Natural Born Liar
(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Brian Whitmore- June 22, 2017)
[Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., from Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, also appeared at rferl.org/a/daily-vertical-transcript-natural-born-liar/28572901.html]
What is the point of lying when what you are saying is obviously, demonstrably, and often ridiculously false?
It’s a question worth asking in the aftermath of U.S. filmmaker Oliver Stone’s recent interview series with Vladimir Putin.
During the interview, Putin showed Stone what he said was video footage of Russian forces attacking Islamic State militants in Syria.
Internet sleuths later demonstrated that the video is identical to one of U.S. forces attacking Taliban forces in Afghanistan.
And that wasn’t the only whopper.
In the interview Putin also told Stone that the Kremlin doesn’t control media in Russia and that Moscow never intervenes in the domestic affairs of other countries.
So why does Putin do this? What is the point of such flagrant lies?
As veteran Moscow correspondent Robert Cottrell writes in The New York Review Of Books, “Putin lies as a display of power.”
Cottrell adds that: “Only powerful people can lie and get away with it. The more blatant the lie, the greater the show of power when your listener cannot or dare not contradict you.”
I think this is basically correct. For Putin, lying is just another form of bullying.
But the roots of Putin’s chronic lying also run deeper.
When you preside over a system that is based on deception and subterfuge; a system propped up by spectacle, a system with fake elections, fake political parties, a fake parliament, and, yes, fake news; lying automatically becomes your default setting.
Putin is only doing what comes naturally to him.