Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Ugly Truth

Did I ever tell you about the time I played a concert at New York’s famous Carnegie Hall? It was in the seventies when I studied music at Ohio University. I performed a program of pop standards to a packed house and I was rewarded with a thunderous standing ovation. This was followed by a frenzied autograph session at the footlights for my eager fans. It was a truly memorable night.

Okay, the fact is, I did perform that concert, but as part of a hundred-member college music ensemble. All of the above is true, though. We did travel to the Big Apple, we did perform a one-nighter at Carnegie Hall, we were well received, and we signed autographs afterward. And it was an experience I’ll never forget.

Have you seen the big flap about Brian Williams, the anchorman for the “NBC Nightly News”? It seems that when he reported a recent story about his exploits as a war correspondent, he exaggerated a few facts about his heroics and some angry vets called him on it. He apologized on-air but was suspended and his credibility as a reporter is now in question.

I think a majority of people have stretched the truth at one time or another. If you don’t believe me, ask a fisherman about the biggest fish they ever caught. That sucker gets longer and longer each time they tell that story. I know a guy who thinks he’s quite a ladies man and I get the same bragging from him, but not about fish. I won’t go any further with that one.

If they’re going to chastise a news reporter with a sterling record for shading the facts, perhaps we need to do that in the next political election. That would be fun, hooking candidates up to a polygraph to ask them about their finances and flings. I’m sure it would narrow the field down considerably.

I recall a similar embarrassment about a local TV reporter in Nebraska who padded his resume to get the job. Admittedly this wasn’t the smartest idea the guy ever had, but he probably didn’t think his bosses would actually check him out. Imagine the surprise of the New York Times managing editor when the station called to check this reporter’s bona fides and heard “Who???”

I think it’s become standard practice for people in the public eye to pad the facts to make themselves look more appealing. This is why God created publicists – to spin the truth and sell the product. I’m involved with a non-profit music organization in my spare time and the CEO asked me to write his official bio. I listed the facts but he became angry when I didn’t embellish some of his accomplishments. How was I to know that he had mentored disadvantaged youth, read to the blind and discovered a cure for the common cold? I also didn’t know that he had devised a plan to solve world hunger and homelessness. What a great guy he turned out to be!

A wise man once said “If you’re gonna tell a lie, make it a good one.” I try not to follow that lopsided advice, lest anyone investigate me and discover the truth. I don’t have much to hide, but let’s just say there’s a reason why I’ve never sought public office, and it isn’t because of my liberal views on gun control and gay marriage.

One of these days I’ll tell you the story about the time I went parasailing off Key West with a special camera the CIA gave me so I could track movements of Cuban refugees. Everything was going well until my parasail sprung a leak and I found myself drifting toward a Russian sub off the coast…

Or was it a Navy destroyer? Oh, well. Who’ll know the difference?

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Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author whose books range from mystery/thrillers to contemporary erotic romance. "When he isn’t writing, he devotes every waking moment to his pet cause--finding homes for unwed mothers." His website is www.timsmithauthor.com.

1 comment:

Fiona McGier said...

I'm with you, Tim. All of us embellish the truth at some time or another, but thankfully most of us don't have cameras in our faces when we do it. It's human nature to want to appear more knowledgeable/experienced/worldly than we are. No real harm done...usually.

The idea of politicians being hooked up to lie detectors is hilarious! There'd be no one who could run...or probably more likely, no one would want to vote for those who passed because they'd be so dull and ineffectual they wouldn't be able to get anything done!