The Abridged Truth About Nixon

Dan Wardby Dan Ward

I’ve always been a fan of Ben Stein and his essays, and not just because as a teenager I could recite the entire script of “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”  (Anyone? Anyone?)

But his latest – “Ben Stein: the truth about Nixon” – is off-base, not because of the points he makes, but because of what he leaves out.

Stein spends the majority of his column defending all of the things he believes Nixon did right, including actions for which he believes Nixon did not receive the credit he deserved.  Many I found eye-opening, such as Nixon’s role in the Cold War, establishing the Environmental Protection Agency and developing a proposal for Universal Health Care.

But what about Watergate?  That warrants two lines at the end:  “He helped with a cover up of a mysterious burglary that no one understands to this day.  That was his grievous sin, and grievously did he answer for it.”

In the PR world, this is known as “spin,” and we consider it a four-letter word.  We often find ourselves presenting the other side of a story, defending companies and individuals who we believe have not received a fair shake in the press or online.  But you don’t change opinions by glossing over someone’s obvious failures.  You acknowledge them, you confront them, you apologize for them if necessary.

You shouldn’t dwell on the negative, but neither should you ignore it.  When you do, the audience you’re trying to persuade questions every word you say.

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