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Lying is a "National Crisis," Bestselling Author James B. Stewart '73 Says on NBC's Today

April 19, 2011

94603April 19, 2011, Greencastle, Ind. — In his brand new book, James B. Stewart  says, "I look at people at the pinnacle of their profession -- Martha Stewart, Scooter Libby, Barry Bonds, Bernie Madoff, right up into the White House -- and people were lying under oath, committing perjury. They are role models. It trickles down to society. Why do people lie? They think they can get away with it. Many people do."

Stewart, the bestselling author, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and 1973 graduate of DePauw University, was interviewed by Al Roker on NBC's Today this morning.  His latest book, Tangled Webs: How False Statements are Undermining America -- From Bernie Madoff to Martha Stewart, was released today.

Stewart sees lying as a national epidemic. He told Roker, "Look around you. Look at these cases, many others. It's happening and most ominously at the highest levels, people who should be setting an example for others are committing 93103perjury. Why? I think the simple answer is because they think they will get away with it. Something has to be done now at the top to make it clear there is accountability: we are not going to tolerate this, we are not going to accept it. In our families, with our children, we need to reinforce the importance of the truth -- the idea that you put your hand up and swear to tell the truth is an oath. Your honor depends on it, you must tell the truth. Our whole judicial system depends on that."

The Wall Street Journal columnist added, "Everyone is affected by this whether they are conscious of it or not. One thing I show in the book is the damage that lying does, not just to the people who do it -- investors who trust them, the broad public. everybody who votes. How much do you think people believe politicians today? We have come to a shocking crisis, I think. I mean, prosecutors told me they come in every day and the question is not will people lie, because they will, but how good are they going to be at it?"

See video of the segment at the morning news program's website.

Stewart was also featured on NPR today. Also access this article on Tangled Webs.

A former Page One editor at the Wall Street Journal, Stewart won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for his reporting on the stock market crash and insider trading. He is a regular contributor to SmartMoney and the New Yorker. His previous books include Den of Thieves, Blood Sport, DisneyWar and Blind Eye. An opera based on Stewart's best-selling 44962002 book, Heart of a Soldier: A Story of Love, Heroism, and September 11th, will have its world premiere on September 10, 2011, at the San Francisco Opera.

A member of DePauw's Board of Trustees and former chair of the group, James B. Stewart has twice received the Loeb Award, the highest honor in business journalism. He received DePauw's Young Alumni Award in 1988, an Alumni Citation in 1988, an honorary Doctor of Journalism degree in 1989, and the Old Gold Goblet in 2009.

The San Francisco Examiner has called Stewart, who served as editor of The DePauw while a student in Greencastle, "the journalist every journalist would like to be."

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