I'm now in the midst of my first Instalanche, due to this post, to which Glenn Reynolds linked this morning. Obviously I am delighted, and the traffic is way up.
But in that post, I made a mistake. A minor mistake, not a big deal, but a mistake nonetheless: I misspelled Glenn Reynolds' name. I spelled it "Glen" with one "n," rather than "Glenn," with two, as he spells it. Now, obviously he cannot have been too badly offended, since he gave me the link, but if I were him I would be annoyed. Even worse, I did it twice, and when an anonymous commenter pointed out my error, I only corrected it one one place. I had to be nudged to correct the mistake in the first line of the post.
Do I feel stupid? Sure. A bit embarrassed? Yep. But I made a mistake; I've admitted it, and it's been fixed. It ain't the end of the world.
My readers now know that I can be a little careless, that I missed a detail -- one "n" or two -- and that proofreading isn't my strong suit. I try, really, but anybody who reads this blog regularly knows I make more typos and such than I would like. I sometimes get excited and say things that are maybe a bit more strongly worded than I would like, in retrospect. I am, in short, human. I think that most people can understand that.
But how stupid would I look if I wrote a post explaining that a lot of people spell Glen with one "n," and that, really! "Glen" is the right spelling. So Glenn Reynolds really ought to spell it Glen, not Glenn. He's the one who's wrong! Or if I blithely insisted that I hadn't spelled it with one n in the first place -- no mistake had been made at all.
I'd look like a complete jerk. Or, for those of you who already think I am a jerk, even more of a jerk. Everybody's heard the expression "when you are in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging." And they've also heard, "it's not the crime, it's the coverup." Both variants on a simple concept: when you make a mistake, stop making the mistake, admit it, and fix it.
I have been thinking about that this morning, because by a weird coincidence, Glen -- just joking, uh Glenn -- has been blogging up a storm about the whole Scott Thomas Beauchamp/Franklin Foer/New Republic mess. And here's the thing: The New Republic screwed up. They published reports that were, uh, embellished. Not what you want to do, and a pretty serious mistake -- more serious than misspelling "Glenn." But a mistake.
And instead of admitting their error, they stonewalled, delayed, obfuscated, and generally made asses of themselves. So you have Glenn linking to this Washington Post Article, This Pajamas Media Roundup, and you have this post with more links than I care to copy, and this one too, and I am sure I could find find more if I weren't too lazy.
Has it ever occurred to the guys at The New Republic that if they were to just admit the mistake that maybe there wouldn't be so much continuing attention to what idiots they are?