So far, The Response has taken at least three shots at encompassing the rage-inducing awfulness of Trump Chief of Staff John Kelly's disgraceful defense of Donald Trump's attacks and lies about deceased Sgt. La David Johnson's family and longtime family friend Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL), but apparently, we're not done yet.
One particularly annoying facet of the way this has been covered is the way many outlets shy away from calling Kelly's lies “lies” and the fact that even those who characterize it properly leave news consumers with the impression that he only told one lie.
Part of the media's problem is that they confuse the lie with the liar. You can tell a lie without even knowing it, and while that arguably doesn't make you a “liar,” the thing you said is still a lie.
Even in the case of “unintentional” lies, the effect is the same, and the lack of intent does not relieve the culpability for their telling, especially when the lies are such that the teller should have known or should have checked. Indifference to the truth is no less a crime than the intentional subversion of it.
So I will leave Gen. Kelly's intent and character up to the reader. This is only about the lies themselves.
When I saw this portion of Kelly's remarks, I knew it contained multiple lies, but even I had no idea how many he managed to pack into just over four minutes of screen time:
I set out to quantify Kelly's lies, and to borrow his favorite word, I was stunned at the sheer volume. Here they are in order, including repetitions/variations on the same lies because those count, too, and without the lies of omission, that surely would have doubled or tripled the count (video of the speech Kelly refers to is here):
Sgt. Johnson was separated from his unit during the fighting, a fact that was reported over a week before Kelly's remarks. It is still not known exactly when — during the 48 hours he was missing — that he actually died.
(The Man From Homeland)
From The Miami Herald, April 13, 1986 (archived here):
Grogan, who had no children, came to the FBI somewhat late, after teaching Latin and biology at Marist College in Atlanta. He was a religious man. His other survivors include his mother, Alice; two sisters, Mary Anne Desposito and Susan Semmes; and a brother, Michael. [...]
Dove, an agent since 1982, was an ambitious, hard-working bachelor who came to the FBI after a brief career as a lawyer... After joining the FBI, Dove served in the Huntington, W. Va., San Diego and Miami offices. The agent had no siblings and is survived by his mother and grandmother.
So he got the slain agent's name wrong twice and invented children that neither of them had. Or maybe they're hiding out in Bowling Green.
After Kelly was already busted for all of those lies with video evidence, Sarah Huckabee Sanders came to the podium and stood by them all, and ran up an impressive score all her own:
You can judge for yourself what this says about Gen. Kelly's character, but there's no denying what it says about his place in the Trump administration. He fits right in.