part I never understood.

David Muir who may be on the 10th floor but his hair is on the 11th.

George Stephanoantolgoaphgouserolidocious.

Is CBS still a network? I’m 47, staring down the barrel of 33, so I refuse to watch anything on CBS.

Anyway…

Who cares? Why is the anchor name such an important part of the branding? When these networks hang their veracity on the singular entity (the news anchor) they blow it. It might as well be “NBC Nightly News — With Jay Gatz” (little shout out to my man, Gatsby) now.

It’s not “Apple iPhone — with Steve Jobs” or “Washington Post — with Jeff Bezos” (you do know that, right? You DO know that the Amazon founder bought the Washington Post … right?) or at least not yet.

The Fourth Estate is in trouble, my friends. It has been for a long time. Because of money, fame, camera time and all the rest. It seems that telling the stories that need to be told to the people who are willing to hear them isn’t enough anymore. We have to embellish, also known as LIE.

Why Don’t We Care?

What upsets me almost as much as Williams’ behavior is that some people just weren’t upset about it. That it wasn’t a big deal to them. In this world of fame-seeking and 15-minutes of YouTube, no matter how short the attention span, people didn’t seem to be terribly bothered by it. In fact, some people were rather blasé about the whole thing, “A journalist lied  … pass the chicken wings and butter sauce… Donald Trump’s about fire that housewife…”

That sort of freaks me out a little: have we become so desensitized? Are we that confused? Do we expect to be lied to? Or have we become a people for whom the truth doesn’t really matter so much anymore? That Williams’ Walter Mitty -inspired imagination is one thing, we all have fantasies of heroism or endurance, but that he went on to LIE ABOUT IT for YEARS again and again and again and again… and on camera, on Facebook on Twitter …. as recently on Letterman last week. It’s awful, and that people really aren’t too bothered by it is even more disturbing to me. This should be very disturbing to people.

Maybe he wanted to be caught.

As a person of a certain tribe which lots of Americans have clearly taken for granted, the so-called “Fourth Estate,” I wrote of Williams,

He’s a journalist who is supposed to just report facts. It’s one of those things that America has that other nations don’t, that we can root out corruption and write about it in our newspapers and magazines and on the television and on the radio.

And he lied about his Katrina coverage and what he witnessed. Again. And again.

But for him, the stories, just on their own weren’t compelling enough. He had to inject his bull into them and seek more attention. He had to Be There more than he was.

This isn’t just stretching the truth. It’s pathological and a major character flaw. But it’s not just him, Rather did it, and supposedly Brokaw and other major hitters knew about Williams and counseled him to stop. He wouldn’t. And he got busted last week on the NBC Facebook page by people who were there and it’s just gross. He only owned it when service members called him on it. He falsely claimed valor. And then chalked it up to the “fog of memory” and termed it “misremembered”; It’s really pathetic.

His “apology” — the transcript is more theatrically brilliant than his actual portrayal; if you have another person with you, I want you to click on this link and have one person read the transcript aloud and you try to listen … without canting your head or furrowing your brow. It’s a fun game. If you do it as a drinking game, I would suggest that each of you take a shot (ha ha) with each mention by Williams of himself (I, me, my and we). I counted 12. You should be good and hammered (as Williams should be by the establishment), by the end of the apology. If you’d like to just keep it to first person “I” mentions, it’s seven; still a lot.

The apology wasn’t full ownership. It was doubleplus speak and contextual semantic gymnastics; it funded as though it were crafted in a board room.

His apology should simply be this:

“I lied. Often. Repeatedly. About the same story. Again and again in an attempt to steal the thunder of the brave people who actually deserve it. Here’s your Emmy back. You can find me under a 30 Rock now…”

Williams talked about covering Hurricane Katrina: “Katrina offended me. It meant that every president from Lyndon Johnson on had either lied to me or had been betrayed by public policy.” NnnnNnnnNnnnnn at this link:

It’s a pleasant interview, but it’s where Brian Williams blurs the lines, continuously, in a way that I’m unsure (because I don’t watch TV all that often, frankly) other television news anchors or newspaper journalists have. He loves the stage. He loves the light.

Moth to the Flame

He’s been on other media — “30 Rock” — this clip is one of many from Williams’ random cameos on my beloved “30 Rock” sitcom.

It makes me squirm, watching him there. It always has, when I see him do things like that. It’s like Bill Clinton talking about boxers or briefs, or Michele Obama on Nickelodeon. There’s just… a wall or a line that is getting blurrier and blurrier.

