When Mistakes are Made, Admit Them and Move On:

When Mistakes are Made, Admit Them and Move On:

Two prominent public figures made mistakes last week. Both made headlines when they did. One quickly corrected the mistake and moved on. The other didn’t and the story is still alive.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg suggested there may soon be rioting in the streets of New York if the job market does not improve.

Bloomberg’s suggestion was an ill-advised opinion that should not have been uttered out loud in a radio interview by the Mayor of New York, and his remarks were quickly “clarified” by nimble aides, something the Mayor has apparently given his staff license to do when he utters an ill-timed remark.

Michelle Bachmann suggested in a post debate TV interview that girls receiving the papillomavirus vaccine might become “retarded.” It was a statement that medical professionals regard as a complete misstatement of fact and is not supported by studies of the millions who have received the vaccine.

Instead of “clarifying” or admitting that she had been ill-informed, Bachmann dug in her heels, claiming that she is “not a medical doctor.” No one said she was.  Even theWSJ, and New York Times, no friend of Rick Perry, weighed in in his defense with a lengthy editorial, and Bachmann’s former campaign manager, Ed Rollins, called upon her to admit her mistake and move on.

Some lessons here:

1. Just as the quickest way to calm an offended spouse is to say “I’m sorry,” the quickest way to make a mistake a one-day story is to admit one was made, even if you have an aide doing the “clarification.”

2. All candidates for public office need to be careful about repeating things told them absent verification, especially in a TV interview with a large audience.

3. Running for public office puts you in the eye of many microscopes, and every word or phrase you utter will be subject to scrutiny. If you are not sure of your “facts,” don’t say it. If you make a mistake, admit it and move on, lest you keep a bad story alive for days on end.

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