Whether it's a personal matter like a physical ailment, or a matter of international security involving weapons, presidents are often selective in what information they share with the public. It raises the question, is it ever okay to lie? Explore the topic in this collection of short videos.
The Lewinsky Scandal
Clinton understood how the allegations of a sexual relationship with a White House intern could derail his presidency. He asked Dick Morris if he should lie to the American people. "They will forgive the adultery, but they won’t easily forgive that you lied." Morris concludes.
Arms for Hostages
Despite his firm stand against dealing with terrorists, in November 1986 Reagan admitted that arms had been shipped to Iran but denied that the arms were a trade for hostages.
Hiding a Disability
The majority of the country did not know President Roosevelt was handicapped. "When he met Orson Welles, he said, 'Orson, you and I are the two best actors in America,'" says biographer Hugh Gallagher. "And he was right."
Roosevelt's Lend-lease plan -- which promised the return of American weapons after England used them -- "was patent nonsense," according to historian Robert Dallek. "What were the British going to do, give us the tanks back that were blown up, the planes that were shot down?"
Campaigning on Honesty
Jimmy Carter campaigned on a platform on honesty at a time when the nation sorely needed it. "The country had been through a horrible time, and Jimmy Carter represented honesty and decency," said journalist John Farrell.
Creating a Reason to Go to War
President Roosevelt did not tell Congress or the American people the truth behind the Greer incident that led to US involvement in World War II. "I am perfectly willing to mislead and tell untruths if it will help win the war," FDR told a friend.
For a large part of American history, military service was considered almost a prerequisite to serving as president. In recent decades, that has changed. Explore the topic in this series of short videos.