A tale about ham radio, Mitt Romney, Google+, and Twitter

Yesterday, on Google+, I saw a post with a link to a post on the Eastern MA (EMA) Section website that reported that presidential candidate Mitt Romney had “dissed” ham radio. Since I’m not a big fan of Mitt Romney, I immediately sent out a tweet on this. Almost immediately, Brian, N1FIY, replied, asking if I had noticed that this post was more than six years old.

Ooops. I hadn’t noticed that. My bad.

We swapped a few tweets about this, and he noted that not only was this old news, “Within a week, he did a followup that reversed his stance.” Now, I felt really bad about this, especially as other hams had already begun to “re-tweet” my original message.

I suggested that we both contact the EMA Section Manager, Phil Temples, K9HI, and we did. I told K9HI that I thought that leaving this post online was unfair without also posting Romney’s reply. Here’s how K9HI replied:

I can appreciate your point of view. Nevertheless I don’t believe the story should be removed. Romney did say those damning things, and it wasn’t until his office was confronted by the Eastern MA ARES leadership that one of his representatives apologized on Romney’s behalf.

We went though this retraction business with Alan Pitts, W1AGP at ARRL Hq. during the last presidential election/primary. Alan said he was fielding lots of phone calls and inquiries about it. I pointed out to Alan that even *if* I were to remove the story it’s been archived by all of the major search engines like Google and Yahoo and reprinted by many other non-Amateur Radio web sites already.

73,

Phil, K9HI

p.s. — There was a very long reply comment/discussion thread that accompanied the original story. It probably *did* mention the “retraction” by his staffer. But the rhetoric was so heated that a decision was made to remove the entire discussion thread.

In my opinion, that’s really not a very satisfactory answer. I am not a Romney supporter by any stretch, but it’s really not fair to leave that story up on the EMA website without also printing the retraction/apology.

That’s the story from my point of view. My apologies again for being so quick to tweet old news. I will certainly be a lot more cautious about this next time. This was certainly  a lesson for me on how Tweets can take on a life of their own.

Another interesting thing to consider is what impact this flap will really have on the campaign. It did generate a little controversy in the ham radio community, but did it really hurt Romney at all? My guess is no. Those that jumped on this story would probably not have voted for Romney anyway. Even so, I do feel bad about making this mistake, and promise not to do it again.

 

Comments

  1. Dan,
    The same story just landed in my inbox. I have become skeptical of most everything circulating as Truth on the internet, so I checked the link and found that it was from 2005. The fact that it is still posted on the EMA ARRL web site gives it more credibility than it deserves. So I agree with you…poor judgment on their part.

    I also came across this item which discusses the retraction from Romney: http://www.southgatearc.org/news/january2008/mitt_romney.htm and this one as well: http://kf4lmt.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/mitt-romney-disses-amateur-radio-the-rest-of-the-story/

    Welcome to the sound bite echo chamber known as the internet.

  2. Oh, you weren’t the only one. It spread like wildfire between hams here in Iowa. I received about a dozen different e-mails about it in my inbox yesterday, the day of the caucuses. Which is strange, because I didn’t hear this in 2008. Once I saw the picture of the younger-looking Romney, I knew it had to be old news and I disregarded it.

  3. Ned Davis says:

    No need to apologize. I suspect the author got the reaction(s) he was seeking. I agree with you that old news like this has no need to be disseminated via the internet, or any other media channel.

    It’s out dated information and therefore should be removed. Whether one likes or dislike Gov Romney in this case is irrelevant. I strongly believe it serves no useful purpose and further demeans the process of campaigning.

  4. What did Romney supposedly say that was so bad about Ham Radio ?

  5. Dan, thanks for your comment on my blog post. I agree with your opinion that K9HI’s response isn’t satisfactory. There should be more of an effort to indicate Romney’s change in opinion or else it smacks of bias (whether there is or not). If the Section is going to present something as news, they should make an attempt for it to be as objective as possible. It shouldn’t be difficult to put an addendum on the page that explains how he changed his mind.

  6. Avery Wright, KD4GBA says:

    I don’t think the story should be retracted. I have followed this and the retraction was a staffer and not Mitt himself. As far as I know, Mitt has never retracted his original stance otherwise he would have retracted it himself rather than having a staffer do it. In my humble opinion, the retraction was pure politics and not a true change of heart/mind by Mitt himself.

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