What is the Difference Between a Lie and a False Statement?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017


 #6 News Story of 2017

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Story Description

If you look up “lie” in the dictionary, it says a “false statement with the intent to deceive.” At President Trump’s first speech at the CIA headquarters, he made a number of untrue claims including falsely inflated numbers of attendees at his inauguration. Journalists have struggled with how to characterize the President’s wrong facts. NPR reporters used terms like “untrue claims” and “false denials” to describe the inaccuracies in Trump’s speech rather than labeling them as lies. The reporters were criticized for not referring to these falsehoods as lies. Listen to learn how reporters are debating when to use the word lie and then debate in your classroom: What is the difference between a lie and a false statement?

Listening Comprehension Questions

  • What are two of the untrue claims in Trump’s speech to the CIA?
  • What are the reasons NPR reporters gave for not using the word “lie”?
  • What do you think are the reasons other news organizations use the word lie?
  • What is the effect of wording choice and why is it important when reporting events?

Classroom Discussion Themes

  • Debate: What is the difference between a lie and a false statement?
  • Do you agree with the NPR reporter’s decision to avoid the word “lie” in regard to Trump’s statements?