Wow. Robert Reich is pretty popular today thanks to this pair of tweets making the rounds:

Whoa, guys. Whoa.

You’re sure he had this conversation, are you?

About as real as those woke-six-year-old anecdotes, maybe?

From a February 2017 Mediaite post:

UC Berkeley professor and former Democratic Secretary of Labor Robert Reich suggested the anti-Trump riots on campus were actually a right-wing plot to delegitimize liberals.

“I was there for part of last night, and I know what I saw and those people were not Berkeley students,” Reich said. “Those people were outside agitators. I have never seen them before.”

“There’s rumors that they actually were right-wingers. They were a part of a kind of group that was organized and ready to create the kind of tumult and danger you saw that forced the police to cancel the event,” Reich insisted. “So Donald Trump, when he says Berkeley doesn’t respect free speech rights, that’s a complete distortion of the truth.”

And speaking of complete distortions of the truth …

From a 1997 Slate piece:

Asked about these denials, Reich said, “Our recollections differ.” And it’s certainly true that, in Washington, quote-denying is endemic. But some of Reich’s dialogues are checkable, and turn out, when checked, to be inaccurate in ways that serve Reich’s rhetorical ends.

I asked Reich what was going on in each of these cases. In reply, he pointed to his Note to the Reader: “I claim no higher truth than my own perceptions. This is how I lived it.” He said that his notes accurately reflected how he felt and what he perceived. In the three cases cited above, he felt varying degrees of hostility. “I am not representing the book to be anything other than it is, which is my account of my experiences, my perceptions, what I saw and heard around me,” he said. “That’s all I can say.”

In effect, Reich is saying that he’s not writing journalism or history. He’s writing … well, what? He elides the very distinction between history and myth, memoir and novel, reality and perception. The problem is that those are real people he misquotes, real history he rewrites.

So why exactly should we be inclined to take Reich at his word today?

Yeah, Reich’s not exactly known for telling the truth. Not intentionally, anyway. As a general rule, when you’re dealing with Robert Reich, make sure you have a ginormous grain of salt nearby.

Sounds about right.

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