This is my favorite headline of the year: Mullenax Says He Misspoke About Son, Job. That’s one way to put it.
There’s another, more direct, verb one might use when describing a declarative falsehood later retracted. This is not a criticism of my friend and Ledger schools reporter John Chambliss, whose story on Thursday brutally lays out School Board Member Dick Mullenax’s bout of, ahem, misspeaking, about his efforts to get his son a job with the school district. I expect that “misspoke” was the verb everyone in Ledgerland settled on through an abundance of caution.
But this does highlight one of the problems institutional print journalism faces. Too often, it must deny, or at least choke down, accurate description of the obvious. See the supposed distinction between torture and enhanced interrogation. You would think that an industry whose product is words would use them forthrigthtly. But a variety of legitimate concerns often conspires to keep that from happening. Anyway, John’s story is really good, euphemism not withstanding.
This passage is classic:
Mullenax said his mistake was not divulging information to The Ledger. He said that when he talked to a reporter Monday evening, his cell phone battery was low and he was late for a Bible study class. When he returned home from Bible study, his wife asked him about the conversation with The Ledger. When Mullenax told her, his wife corrected him and said he had talked to Williams about their son.
Apparently, a dying phone battery can suck memories from your brain, particularly if they are inconvenient. Who knew? But physics is a weird and fascinating science. And I’m not remotely sure how the physics of Bible study contributed to that process. But, apparently, studying the pitfalls of bearing false witness somehow trumps actually not bearing false witness.
What a mess.