The propensity for inaccuracy from the Trump presidency concerns progressives and conservatives alike. According to THE HILL columnist Brent Budowsky, (01/05/17):

… many Republicans are well aware of, and deeply concerned by, the fact that Trump often says things that aren’t true. There is a debate among the most serious journalists in America, from the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal to the newsroom of The New York Times, about whether Trump should be called a “liar.”

Then on February 16, 2017 Fox News host Shep Smith stated that it is his job to point out when the President of the United States says things that are “demonstrably, unquestionably, opinion aside, 100 percent false.”

It’s sort of our job to let you know when things are said that aren’t true. This president keeps telling untrue things and he does it every single time he’s in front of a microphone … some of them aren’t really big, but they’re coming from the president.

I recently came upon Tina Kelley’s Feb. 11, 2003 New York Times’ announcement of the death of Ron Zeigler, who had been Richard Nixon’s press secretary in the 1970’s. She states:

Mr. Ziegler, who was known for referring to the Watergate break-in as a ”third-rate burglary” and for steadfastly speaking for President Nixon as his presidency crumbled, was 63.

As the investigation into Watergate unraveled, Mr. Ziegler admitted that his previous statements had become ”inoperative.”

Inoperative. Such a strange word.

Time Magazine, on April 30, 1973 reported:

White House Press Secretary Ronald Ziegler enlarged the vocabulary last week, declaring that all of Nixon’s previous statements on Watergate were “inoperative.” Not incorrect, not misinformed, not untrue—simply inoperative, like batteries gone dead.

I personally recall that in his testimony during the Senate investigation of the Watergate break-in, Nixon’s former legal counsel John Dean had used this word often to refer to false statements that he had previously released at the request of the Nixon White House. The word was a kind of short-hand used by the president’s message-managers. 

Ms. Kelley’s article continues:

One writer, Christopher Lasch, noted in ”The Culture of Narcissism”: ”Many commentators assumed Ziegler was groping for a euphemistic way of saying that he had lied. What he meant, however, was that his earlier statements were no longer believable. Not their falsity but their inability to command assent rendered them ‘inoperative.’ The question of whether they were true or not was beside the point.” http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/11/us/ron-ziegler-press-secretary-to-nixon-is-dead-at-63.html

Not their falsity but their inability to command assent – Inoperative!

Whether or not the Trump communication machine internally uses this word as did the Nixon folks, it clearly gives insight to the current president’s actions, including his need to conduct post-election campaign rallies.

It is operative to present “alternative facts” for the consumption of the third of USAmericans who will blindly accept them.

The question remains: How operative are these blatant falsehoods for the other two-thirds of our countrymen, many of whom voted for him?

About Larry Eppley

Larry Eppley's background is diverse. A former pulpit minister, he was a real estate agent before spending about ten years as a computer software trainer and IT support specialist. Now retired, he teaches English as Second Language classes for Spanish speakers, as well as a weekly bilingual Bible class.


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