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Think Tank

Barry Bonds and the National Epidemic of Lying

Whats the Big Idea?

Martha Stewart. Bernie Madoff. Scooter Libby. Barry Bonds. They were public figures, leaders, and role models. They were also all liars, part of a national epidemic of lying, says James Stewart in his book Tangled Webs: How American Society is Drowning Lies.

The impact of these lies was far ranging. Not only did these lies undermine the judicial system, they undermined public trust in government, business institutions and the nation's pastime. If that wasn't enough, Madoff, Stewart, Libby and Bonds put their subordinates in legal jeopardy by forcing them to choose between loyalty and the better angels of their nature

This story is about Barry Bonds and his trainer, and how Bonds added to his reputation as the most hated athlete in America. His story also shows how Bonds undermined public trust and contributed to the national epidemic of lying, according to Stewart. 

What's the significance?

The 1994 baseball strike was bad news for baseball. Interest and excitement about the game was dramatically renewed in 1998 during Mark McGwirre and Sammy Sosa's famous home run race that resulted in McGwire smashing Roger Maris's single season home run record, by hitting 70. Then the game was dealt another setback. McGwire and Sosa's feats were tainted by their suspected steroid use (McGwire finally admitted he juiced last year), a charge that, unlike Roger Clemens, McGwire decided not to speak to the truthiness of in front of Congressional investigators. 

Then along came Barry Bonds, the most hated athlete in America, who broke McGwire's record in 2003, hitting 73 home runs and, revealingly, had to be fitted for a new helmet (Yikes--the human head stops growing once you reach adulthood, unless you feed your body with steroids).

So who would tell the truth about these charges? Not Bonds. And certainly not his trainer Greg Anderson. Stewart relates the story of this lie, and how our society has in some cases encouraged such behavior, and how we have systematically failed to stop this epidemic, or at least quite as effectively as the Romans.

Watch the video here:

 

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