Rudy Giuliani Stuns Politicians And Philosophers With 'Truth Isn't Truth' Statement President Trump's lawyer created waves on Meet The Press Sunday by insisting there are situations where there is no such thing as "the truth."
NPR logo

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

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/640329279/640329280" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Rudy Giuliani Stuns Politicians And Philosophers With 'Truth Isn't Truth' Statement

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

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

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/640329279/640329280" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

President Trump's lawyer created waves on Meet The Press Sunday by insisting there are situations where there is no such thing as "the truth."

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

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

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MEET THE PRESS")

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MEET THE PRESS")

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

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

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Yes.

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.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "MEET THE PRESS")

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.

Copyright © 2018 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Correction Aug. 21, 2018

A previous version of the headline misspelled Rudy Giuliani's last name as Giuiliani.