Tillerson: Crisis in Ethics Threatens US Democracy

Tillerson warns of 'crisis of ethics and integrity' in US

Tillerson warns of 'crisis of ethics and integrity' in US

In an apparent swipe at US President Donald Trump, former secretary of state Rex Tillerson on Wednesday decried what he called "a growing crisis in ethics and integrity" in American public life.

Tillerson, who was sacked in March by President Donald Trump, did not mention the president during his commencement speech at the Virginia Military Institute Wednesday - but warned of accepting "alternative realities" not "grounded in facts".

Tillerson was removed as Secretary of State after a tempestuous year in office, a period of time in which relations between him and Trump allegedly became incredibly strained.

Greg Sargent of The Washington Post notes that this pro-Trump media may become even more significant as the Russian Federation investigation moves forward: "Trump's ability to rely on an extensive media network that will back him to the hilt no matter what gives him an advantage that President Richard Nixon did not have during the climax of Watergate".

While he didn't mention the president by name in his first public speech since leaving the administration, many have taken his words as a rebuke of the former reality TV star.

"When we as people go wobbly on the truth, even on what may seem as trivial matters, we go wobbly on America".

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After Tillerson's speech, some journalists took to Twitter the former secretary of state a hypocrite, accusing him of purposefully obscuring the truth while working for Trump. "It is only by a fierce defense of the truth and a common set of facts that we create the conditions for a democratic, free society".

He also warned that if the United States failed to address the ethics crisis now, it could mean "American democracy as we know it is entering its twilight years", adding: "We do not have to look far to find examples of the cost to individuals and to society when integrity is sacrificed for immediate gain or personal achievement".

Tillerson's most powerful theme, however, was the importance of standing up for the truth.

Former State Department special adviser and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ronan Farrow claimed on Tuesday evening that Tillerson admitted that he wasn't prepared for the job, "Tillerson, if he had any logic, knew that he was going to be fired on some level", Farrow told Seth Meyers on Late Night.

Social media users had a lot to say about the address.

The State Department published excerpts of Pompeo's prepared remarks but did not allow access to the event for reporters. "Blessed is the man that can say that the boy he was would be proud of the man he is".

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