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 I pointed out to Alan that even *if* I were to remove the story it’s been archived by all of the major search engines like Google and Yahoo and reprinted by many other non-Amateur Radio web sites already.
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.