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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Introducing a New Recurring Feature: Correcting the Mayor's Corrections Page

Posted By on Thu, Feb 12, 2009 at 11:59 AM


This week, as part of its ongoing effort to avoid any give-and-take with an entity it does not control, the mayor's office unveiled a "corrections page" of media stories on Gavin Newsom's city Web site.

On this page, Nathan Ballard, the mayor's spokesman, promises "When the media publishes inaccurate information or gets the story wrong, the Mayor's Communication Director sets the record straight here." It warrants mentioning that telling a story straight actually contravenes the job requirements of a mayoral spokesman.

SF Weekly will undertake to correct the mayor's corrections page when necessary:

CORRECTION: Nathan Ballard's CORRECTION of New Mission Theater Articles by Robert Selna of the San Francisco Chronicle

On Monday, Feb. 9,  Ballard, ran a "correction" of facts presented in the San Francisco Chronicle. In San Francisco, Ballard noted, facts about the mayor must be both accurate and flattering: As the facts presented in the Chronicle were only accurate, they couldn't possibly be true.

According to the Chronicle article, the Mayor enshrined a typo into law that benefitted one of his significant campaign contributors. Ballard noted, correctly, that this made it appear that the mayor had enshrined a typo into law that benefitted one of his significant campaign contributors. The article should not have implied that what actually happened happened.

Instead, Ballard said, the Chronicle should have praised the Mayor's wisdom and/or hair. The Mayor has never done anything improper, been in the room when anything improper was done, or met anybody who had once been in a room where something improper occurred. He would never, ever, do something for a campaign contribution that wasn't large enough.

Ballard's correction, however, contained one inaccuracy: Gavin Newsom sold his soul in 2002, not 2003.

-- Benjamin Wachs

CORRECTION: Nathan Ballard's CORRECTION on the CORRECTION Page In The News

On Wednesday, Feb. 11, the Ballard, ran a "correction" that praised the San Francisco Examiner for running an article about Mayor Newsom's "correction" page. Ballard's correction failed to note, however, that SFist also ran a story about the correction page, and that it was much funnier.

The mistake may stem from the operation that Mayor Newsom had in 2004 that removed his sense of humor. No one with a sense of humor could possibly be Gavin Newsom.

-- Benjamin Wachs

CORRECTION: Nathan Ballard's Hat-tip to the Chronicle for Running a Bizarre CORRECTION on its New Mission Theater Article

On Thursday, Feb. 12 Ballard congratulated the Chronicle for running a correction  to its New Mission Theater article by Robert Selna. Both Ballard and the newspaper erred, however, as the Chronicle's "correction" failed, by any standard to meet the dictionary definition of the word "correction."

For some reason, the Chronicle has seen fit to run a "correction" stating this Ballard e-mail quote:

"The planning department has been dealing with this issue for many months through an open, public process. The Mayor believes that Mr. Murad should be treated the same - no better and no worse - as any other business owner in the same circumstances."
Should have read:

"During this fiscal crisis, the people of San Francisco need their city leaders to work together, not attack each other."
These also fail the dictionary definition of the word "quotes." It is SF Weekly's belief that these words were selected at random out of a Scrabble dictionary in an effort to communicate no message while hitting a triple word score.

UPDATE: 1 p.m. Due to an error on the mayor's corrections page (gasp!) SF Weekly got the wrong impression of which quotes were being referenced in the Chronicle articles. While the "corrected" quote hails from Selna's Feb. 4 article, Ballard's beef was with a Feb. 7 article. So Ballard's note that the Chron has corrected "A quote in an article that was featured here on the Corrections Page" -- with a link to his complaint about the Feb. 7 story -- is inaccurate.

For what it's worth, the quote "During this fiscal crisis, the people of San Francisco need their city leaders to work together, not attack each other" replaces "During this fiscal crisis, the people of San Francisco need to work together, not attack each other."

-- Joe Eskenazi

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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