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THE DECAY OF AMERICAN MEDIA — Patrick L. Smith on the decline and fall of American journalism; Peter Lee on China and its Uyghur problem; Dave Macaray on brain trauma, profits and the NFL; Lee Ballinger on the bloody history of cotton. PLUS: “The Vindication of Love” by JoAnn Wypijewski; “The Age of SurrealPolitick” by Jeffrey St. Clair; “The Radiation Zone” by Kristin Kolb; “Washington’s Enemies List” by Mike Whitney; “The School of Moral Statecraft” by Chris Floyd and “The Surveillance Films of Laura Poitras” by Kim Nicolini.
If You Don't Have Power, Don't Lie

Small Fry

by TOM KERR

The media filleting of alchemist James Frey, author of the faked memoir A Million Little Pieces, assures us that truth matters in America.

How dare Frey pull on our heart strings with his million little lies! How dare he exaggerate and fabricate! How dare he misrepresent the painful events of his life and our times to get our vote, our approval, our backing! How dare he sell us lead for gold, put the Sale before the Truth.

Power is the only real difference between former-addicts-not-quite-well Frey and Bush. We can’t get lying Power in the hot seat, so we’ll take lying Everyman.

Bush and members of his regime lie to sell their story whenever and however required. Lying for them is first nature.

Lies stand in relief against a backdrop of truth. That’s how we typically recognize a lie when we see it. When the backdrop is falsehood, lies blend in.

Bush regime loyalists lie both by omission and commission so often and with such little consequence that it’s hard to see them–to know them–as liars. Many of us know they’re lying, more or less constantly, but when Power lies the lie becomes the truth and it’s hard for an honest person to get any traction-to prove it.

Thus we have the protest slogan-and everyone knows how difficult it is–"Speak Truth to Power." It is quite another matter to speak truth, as Oprah has with enthusiastic approbation from her mainstream media pals, to the powerless. That’s about the easiest thing in the world.

We will never witness Bush being forced to come clean with Oprah on her couch, and Bush, unlike Frey, is never going to say, "Yes, I’ve lied; I regret it. I lied because I am weak." A Democrat congress might have played Oprah’s part in an impeachment, but we’ll never know.

The lesson for kids? If you don’t have power, don’t lie: look what happed to James Fry.

If you’re powerful, lie away, lie to your heart’s content, lie with deep conviction, and lie big: just look at the magnificent Bush regime.

We can’t fry the big fries, so let’s fry James Frey.

TOM KERR teaches writing and rhetoric at Ithaca College. He may be reached at tkerr@ithaca.edu.