Lying Liars Who Lie: 2016 Edition

It was the picture that shattered all of our records.

Who_Lies_More.pngThe idea behind it is simple enough. Take the politicians who have been active enough on the national stage to get fact-checked by PolitiFact at least 50 times since the start of 2007. Look at all of their ratings and tally them. Place the tally in the chart. Not scientific by any means, but interesting. (Update 7/21/2016: Trump's "truthiness" rating, to use Nolan's criterion in his comment of "true" + "mostly true," currently sits at 11%, which is a small gain from the ~7% when the chart was made, but still well behind Michele Bachmann. Hillary's "truthiness" is at 51%, which is largely unchanged. Again, this chart is not scientific and the post is more about the response to the chart than the chart itself.)

We didn't create the graphic (the original image is here), but we shared it on our Facebook page. It promptly shattered all previous benchmarks for reach and engagement by a factor of at least 20. Almost a hundred people were so shocked by it that they hid it in their newsfeeds; twenty-seven decided they never wanted to see anything shared by MormonPress ever again; one person unliked our Facebook page.

Judging by the comments, the harsh response wasn't because the graphic claimed that Jeb(!) Bush and Joe Biden are relatively honest politicians. No, our commenters were infuriated that Hillary Clinton was rated as being rather honest. Many of the comments on the photo can be summarized as "Hillary's a lying liar who lies." One commenter suggested that Mormon "would not stand for [MormonPress's] lies." Well, I guess we'll have to ask him down the road.

But it's clear that there's something special going on regarding the public's perception of Hillary's honesty. Just today, the Blue Nation Review called out the New York Times for saying that Donald Trump (who lies constantly, particularly about being against the Iraq War) is "being creative with the truth" instead of "dishonest." I recommend reading the piece in full for the list of ways that attributes that are positives for male candidates ("experience") become negatives for Hillary ("old," "represents the past"). 

This tendency to read Hillary through a particular frame of "dishonest" isn't rooted in her record, especially not when one compares her to Donald Trump, the pretend successful. A journalist who has investigated Hillary claims that she is fundamentally honest. PolitiFact has gathered many truthful statements Hillary has made. 

So what's going on?

To put it simply: in America we teach our children that women are liars.

The argument is laid out well in this essay, which I very much recommend. The essay includes frank conversations about our tendency to disbelieve rape victims, the way our inability to trust women affects public policies regarding choice and contraception. But also think about how it plays out in everyday life. When we hear two sides of a couple's dispute, how quick are we to say "well, he's a good guy" or "she's crazy" or "she needs to give him another chance"? We're quick to think that women are dominating a discussion if women are speaking for 30% of the time (and men for 70%). Within the LDS community, there are struggles regarding how much women's voices are heard at the ward, stake, and Church levels, though there's been recent movement to include more women in the highest councils. 

For female candidates, there is a greater perception of honesty, but this is a double-edged sword. Women are held to a higher standard, and punished by voters to a greater extent for perceived failings -- this is laid out in detail here. Hillary has had to walk this tightrope of being a woman trying to get things done in public--in ways that challenged patriarchal norms even as those norms were changing--for a long time now. It shouldn't come as a surprise that she's paid a price in voter perceptions. 

One more example: In an earlier era of church history, at the height of the ERA struggles, Elder Hartmann Rector of the First Quorum of the Seventy explained to Mrs. Teddie Wood that if women were to receive the priesthood, "the male would be so far below the female in power and influence that there would be little or no purpose for his existence [—] in fact [he] would probably be eaten by the female as is the case with the black widow Spider." 

I presume that Elder Rector (who became an emeritus General Authority many years ago) was speaking from his own feelings when he hypothesized that women with power or authority are inclined to physically consume men. Yet, we see these anti-woman attitudes throughout the Trump campaign.

And it isn't just Trump's objectifying and belittling of women, particularly women who challenge him; it carries through the memes shared by the people he's invited to join him on stage in Cleveland. 

Trump's misogyny has roots in a long American tradition of misogyny. Read the essay on how we teach our children that women are liars, reflect on it, and think about how we can improve. Even if you decide that you can't vote for Hillary, that your vote is going to Johnson or Stein or whoever else, the essay is still worth the read.

After all, it was Mormon who told us to learn from the mistakes of the past, so we can be more wise than those who came before.

