Does telling a lie about a personal matter ruin a politician’s credibility in public matters?

Rep. Anthony Weiner admitted on Monday that he had indeed sent inappropriate photos of himself on Twitter and then lied to evade responsibility. Today’s Question: Does telling a lie about a personal matter ruin a politician’s credibility in public matters?

  • Dennis

    His very public lie demonstrates he should NOT be trusted as a leader in our government. We shall see what his fellow lying colleagues feel about Weiners actions.

    My guess a slap with a wet noodle.

  • Duane

    The willingness to tell a lie, no matter how a person attempt to “Justify” it, reveals a weakness of character and the inability to make sound decisions. This is a fatal character flaw for a person involved in

    governmental affairs. He should step down.

  • Hiram

    Let’s just say that where credibility is concerned, telling 28 lies in a row, in public, within a few hours, isn’t helpful.

  • Zeke

    Is lying ever good? I think not.

    The press would be a lot better at explaining this stuff if they’d quit interviewing politicians for both sides of the issue. ; )

  • Rich

    “Sincerity is the key. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

    – Groucho Marx

  • John O.

    I don’t care if you are a Member of Congress or a Dog Catcher, when one makes the choice to become an elected official, anything you say or do can–and will–be used against you in the Court of Public Opinion.

  • Garyf

    And the arrogance.

  • Joanna

    Lying about bad behavior that is salacious is seen as unforgivable. Lying about phantom weapons of mass destruction, massive corporate fraud, influence-peddling, smears of your political…not so much. We have a double-standard in our tolerance/intolerance of public figures when they lie.

  • GaryF

    Weiner and Rangel.

  • David

    Especially when a Congressman is so adamant about initially denying his actions, he looses his public trust and should resign. We need more honest leadership from all local and national legislators.

  • uptownZombie

    It may say something about your character, but what you do in your private life is not something I really care about. However, if that starts to spill over into your public life (Silvio Berlusconi) then all credibility is lost and you’re just embarrassing the people you are there to represent.

  • Geo @ MetroStyle

    Almost none of us are saints, especially when it comes to matters of sexual morality and marital fidelity. All I care about is whether elected officials live up to their oath to represent the people who elected them and to serve the PUBLIC. What consenting adults do in PRIVATE (or share electronically, which I consider private) is their own business. Let the newshounds write some real analysis of issues of public concern instead of constantly digging for cheez & dirt. And let the citizenry quit clamoring for more or it.

  • Neil


  • Steve the Cynic

    The trouble is, we the people encourage our politicians to lie by the way we pounce on every little character flaw that gets revealed. Admit it: when you hear some dirt about a politian, especially one who’s a member of that awful party (whichever party that is for you), don’t you have a bit of schadenfreude? It’s no wonder then, that politicians are loath to admit the full truth about themselves.

  • Rich in Duluth

    Maybe, for a short time.

    This is a public lie about a private matter and has little national significance other than it’s fun to watch someone squirm on TV.

    I think it’s much less significant than the public lies about public matters. Consider, for example, the public lies about “death panels” as reasons for voting against healthcare reform and WMDs as reasons for going to war…the list is long.

    These are lies, too, but nobody tearfully apologizes for them.

  • Chelsey

    For me, it depends on the circumstances. If he were a politician who built a public persona around “family values” and was elected in part based on that stance, then talks of resignation would make sense to me.

    But he’s not one of those politicians. Although it’s annoying that he fibbed about it, and it does make me question a little bit whether he’s trustworthy, I think it’s kind of crazy to expect him to resign over a personal matter as mild as this. If the lie were a public matter, I would feel differently.

  • John

    A liar cannot be trusted. It makes no difference if the liar is a politician or not. The liar’s career is irrelevant.

  • Philip

    Is this a trick question? Politicians are liars by their very nature; it doesn’t matter who it is.

  • Travis Stewart

    Though it may be best to separate the public life and private life of an elected official, our public eyes are always prying and we all seem to have the tendency of seeing the bad over the good. Because of this I think it should be expected that their private life will affect their public role and duties. Elected officials are often “heroes” and because so, they should be expected and demanded to live upstanding and respectful lives during their time in the public’s eye.

  • Jason

    I just assume that every politician will lie, exaggerate, hide facts, or whatever a certain amount as a normal part of their rhetoric. It makes me feel more comfortable with the level of “credibility” I may want to ascribe to them.

  • Travis Stewart

    But on the flip, we all lie, regardless of who we are or if the lie was intended to be said or heard. Maybe a sincere apology should be more rewarded then the lie itself, recognized and scrutinized.

  • dick holt

    No. Although I sometimes wonder about the impact on the women involved.

