Political Lies and Liars
Gelett Burgess once observed that half a truth is like half a brick; you can throw it twice as far. That may help explain why full-size falsehoods are seen less frequently than distortion in election campaigns. More importantly, compared to a clever distortion, an out-and-out lie is easy to detect. Nonetheless, candidates often are accused of lying, not infrequently in terms that invoke Adolph Hitler and the big lie--sometimes appropriately.
This chapter deals with several kinds of falsehood, including false statements, disproven charges presented as fact, false claims of authorship, invented history, forgery of various sorts, and fake publications. It addresses falsifying in all media of communication from print to video. The various particular lies of the Watergate affair, however, are treated with the entire scandal in Chapter 12.
Major party organizations are usually responsibly run, but occasionally their fingerprints are found on deliberate frauds. This befell the National Republican Congressional Committee in 1958 when it moved against a West Virginia Democrat, Robert H. Mollohan, who was trying to retire the Republican congressman Arch Moore.
A four-page special edition of the United Miners Journal came out filled with devastating assertions about Mollohan, and people assumed that the mine union had abandoned him to endorse the Republican incumbent. Talk of scandal was rife in the district, which lies in the panhandle country between Pennsylvania and Ohio. The importance of the United Mine Workers (UMW) to elections in West Virginia is great. For the UMW to break with custom and back a Republican could make a vast difference. The truth was that the Mine Workers were supporting the Democrat, Mollohan.