September 6, 2002

SPINSANITY AGREES with Cathy Young and others that the NEA is getting a bum rap. I’m persuaded now, but I can’t help observing that the NEA hurt its case by acting guilty. As SpinSanity itself says:

After repeated attempts to contain the controversy, the NEA issued an indirectly worded statement on Aug. 27. Rather than directly refuting the charges, it vaguely asserts that critics “have taken the material out of context” and are “using this national tragedy to attempt to score political points,” giving little indication that the entire controversy has essentially been fabricated. It also at some point apparently removed links to Lippincott’s lesson.

Now that doesn’t make misrepresentations of its views any less misleading, but on the other hand, people watch an organization’s behavior for cues as to whether to take charges against it seriously. If NEA had said “this is a made-up controversy” and “we never said that” people would have been less inclined to believe the critics. So why didn’t it?

UPDATE: Porphyrogenitus says “I told you so.” And, indeed, as I noted here on August 19, he did. He also has some cautionary advice.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Robert Holmgren writes over in Romenesko’s letters section that Nyhan is spinning too:

Brendan Nyhan’s Spinsanity piece concerning a Washington Times story on NEA suggested lesson plans blames Ellen Sorokin for misleading readers into thinking that the NEA wished to avoid blaming Al-Qaeda for the attacks on 9/11. Since the Washington Times article never mentions Al-Qaeda we may want to consider the ways in which Nyhan is spinning this story as well. It suggests that what Nyhan preceives is equal to what is written.

The blogosphere (and yes, I think Romenesko is a blog) chugs on.

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