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:
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.
The worrying trend today is that even when there is abundant evidence of lying, there are no repercussions. It’s a case of lying and loving it. And it needs to be stopped. If on Election Day we no longer care about the difference between truth and truthiness, then the joke will be on us.
Read the full blog on Huffington Post here.