Wednesday, September 21, 2005

US General to Media: "You're Stuck on Stupid"

[Found through Michelle Malkin and LGF]
[I've noticed I'm getting a large number of hits all of a sudden. So to all those coming from the PoliticalTeen or MichelleMalkin... Welcome! I'm honored. Please feel free to read through some of my other posts, I think you may like them as well. Thanks!]

In possibly one of the best unscripted lines on national television by a general, General Honore told off a reporter at a press conference today regarding Hurricane Rita, about to strike different areas surrounding the Gulf of Mexico.

Honore had been getting asked a number of questions by reporters, and had clearly been getting fed up with their questions, many of which were extremely leading and referring to mistakes that may or may not have been made in regards to Hurricane Katrina a couple of weeks ago.

RadioBlogger has a transcript of the press conference, and PoliticalTeen has a video clip of the best part, but I'm just going to focus on the best parts:
RB starts the transcript from when Honore is finishing up his explanation of what is going to happen at the Convention Center. He is informing the public that they will not be going to the convention center to stay, but rather to board buses and leave the city.
We are not going to go, by order of the mayor and the governor, and open the convention center for people to come in. There are buses there. Is that clear to you? Buses parked. There are 4,000 troops there. People come, they get on a bus, they get on a truck, they move on. Is that clear? Is that clear to the public?
At this point, some of the reporters start asking pointed, and pointless, questions. The primary problem with these questions, and what is obviously frustrating to Honore, is that they serve no purpose at all at this point. The press conference was set up to inform the public of where they need to go; not to address issues about Hurricane Katrina and what may have gone wrong there, nor to go through every piece of reasoning the government has in its instructions.
Female reporter: Where do they move on...

Honore: That's not your business.
Male reporter: But General, that didn't work the first time...

Honore: Wait a minute. It didn't work the first time. This ain't the first time. Okay?
Honore immediately continues with a pointed speech at the reporters that are present. By my count, he makes over a dozen excellent points in about 30 seconds (some seem similar, and are, but they're slight variations):
we don't control Rita, you understand? So there are a lot of pieces of it that's going to be worked out. You got good public servants working through it.
#1) A hurricane is unpredictable before it happens; afterwards it's quite easy to say this or that should have been done.
Let's get a little trust here,
#2) Reporters should stop with the "they're trying to deceive us" attitude.
because you're starting to act like this is your problem.
#3) Reporters are not the ones in charge of getting the thousands of people out.
You are carrying the message, okay?
#4 Reporters are supposed to report on what is said to inform the public, as the media's responsibility is to the public.
What we're going to do is have the buses staged. The initial place is at the convention center. We're not going to announce other places at this time, until we get a plan set, and we'll let people know where those locations are, through the government, and through public announcements.
#5 We can't know exactly what will happen yet, so we don't have a plan yet. For now, this is what we do have, so let's utilize this for now and then we can go from there, rather than stand and ask questions which there are no answers to yet.
Right now, to handle the number of people that want to leave, we've got the capacity. You will come to the convention center. There are soldiers there from the 82nd Airborne, and from the Louisiana National Guard. People will be told to get on the bus, and we will take care of them.
#6 We have enough people to take care of what we need to.
And where they go will be dependent on the capacity in this state.
We'd like to keep people in the state, but it depends on how much room there is.
We've got our communications up. And we'll tell them where to go.
#7 There should be little or no confusion as to where people will be able to go;
And when they get there, they'll be able to get a chance, an opportunity to get registered, and so they can let their families know where they are.
#8 and where people's families are.
But don't start panic here. Okay? We've got a location. It is in the front of the convention center, and that's where we will use to migrate people from it, into the system.
#9 Reporters should not start off placing doubt in people's minds as to the effectiveness of the system, or it will lead to just that type of ineffectiveness. If people are constantly mistrusting, nothing can be accomplished.

After a normal question regarding a possible second staging site, Honore returns to his reporter-directed speech:
we understand that there's a problem in getting communications out. That's where we need your help.
#10 The media can assist the people by communicating what needs to be done.
But let's not confuse the questions with the answers.
#11 Questions such as the ones being asked today serve no purpose, and do not assist the public in any way at this time.
Buses at the convention center will move our citizens, for whom we have sworn that we will support and defend...and we'll move them on. Let's not get stuck on the last storm. You're asking last storm questions for people who are concerned about the future storm. Don't get stuck on stupid, reporters.
The main message, and the main point: (#12) Don't get stuck on the past, and screw everything up in the future. Asking irrelevant questions about past events when information about the present needs to be shared is wasteful and stupid. Reporters help no one by doing so.
We are moving forward.
#13 Get over it.
And don't confuse the people please. You are part of the public message.
#14 By asking all these questions, which answer nothing, the reporters are only creating doubt in the minds of the general public - resulting in far worse results and possibly the deaths or injuries of many.
So help us get the message straight.
#15 Straight = Honest, without the twisting of facts or the squeezing in of biased opinion.
And if you don't understand, maybe you'll confuse it to the people. That's why we like follow-up questions. But right now, it's the convention center, and move on.
#16 If you still don't understand that this is neither the time nor place for such questions, then perhaps you should not be in the profession you are. If you do understand, then please tell people to go to the convention center.

However, apparently not all the reporters were bright enough to get it...

Male reporter: General, a little bit more about why that's happening this time, though, and did not have that last time...

This makes me think of all those times when I've seen someone ask an incredibly stupid question to an already irate teacher, or make an incredibly dumb comment about an issue that was just addressed to someone who's already in a bad mood. You just want to look away, but can't. Or as, RadioBlogger said,
I think the General just started a movement, and he may not even realize it. Every time a reporter, in any situation, starts spinning, or completely misses the point, they need to be peppered with, "Don't get stuck on stupid."

Honore: You are stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that question. We are going to deal with Rita. This is public information that people are depending on the government to put out.
As many have said, this is going to become the next great line: Anytime a reporter (or anyone) continues to ask dumb, misinformed, and especially 'wrong place, wrong time' questions, the interviewee should respond "You're stuck on stupid."

Honore was actually nice enough to even apologize as he explained - yet again - his point:
This is the way we've got to do it. So please. I apologize to you, but let's talk about the future. Rita is happening. And right now, we need to get good, clean information out to the people that they can use. And we can have a conversation on the side about the past, in a couple of months.
#17 If reporters want to question why we did it this way later, in private, where people won't be confused, that's fine. Just wait until it's already taken care of, and don't waste the government's time.

But back to the main point, "Stuck on Stupid." RadioBlogger puts this idea in perspective:
I'd pay money to see David Gregory in the White House Press Corps foaming at the mouth over something trivial Scott McClellan said, and have McClellan say, "David, you're stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that."

I'd have fallen out of my chair if John Roberts would have listened to Joe Biden ramble on, and said, "Don't get stuck on stupid, Senator."

I can see the bumper stickers now. I can even see those stupid rubber wristbands with DGSOS etched in them.

I love General Honore.
I can't wait to see President Bush, McClellan, or anybody else for that matter say this to a reporter on a major, and live, broadcast report when millions are watching.

And I'd love to get that stupid wristband.

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