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Posted by on Feb 16, 2011 in Breaking News, Media, Politics, Society | 0 comments

Nir Rosen Apologizes

This is a significant apology. I could have posted this as an update to my original post from yesterday, but I tend to prefer writing a new post over updating old ones because many people don’t read updates, especially on high-traffic blogs like TMV, where fresh posts rapidly push older ones down the page.

I think that the NYU Center on Law and Security did the correct thing in accepting Nir Rosen’s resignation. What he said and did was deeply wrong, and although speech is free, it does sometimes come with consequences. Having said that, I respect Rosen for doing more than just issuing the pro forma apology attached to a resignation letter. Rather than quote from this interview with Fishbowl DC’s Betsy Rothstein (linked above), I will point readers to James Joyner’s commentary. After sharing some selected parts of the interview and linking to the original interview, James makes the following observations:

There’s much more at the interview, which I commend to you in full. He has gone light years beyond the typical “I apologize if anyone was offended” line public officials do when caught. Given his history, I believe him to be sincere in both his regret and embarrassment at his remarks, not just at getting caught.

While I’ve encountered Rosen at public fora in DC, I can’t claim to know him. But his reputation, at least before this incident, was as a brilliant and caring fellow. He’s been invited to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and fellowed at prestigious and centrist academic institutions including New America’s Foundation and the American Academy in Berlin in addition to NYU. He’s not just some crank with a Twitter account.

My strong hunch is that an hour’s ugliness on Twitter will become a mere asterisk on an otherwise distinguished career. But this is merely the latest in a long line of examples of people embarrassing themselves on social media, whether it be Twitter, Facebook, or a blog.

I constantly see people railing against Big Media companies and other institutions who issue social media guidelines to their employees.  The company rationale is always that the person is a “brand” who reflects on them 24/7. The crowd response is that people are more than their jobs and should be able to say or do whatever they want in their free time.

The companies are right.

The Agonist‘s Sean Paul Kelly rightly asks, “But seriously, who among us has never said anything way out of line?”

Not me, that’s for sure.

Alas, I responded, “Tweeting feels like IM’ing but it’s more like blogging.”

While we can usually  get away with an out-of-public-character snide remark in private conversation, social media is public. And it’s shocking how many otherwise thoughtful people haven’t figured that out yet.

I agree, and after reading Rosen’s full apologia in his interview with Rothstein, I am also inclined to believe, not just that he is sincere, but also that he has done pretty much everything he can do at this moment in time to make it clear he understands the harm he did and the hurt that he caused. The rest will take time; it can’t happen overnight.