This Summer Has Been a Bad One for the Truth

By Chuck Goudie
Daily Herald
August 18, 2008

LAS VEGAS - Unlike Chicago, whose motto is "The City that Works," Las Vegas could rightly be called "The City that Plays."

But Vegas doesn't need a catchy new jingle. It already has a world-famous slogan in "What Happens Here, Stays Here."

If truth was actually required in advertising, that would only be half of the phrase. The entire refrain would be: "What Happens Here Stays Here, Only if You Tell Some Lies to Cover It Up but Probably Not Even Then."

Such a full and exact statement might not attract as many tourists though and it would certainly cut into the call-girl business. Besides, "What Happens Here Stays Here, Only if You Tell Some Lies to Cover it Up but Probably Not Even" wouldn't fit as well on billboards.

John Edwards is living proof that you can't fool all of the people all of the time. Mr. Edwards is just the latest star of America's occasional miniseries "Sex, Lies and Nauseate."

The former U.S. senator, presidential candidate, southern gentleman and husband of a beloved cancer victim, lied about what happened on the campaign trail in an effort to insure what happened there stay there.

But his romp didn't stay there, either under wraps or between the sheets or wherever it was Mr. Edwards allowed his hair to get tousled.

The story of the Edwards affair, which cooked like chicken stew in a tabloid crockpot since last fall, was finally served up two weeks ago. But it wasn't the only platter of lies to be put before us this summer.

The season has been rough on the truth and last week was particularly jagged.

• The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago announced another multimillion dollar settlement paid to more than a dozen victims of pedophile priests.

The tally for Chicago Catholics is now $65 million over three decades, handed out in more than 250 sex abuse claims.

The root of this evil has been years of enabling perverted priests by church officials from the very top on down, through lies, deceit and cover-ups.

Lest you think the truth has won out, consider a statement from archdiocesan officials that none of the millions of dollars used to pay settlements to sex abuse victims come from parish collection baskets. All the payoffs, they said, would be from the sale of church real estate holdings.

"We just felt it was very important that parishioners understand that this is not money that is coming from their local parish," said Jimmy Lago, archdiocese administrator.

This has been a common untruth put forth by church officials in Chicago and elsewhere for years. Who do you think paid for all the prime property owned by the Archdiocese? Caesar of Augustus?

Anything sold by church officials today to pay off sex abuse victims was financed by parishioners-the churchgoing parents, grandparents and great-grandparents the last 100 years. Most of them are no longer here to complain about how their contribution will end up being used.

• Last week, representatives of the Chicago hospital where comedian Bernie Mac lay dying, said he was not seriously ill and was going to be OK. Mr. Mac's publicist said the same thing.

Only when the comedian died did it become apparent that he was not going to be OK and the public had been fed a line of malarkey.

•Then there were the Russians, who said they weren't invading Georgia when we saw columns of tanks rolling into town.

Maybe they meant Atlanta?

• The Chinese said all of their gymnasts were 16 or more.

Maybe they meant inches, although even that would be a stretch.

If the Chinese were willing to lie about their athletes' ages, it's not much of a leap to fake fireworks and replace a homely girl with a cute one on the world stage.

It would be neat and tidy to say that the public malaise over truthlessness began when Bill Clinton swore under oath that he "did not have sexual relations with that woman."

But politicians don't have a corner on the liars market and it's not a recent phenomenon. Don't you think though that lying has become more accepted and acceptable today than just a few years ago?

When everybody around them seems to be fudging the truth and living in shades of gray, it is more difficult to get our kids to tell the truth. The fact that most people eventually get caught doesn't seem to dissuade chronic liars.

As difficult as it is, we should hold our children and our leaders to a higher standard by starting small.

With ourselves.

Chuck Goudie, whose column appears each Monday, is the chief investigative reporter at ABC 7 News in Chicago. The views in this column are his own and not those of WLS-TV. He can be reached by email at


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