Thesis:Honest is the best policy.
Watergate scandal initiated a prolonged crisis of confidence and renewed public cynicism toward a government that had systematically lied to the people and violated their civil liberties. A 1974 poll asked people how much faith they had in the executive branch of government. Only 14 percent answered “a great deal”; 43 percent said “hardly any.” Restoring credibility and respect became the primary challenge facing Nixon’s successors. Unfortunately, a new array of economic and foreign crisis would make that task doubly difficult.
Sometimes it is necessary, and even desirable, for public leaders to withhold information from the public in order to further the public’s ultimate interests, in the sense that fully disclosing to the public certain types of information would threaten public safety and perhaps even national security. For example, if the President were to disclose the government’s strategies for thwarting specific plans of an international terrorist or a drug, those strategies would surely fail, and the public’s health and safety would be compromised as a result. Withholding information might also be necessary to avoid public panic. During the first few hours of the new millennium the U.S. Pentagon’s missile defense system experienced a Y2K-related malfunction. This fact was withheld form the public until later in the day, once the problem had been solved, since immediate disclosure would have served no useful purpose and might even have resulted in mass hysteria.