TRUTH VS LIES – Garry Armstrong

“The media always lies,” she said and I cringed.

Then, I got angry. Why do people believe a president who has never told the truth about anything while failing to believe fact-based truth.

I’m not talking about “ultimate” truth or the meaning of life or faith. I’m talking about things that can be proved with evidence, science. Stuff caught on tape. Printed, heard, overheard, and to which testimony has been given.

I really hate it when I hear that cliché – “The media doesn’t tell the truth. They always lie.” It demeans all the passion and belief I put into more than 40-years as a working reporter. Moreover, it demeans the careers of so many others who give their lives in pursuit of the truth. Many, literally died in pursuit of the truth.

Photo: USA Today

I am not romanticizing my career. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve gotten it wrong. It happens when you’re covering multiple stories a day, 5 to 7 days a week. With deadlines breathing down your neck.

I always tried to clarify mistakes by accepting my culpability up front and being clear with viewers. There were many days when I hated what I had to do. Usually, it was in pursuit of a truth which would be ugly, demanding, tedious — and require a good deal of soul-searching. The truth isn’t simple, or black and white. Despite what you usually see on television or in movies about reporters, there aren’t many clear “wins.”

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The old days

Often, we’re lambasted for telling the truth by the same folks who call us liars. Jack Nicholson’s “You can’t handle the truth” line should be crayoned on the skulls of those who insist the media always lies. Those critics are the same pilgrims who gobble up the pablum offered by the current White House Tenant who doesn’t know what the truth is. It’s like a foreign language to him.

I fervently wish that Those People who belittle the media and law enforcement officials  spend some time, real time — like 24/7 on the streets. The real streets, not just their cozy neighborhood. They might see life closeup without any of the public relations filters. I suspect those critics would change that tune and maybe sing a different song. They might think before they speak and see our world in three-dimensions instead of whatever propaganda they accept in their biased, insulated worlds.

Finally, I’m proud of what I did for a living. For 40 plus years, I fought to tell the truth. It was a privilege!

Author: Garry Armstrong

As a reporter for Channel 7 in Boston for 31 years, I was witness to most of the major events affecting the region. I met a lot of people ... politicians, actors, moguls, criminals and many regular folks caught up in extraordinary situations. Sometimes, I write about the people I've met and places I've been. Sometimes, I write about life, my family, my dogs and me. Or what might otherwise be called Life.

30 thoughts on “TRUTH VS LIES – Garry Armstrong”

      1. Honesty is the best policy?! Not to mention, I do sincerely believe our parents guide is in (well the old days) that. Whether a bible thumper, religious or not, most had an underlying sense of right and wrong, honest and dishonest. Today, it seems to have disappeared. That or it’s just greed that obliterates all else.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Garry I feel for you. The late reporter/photographer husband of a friend of mine was much praised and much vilified. There were over 400 ppl at his funeral service and even one year later a local journal had a rememberance article on him. You can NEVER win them all. I wish for more acceptance for all those upright and honest, hardworking and job-loving folks, everywhere, in every kind of work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kiki, thank you. Recently, I had the honor of speaking at a memorial service for a friend — a TV News Reporter — who defined ‘truth, justice and the American way’. It was a bittersweet day. Sadness for loss of my friend. Smiles — at the gathering of colleagues and peers who represented the “golden age” of Boston TV news. We shared a few stories about our lives and careers – the way we were. It was a “family” gathering!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve seen both ends of the Press after my son was attacked. Some newspapers simply made mistakes. The ‘gutter press’ sensationalised, got their facts so wrong one even reported that I had turned off the machines keeping him alive, only to have him wake up. I was vilified in the comments that arose from that article, and you can imagine how it eventually made my son feel and the problems it caused between us.
    For the most part, though, this, I believe, is the kind of reporting that picks up a story, checks nothing and just wants to fill a page and sell a paper.
    The genuine reporters I had the pleasure to deal with were all, without exception, highly professional, taking hours and hours to question and research, with kindness and compassion, in order to produce an accurate two minute news item. It is those I remember and to whom I will be grateful, as they did a huge amount of good and, thanks to them, we were given the help we desperately needed at the time.
    The gutter press are no so called for nothing and besmirch the work of more honourable and professional colleagues.
    I do think, though, that the public has a responsibility to ensure they do their own research.. even if it is just reading more than one account… before passing judgement, either on a news item or its reporter.

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    1. It is a pity there are no standards or requirements to be “press.” The internet has made it possible for ANYONE to say they are a journalist, even if they have no ethics or standards — and also, can’t write worth a damn. While I was living in Israel, some of the press got so out-of-control, the government said either tone it down, or we are going to require that if you who call yourself a reporter, you will need a government-issued license. That shut them up overnight.

      They were literally making stuff up. Material that wasn’t EVEN based on a rumor just to make a paper sell better. We go through good times and bad with the news. This isn’t one of the good times and is made especially horrible because we have people in power who have no relationship with the truth. When facts don’t matter, I’m not sure what DOES matter.

