Pants on fire

Hello.  I’m a liar.  Pleased to meet you.

I know that I’m a liar for this reason:  Twice in one week, operatives for two Georgia politicians have informed me of it.  “YOU LIED TO ME!” one of them screamed (in ALL CAPS) in a voice mail, one of two screaming voice mails he left on my phone following a fairly bland story I produced that included an interview with his candidate.

A few days later, another operative was more diplomatic and mature, but no less emphatic.  We feel like you told us you were doing one story.  Then, on TV, we saw a different story. It’s worth noting that this particular candidate declined to be interviewed for the story I pitched.

Did I actually lie to these people?  Of course not.  In both cases, I broadly outlined the story I was producing.  I intentionally declined to provide specifics.  I couldn’t — I hadn’t gathered the material nor written the story yet.

In the news biz, we write the story after we gather the relevant material, and distill the available facts.

In the news biz, sometimes the story changes based on the material gathered.

Suppose I interview Augustus Ankle, candidate for Governor.  I’m asking Mr. Ankle about education.  During the course of the interview, he reveals he wants to legalize prostitution.  Odds are, the story as described earlier would change drastically by air time.

More likely, the thumbnail of any story described at the outset during a phone call at 9am will evolve by the time it airs at 6.

That doesn’t make me a liar.

In both cases, I had follow up chats with my accusers.  We concluded with a better understanding of each other, and seemed to salve the wounds.  (My favorite part was when the screaming ALL CAPS operative began a sentence by saying “Look — I’ve been doing this for eight years…” After he finished, I stage-whispered:  “Want to know how long I’ve been doing this?”  He changed the subject.)

I don’t like being called a liar.  But I don’t take it too personally when the epithet comes from a political operative.  Here’s why.

Those people are accustomed to throwing around the word “liar.”  In debates.  In commercials.  In casual conversation.  In press interviews.

“My opponent is lying when he calls me a liar.”  It’s a word that’s so overused in politics, its meaning has been devalued more than a Zimbabwean dollar.

So a political operative or two has called me a liar.

You’re breaking my heart.

This entry was posted in WXIA on by .

About live apt fire

Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

4 thoughts on “Pants on fire

  1. Brian the Brain

    “that’s so overused.., its meaning has been devalued more than a Zimbabwean dollar.”

    Did you just come up with that? Wow. I’m writing that down.

  2. Icarus

    Welcome to my world, fellow liar.

    The fun part is when you get a political operative/consultant who has several candidates. It’s always fun to have them call or email you in the morning telling you you’re a horrible liar who makes up bad things about their angelic candidate and should never be allowed to write again, only to have that same person call a few hours later begging you to post something about their other angelic other candidate because you’re the only person who can state the truth with credibility.

    And they call us liars.

    I call them whores.

  3. Mr. Bear

    For those that do not follow the Zimbabwe dollar, it has become so worthless that the printing company in Germany that creates the wealth in Zimbabwe has cut their government off because they can’t print the bills fast enough before they become worthless. There is a company that sells these notes as souvenirs. Please see:


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