Patterico's Pontifications

3/22/2012

Santorum: Obama Is Better Than the Etch-a-Sketch Candidate

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:28 pm

This seems unlikely to be polarizing:

“You win by giving people a choice. You win by giving people the opportunity to see a different vision for our country, not someone who’s just going to be a little different than the person in there. If you’re going to be a little different, we might as well stay with what we have instead of taking a risk with what may be the Etch A Sketch candidate of the future,” Santorum told a crowd at USAA.

So. A candidate who would, say, appoint a Supreme Court justice who would vote to take away your Second Amendment rights is better than Mitt Romney.

It’s quite a claim. And it will certainly be used by Obama in the general election.

The Correct Way to Fix Mistakes . . . and the Incorrect Way

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 5:58 pm

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone. But people carefully watch how you handle mistakes.

The right way to do it is to quickly, forthrightly, and thoroughly admit error — to move to correct the error, apologize, and explain how it happened.

The wrong way is to pretend it never happened, and to lawyer it up.

Recently, two outlets screwed up stories in a colossal way. One, PRI’s “This American Life,” handled the situation properly. The other, Breitbart.com (I am sad to say) did not.

Let’s start with “This American Life.” A few weeks ago, the program broadcast a portion of a theater presentation by a man named Mike Daisey, who had claimed to observe poor working conditions at manufacturing plants in China assembling Apple products. The show’s producers checked to ensure that the conditions Daisey had described — suicides, crippling repetitive motion injuries, employment of young teens, and the like — were actually occurring at these plants. That’s not the part they got wrong; such conditions do occur. What didn’t occur is Daisey’s observation of them.

Daisey had told the show’s producers that he had given a phony name for his translator, who had a prominent role in the story, because he wanted to protect her. He claimed to have no way to contact her. A reporter from another public radio show Googled the translator’s first name and location and easily found the translator, who disputed much of Daisey’s account. When confronted with this, Daisey admitted that he had lied about several aspects, and sounded mighty dodgy even about the parts that he was standing by.

Producer Ira Glass forthrightly admitted that he should have killed the story when Daisey could not provide contact information for the translator. Glass detailed the efforts that had been made to corroborate the story, where the show had failed, and what the true state of affairs in China is. This American Life devoted an entire hour to the retraction, took full responsibility, and generally made its fans (and I am one) feel that, while they screwed up, they could trust in the integrity of the show. No cover-ups here.

Such was not the case at another favorite outlet of mine, Breitbart.com, which recently had a disastrous post in which ambush interviewer Jason Mattera went after Bono with respect to certain financial dealings. Mattera confronted Bono, who incredibly denied having anything to do with his company’s business, or indeed even with U2. Bono looked evasive and surprisingly casual as he repeatedly issued denials: “I didn’t do that.”

The reason was: it wasn’t Bono. It was a Bono impersonator.

Whoops.

OK, look. These things happen. Breitbart.com was not the only one fooled. The night the story was published, I saw the story linked at the Blaze, for example. Everyone is fallible.

What I don’t like is the way it was handled. The post was simply removed without explanation, and editor Joel Pollak, instead of admitting error, went into lawyer mode:

“We went through a vetting process on this and appropriate questions were raised and appropriate answers were given,” Breitbart.com editor Joel Pollack assured us this afternoon by phone. “But the videographer then asked us to take it down, so we did.” But Pollak said he would “neither confirm nor deny” that mistaken identity was the reason for the scrubbing.

“Neither confirm nor deny”? Mattera has admitted that he got taken by a Bono impersonator.

I’ve met and spoken with Joel Pollak, and he seems like a smart man, and I’m sure he has the best interests of Breitbart.com at heart. But this is not how you handle it when you make a mistake. You gotta say: hey, we screwed up. At matters stand now, the biggest mistake in this affair was made, not by Mattera or his editor, but by Pollak.

I hate to say something like this, but sometimes you have to administer a little tough medicine to people who are on your side, for the greater good. In the Internet world, reputation is everything, and admitting mistakes in a cheerful and forthright manner is critical. With Andrew Breitbart gone, the people running the show need to learn that lesson fast, or they risk squandering the reputation for integrity that Andrew worked hard to build.

Don’t know much about 1980?