  • Josh

    Why should this be news? Judge a politician based on how they vote and the actions they make for their constituents and the country. Why is their personal life or decisions something we should know anything about? Everyone can be an idiot sometimes, it doesn’t mean they don’t fight for what is correct for the country. Same situation as Bill Clinton, bad personal decisions, great person in office.

  • Kent Matthews

    It depends on the context, obviously many people tell lies to their family members, most of them harmless. In Weiner’s situation, he lied about sending strange, sexually tinged photo’s to young women who he didn’t know. He than lied about it for several days. The lie itself may be somewhat understandable, but the lack of judgement is not.

  • Julie

    I always tell my kids, “If I can’t trust you on the little things how can I trust you on the big things.” That seems to apply here as well. What type of message do you send when you lie to evade responsibility?

  • CJ

    Let those without sin cast the first stone.

    How easy it is to pass judgement on a public figure having never felt the pressure of that role personally. I cannot imagine there’s a person reading this who would not flinch at a confrontation from a media person shoving a microphone or camera in their face and demanding to know their most embarrassing and intimate secrets and mistakes. We place morale standards on politicians that are unrealistic and that’s the fodder for downfall that gives the press the headlines it craves.

    Doesn’t anybody remember all the psychobabble backstory articles written about guys like Clinton and why they do this kind of stupid stuff despite the obvious risks? It crosses party lines and even types of activities as evidenced by the dudes who scream out about limiting gay rights and get caught with a hired boy whore.

    The amazing thing is that despite all evidence to the contrary, these power addicts actually think they’ll be the ONE guy who could never be caught. In Edwards’ case, he figured he’d just spend his way out of the problem. How’s that workin’ for ya, Mr. Ed?

    Does it say something about their character? Of course it does. Does it say something about their ability to do their job as a legislator? Ehh, maybe. Kind of a case by case call on that.

    Here’s the other good question: What does it say about us as citizens that we gobble up this nasty gossip like sweets? There’s a reason this sickening crap gets so much air time and hits on the news websites. Some pretty provocative ethical questions come up over that behavior, boys and girls.

    When’s the last time you turned off the TV, the radio, the news website over coverage on melodramatic apologies and confessions that have absolutely nothing to do with the relevant news of the day? I did. This morning. Sorry, MPR, but you’re doing it too and I’m sick of it. I’ll tune in tomorrow to see if you’ve readjusted your priorities like you should.

  • Neil too

    It can, but its not a given. Credibility is a variable. Forgiveness or indifference from the press or the public are the determining factors.

    People liked the job President Clinton was doing or at least were happy with where they were in their lives to not care so much about his transgressions. Weiner’s actions say as much about ourselves as it does his credibility. If he didn’t violate any laws or rules we have the choice to care or not.

  • Sharon

    I am not sure why this is even in question. We tell our children that they can not send pictures of themselves and we as parents can be held responsible if they do and we have their phone contract. We tell our children it is wrong to lie and cheat. We tell people it is wrong to keep secrets and lie to our spouses. What kind of message are we sending to everyone if we say this is OK because it is his personal life and not his political life. When he took office the two became intertwined. Wrong is wrong no matter who you are and it is long past time that people like him, Tiger Woods, Brett Farve and all those who think they are above the law realize that.

  • kay

    Yes it ruins his credibility – once a person shows they are willing to lie, their credibility is impacted regardless of what the subject matter is.

    My question is: when was the last time a female political figure had to answer to a scandal involving extra-marital activities, including sexting or a love-child? What is it about male politicians that this is almost exclusively a male problem?

  • John

    Lies harm everyone’s credibility. That’s why it’s smart to not do thinks you might have to lie about.

  • Elizabeth

    Anthony Weiner’s lies to cover up his original lie show clearly that his moral fiber is flawed. The most troubling part of this ordeal is that while finally admitting his indiscretions, he put a codicil on his comments by saying “I have broken no laws.” Well, as long as he did not “break any laws,” he remains credible in his job! in his mind – in ‘Weiner World’ – what he did in bad taste and judgment, then lying about it to the nation, is not bad enough to destroy his credibility. There is NO way he can maintain trust and credibility in his public duties with the way he justifies his bad behavior.

  • Drae

    Of course it ruins a politicians credibility. It ruins anyone’s credibility when they are proven to be a liar. What I think an event such as this shows, however, is a lack of judgement and that’s a by far worse consequence of such a scandal than the loss of credibility.

    This man is in a position of power and he can’t think twice on whether he should Tweet his private parts? Regardless of party – not the sort of person I want using their judgement on matters of national and international policy.

  • George Gribble

    politicians credibility

    LOL You guys crack me up.

