This is a real exchange that happened on CNN on Tuesday night between Wolf Blitzer and Idaho Republican Sen. Jim Risch about President Donald Trump’s casual relationship with the truth:
BLITZER: But when he lies about something and you know it’s a lie, shouldn’t you speak up?
RISCH: That’s your job.
BLITZER: But that’s your job. You’re a United States senator. You’re a co-equal branch of the United States government.
RISCH: Wolf, if I went around criticizing a statement that was made by the President or any one of my fellow senators or any one of the congressmen up here or people in Idaho who hold public office and I stood up and talked every time they talked and said I don’t like this, I don’t like that, I’m criticizing – I’d be busy all day long.
That is a remarkable statement from an elected official. Truly remarkable.
The whole point of serving in office is that you are the elected representative of your constituents. As such, your job is to represent their values and their interests — in all matters. Lying — or, more accurately, countenancing lying — is not something that is a shared value in our society. That goes double — and more — when the person doing the lying is the President of the United States.
It is, without question, central to the job of every one of the 535 members of Congress to speak as accurately as they can and to make sure the President of the United States does the same. You don’t get to foist that responsibility on the media alone — and then, by the way, blast the media for its so-called biases when it comes to fact checking.
The idea forwarded by Risch that he is simply too busy to possibly fact check the President of the United States is equally ridiculous. Imagine if, as a parent, you said something like: “If I spent all of my time making sure my kid didn’t cross the street in traffic or swallow some bleach, I’d get nothing done all day!” Or if, as a reporter, you said: “If I spent all of my time getting actual quotes from actual members of Congress, I wouldn’t have time to do my job.”
The whole damn point of public service is to serve the public. You do a disservice to the public when you abrogate your responsibility to tell the truth and ensure that those around you do the same. Case closed.