Butler County Times Gazette
  • Sometimes it's good to be wrong

    • email print
  • Sometimes it’s good to be wrong.
    I said in a column Tuesday that I hoped that Newt Gingrich had been making comments about Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor faking a broken ankle in jest. It turns out he never said it at all.
    Andy Borowitz is a humor columnist from the Huffington Post. Borowitz seemed to be quoting Gingrich and finding humor in what the politician said. In reality, Borowitz "created" the quotes in an attempt at humor.
    I wasn't the only one confused by his technique.
    The news aggregating web site fark.com was fooled. They even tagged the story with a rather unflattering comment about Gingrich.
    Clipmarks.com also had several references to the story and the alleged comments.
    Borowitz was on Twitter Wednesday morning tweeting about how his "Borowitz Report" was "going viral as real news."
    I knew Borowitz was a humor writer. But I also try to be funny sometimes when newsmakers say crazy things.
    I have never gone to the lengths of faking quotes to be funny with absolutely no indication that they were less than legitimate.
    That's Borowitz's style.
    He uses a similar writing style to newspaper satirists at The Onion. His satire is just far closer to reality than the typical stories published in The Onion.
    Luckily for Gingrich, he has a staff that looks out for him.
    Joe DeSantis called me from Washington D.C. Wednesday morning and was obviously less than pleased with my inclusion of the fake quotes in my column. 
    I sent him the additional links where the story was indeed "going viral" and appearing on news sites and in news reports across the web and other formats.
    I told him that I tried to find proof that Gingrich hadn't said those things - or at least was trying to be funny when he did. There was no indication that the quotes were faked.
    This is just another reason that newspapers can't fade away and leave nothing but electronic news. The credibility factor is gone when a comedian can be featured on a news site, falsify quotes with no suggestion that it was an attempt at satire, and then joke about how his falsification is being believed.
    Borowitz has an inflated sense of how popular his web reports are if he thinks everyone should know his style.
    DeSantis was facing a long day of requesting retractions Wednesday.
    I, for one, am glad I was wrong.
    I said in the column that I respected Gingrich as a leader and a writer. I loved his book "Rediscovering God in America" and had trouble justifying how he could have authored that book and made such outlandish comments.
    Page 2 of 2 - Calling Sotomayor a racist or racialist was bad enough, but I couldn't believe he would accuse her of faking a broken ankle to garner sympathy.
    I'm glad the quotes were fiction.
    Sometimes, it's good to be wrong.
        • »  EVENTS CALENDAR