Before we start, let me advise everyone whose time is valuable that today's MULLINGS is not going to be worth it. Go get a bagel and a cup of coffee, instead. Bye.
I have a Google Alert on myself. I have often said that I have that to make sure I have been quoted correctly, but it is really because I have an ego the size of Wyoming.
Yesterday, though, it came in handy. A website - which I won't name because I don't want you to go to it and increase the traffic by about 1500% - ran a column which included, essentially this:
Some months ago former Gingrich campaign manager Rich Galen quit, having likened Gingrich's candidacy to "an airliner with no wings, no engines, and no landing gear" because the candidate was more interested in vacationing …on a Greek isle than stumping in Iowa …I read it again to make sure I had it right. I was the manager of Newt's campaign, and I had quit because Newt took a trip to the Mediterranean.
I not only was not the manager of the campaign; I had no contact with the campaign. I wasn't on the staff; I wasn't a "senior advisor," I wasn't a consultant. I wasn't anything.
I went to the website to call or e-mail someone to tell them this needed to be fixed. Not that I was embarrassed about being named the former manager; but because the nature of the Internet is that this would have propagated through the eco-system and six months from now I would be answering questions about whether I was sorry I had quit as campaign manager now that Newt was the nominee.
The only way to interact with the website was to fill out a "contact us" form. Which I did. There was no phone number, no email for the listed editor/founder of the site, no nothing.
That was unsatisfying so I went to a very useful site: www.whois.com.
Whois will tell you who owns most websites. It told me who owned this website and included a phone number in California so, even though it was 10:45 Eastern, I called it.
The guy who was listed as the owner of the website didn't pick up, but his answering machine did and it turns out that his real job is being … I suh-WEAR I am not making this up … a ventriloquist.
Actually, being old enough to remember both Edgar Bergan and Charlie McCarthy; and Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop, I thought this was pretty cool.
He has a website extolling the virtues of his comedic/ventriloquistic capabilities.
I left a message on his answering machine but, in keeping with the spirit of the thing, I tried not move my lips. I said - or I think I said - that I had never been connected in any way with Newt's campaign and that the essay needed to be fixed.
But, as I was trying not to move my lips, I might have said, "I believe we may be out of milk and kitty litter at home."
A couple of hours later the ventriloquist/owner of the website called me and allowed as he was in West Virginia to do a ventriloquist gig at a school.
He asked me who had written the piece.
I wasn't in front of my computer at the time but suggested that a reasonable person might expect that the founder/editor/ventriloquist-in-chief of a political website might know who was posting what.
I certainly do on MULLINGS.com, and as you know, I'm not that good with details.
He named some people and, like viewing a line-up on a Law & Order episode, I thought number 3 was the guy. He said he would contact that person.
The next version removed the notion that I had been campaign manager, but still said I had quit the Gingrich campaign.
I wrote back saying, as I had never been employed by the Gingrich campaign, it was impossible for me to have quit the Gingrich campaign.
In the end the language got fixed but it took two phone calls and three e-mails.
This is the downside of the current "everyone can publish his own on-line newspaper" model.
New Rule: If you're going to have an on-line newspaper, it would be better not to leave the editing to a dummy.