News and Commentary

Media Amplifies Giuliani’s ‘Truth Isn’t Truth’ Verbal Faux Pas; Buries Context

On Sunday, former mayor of New York City and President Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani appeared on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

During an exchange about the Mueller investigation, Giuliani used the phrase “truth isn’t truth.” Now, if one simply reads the headlines, tweets, and sometimes, even full stories from outlets like New York Magazine, one could be forgiven for thinking this is an outrageous statement.

Here’s the thing — context is crucial. Below is the full exchange between Giuliani and host Chuck Todd:

TODD: You believe that this is on them, that you guys have not delayed the interviewing, delayed the negotiations with Mr. Mueller?

GIULIANI: Yes, yes, each time by three or four days so we could write a letter in response. They have taken two to three weeks to get back to us. What I have to tell you is, look, I am not going to be rushed into having him testify so that he gets trapped into perjury. And when you tell me that, you know, he should testify because he’s going to tell the truth and he shouldn’t worry, well that’s so silly because it’s somebody’s version of the truth. Not the truth. He didn’t have a conversation about –

TODD: Truth is truth. I don’t mean to go like –

GIULIANI: No, it isn’t truth. Truth isn’t truth. The President of the United States says, “I didn’t” –

TODD: Truth isn’t truth? Mr. Mayor, do you realize, what, I, –

GIULIANI: No, no –

TODD: This is going to become a bad meme.

GIULIANI: Don’t do this to me [imitates Todd’s physical behavior].

TODD: Don’t do “truth isn’t truth” to me.

GIULIANI: Donald Trump says, “I didn’t talk about Flynn with Comey.” Comey says, “You did talk about it.” So tell me what the truth is if you’re such a genius.

TODD: Don McGhan

GIULIANI: Don McGhan doesn’t know. If that’s the situation, if two pieces of evidence – Trump says, “I didn’t tell him,” and the other guy says that he did say it, which is the truth? Maybe you know because you’re a genius.

TODD: Well, at that point, you’re right. No, you’re right. I don’t read minds on that front. Let me ask you this final question.

GIULIANI: No, no, no, let me finish. We have a credibility gap between the two of them. You gotta select one or the other. Who do you think Mueller’s gonna select? One of his best friends, Comey, or the president, who he has been carrying on a completely wild, crazy, unorthodox investigation [on].

TODD: Is it possible he makes a conclusion based on who’s been more truthful over the years?

GIULIANI: It’s possible that he’ll make the conclusion on which of the two statements is more logical; which of the two statements has more common sense. Yeah, it’s possible he can do that.

Once given context, the meaning of Giuliani’s “truth isn’t truth” remark becomes clear. There are times during the course of an investigation in which two conflicting statements may be given, and investigators must decide who they believe.

Unsurprisingly, the headlines from mainstream media outlets don’t reflect this:

New York Magazine doesn’t even bother explaining the context of the exchange in their story; Politico buries the revelation 333 words into the piece; The Guardian, which also takes 333 words to get to the context of the exchange also leaves out a crucial piece, that Todd actually agreed with Giuliani on his point.

The NBC News PR Twitter account tweeted:

Politicians and pundits are attempting to get a punch in as well:

This situation is a microcosm of the way in which the mainstream press covers anything related to Donald Trump, which is why supporters of the president don’t trust them. The press has buried context in favor of a sensational verbal faux pas. Perhaps worse, thousands of readers and social media users who may not look beyond the headline or first paragraph of a story will never know what really occurred.