  • susie

    Of course it ruins his credibility, but, then, in these days “everyone cheats and lies”. Kids lie and cheat on tests and their parents defend them – so why shouldn’t our so called leaders lie also. I guess the idea that an adult male in a position of power needs to send out pictures of his penis to young women questions his mental status. We caution young people not to send out pictures of their naked bodies – but think it’s OK for Weiner? He did this with full knowledge that this was wrong and stupid – then he lies about doing it and how many times he has done it – but he didn’t do anything wrong??? He no longer has credibility.

  • Eric K.

    Politicians’ personal lives should not generally be relevant to the discussion of their capabilities, accomplishments and job performance. I feel the notable exception to this is when the lies about their personal lives and what they’ve done run counter to the beliefs they espouse. When a very vocal, religious conservative is discovered to have cheated on their spouse it can and should hurt their credibility because of the blatant hypocrisy. Similarly, a liberal politician who pushes hard for equal rights for minorities should suffer a hit to their credibility if they are found to behave in a manner counter to what they say, be it racist, sexist, anti-gay and so on.

  • Clark

    Anytime a far left radical democrat like weiner takes a fall, I celebrate with a martini as one more of the enemy is toast.

  • travis

    Personally I think he was more embarrassed than anything. I almost admire the fact that if you listen to him when he said he didn’t send the photo he has obvious troubles lying about it. I could tell he was lying by how he was presenting it. Seemed as though he had trouble lying.. most people in politics don’t have that problem. Personally. The first thing i would do is lie if i was caught in that situation. Need less to say it’s embarrasing and none of the publics business. I would actually vote for this guy next election because of how he presented it.

  • Lawrence

    What I’m having trouble with is the quantum outrage over lies regarding infidelity compared to the tiny murmur over lies regarding actual public policy decisions. We seem to regard lies about public policy as politics 101. In the meantime, lies regarding infidelity is taken by our society as seriously as theft and murder, when, in reality, the causes of infidelity are frequently not strictly about sex, and have much more to do with the relationship a married man and his married wife have with each other.

  • t sheppard

    Show me an honest politician, I will show you someone who isn’t running for office. Only the unemployed politicians try to be honest.

  • Kevin VC

    It depends, does the ‘personal matter related to a public policy?’

    Did THEY put it in the public, this ‘personal’ matter?

    A public official is to work on public matters, and the media should concentrate on that aspect of their duty. Only worry about private matters if the public official ‘invited’ others into it. OR has made a big stink about it.

    (Like Neut Grinch who after cheating on multiple wives and even broke up with one while fighting for her life in the hospital….)

    And honestly, I am VERY annoyed about the whole Weiner issue even being in the news… How about covering actual news?

    That was ‘gossip’ and really poor taste.

    If there is a issue, let him deal with it professionally. (I will assume he will, and frankly care even less now that the NEWS media made a stink about it…Some days you want to give news channels ear full of lip or worse for being easily distracted from their job.)

  • jp

    Yes. Anyone who lies to me instantly loses credibility with me. An honest and complete apology goes some way toward making it possible for them to regain credibility, assuming they have generally behaved in a trustworthy manner in the past.

    For a political figure that I’m not likely to know on a personal level, though, I think the label “Liar” is going to be superimposed on their forehead whenever I see them in my forehead, for a very long time.

    I can understand personal problems and mistakes and embarrassment, but when someone lies to me and/or blames others for their actions to try to avoid the consequences, I find it much more troubling.

    I have children and any one of them would aver that lying about something they’ve done gets them at least 10x the trouble that openly admitting, discussing, and sincerely apologizing for it does in our house.

    Politicians ought to be at least as accountable as an 8 yr old.

  • Sue de Nim

    The question assumes that politicians have some credibility to begin with. I’m not convinced that’s a valid assumption.

  • R. B. Cheney

    Not in the least.

  • W. Clinton

    Only if they get caught.

  • GWB

    Why in hell would that matter?

  • G. Washington

    Not if it’s a white lie, or maybe a rainbow one.

  • Michelle

    It certainly can. It depends on the reason it was originally told. If the reason is told (while protecting the innocent) and apologies made for any confusion or disturbance, then it can be understandable. Otherwise doubt about the politician’s credibility may persist.

  • Paul Sitz

    Long ago, Beatrice Stella Tanner said “It doesn’t matter what you do in the bedroom as long as you don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses.” It seems that Rep. Anthony Weiner has frightened the horses.

  • Theo

    When politicians have credibility, it will matter. I, for one, am not holding my breath…

  • Lissa

    He not only lied – he took actions to cover it up. It’s not the action of what he did that bothers me so much – that’s between him and his wife – but the lies and now the cover up that’s disgusting. If he would have come out and said “It’s between me and my wife, stay out of it” I’d have respected him more. But he lied, lied, and now he’s trying to get others to lie for him. That’s where I draw the line.