I shared that link of Williams wanting an audition with people on a thread about this matter on my dad’s Facebook wall, primarily because he runs with an older set, and I think it’s important to really do what one can to show the whole picture of a person or his “media availability” in a situation like this and then I commented once more because I simply can’t abide what he’s done:

I’ll stop here, but I just wanted to add this last link (you can find more on your own); but any JOURNALIST / NEWS anchor who is willing to say these lines, even in jest as part of a script, needs to have his head examined:

Williams plays legendary newsman David Brinkley opposite Alec Baldwin as co-anchor Chet Huntley. The two of them play sexist newscasters who have a hard time understanding that their reporter Jamie Garnett — who was played by Tina Fey — is actually a woman. (Huffington Post)

“Look honey, you have a dynamite shape, but you’re gonna have to shut up and let a man tell us what’s happening,” Williams said. “Now, is your father or a policeman nearby?”

Here’s the link to that portrayal with Alec Baldwin: http://www.thedailybeast.com/videos/2012/04/28/30-rock-takes-on-david-brinkley.html

I will submit, that it’s very funny writing, but it’s also sad that things were ever that way (moving on). Something about it though breaks the “fourth wall” of theater or parody, in that an active news anchor is playing an old, now-dead news anchor, in a way that is totally offensive. I mean, when is it ever ok for an established current news anchor to do that?

A long time ago, when I first started seeing him on “30 Rock”, I wondered about him… I thought, “One time, ok. He’s playing himself, it’s at NBC about NBC, so I guess it’s ok…” but the more and more he appeared on the show, the more he was willing to bend the reality, the oogier (that’s a word) I felt.

But this…. the Iraq and Katrina stuff… It’s insatiable, his need for attention, his need to lie and his need to inject himself into the story — that’s almost VERBOTEN? Is it verboten? Don’t inject yourself into the story? Just tell the facts? Isn’t that THE POINT of journalism?

It disturbs me.

Right now, I’m listening to his appearance on Letterman in 2012, and it’s really too bad, because he’s terribly charismatic. He is clearly a lover of the spotlight and he’s quite funny and entertaining and talented as an impressionist and where he went wrong, where lots of people who really belong in entertainment, who really should be on a stage or in front of a camera –not broadcasting the news– go wrong is that they … sigh (sorry, Mom) … should have nothing to do with truth, unless the character they are portraying, demands it.

Should We Be Surprised?

His pursuit of truth has never been dogged, clearly. Yet he sat behind a desk, where it is understood, and not tacitly in the least (but not for long because more and more people are losing touch with the meaning and importance of truth in all aspects of life because it feels to me that a great majority of younger people simply don’t care about truth anymore, they want to know about cat memes and Kim Kardashian’s kouture and other stupid stuff, because let’s face it, the truth is hard to experience) that truth is what matters most. Not opinions, not slant, not personal involvement, not allegory. Truth. His casual use of craft parlance, referring to helicopters as “helos” and “birds” is unnerving as well, seeing as how he hasn’t ever served in the military. He claims in that transcript link above that no one is trying to “steal anyone’s valor” but it sure doesn’t feel that way. Is it a case of “just wanting to be one of the guys”?

Gah.

“Conflate.” If anyone has been conflating anything it’s him regarding his job with entertainment. THEY ARE NOT THE SAME. It’s very simple:

Were you there or not?

Did you sustain RPG fire in your Chinook as other people did or not?

Were you in a flooded hotel in the French Quarter or not?

Did you see a suicide or not?

It’s that simple.

While this is a serious problem, as a nation, clearly, we will be OK. It’s Brian Williams who isn’t ok; but America has a short memory. And what he’s lying about is all to garner sympathy and to make him look more involved than he actually was, and people protected him and that’s a problem too, so he wasn’t exactly discouraged. The way he’s embellished the stories isn’t especially damning, it’s just wrong. That he had to do it is sad… So, I bet in five years, he will have a cooking show or a book come out and all will be forgiven, because as a morally just people, we should forgive him, but what he’s done to the field of journalism is wrong — it was selfish and wrong and for that, he deserves some punishment.

The cynic in me wants to suggest that it’s the whole concept of journalism –tell the truth– that is selfish and wrong, that we are all flawed and screwed up people for 1) expecting the truth and 2) leaving it up to other people to tell us the truth.

This whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I thank my dad though, he’s old school. The facts are enough on their own.  I didn’t even know that “misremembered” was a word. Man, some people will do anything to avoid the bare, real, actual, bone-deep truth.

Thank you.

PS — WHAT THE WHAT?! Here is Williams announcing HIS OWN DAUGHTER’S role on Peter Pan… it’s so so so so so WEIRD.

“Family members confirm she’s been rehearsing for the role since the age of three and they look forward to seeing her fly…”

It’s YOUR OWN KID, Williams! What on earth is the matter with you?