Today’s lessons: Any question you refuse to answer will be asked again until you answer it. Any erroneous statement you make will be questioned until you admit the error.
When I posted earlier my back-to-school special on media training, I was unaware that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer had a follow up performance to her disastrous opening statement in last week’s debate — extended moment of silence broken only by gibberish. Her failure to say anything for her administration furthered the perception that she is a public figure trying to make a career out of one law.
Yet she made a greater error with her refusal post-debate to discuss her statement regarding decapitated bodies being found in the Arizona desert (at the 4 minute mark). Brewer has been claiming since early June that law enforcement agencies have found decapitated bodies in the desert near the border. She has stood by this claim even when confronted by reporters with the fact that no coroner records support her.
So last week, after appearing as something of a headless body in the debate, she stumbled out to the waiting press and proceeded to ignore the decapitation question when it was asked three times. She then exited as the press howled in dismay.
Finally, she said that she “misspoke” which would sound believable, except that she had insisted that the statement was true many times. Even so, she seems to doubt that she actually said it: “That would be an error, if I said that.” Even this could have been an acceptable explanation within 24 hours after she first made the statement, not now.
I suspect that the original statement wasn’t an intentional lie, though it was wrong and it served her political purposes. It seems that she composed the statement out of two things – concerns over immigration and violence in Mexico. The problem is that once she refused to admit that it was a mistake, she made it a lie that she repeated. All she had to do was say, “I didn’t mean it that way. I was trying to say something catchy and it went too far.” She didn’t and so the question continued to insist that it be answered and that she admit the error.