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Charles Lewis

935 Lies

The Future of Truth and the Decline of America's Moral Integrity

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.

The Truth About 935 Lies

A video introduction by author Charles Lewis.

Lies For the Ages


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.


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December 5, 2014

Centre for Investigative Journalism conference

The Logan Symposium on “Secrecy, Surveillance and Censorship,” “Visions of Times to Come, “On Truth,” London

Watch the presentation

November 20, 2014

University of Michigan (Ann Arbor)

"The Truth about the Lies" lecture for School of Public Health Lecturer and Director of the UM Tobacco Research Network Cliff Douglas' students, and separately, the Knight-Wallace Fellows. 

Watch the Lecture

November 19, 2014

University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania (Dr. Kathleen Hall Jamieson’s “Introduction to Political Communication” class), lecture and discussion, also open to the entire Annenberg School of Communication, Philadelphia

November 12, 2014

Columbia University

Graduate School of Journalism (brown bag lunch talk with students, “Investigative Reporting and the Future of Truth,” Prof. Sheila Coronel’s investigative reporting evening class), New York

media coverage August 24, 2014

C-SPAN2 “Book TV”

“935 Lies: The Future of Truth and the Decline of America’s Moral Integrity”

media coverage August 5, 2014

C-SPAN "Washington Journal"

Book Discussion on 935 Lies. Host: Greta Wodele Brawner

review August 1, 2014

Book Review: ‘935 Lies’: How Governments, Businesses Lie to Us and the Failure of Journalism to Inform Us. By David M. Kinchen

review July 15, 2014

Wall Street Journal

Book Review: ‘935 Lies’ by Charles Lewis
At ABC News and CBS’s ’60 Minutes,’ producers would regularly kill stories critical of the powerful and connected.
 By Richard J. Tofel



Corrections and Clarifications

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."

View the complete list of corrections and clarifications

Credit where credit is due

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.

View the acknowledgements


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:

Here are the books and articles I consulted regarding the history of genocide and the role of the news media in the preparation of this book.

About the Author

Charles Lewis, Author of 935 Lies

Charles Lewis is a tenured professor of journalism at the American University School of Communication, in Washington, D.C., and the founding executive editor of the School’s Investigative Reporting Workshop. A former producer for ABC News and 60 Minutes, in 1989 Lewis founded the Center for Public Integrity, which under his 15-year leadership grew its full-time staff to 40 and published roughly 300 investigative reports, in the process winning scores of national journalism awards.

Contact & Press Inquiries

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935 Lies

by Charles Lewis

The Future of Truth and the Decline of America's Moral Integrity