Against Euphemisms

Here’s a headline from the Washington Post:

Maybe this was just tiredness on my part, but I read about half this piece thinking that Rampell was making some kind of policy critique of Republicans. It wasn’t until the second half, when her sarcasm became stronger, that I realized she was merely saying that Republicans are lying about nearly all their policies. I don’t know if the choice of “mischaracterizing” was hers or the copy desk’s, but it shows the danger of getting too fond of euphemisms. There’s a point at which it tiptoes around your meaning so much that readers have a hard time understanding you.

Anyway, yes: Republicans have systematically and obviously lied about the rationale for their tax cuts, their family separation policy, and their support for protection of pre-existing conditions. Why? That’s pretty obvious too: their real reasons are unpopular and, in some cases, loathsome. Of course they have to lie about them.

But if you just can’t bring yourself to use the word lying—either because of company policy or because you think it turns off too many readers—at least use something close:

  • deceiving
  • BSing
  • fabricating
  • faking
  • misleading
  • falsifying
  • fibbing

There are plenty of others. There’s really no reason to be coy about this anymore.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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