Facts are—and must be—the coin of the realm in a democracy, for a government “of the people, by the people, and for the people” demands an informed citizenry. Unfortunately, for citizens in the United States and throughout the world, distinguishing between fact and fiction has always been a formidable challenge, often with life-and-death consequences. Those in power habitually seek to control the flow of information, corrupting its content and using lies, distortions, or simple suppression to cover their crimes.
Today that quest for truth is more difficult and confusing than ever. The cacophony of the internet, the flood of axe-grinding commentary on cable TV, and the growing legions of paid lobbyists and advocates eager to twist the truth all help to erode the sense of authority once granted to responsible journalists. History is sculpted by its absence.
Charles Lewis is a veteran of the battle for public integrity. 935 Lies explores the many ways truth is manipulated by governments and corporations. Through examples ranging from the countless lies administrations of both parties have used to justify needless wars to the successful decades-long corporate suppression of the truth about tobacco and other dangerous products, Lewis shows how the value of truth is diminished by delay. He explains the political, social, and business changes that have increasingly weakened the ability of journalists to play their traditional truth-telling role. And he describes the new trends, from the rise of nonprofit reporters to the growing numbers of “citizen journalists,” that give reason to be hopeful about the future of truth.
A video introduction by author Charles Lewis.
From McCarthyism to the Watergate scandal and pronouncements about weapons of mass destruction, our history is riddled with consequential lies by the powers that be. This demise of truth is detailed Inside the Book.
MacArthur Fellows reunion, Chicago (Fellows Forum talk)
San Diego State University, speak to the School of Journalism and Media Studies and the School of Public Affairs
Annenberg School of Communication, Dean’s Luncheon, Los Angeles
University of Delaware, speak to Prof. Ralph Begleiter’s “National Agenda” class, 3:30 – 4:50 pm, Newark, Delaware
Book Discussion on 935 Lies. Host: Greta Wodele Brawner
In Chapter 7, "A Watchdog in the Corridors of Power," of 935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral Integrity, pp. 191 and 193, I wrote about a 60 Minutes story called “The Czar of Clinton County,” which investigated a notorious school superintendent in the second-poorest county in America."
How does an idea become an institution over time? Because a growing number of multi-talented people with eclectic interests and backgrounds begin to share the vision of “the possible” and the excitement of doing something significant and memorable, together. As one staff person becomes dozens of employees and then, over the years, hundreds of “alumni,” what stands out especially are those who shouldered the heaviest burdens, bore the most responsibility and became the pillars of strength within the organization. Unfortunately, through the difficult, three-manuscript editing process, what I wrote about the importance of these unsung individuals (and my personal gratitude to them) was almost entirely eliminated from the book’s final chapter.
In the Prologue on p. xix, endnote 18 (p. 264), I promised readers: “For a bibliography of some of the most respected books about humanity’s worst atrocities and how the news media was manipulated or worse, shamelessly complicit, see: www.935Lies.com.