Filed under: General — Karl @ 2:26 pm

[Posted by Karl]

I probably should be finding some hot-button topic to blog, but my attention keeps drifting to what Erick Erickson calls his “Matt Lewis inspired ‘get off my lawn’ screed” about young pundits having no sense of history.  RTWT for some skewering of Juicebox Mafioso Matt Yglesias and others.  However, I would not limit the point to young pundits.  Older pundits and journos tend to have their own historical gaps and convenient memories, especially when it furthers their storylines (likely for reasons both ideological and dramatic).  Indeed, this — and the similar tendency to discount the economic fundamentals, campaign organization, campaign rules and calendars, etc.,  for similar reasons — is one of my motivations to blog in the first instance.

So I want to nitpick a later part of Erickson’s piece:

A few weeks ago I talked to a young conservative pundit who will go nameless (no offense for bringing this back up) who mouthed off the standard pablum that Ronald Reagain in 1980 was a shoo-in, everyone knew he would be the nominee, and it was nothing like this year’s primary. He did not know that there was an effort to get Gerald Ford to run in 1980. He did not know that Republican leaders in Washington pushed George H. W. Bush aggressively as a way to stop Reagan. He did not even know that John Anderson had been a Republican before bolting to run as an independent.

Mostly true, but not entirely accurate.  It is true that some in the GOP apparat urged Ford to run in 1980 — but after he declined, Reagan was the consensus choice of Republican voters.  Reagan collected almost 60% of the votes leading to his nomination.  He narrowly lost Iowa because he did not campaign there.  He then lost Puerto Rico, which people cared about then about as much as they care about it now.  In New Hampshire, Reagan collected as many votes as his six rivals combined.  On March 10, 1980,  TIME would report (in language familiar and yet Bizarro to anyone watching recent campaigns):

There is always a chance that the many Republicans who consider Reagan too conservative and simply too old to win the presidency will coalesce behind an alternative candidate. That could be Bush, Senate minority Leader Howard Baker, 54, or even ex-President Gerald Ford, 66, who appears sorely tempted to enter the race in an attempt to head off Reagan, his old nemesis from 1976. [Wishful thinking from the Left hasn't changed much, has it? -K]

But Reagan at least deflated the balloon of Bush, his highest-flying early challenger…

Indeed he did.  Bush would go on to win in Massachusetts (narrowly), Connecticut (a Bush home), Pennsylvania, DC, Michigan and Maine (another Bush home).  The combined NotRomney vote — assuming it all went against Reagan — would have added only Vermont, Wisconsin, and Maryland.  Most of Reagan’s wins were in that overwhelming New Hampshire fashion.  In 1980, despite the liberal distaste for Reagan in both parties, he was indeed a shoo-in for the nomination.

To his credit, Erickson acknowledges he is guilty as any pundit when it comes to making mistakes.  But he ought to work extra-hard to avoid them when delivering the “get off my lawn” message.

–Karl

Questions About Nadia Naffe’s Story

Filed under: General,Nadia Naffe — Patterico @ 7:25 am

The big Nadia Naffe barn incident story is online. I don’t particularly feel like linking or quoting it; I’m sure you can find it if you want to. I don’t have a lot of time to discuss it, so I’ll just throw out a few quick questions to Nadia that I predict she and the partisan hacks writing about this story (hi Tommy Christopher!) will ignore:

  • Where is the evidence of a “rape plot”?
  • Where is the evidence that Andrew Breitbart ignored a “rape plot”?
  • If there was a “rape plot” then why did you testify that what happened that night was not harassment?
  • Why not call a cab? Why call Andrew Breitbart (who was all the way across the country) instead?
  • “James had downloaded and/or linked his Gmail account to my device.” What does “and/or” mean? Don’t you know which happened?
  • If someone accesses their Gmail from your phone or computer, and you are later able to re-enter their account, does that morally entitle you to access their account and download years’ worth of emails, as you insinuate you have done — or to publish all their emails online, as you have threatened to do?
  • Just how “remote” was this barn?
  • Why didn’t you mention your threat to destroy O’Keefe’s computers?
  • Is there anything missing from your republication of that email you sent to O’Keefe and his board of directors? If so, what does it say?
  • Why all the coziness with Anons and Internet thugs on Twitter?

The “and/or” thing is quite striking.

Countdown to Tommy Christopher uncritically repeating all this as if it’s a damning story with no holes in 5…4…3..


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