Throughout his talk, Lewis addressed a range of
instances where there was a gap in time between significant events and
discoveries, and when related information became available to the
public. Along with the Watergate scandal, the My Lai massacre and other
infamous moments in history, Lewis focused a large part of his talk on
the decades-long silence of tobacco executives about the dangers of the
“Tens of millions of people died during this whole period,” Lewis
said. “The whole thing was conscious, it was understood. These are all
things not generally known but I find them, shall we say, disturbing,
and what it really means is we rarely really know the truth in real
Lewis was adamant about the importance of correcting the problem detailed in his book.
“If we want to make decisions that affect our lives,
we have to have information, [and that information] has to be
authentic, it has to be legitimate, and it has to be fairly soon after
we’re worrying about a problem,” Lewis said. “We can’t find out years
later that we didn’t know.”
During a question and answer period moderated by Ralph Begleiter, the
Edward F. and Elizabeth Goodman Rosenberg Professor of Communication
and director of UD’s Center for Political Communication, Lewis explained
that a solution lies in establishing innovative new platforms for
journalists to do investigative reporting, including non-profit
foundations like the Center for Public Integrity.
“I think there’s a way to make lemonade out of lemons here,” Lewis
said. “I have all these bright, shining-faced young people, and they
want to do good for the world, but they have no idea where they’re going
to work … My idea is to enlarge the public space somehow to do this
kind of work.”
Following the discussion, guests enjoyed dinner and drinks and had
the chance to speak with Lewis and to ask the author to sign copies of 935 Lies.
Authors Series guest Mary Jane DeMatteis said Lewis’s speech was illuminating.
“I think it was just wonderful,” she said. “You read the news, you
watch the news on TV, and you never really realize all this is going on.
It’s been such an interesting night hearing his story.”
DeMatteis’ daughter, Claire DeMatteis, a 1987 UD graduate with a
degree in communication, who was editor-in-chief of the student-run
newspaper The Review, has known Lewis for years.
“I read the book the first week it came out,” she said. “These kinds
of stories have to be told, so thank goodness for Chuck Lewis.”
A member of the Delaware Diamonds Society, Claire DeMatteis was
excited to attend the Diamonds Authors Series event, saying she is
enthusiastic about any chance to reconnect with her alma mater.
“Anything Delaware related, you don’t have to ask me twice,” she
said. “Especially when it’s a distinguished alum. It’s really special.”