definitely “provably not true” (one take on journalism taking on authority)

DAMN OUR DAMN LIBERAL MEDIA! Here’s yet another example of how the DLM’s bleedingheart librullness screws things up for us poor civilians trying to grok the world in which we live. When addressing a statement that was so manifestly incorrect that it had to be a lie, the national security correspondent for National Public Radio declared the statement “provably not true.” 1

Believe it or not, this article ain’t about politics; it’s about journalists speaking truth to power—and to us!

That is, the statement was demonstrably not so. Most of us civilians have a simple word to describe a demonstrably untrue statement: we call it a lie. 2

Needless to say, NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly was asked why she didn’t simply call an obvious lie a lie. In response, she referred to the Oxford English Dictionary, which defines the word lie as “a false statement made with intent to deceive.” So Ms Kelly felt justified in stating:

“Without the ability to peer into Donald Trump’s head, I can’t tell you what his intent was. I can tell you what he said and how that squares, or doesn’t, with facts.”


Provably Not True: photo of NPR's Mary Louise Kelly.

Mary Louise Kelly of National Public Radio.

Provably not true = lie

Think that through: it’s an honest assessment, but it’s too perfect for we humans. By using that standard, you could never call anyone a liar, since only the speaker and God can know the speaker’s intent. Even if the speaker confessed to lying, you couldn’t know the intent of the confession: it, too, could be a lie. You know the old conundrum:

“How do I know you’re telling me the truth now when you say were lying earlier, because now I know you’re a liar and can’t believe anything you say!”

In fact, if we use Ms Kelly’s standard, the idea of anyone ever being called a liar or even being called on for possibly lying is eliminated from the English language!

Backing up Kelly, NPR’s senior vice president for news Michael Oreskes said that NPR has decided not to use the word “lie” even when someone is obviously lying!

So what I hear is Mr Oreskes telling me that I can’t necessarily trust NPR to tell me the truth occasionally—but I can never tell which occasions. So the safest bet for me is not to believe anything that NPR tells me. 3

Maybe the safest bet for me and you is not to believe anything that NPR tells us! Click To Tweet


Provably Not True: photo of Hugh Laurie as Dr Gregory House.

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page is a publicity shot of Hugh Laurie as Dr Gregory House, television’s most lovable misanthrope. (I took a few liberties with the image to make it more eye-catching.) House paraphrases my statement above in the first season when he reacts to a statement from one of his team by declaring, “If I can’t trust you, I can’t trust your statement that I can trust you. But thanks anyway, you’ve been a big help.”

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1   The getting-better-every-day Google dictionary defines manifestly as “in a way that is clear or obvious to the eye or mind.”

2   Google defines demonstrably as and adverb that means “in a way that is clearly apparent or capable of being logically proved.”

3   While I understand the decision that Ms Kelly made (and might, just might, agree with it), I do not think the official take of how NPR will be taking on the lies of authority in this country serves anyone any good. Except, of course, the liars . . .

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