Is there a Pulitzer Prize for lying?

A fishmonger caught selling farm-raised salmon as “wild” tells the whopper of the year.

When I seven or eight years old, Amos ‘n’ Andy was one of my favorite TV shows. The Kingfish’s devious plots were funny enough, but the highlights were Andy’s desperate, “Who ya gonna believe, me or your lyin’ eyes?” fabrications when Sapphire had caught him in some misdeed. (It seems to me a terrible waste that no one has had the skill or courage to develop a series less laden with racial stereotypes to make use of the vast resources of comic African-American folklore.)

What makes me think of that is a story in today’s New York Times, which makes it appear that Andy has changed his name to Cohen and gone into the fish business.

The Times bought fish labelled “wild salmon” at eight retail outlets in New York and sent it off to a lab to be tested. Of the eight samples, six were farm-raised, and one appeared to be a farm-raised fish that had escaped into the wild.

Naturally, the reporter went back to the stores to collect the lies the fishmongers would tell. The best, the truly Andy-quality lie, came from one Phil Cohen, the store manager of M. Slavin & Sons in Brooklyn:

Our salmon is from Canada.

All wild salmon in Canada is farm raised.

All right, then.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com