THE BLOG
09/02/2012 03:21 pm ET | Updated Nov 02, 2012

Truthiness Is Not a Joke: Lying and Loving It at the RNC

When comedian Stephen Colbert launched his show, The Colbert Report (2005), he introduced the word "truthiness" to the U.S. public. Speaking in character as a bloviating right-wing pundit, Colbert explained that truthiness was thinking from the gut, ignoring facts, and holding beliefs with no basis in reality.

At the time, his main target was George W. Bush, who had repeatedly told the U.S. public during his presidency that things he felt were necessarily true. The word also emerged in response to claims by the administration that the War in Iraq was about finding Weapons of Mass Destruction. You can watch the segment where he calls the WMD justification a flat out lie here:

The Colbert Report

It didn't take long for "truthiness" to enter widespread use and it was named the Word of the Year by Webster's in 2006. In those early days, the word held the punch of satire and it encouraged critical thinking about the ways that truth was increasingly absent from policy decisions, media coverage, and public perceptions.

But whatever the context for the word's role in 2005, we have clearly hit a new era in political discourse where truthiness trumps truth all the time with little, if any, repercussions. The proof is in last week's Republican National Convention where truthiness was alarmingly on display at a rate we have never seen in U.S. history.

Each day as the speeches wound down, media outlets dedicated stories to fact-checking the speeches. After Paul Ryan's speech, Joan Walsh of Salon.com wrote that "Paul Ryan gave a feisty anti-Obama speech that will have fact-checkers working for days." CBS News reported that most of the major claims made by Ryan about Obama's record were misleading and untrue. Ryan then kept up his pattern of truthiness after the RNC when he lied about his best time in a marathon, shaving off more than an hour from his finish time. Seriously?

The master of truthiness-checking himself, Stephen Colbert also gave his audience his own version of the truth. Watch the clip where he fact-check's Ryan speech here: