Friday, March 07, 2008

Samantha Power Flunks Punditry 101

A "Monster" Of A Verbal Boner: Sammy, It's "Off The Record" First, Potshots at Hillary Second

You kinda feel good when really smart people do really dumb things, to remind everyone they can be just like us.
Samantha Power is a distinguished professor at Harvard, a Pulitzer Prize winner and now a former unpaid foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama.
Power's hasty exit from Obama's campaign came after The Scotsman quoted Power calling Hillary Clinton a "monster." Here's the full quote for context.
"She is a monster, too – that is off the record – she is stooping to anything." The Scotsman said Power "hastily" tried to take back the quote. Too late.
Now, if she said "Off the record, she is a monster..," then reporter Gerri Peev would have had something to think about.
For some reporters, it's not off the record, unless they agree it is. Others, may tacitly agree that what follows such a pronouncement is indeed not for repeating. To do otherwise, risks burning some serious bridges. At least in this country.
In fact, Peev addressed this dilemma in the article that outed Power.

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....

....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.

In the end, Power knows she should have known better.
"I should not have made these comments, and I deeply regret them. It is wrong for anyone to pursue this campaign in such negative and personal terms."
Either way, don't look for the ice to melt aboard the Obama campaign plane when reporters are around anytime soon.

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