Monday, May 29, 2006

The Spinmeister

"People in Washington are morally repugnant, cheating, shifty human beings."

So says Karl Zinsmeister.

Who? Karl Zinsmeister is the Bush Administration's new Domestic Policy Advisor -- the replacement for Claude Allen -- the man who gave new meaning to the resignation phrase "want to spend more time with the family," when he was arrested for shoplifting after his departure, see Some Family Time.

And a fitting replacement he is. As a recent NY Sun article, Questions Arising Over Quotations Of Zinsmeister, noted of Zinsmeister:

A magazine editor named to a top White House policy post, Karl Zinsmeister, altered his own quotes and other text in a published newspaper profile of him posted on the Web site of the magazine he has edited for more than a decade, the American Enterprise.
Glenn Greenwald of Unclaimed Territory provides details in New Bush appointee caught changing and distorting his own quotes. As he explains:
Several days ago, the Bush administration announced that Karl Zinsmeister, the long-time Editor of the right-wing American Enterprise magazine, would become its new Domestic Policy Advisor. The appointment was celebrated by self-proclaimed personal friends of Zinsmeister such as Scott Johnson at Powerline and Jonah Goldberg, both of whom lauded his great intellect and integrity.

But an exposè today in The New York Sun documents rather compellingly that integrity does not exactly appear to be one of Zinsmeister's strong suits. In 2004, The Syracuse New Times published a profile and interview with Zinsmeister which contained some rather controversial and provocative quotes, as well as some disrespectful and critical quotes about the Commander-in-Chief. But when Zinsmeister re-published the New Times profile on the American Enterprise website, he fundamentally changed the controversial quotations in order to make it appear that he never said them.

* * * *

Is there anything less credible in the world than Zinsmeister's claim - made through the White House spokesperson - that he altered these potentially embarrassing quotes because he was repeatedly misquoted, given that he not only never claimed he was misquoted, but sent e-mails praising the outstanding journalism evinced by the story? Nobody who was misquoted in such fundamental and unfair ways would thereafter send e-mails specifically praising the "professionalism" of the reporters and lauding the "fair and thoughtful treatment" they were given, let alone call the article "the best and hardest kind of journalism." All of that is self-evident.

Zinsmeister clearly changed his own quotes because he thought they reflected poorly on him, an incredibly unethical thing to do, especially since he misled people into believing that he was quoting the article itself. Now, when caught, he refuses to take responsibility for what he did, but instead begins offering up patently false explanations for why he did it, even going so far as trying to heap the blame on the supposedly sloppy and/or unethical practices of the reporter and editor who were responsible for the story -- all in order to save himself.

This kind of reprehensible behavior would completely disqualify Zinsmeister from working with any reputable organization which cared about honesty, integrity and truthfulness. That's the good news for him; his new job is clearly not in jeopardy with the Bush administration. He's probably already in line for a promotion.
When the position of Domestic Policy Advisor is solely focused on the promotion of spin, the Spinmeister has shown that he is certainly "the right man for the job," as Bush is wont to say, since his previous experience obviously makes him eminently qualified.

Dick Polman's blog, American Debate, also offers a quotable Zinsmeister at An honors graduate of the Last Throes School of Military Policy.


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