Criminal Justice Degrees Guide

8 Things Mike Daisey Could Learn From Other Liars

In our country, we don’t mind liars. In fact, we respect them for their audacity. So long as everyone is in on the joke, winking at each other conspiratorially, telling a lie is no big deal. It’s the liars who get caught that we despise. But we despise them more for getting caught then for bending the truth. A week or two from now, will anyone still be upset that actor Mike Daisey made up several details in what was represented as a journalistic exposé of human rights violations in factories in China contracted to build products for Apple? We’ll go out on a limb and say "no," the main reason being Daisey is a rank amateur when it comes to lying. However, given the fact that the man is only 36, there is time for him to step up his lying game and make a new career or two for himself. Consider the following eight things Daisey could stand to learn from other liars.

  1. Deny everything!

    Even a sweaty, scheming, neurotic slob like 37th U.S. President Richard Nixon knew that when you get caught lying, first thing to do is deny that you lied. After the Watergate scandal broke, Nixon famously declared at a November 1973 press conference that he welcomed the scrutiny he and his administration were under. "I welcome this kind of examination," he righteously stated. "Because people have gotta know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I am not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got!" Ultimately, Nixon resigned when it became clear that his impeachment was imminent. But he never admitted to any wrongdoing, not even in his resignation speech.

  2. Deny everything again!

    Like Nixon, our 42nd president Bill Clinton also understood the art of denial. During the deposition for a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by Paula Jones while Clinton was in the White House, he famously denied having "sexual relations" with intern Monica Lewinsky, who had submitted an affidavit in the Jones suit stating that she and Clinton had never engaged in a physical relationship. Of course, this wasn’t entirely true. Interestingly, years later, Clinton’s pathological philandering and base treatment of women seems to have been forgiven by the general public, thanks in part to his philanthropic work and the fact that his wife Hillary continues to stand by him. So hang in there, Mike. Maybe one day your hometown will rename the local airport after you like Clinton’s did for him.

  3. Do NOT mess with Oprah!

    Disgraced author and screenwriter James Frey should have the following words tattooed on his forehead, "Do NOT mess with Oprah!" Former talk show queen and über-business woman Oprah Winfrey was not happy to learn that Frey’s recovery memoir A Million Little Pieces, a gripping book she had selected for her popular book club, contained several significant exaggerations and fabrications. At the time, Frey said in his defense, "Most writers of memoirs do what I did." But most writers who lie in their memoirs and get caught aren’t stupid enough to go toe-to-toe with the Empress of Empathy on her own damn talk show. Winfrey also faced off with Frey’s publishers on the same show, and took them down like a cheetah on a gazelle. Frey eventually parlayed his career into blogging, and scripting video games and cable television shows. His books continue to sell.

  4. Remember, bad artists copy. Good artists steal!

    This is a quote often attributed to the great artist Pablo Picasso, who recognized no boundaries when it came to creating and promoting his work. It is ironic given the outrage over Daisey’s misrepresentation of the truth that Steve Jobs, the co-founder and now-deceased anti-Christ of Apple, once said of his company, "We’ve been shameless about stealing great ideas." Remember, Mike, you didn’t do anything that had not been done before, and just like Picasso, need not concern yourself with originality or integrity.

  1. The bigger the lie, the bigger the bailout!

    In spite of the fact that Bank of America helped create our current economic crisis by taking risky home loans and illegally repackaging them as high-yield securities, then selling the now popularly described "toxic loans" to unsuspecting unions, retirement funds, and foreign banks, the president with support from Congress saw fit to save them from collapse with a $45 billion bailout. Since then, has Bank of America changed its nefarious practices? Hell, no. So long as grossly wealthy people control our political future, not to mention your retirement savings, there will be no oversight and no accountability. The lesson here is the bigger the lie, the bigger the bailout.

  2. Never apologize!

    Bernie Madoff, mastermind behind a Ponzi scheme that defrauded thousands of investors of billions of dollars and is considered the largest financial fraud in U.S. History, offered what he considered to be a sincere apology to a courtroom of his victims just before sentencing. It didn’t do him any good, since he received what amounts to a life sentence for his crimes. Later in prison, Madoff famously told a gathered group of inmates, "F— my victims. I carried them for 20 years, and now I’m doing 150 years." Perhaps not surprisingly, many inmates admire Madoff for being a cold-blooded, still selfish, and once extremely wealthy a—hole.

  3. Never stop lying!

    Karl Friedrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von Münchhausen, known in popular culture as Baron Münchausen, was a real 18th century German baron who served with the Russian military and was known for telling exaggerated, fantastic tales based on his experiences in campaigns against the Ottoman Turks. His countless crazy stories inspired many books and films, including Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Münchausen. The psychological disorder Münchausen Syndrome, where a person fakes illness to get attention, is named after the baron. Perhaps, if you tell enough tall tales, you too may one day be celebrated for your creative imagination.

  4. It’s never too late to go on tour!

    Heavily inspired by The Beatles, The Monkees were a prefabricated rock band created to star in their own television show while other musicians provided the actual songs and recorded instrumental performances. From 1966 to 1968, the band was extremely popular, releasing several hit songs including "Daydream Believer" with lead vocals by the late, great Davy Jones. At the height of the show’s popularity, the individual members of The Monkees fought for creative control of their music. In the years after the show’s cancellation, three of the original members toured the world, singing their popular hits as well as deeper, post-TV show compositions. Happily, there is life after a career as a glorified karaoke singer. The Monkees last tour before Davy Jones passed drew enthusiastic audiences and received positive reviews.