Showing 104 reactions

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  • Evan Lindsay
    commented 2016-07-21 06:20:40 -0700
    Joseph Evans, I think we can say it’s safe to assume that when it comes to ethics and integrity that Trump takes the cake. I don’t know if that man even understands what ethics and integrity is, otherwise he wouldn’t be spewing the crap he does.
  • Penny Hammack
    posted about this on Facebook 2016-07-21 05:27:53 -0700
    Lying Liars Who Lie: 2016 Edition
  • Amber Woolsey
    commented 2016-07-21 00:13:46 -0700
    Joseph Evans, James Picht, it appears you have been convinced of conservative rhetoric. Try reading
  • Joseph Evans
    commented 2016-07-20 21:47:31 -0700
    It’s not her “honesty” that is the problem. That graphic has more to do with the campaign rhetoric when they cite well documented or easily researched facts. The issue has more to do with what they think will happen when they enact the policies they talk so boldly about enforcing.
    On issues of public policy and the status of the economy, foreign affairs, etc… She is accurate more times than not. When it comes to personal ethics and integrity… We got a problem…
  • Stephanie Swap-Darrow
    commented 2016-07-20 19:58:41 -0700
  • Chris Stork
    commented 2016-07-20 19:49:45 -0700
    Reality has a well-known liberal bias…
  • Nolan Knarr
    commented 2016-07-20 19:43:03 -0700
    Marc – Actually, nice try to you to arbitrarily disprove reality. Arbitrarily announcing if you dug back 50 years (At this point, 41 years longer than the chart) and cherry-picked facts, of course you could find a 50/50 distribution. At some point, they’ve all said their names and have all made some sort of joke which is inherently at least partially false for comedic effect.

    Rob – Actually, they simply tallied up the data available at the time of the chart. So since that chart has been made, and as of me writing this on 7/20/16, Trumps overall “Truthiness” rating (an arbitrary metric which totals “true” and “mostly true” statements as the same thing) has actually gone up to a staggering 23%, a solid gain from the chart. Clinton’s, for comparison, has gone down to 51%. The chart’s a handy metric, to be sure, but it’s not up to date, and only advises us on roughly what to expect.

    Steve, James, Jeff – Shout out to you three for making coherent points.
  • Steve Clevenger
    commented 2016-07-20 19:19:23 -0700
    Give up trying to talk the conservatives down from denial mountain. Any source in the world, no matter now non-partisan, is automatically declared “left-leaning” if it provides evidence that makes a conservative politician look bad. Politifact’s stats on Hillary Clinton aren’t remotely pretty either. But you just can’t point out how often this many leading GOP politicians bend or break the truth without being accused of therefore being a lefty source.
  • James Picht
    commented 2016-07-20 17:13:00 -0700
    Politifact deals with the quantity of lies, not their quality. “I turned over all the work related emails” is a somewhat more significant lie than “My opponent wants old people to eat dog food,” or “I voted against raising the deficit,” yet they count the same on Politifact.

    Mrs. Clinton’s reputation for untrustworthiness may be due in part to her highly controlled, manufactured public persona. When you have no apparent convictions, and when you parse your words as carefully as the Clintons, and when your life is a negation of the principles you claim to hold, you seem dishonest, even if you accurately represent your votes on the issues.
  • Jeff Moulton
    commented 2016-07-20 15:10:31 -0700
    Jason – would you care to elaborate on how Politifact leans left? “Proven guilty” is your terminology, hyperbole clearly, as leaning left isn’t a crime. But I would be interested in seeing your evidence.

    Marc – I invite you to do so. Using the same evidence-based methodology as Politifact uses, or a reasonable substitute if Jason is able to “prove” Politifact “leans left” through a faulty methodology, can you show fifty instances where Politifact should have rendered an opinion because of the fame of the individual or the notoriety of the event, yet failed to do so, and would also create a substantive change in the chart in question?
  • Jonpaul Young
    commented 2016-07-20 01:10:26 -0700
    Politicfact is politicrap…
  • Jason Yunker
    commented 2016-07-19 06:00:22 -0700
    What was the criteria for choosing the questions? Politifact, where this chart comes from, has been proven guilty of leaning left.
  • Rob Taber
    commented 2016-07-18 18:14:29 -0700
    I’m sure I could as well. Fifty wasn’t the number of statements Politifact tallied; it was the cut-off for the person making the chart to include in the tally. So, for Barack Obama, it would have been close to 600 statements; Hillary a little over 200; Donald Trump around 150, etc. The text of the post is less about the chart and more about the visceral, angry reaction the chart causes and suggests that this reaction is rooted in some core American attitudes that have also bled into LDS culture.
  • Marc Bergstrom
    commented 2016-07-18 17:14:53 -0700
    Fairly bogus chart. I’m sure I could find, for each individual listed, over the past nine years 50 100% truthful statements and 50 100% false statements. Bottom line, you can make this chart say anything you want. Nice try though.

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