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        1. I agree. The problem is always WHO sets up the accountability? It used to be “the people.” We held these people accountable … but we’ve gotten lost. We don’t need the government anywhere near this … so … who? I agree in principle. The details are a bit more complicated.

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          1. Here the Press is self regulating… but that doesn’t always work either. Conscience is the best protection we have and some people seem to have little or none of it.

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            1. When the Israeli government threatened government regulation of reporters, it settled them down really fast. Many of us think there ought to be some kind of regulation, but NOBODY wants the government involved. It was the only time I ever saw a threat end a problem overnight.

              As for conscience, I’m appalled at how many people seem to have not only no conscience but also no heart or soul, either.

              Liked by 1 person

    2. SUE, as you know, there are ‘reporters’ who give our profession a bad name. They want the “scoop”, the “beat”, the “exclusive”. They don’t really care about the people they’re interviewing. They just want the “sound bite” that will go viral. Silence in a room of liars is golden! You can see the “tells” on people, often the polar opposite of what they’re saying. These “mic holders’ don’t truly listen or see. They’ve got some version, THEIR version of the story that will become public consumption and the gospel for people who don’t really take time to think. It’s part of our world. Part of the social media world “used” by POTUS and his minions. The public DOES need to do its OWN research, not just vacuously accept what they see, hear and read.

      It’s a challenging, complex, intimidating and nefarious world for today’s reporters. You have to be open-minded, a careful listener and a not so quick trigger finger on going “live” with your story. Nothing is THAT simple. Source it – once, twice, three times and more — if necessary. Deadlines will always breathe down your neck.

      It’s not glamorous or easy. Done the right way, it’s fulfilling.

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      1. Done the right way, it can make a genuine and positive difference… I’ve been on the receiving end of that too… and those who care about presenting the facts without bias are the ones who wouldn’t ask that you ‘take their word for it’. As you say, it is up to each of us to verify before we believe…and be grateful there are still those who will bring the facts to our attention so that we can do so.

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        1. If enough people keep pushing the truth out there and enough of us care to LOOK at it, we’ll survive this disaster. If too many people don’t care, don’t check, don’t look, the world will get worse. Possibly a lot worse.

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  3. I am indeed confused as to why denial of actual, provable facts is now considered the norm. As a physician, my job was all about dealing with what actually was, rather than what was wished for. Going along with someone’s wish to deny the presence of cancer, diabetes, pregnancy, fill in the blank, is grounds for being sued for malpractice. I understand the longing for stuff not to be true, but come on. And manipulating people, UgH. Its also confuses me how seemingly bright people are so willing to be deluded.

    Thanks for your work and truth telling.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Curious, we live in an upside down world. We have a POTUS who blithely lies and doesn’t give a damn about truth, ethics or morality. He contradicts himself (See the over-sized letter from North Korea) in one breath about whether he’s read or not read something. If we were to query him in court about that statement, all you need do is run the contradicting statement and then confront him for the truth. The answer likely would be gibberish doubletalk.
      I’d hate to be put into the hands of a physician who behaved that way. I’d be scared.

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    1. Thanks, Leslie. I look at the faces of reporters at the newsconferences. I feel for them. I would be burning up inside having to listen to these people and maintaining a professional demeanor.

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  4. Oddly you’ve also taken part in the RDP (Ragtag Daily Prompt), whose word today is “integrity”. See that’s what’s missing NOW (IMHO anyway) from most journalists. Now I would never generalize and say ALL journalists and media people are liars, I don’t think some of them that I’ve observed are intelligent enough to discern what’s truth from what’s written on the teleprompter. Sadly those kind are hired because they look good in front of the camera and can maybe read ‘big’ words. They just don’t understand what they’re reading, and to me? They don’t want to either.
    But who am I to judge anyway? EVERYONE lies some time. It’s when it’s a career builder or affects other people in mass quantities that it becomes a detriment to society. I KNOW from what I’ve read of your writings, that you were a man of integrity and you pursued the truth, however ugly it was. Told it in terms that made John Q. Public LISTEN and then want to change the uglier portions to something good.
    Nah Mr. Garry, you did a fine job in your career and you can be proud. You worked in a era when the truth and honest reporting meant something. Now? I’m afraid those good values are gone, along with our nation’s good name. An orange buffoon has brought us low.

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    1. Emb, thanks for the kind words. You know, Emb, it’s easy for me to sit here and rant about the sad state of our nation and its media versus the way we were. It’s always been this way. Only, it’s far worse this time around. When I was a young newsie, the older reporters would grouse about our “prettiness”, our manic method of working and involvement with our subjects. We heard how it was back in “Murrow’s Day” where pretty boys and girls were not allowed in newsrooms. I frequently was told “That’s not how we did it with Murrow”. Television news was viewed as a cartoon show by some old timers who revelled in war stories about the 30’s, Capone, FDR and the days when news was covered by real men.

      I remember one old timer — one of my regular camera men, telling me that video, video tape, was just a”passing fancy”.

      As Marilyn observes, it’s a cyclical world.

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