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Rudy Giuliani Stuns Politicians And Philosophers With 'Truth Isn't Truth' Statement


Yesterday, Rudy Giuliani stunned politicians and philosophers. It happened on NBC's "Meet The Press" when Giuliani made this claim.


RUDY GIULIANI: No, it isn't truth. Truth isn't truth.

CHANG: Giuliani, President Trump's lawyer, said truth isn't truth. Here's NPR's David Folkenflik with the story.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: Early on, Trump's advocates told Americans to take what the president said seriously, not literally. It's proving to be a serious challenge. Carlos Lozada is the nonfiction books critic at The Washington Post, and he's a close student of the administration's language.

CARLOS LOZADA: What Rudy said in sort of another soundbite for the ages, when he says truth isn't truth, is really the latest in a progression of how Trump and his lawyers, his White House talk and think about the truth. You can start from the very first weekend.

FOLKENFLIK: That weekend of course was in January 2017, when new Trump White House press secretary Sean Spicer came out with this claim.


SEAN SPICER: This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.

FOLKENFLIK: A claim that was mocked, discredited and which Spicer more or less disavowed in his new book. As telling was the defense mounted of Spicer by White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, also with "Meet The Press'" Chuck Todd.


KELLYANNE CONWAY: Don't be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck. What it - you're saying it's a falsehood. And they're giving - Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that.

FOLKENFLIK: Again, Carlos Lozada.

LOZADA: Alternative facts, this notion that really you have a menu to choose from of truth. You can choose any truth.

FOLKENFLIK: Trump took it a step further last month.


PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Just stick with us. Don't believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.

FOLKENFLIK: Trump sought to discredit the entire press in speaking to the Veterans of Foreign Wars.


TRUMP: Just remember, what you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening.

LOZADA: He's basically saying, no, there's no more menu. There's no more options. There's only one truth, and that is mine.

FOLKENFLIK: And now, Rudy Giuliani - truth isn't truth. Let's not kid ourselves. There's a long and rich history of presidential spin, falsehoods and worse.

President Johnson deceived the public about the events that led to the nation's full involvement in the Vietnam War. President Nixon resigned after repeatedly lying about the Watergate scandal. President Clinton spun like a top to avoid accountability for lying about his sexual involvement with a 22-year-old White House intern.


BILL CLINTON: It depends upon what the meaning of the word is.


FOLKENFLIK: President George W. Bush's administration was accused of misleading the public over weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

To be fair to Giuliani, there was a context for his claim, the question of whether Trump should testify under oath to the special prosecutor Robert Mueller.


GIULIANI: 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...

CHUCK TODD: Truth is truth. I don't mean to go - like, I...

GIULIANI: No, it isn't truth. Truth isn't truth.

NICOLLE WALLACE: I think this idea that there is no truth is the thread that will run through the rest of the Trump presidency, as it has his entire candidacy and his presidency so far.

FOLKENFLIK: That's Nicolle Wallace, host of MSNBC's "Deadline: White House" and a communications director for a Republican White House under George W. Bush. Wallace is a critic of Trump, and she has put in place a rule for her show about Spicer's replacement as press secretary.

WALLACE: No, we don't air Sarah Sanders anymore because she lies from that podium. It's a disservice to even disseminate it. If she says something newsworthy, we'll read it.

FOLKENFLIK: Carlos Lozada says all of it is intentional, not an accident.

LOZADA: When you make it impossible to adjudicate among different truths, you can't decide whether what Trump or any leader is doing is sort of right or wrong because who knows? And if you can't hold anyone accountable, then what sort of democracy do you really have?

FOLKENFLIK: A truth that endures no matter what president and what party. David Folkenflik, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: August 21, 2018 at 12:00 AM EDT
A previous version of the headline misspelled Rudy Giuliani's last name as Giuiliani.
David Folkenflik was described by Geraldo Rivera of Fox News as "a really weak-kneed, backstabbing, sweaty-palmed reporter." Others have been kinder. The Columbia Journalism Review, for example, once gave him a "laurel" for reporting that immediately led the U.S. military to institute safety measures for journalists in Baghdad.