Lawrence O'Donnell

Are There Multiple Standards for Integrity?

by Marty Poehler

In August the commentator on MSNBC TV Lawrence O’Donnell said that loans received by Donald Trump’s businesses from Deutsche Bank had been personally guaranteed by a Russian oligarch.  As a follow-up, O’Donnell said that the story had only been partially verified when he presented it on TV. O’Donnell then apologized and said he made a wrong decision in bringing it on air.


President Donald Trump

President Trump responded with tweets castigating O’Donnell for what he’d done. He said he had a history of doing this. Here’s his first tweet:

“Crazy Lawrence O’Donnell, who has been calling me wrong from even before I announced my run for the Presidency, even being previously forced by NBC to apologize, which he did while crying, for things he said about me & The Apprentice, was again forced to apologize, this time for the most ridiculous claim of all, that Russia, Russia, Russia, or Russian oligarchs, co-signed loan documents for me, a guarantee. Totally false, as is virtually everything else he, and much of the rest of the LameStream Media, has said about me for years. ALL APOLOGIZE!”

Ironically, he said that O’Donnell was crying while he gave his earlier apology that Trump referred to – but the video tape of that earlier apology doesn’t show O’Donnell crying.

President Trump since becoming president 2 ½ years ago has made false claims – some of them wildly false – currently numbering more than 5000. 1 There is credible evidence that they are false or at best misleading. His follow-up when others say these statements he made were untrue has been in many cases to repeat the lies, sometimes dozens of times for an individual lie. 1  

In contrast, Mr. O’Donnell soon after he became aware of saying something that was false, issued the statement that what he had earlier said was wrong. He owned up to it and apologized.


U.S. Air National Guard Illustration (above)

President Trump seems to hold one standard about truth for himself, and a different standard for others.

One person keeps on lying, often saying the same lies over and over. The other quickly owns up to having said a lie and apologizes. Which way of acting do we think is better in our news presenters and public officials? Which is a better example for our children? Which person would we say shows the greater integrity?

1  Donald Trump has said 5276 false things as U.S. President, Toronto Star, at


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