The Discerning Texan

All that is necessary for evil to triumph, is for good men to do nothing.
-- Edmund Burke
Friday, March 07, 2008

Samantha Power's Slip of the Tongue

We knew when we read Samantha Power's article in The Scotsman that her slip of the tongue would neither go unnoticed nor unpunished. With McCain having denounced Bill Cunningham so vehemently for his tasteless remarks about the Democratic opponents, it only follows that Ms. Power's comment, uttered in an unguarded moment, would attract the media's attention as well as garner serious consequences.

The Scotsman interviewer, Gerri Peev, could have kept the remark off the record, as Power hastily requested after calling Hillary Clinton "a monster", but she chose not to simply because she knew it was a good story and because journalistic ethics didn't require her to do so. This is how she explains it:

"WHEN is off the record actually off the record? When the rules are established in advance.

"Journalists are always looking for knowledge and want the information they receive to be available for publication."

"But occasionally an interviewer will accept an exchange is "off the record" and that the conversation is not attributable. Remarks can be used as background to inform a journalist's article.
"If a conversation is to be off the record, that agreement is usually thrashed out before the interview begins. Sometimes, public figures say something and then attempt to retract it by insisting it was "off the record" after the event.

"But by then it is too late, particularly if it is in the public interest that the story be published.

"In this instance, Samantha Power was promoting her book and it was established in advance that the interview was on the record."

This morning Obama campaign aides were already clamoring for Power to step down, so it came as no surprise when the announcement came that Power had resigned her unpaid position as Obama's top foreign policy advisor. The decision, we are hearing, came from Power herself, but we have to wonder about that. Just as McCain felt the need to disassociate himself from someone whose remarks were inappropriate, Obama must realize that distancing himself from Power's unfortunate faux pas is absolutely necessary.

As for Ms. Power, we hope this is a lesson well learned, for the moral of the story is geared for all politicians. Don't get too friendly with the media. Regardless of their friendly demeanor, do not get comfortable to the point where informality might lead to candor. Leave sincerity at home. A "scoop", for most journalists, is worth the damage to someone else's career. Ms. Peev's reasoning for not omitting Power's remark was that "it is in the public interest that the story be published." We highly doubt that was the case in this instance.

Posted by Two Sisters from the Right, 3/07/2008 11:11:00 PM |