Word of mouth can be a brutally efficient method of conveying information. It also can be equally brutal in spreading falsehoods.
An explanation is now in order.
This past Saturday, I chose to run a pair of essays on the Globe-News Opinion page that dealt with the same subject: the White House feud with the Fox News Channel. On one side was Michelle Malkin, a regular columnist on our page (and a regular contributor to Fox News); on the other side was Eric Boehlert, a senior fellow with Media Matters for America, a liberal media watchdog group. Malkin took up for Fox, while Boehlert took up for the White House.
I chose on that day to run the Boehlert column in place of a piece by Charles Krauthammer, a noted conservative pundit whose column runs regularly on our pages.
Then came the phone calls this week from a few readers — not many, mind you — wondering if we had dropped Krauthammer permanently. I assured them that Krauthammer is still running on our pages. Indeed, the column we normally would have run on Saturday was published in Wednesday’s edition of the Globe-News.
But a call came in today from a longtime subscriber in Canyon that sent me over the edge. He was calling to inform me of his decision to drop his subscription to the paper, which he said he had read his entire life. Why? He had “heard” we dropped Krauthammer. I asked him, “Who told you that?” He said “a friend” told him. I told the gentlemen we were doing no such thing and that his friend is misinformed. I also sung Krauthammer’s praises, telling the man that Krauthammer is one of the smartest people in the country and one of the best writers I’ve ever read. He’s sharp and incisive.
He is staying on our page until he either “retires or decides to do something else,” I told the caller.
I had informed the gentleman that I had selected to run two columnists who were writing on a subject that had spurred quite a national discussion that’s going on to this day. The White House-Fox feud is heating up still and I guess it will continue to provide fodder for pundits for a while.
What gets my goat, though, is how these rumors can spread with no basis in fact. I guess it’s kind of like the baloney we’re hearing about President Obama’s background, you know?
Whatever. I thanked the gentleman for calling and asking directly about the “rumor” he apparently had assumed to be true.
Well, you know what they say about those who assume too much …
One more thing: The caller said he won’t cancel his subscription after all.