The Word Ryan Lochte Just Couldn’t Say

Remember the show “Happy Days?” The Fonz could never say one particular word. Even when he knew he made a mistake he couldn’t admit that he was “wrong.” He’d attempt to say it: “I was wroooo…” He never could quite enunciate the word clearly. For some reason, Fonzie had some internal blockage with saying the word “wrong.”
Ryan Lochte, apparently, doesn’t have a problem saying that word but, like Fonzie, he does have a problem saying another word.
During his recent interview with Matt Lauer, Lochte admitted that he was wrong and that the incident at the Rio gas station was his fault. However, neither in his press release that he posted on Twitter nor in his Matt Lauer interview did he ever admit that he “lied.” Rather, in his release, he wrote that he needed to be “more careful and candid” in how he described the events. To Matt Lauer, he stated “I over-exaggerated that story.” Well, yeah, that he did too. However, he just couldn’t come out and say he lied, even though that’s what he did. He told several lies. For example, he never had a gun pressed to his forehead and cocked like he initially stated. He never faced armed assailants flashing police badges, like he alleged. Those were LIES!
It’s been said that, “The best lies are based upon half truths.” That saying definitely applies here. Lochte attempted to persuade the world that he was an armed robbery victim in the “mean streets of Rio” based loosely upon what really happened, which was merely a negotiation of a settlement for damages that he caused. He used the fact that a gun was momentarily pointed at him by a security guard as support for his made up scenario.
I suspect his P.R. team carefully crafted his press release and worked with him for hours prior to him sitting down with Matt Lauer. Keeping their eye on the prize, consisting in part of the millions of dollars in endorsement deals as well as his future in swimming, I suspect they (and/or he) intentionally eliminated the “l word” from his narrative. In calling them “exaggerations” instead of “lies” further demonstrates his inability to adequately recognize what he did. Thus, I don’t believe he fully accepted responsibility for his actions. Many in the “Court of Public Opinion” feel the same way.
If any of my three young kids told me they “exaggerated” or should be more “careful and candid” after they told me they didn’t eat cookies before dinner when they actually did, I’d set them straight. Wiping the crumbs from their face, I’d say, “Son/daughter, you lied.” I’d explain, “When you lie, it causes people to question your character.” I would gently use my cross-examination skills to get them to fully admit to what they had done. Ryan Lochte has yet to do so.
I’ve got nothing against Lochte personally. He’s a fellow Gator, having also graduated from the University of Florida. I admire his swimming skills and recognize the positive achievements he’s made. Also, I give Lochte credit for sitting down with Lauer and admitting publicly some of the things he did. I know it wasn’t easy. Assuming it wasn’t all a show in order to salvage his sponsorships and to get him back in the pool, I can accept that some of what he said was heartfelt. Where he failed was by not admitting that he lied. If he thinks that he didn’t, then he’s lying once again…this time, to himself.