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First Draft of NEA’s Conference Call Statement

John on September 23, 2009 at 1:23 am

Big Government provides a link to this statement by the new NEA Chairman (italics mine):

As chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, I would like to clarify the issues concerning an August conference call in which an NEA employee participated.

Here are the facts.

Fact 1:             The former NEA Director of Communications helped organize and participated in an August 10th conference call to introduce members of the arts community to United We Serve and to provide them with information on how the Corporation for National and Community Service can assist groups interested in sponsoring service projects or having their members volunteer on other projects.

Fact 2:             The former NEA Director of Communications acted unilaterally and without the approval or authorization of then-Acting Chairman Patrice Walker Powell.

Fact 3:             This call was not a means to promote any legislative agenda and any suggestions to that end are simply false.   Rather, the call was to inform members of the arts community of an opportunity to become involved in volunteerism.

Fact 4:             Some of the language used by the former NEA Director of Communications was, unfortunately, not appropriate and did not reflect the position of the NEA. This employee has been relieved of his duties as director of communications.

It’s a bit confusing this way. Fortunately, I got my hands on the first draft of this particular press release. As you’ll see, it gives a better picture of what the author was really trying to convey than the draft they eventually released:

Let me clarify a few things for you.

The former NEA Communications Director — acting unilaterally — used some inappropriate language on a conference call. Because of this inappropriate language, we removed him from his position immediately.

However, the former Director was not, repeat NOT, promoting a legislative agenda during this unilaterally-initiated conference call. Obviously, promoting a legislative agenda is completely inappropriate for a grant-making government agency like the NEA. Indeed, it is a line which a former director — even a unilaterally acting one — would never cross.

So let us carefully distinguish the inappropriate language which did not happen during the conference call from that inappropriate (though unspecified) language which, sadly, did happen and for which the Director was removed. The two remain distinctly distinct. Simply put, it was the very real (but unspecified) inappropriate language for which the former Director was removed, not the very specific (but unreal) language to which some have unilaterally alluded.

While it would be easy for me to unilaterally specify the specific inappropriate language which caused us to dismiss the former Director, we have chosen instead to allow it to remain unspecified, thereby protecting both its specificity and inappropriateness from any further language.

And those are the facts. Any statements to the contrary are either false, inappropriate, unilateral or, quite possibly, some combination of the three.



I think that clarifies a lot. Don’t you?

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