Carly Fiorina has a big problem with the truth. More specifically, she has a problem with embellishing the truth, in a manner very reminiscent of disgraced NBC anchor Brian Williams.
On Friday, conservative radio host Sean Hannity asked Fiorina to explain stories that Hewlett-Packard violated in the Iran embargo, by selling millions of dollars of computers, parts and equipment through a Dubai-based company, while she was CEO.
"The SEC did a thorough investigation and concluded that no one in management, myself included, knew anything about it," Fiorina told Hannity.
She repeated the line, nearly verbatim, to FOX News Sunday host Chris Wallace, this weekend.
"In fact, the SEC investigation proved that neither I nor anyone else in management knew about it," she told Wallace.
Yes, except the SEC investigation didn't. In fact, the SEC didn't perform an investigation at all, especially one that cleared her of any knowledge of the affair.
What is true is that the SEC's Division of Corporate Finance inquired about HP's dealings with Iran. There was back and forth, with the SEC asking questions, and HP answering, which ended with this letter from the SEC. But, there is no record of the Enforcement Division -- the only division that performs investigations -- taking up the matter. Thus, no investigation was performed.
That, in and of itself, may have been a satisfactory answer. In fact, it would have been a very satisfactory answer.
It used to be. On Fiorina's own 2010 Senate campaign fact-check site, the campaign makes no claim about the SEC clearing Fiorina of having any personal knowledge. It, unlike Fiorina herself, sticks to the facts in saying that the SEC "inquired about" -- not "investigated" -- the matter, but chose not to prosecute.
Further, an Associated Press story, posted at FOXNews.com, reported that HP "acknowledged that it knew" sales were occurring in Iran, despite the embargo, but maintained it did not violate the law.
So, there never was a real investigation into the matter, let alone one that declared her, or anyone at HP, innocent of any knowledge of the matter.
In short, Fiorina took the truth, and then added some tinsel, in lying to Sean Hannity and Chris Wallace.
This is part of an emerging and disturbing pattern with Fiorina, who has already been proven to embellish the facts.
In fact, Fiorina didn't rise from secretarial pool to CEO, like a real world version of "Working Girl." The daughter of the dean of Duke Law School, and top Nixon advisor, she took a part-time job as a secretary, while in law school, and then was put on the management track at AT&T. I worked in the dining hall in college, but I don't go around saying that I rose from burger flipper to Presidential Campaign press secretary.
Again, the real story is impressive enough -- a woman, in a man's world, rising up to be CEO of Hewlett-Packard? Truly, color me impressed! But that is not good enough for Fiorina, who, again, takes a truth, and embellishes it for effect, so much so that is no longer the truth.
Then there is the now widely debunked claim, by Fiorina, that she watched Planned Parenthood videos where a fetus is still alive, while Planned Parenthood officials say the fetus must be kept alive to harvest its brain.
Indeed, Fiorina probably did watch a "documentary" released by the Center for Medical Progress, called "Human Capital." And, in that documentary, there is footage of a fetus, though it is not clear if it is at Planned Parenthood, or if it is even an abortion or miscarriage. But no one in that dubbed footage talks about keeping the fetus alive to harvest its brain.
In what is becoming a pattern, Fiorina takes what is true, and adds made-up embellishments (lies) to it, for dramatic effect.
In this way, Fiorina shows a lot of similarity to disgraced anchor, Brian Williams.
Brian Williams was in Iraq. Brian Williams did fly on military helicopters in Iraq. That's more than I've ever done, militarily. It's impressive. But Williams didn't see it as good enough.
Soon, he wasn't just flying in helicopters -- he was getting hit by RPG's. He was flying secret night missions with special forces.
He wasn't just making friends with someone in SEAL Team 6 -- he was getting pieces of the fuselage of the destroyed helicopter used in the Abbottabad raid that killed bin Laden.
He didn't just serve as a volunteer fireman in New Jersey -- something more bad-ass than anything I've ever done. He was rescuing puppies from burning buildings -- first just one, then two at a time!
There's been plenty of armchair psychoanalysis of why Brian Williams said what he said. But, at the end of the day, most people agreed that he wasn't fit to anchor the news.
Carly Fiorina is showing a real problem with the truth, in the same exact mold.
The difference, to some extent, is people half-expect all politicians to play fast and loose with stories and facts. A politician lying is like the sun rising.
Fiorina, however, is staking her whole campaign on people believing that she's not a politician. She leaves no opportunity untaken to proclaim herself to be outside from, and the enemy of the "professional political class."
She makes these claims, despite the fact that she was: A top advisor for John McCain in his 2008 campaign; the Fundraising Chair for the Republican National Committee; and a Senate candidate in California in 2010.
In other words, though she could say she's relatively new to politics, and be different enough by saying just that, she feels the need to go further and try to pretend that she's a total outsider, when her very resume disputes that.
Even her main campaign selling point is part of the ever-growing Bri-Wi problem that Carly Fiorina has with the truth.