For the Record

Much to my surprise and delight (okay, my delight threshold is somewhat low but at least it keeps me smiling more than frowning…) UT uber-blogger Chris Read did read my post last week in which I complained about how he quoted me in his blog. He posted part (small, teency-weency) of my emailed response to him in which I took him to task for quoting me out of context. Bottom line: after a spirited (and civil, I am also delighted to add—egad that low delight threshold) e-debate, we continue to agree to disagree.

For example, the conclusion of Mr. Reed’s most recent blog on the topic states:

”Fair enough. But the larger point of my blog post — that this is what it’s come to for Aguirre supporters in the alternative media — is unaffected by whether Luna was joking or not. A serious call for Aguirre to “fake” appealling qualities to win re-election is telling. So is joking about Mike’s need to “fake” such qualities.”

What, I have to ask, is my telling Mike Aguirre that he needs to improve his image a bit telling of, precisely? That Aguirre’s message is on track but his opponents in the media will take anything he does and blast it in the worst possible light? That, like most politicians, Aguirre needs to reign in his personality sometimes least it overshadow/bury his message? Mr. Reed continues to attempt to use my CityBeat article on Aguirre to justify the conclusion that Aguirre IS that bad–see his own advocates say so—even though that is not what I wrote nor intended. Apparently any criticism of Aguirre on any aspect of his tenure in office is tantamount to endorsing Mr. Reed’s viewpoint that the City’s erstwhile Attorney should be immolated at the first available opportunity.

To that end, I present to you, loyal readers, the text of the original email I sent Mr. Reed, in which I took issue with his original blog. Was Mr. Reed being fair and balanced and I’m just whiney or did he manipulate my writing to reach his own conclusions? You decide.

**********

Hi Chris,

Couple of little points regarding your blog yesterday [12/04/07], ol’ boy. First, when quoting the published material of someone, it is traditional to give a citation so that the reader may follow up and authenticate your use of that quote. I think they teach that in English 101 and, probably, Journalism 101, as well. In the hyper-media you and I dabble in called blogging, that would involve clicking on that little “Link” button above your text box on your computer screen and entering in the URL for my blog, Political Lunacy, hosted by CityBeat magazine. I’m sure one of the fine techies at the UT can teach you how to do it, least you’ve forgotten.

You see, the reason it is nice, civil and—what’s that word—ah, yes, professional to give such a citation is so that the reader may go back to the original work and judge for themselves what it says, least the author quoting said work has engaged in biased reporting, taking quotes out of context and/or willful misquoting of the material to manipulate the reader.

You know—like you did in your blog yesterday. By the numbers:

1. You wrote that “…Luna takes shots at Aguirre’s ‘egregiously obnoxious’ actions.” What I actually wrote was:

“Sure, there are justifications for many of his actions—even the egregiously obnoxious ones. The millions he spent challenging pension benefits are dwarfed by the billion-plus underfunding of the system by the City Council. The Sunroad mess did smell like Mission Bay after a sewer spill. (Pop quiz: What do you call it when a former bigwig in the city Planning Department becomes a highly paid veep for a developer and then the city green-lights a project for the developer that the FAA labeled hazardous? In San Diego, it’s called business as usual.) Even his stance on the landslide might have had legal advantages in the long run for the city.”

In other (and smaller, easier to understand) words, I said that, while you not like his personality, Aguirre has taken on issues important to San Diego that other politicians (and media outlets) haven’t. Kinda gives you a different take on the quote, in context, don’t it? Surely you are not suggesting that things like the pension problem and Sunroad are not important issues and that, at least to some degree, they have been manifestations of either incredible incompetence or political malfeasance?

2. You stated I said : “I still think the Aguirre approach, independent of the man, better serves the interests of the People.” The context for that statement was:

“Baring such changes [which I had described as separating the prosecutorial powers of the City Attorney from the advisory counsel role], voters are left to choose between the old way of having the City Attorney being the lapdog of the Mayor and Council or the Aguirre way of constant conflict. Neither have been particularly successful models. But I still think the Aguirre approach, independent of the man, better serves the interests of the People.”

San Diego is, in other, simple words, again, better of with a Mike Aguirre than with a Casey Gwinn.

3. As for the final quote you pilfered with neither attribution nor context:

“It’s time for a kinder, gentler, less angry, less reactive Mike to emerge. Fake it, if you have to.”

That followed this concluding paragraph:

“Meanwhile, Mike, you need a makeover between now and spring. No more using of the “C” word (as in “corrupt”) about fellow elected members of municipal government unless and until you have enough real evidence (you know, that stuff Fred Thompson always went on about on “Law and Order”) to take to trial. No more threatening the local media with investigations every time you don’t like their editorial content. Oh, and try not to file suit against Santa for being overtly partisan, either. You know, only bringing presents to only the good kids and all that.”

You might have noticed that this was written in a somewhat tongue-in—cheek mode. And that line about faking it – that’s called “humor,” by the way. You see, the title of my blog “Political Lunacy” is informative: I try to have a little fun poking at the ironies of politics. (As opposed to the title of your “America’s Finest Blog,” which is merely delusional.) Meanwhile if Nixon, Reagan, Bush I, Bill Clinton, Bush II, Hilary, Mitt and Rudi can do political and personality makeovers, why can’t Aguirre? As for sincerity in politics, we are talking about politicians now, aren’t we? Dick Cheney normally scares small children and dogs but he still can put on his smiley face, from time to time.

Please understand that I don’t have a beef with you disagreeing with what I wrote for CityBeat. A healthy debate is premised upon disagreement on facts and principles. I do take exception, however, to your deliberate and, in my view, unprofessional and unethical distortion. In the future, should you quote me in you’re little blurb, it would be nice if you a) did you with attribution; and b) did so in context.

Respectfully,
Carl Luna
San Diego CityBeat

PS: I realize that the chances you will publish this are slim. I blog without a net: anyone is free to post comments to my pieces. You, however, screen and restrict publication of said comments, which, I think, is somewhat contradictory to the spirit of blogging but to each their own. I can at least take solace in the hope that you’ve read my comments.

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