Santa Caught in a Lie: Jolly St. Nick for the YouTube Generation

Another father who works in another office in my building shared how the night before Christmas his son wanted evidence that Santa really does come down the chimney, drop off presents and eat the cookies and milk left for him. Seemed like a normal discussion, until the boy wanted his dad to set up a camera and leave it recording so the boy could see Santa’s legs dangle as he came down and did his job. I thought, “Wow, how does dad get past this one?”So I asked the father to explain.

He said that he told the son that Santa was super fast and that the camera could not catch him in action. Thenhis son asked about at least being able to see the dust from the chimney and being able to see him eat the cookies (Now that I think about it, cookies explain how Santa runs an impossible marathon around the world in less that 24 hours and still stays chubby.)
While I let this father off the hook with his weak explanations to his son, it did remind me about how when a client is thinking about releasing information that is not really true, you either stop the lie from starting, or create more lies to cover your tracks. And in some cases you have to cover your tracks because your spokesperson is clueless when it comes to understanding what to say to the public (See former BP chairman Tony Hayward during the gulf oil disaster).

Yes, over the years, some clients have asked me to lie. Sometimes it seemed as “innocent” as not wanting to speak to a reporter and they wanted me to say that they were out of the country, and sometimes it was providing information to the press that wasnot a bold face lie, but rather misleading information. In my book, misleading information is a half truth, and a half truth is not truth. Sort of like saying, 10 gallons of water is pure, but it has a teaspoon of salt in it, so it’s still really pure because is it’s so little salt. Bottom-line: the water is not pure.

When I grew up my parents wanted me to believe in Santa. I too even left out cookies and milk (that I assume my parents took since we didn’t have mice). So  now, what about my daughters who are 2-years and seven weeks old? I want them to know the truth and be able to defend it even with peer pressure they might face, at the same time be respectful of why others believe in Santa. Maybe I’ll just give them each a Flip camera and they can see for themselves.


Don’t Monkey with the Evidence: Lawyers Need to Speak the Truth to the Media

For some reason, the Skeptics Society sent me a copy of their brochure “Top 10 Myths About Evolution (And How We Know it Really Happened).” As a matter of full disclosure, I believe there is one God that created everything. However, I do recommend that you look at the brochure for yourself because I’ll give the Skeptics Society credit for taking a number of common objections to evolutionary theory and making them attention-getting headlines (even for a believer). However, their responses requires more faith than believing there is a God who did it all.

For example, people often question how the “eye” could evolve from inorganic matter? Recently, my wife and I had our second daughter and I was reminded by the doctors that the babies are born with eyes that will stay the same size throughout life. How would it be possible for such a complex part of the body to evolve from a “single, light sensitive spot in a cell” as the Skeptics Society claims in their brochure? It begs the question, then who made that “single, light sensitive spot in a cell?”

Many times attorneys are called on by the media to explain their position in a case. Often it requires taking complex legal matters and turning them into sentences that a fifth grader can understand. I’ve seen attorneys try to create a smoke screen when the truth is something that works against their client. Former Illinois governor George Ryan was sentenced by a federal judge to 6 1/2 years in prison in 2006 and he recently asked to be released early from custody because of his wife’s terminal illness. The judge refused and made clear that Ryan was to blame for his own plight. Yet, Ryan has a bank of attorneys who have and continue to defend him, despite him being clearly convicted of criminal charges. These lawyers are trying to “monkey” with both the evidence and truth of the matter.

When I work with attorneys I make clear we are going to present the underlying truth of the matter in a way that helps the media and, of course, helps my clients. If we can’t do that, then we have to reconsider our approach. I’m not going to allow a client to evolve a lie into truth.