« What a Day | Main | Line of the Day: V=IR edition »

June 08, 2006

Byron York Misquotes Me

And this, after I sat next to him all morning. I didn't, to be fair, recognize him till the session's end. I'd never seen York, and wasn't alerted to his famous bouffant ahead of time, so I hadn't known I was brushing such famous knees until I happened to catch sight of his nametag towards the morning's close. At which point, we had a real moment: "We're gonna give you some color," I laughed. He sort of grunted in reply. Sort of.

The session was a CAP-run workshop on how to best comport yourself in front of television cameras. They spent an hour or so explaining how to sit, how to speak, how to stay on message, and then had folks cycle through a mock interview which was then replayed on a projector and critiqued by the instructor's. I've been doing a fair amount of TV and radio these days, so I volunteered for the public interrogation. My topic? Health care. I am, after all, here in Vegas to participate on a health care panel.

My performance was brilliant, transcendent, inspiring. What a shame I hadn't stolen the tape! When the politely hostile host challenged that I was advocating socialism (in that interview, unlike in my writings, I'd advocated no such thing), I saw no reason to fight. It was just a training session, right? "We should stop running from that moniker," I chuckled. "If we're going to call what Canada, France, Germany, England, Japan, and essentially every -- actually, not essentially, just every -- other industrialized nation offers socialized health care, but they cover all of their citizens with better outcomes and lower costs than we do, then I'm happy to associate myself with that." It was glorious, and I'm only slightly paraphrasing -- at least I remember the "essentially" correction. So imagine my relief to see it on The National Review's website:

One blogger wanted to talk about health care. After his criticism of the Bush administration, Trainer 2 asked, “You’re looking for socialized medicine?”

“Sure, why not?” the man answered. “I think it’s time people stopped ducking from the moniker socialized medicine. Every other industrialized nation on this planet has socialized medicine. I’m happy to associate myself with that label and that school of thought.”

There was applause all around. That was great, said Trainer 1. It was an example of bloggers speaking their minds: “Yeah, socialized medicine, bring it on.”

Never said "that school of thought." Never said "bring it on." My international rollcall -- gone. And where is my quick list of the outcomes that underlie my support? The quote...so wrong...somebody call a blogger ethics panel! In any case, I am a proud advocate of semi-socialized medicine, semi because I prefer a multi-payer system a la France. And if York's interested in making me something less than a 2D confirmation of his reader's expectations, I'd be happy to debate him on health care, or write a piece extolling socialized medicine's virtues for his magazine, or just see him read through my extensive archives on the subject. Maybe this is the real story of YearlyKos -- here, the anecdotes can talk back.

In any case, if York is unwilling to put in the work or effort demanded by my more substantive offers -- all of which are serious and in good faith -- he's still welcome to attend my health care panel tomorrow at 9:30. But only if he promises to quote me correctly.

Update: On rereading, York was quoting "bring it on" from the trainer. He still completely changed the wording and deleted the countries and outcomes portions of my quote, the effect of which was to make it look like I simply supported socialism, and everyone simply clapped for that. The point here is that you've got fish in a barrel -- why use dynamite?

Cross-posted at Tapped.

June 8, 2006 | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Byron York Misquotes Me:


Congrats Ezra, you've been Busbied

Posted by: J Bean | Jun 8, 2006 7:55:14 PM

A sign for your bathroom mirror:

Never speak publicly without having a voice recorder running.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Jun 8, 2006 8:47:48 PM

I don't think York "misquoted" you. "Mis"-quote implies a "mis"-take, and it's highly unlikely that there was any mistake in York's characterization of you.

If conservative hacks and shills are going to be present at this thing, then they should be announced, at every meeting, thusly: special thanks to all of the conservative assholes who have come here to lend false legitimacy to their unfounded attacks and smears against us. Look at them closely, and remember that they are the enemy of all that is good about our country. Look at them closely, and see the face of those who trade in hate, fear and lies.

Or some such thing, I'm really not all that picky.

Posted by: Stephen | Jun 8, 2006 9:24:20 PM

"If conservative hacks and shills are going to be present at this thing"

Why the heck are they present? Who thought it was a good idea to have York there?

And they're liars. All of them. There is also gambling going on at the establishments that surround you. I actually think that by being offended by and pointing out particular instances of lying we are supporting the proposition that there are some Republicans who are not liars, and are not only making a tactical mistake, but being inaccurate ourselves. Probably not intentionally.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Jun 8, 2006 9:49:44 PM

Online Integritude

What Scott Lemieux says. NRO and its entire staff should be de-linked, shunned and made invisible for outing Armando.

I will try to hold my temper, and refrain from descriptions of kids that play with bullys etc.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Jun 8, 2006 10:04:19 PM

Maybe I was primed by your initial story, but York's version reads to me as if "Bring it on" is put into the trainer's mouth, not yours, as the trainer's paraphrase of your position. Which, if taken as a paraphrase, sounds like what you meant.

Posted by: DonBoy | Jun 8, 2006 10:16:26 PM


You are quite right. I do wish that, given their presence, steps would be taken to treat them in the way they deserve. Well, most of them deserve a thorough ass-kicking, but contrary to the way these people usually think, violence is not an answer for civilized human beings. So I'd be willing to settle for public humiliation.

Posted by: Stephen | Jun 8, 2006 11:41:32 PM

bob brings up an issue that boggles the mind... we all know well that the NRO crowd basically trade in dishonesty and propaganda. Do you guys really hang out together, attend the same training sessions, and then say, "this guy is an immoral liar" when you write your blog posts?

Posted by: Constantine | Jun 9, 2006 1:19:16 AM

Just be Ezra, don't get sucked into the spin cycle...cream rises to the top...those of us who understand you know that you're decent, very decent, and it doesn't get better than that.

Posted by: Steve Mudge | Jun 9, 2006 1:42:36 AM

I don't know how you feel about this, Ezra, but I feel a little taken aback when people describe me as a "man". (No, not for gender reasons.) I still feel more naturally described as a boy. And I'm all of 26! Maybe this'll change when I become a professor, or more likely when I become a dad.

Posted by: Neil the Ethical Werewolf | Jun 9, 2006 1:48:20 AM

Neil, 28 was when the lightning struck for me. I'm betting that twice that will be when I start thinking of myself as an old man.

Posted by: modus potus | Jun 9, 2006 3:29:56 AM

Glad to see you're a france-style advocate. These single payer people annoy the shit out of me.

Posted by: Anonymous | Jun 9, 2006 12:10:39 PM

Well people who post under the name Anonymous annoy the shit out of me. Particularly when they get into flame wars claiming they are the "real" Anonymous on any given site.

All you Anonymi out there. Give it up. It was old and stupid when you started it years ago. Post under your own name or find something clever. When I respond to a post by someone who calls himself Neil the Ethical Werewolf I can at least hold him to his words. Yet there are any number of people out there calling themselves Anonymous because it makes them unaccountable for anything they post. They just claim it was some other Anonymous. As far as I am concerned I discount anything any Anonymous says to a point below zero. Why would I possibly give an ounce of credit to a comment whose poster is not just hiding behind a psuedonym (legitimate and give job realities often necessary) and a psuedonym shared by a couple of dozen other posters?

Establish an independent identity for God's sake.

And for what it is worth I am in favor of fully-socialized single payer health care. So bite me.

Posted by: Bruce Webb | Jun 10, 2006 11:39:45 AM

The comments to this entry are closed.