Friday, August 05, 2005

Ex-CU pres Hoffman: "terms of endearment" will haunt me

The Rocky Mountain News reports on a speech yesterday by recently departed CU president Betsy Hoffman, her first public comments since she stepped down last week. The Rocky's report, by Todd Hartman, while not as lovey as the mash note the Denver Post sent Hoffman the other day (Pirate Ballerina has that one), fails to question Hoffman at all on her explanation of the football and Ward Churchill brouhahas that ultimately cost her her job. Instead, reporter Hartman listens with kindly concern as Hoffman says she

also regretted giving a deposition [in the football scandal] on a Saturday morning when she was exhausted, a move that led to one of her biggest gaffes, in which she agreed that use of the "C-word," in reference to women, was vulgar, but also said she had heard it described as a term of endearment.

"I will never again do the second day of a deposition on a Saturday morning when I was exhausted - and the only reason to do it was to get me to say something dumb," Hoffman said. "I allowed myself to say something dumb . . . I allowed myself to get rattled and get angry.

"It will haunt me for the rest of my life."

Did Hoffman go out and party that Friday night?

Because it sounds to this kindly old drunk like she's pleading a killer hangover. Hartman ignores this line of inquiry, possibly overwhelmed by the sheer tragedy of it all:

The pressures at CU became overwhelming, with what Hoffman called "a perfect storm" of controversy that included the rape lawsuit, an essay by ethnic studies professor Ward Churchill in which he compared Sept. 11 victims to an infamous Nazi bureaucrat, and the struggle to secure sufficient state funding for the school.

It became impossible to keep various interest groups happy, Hoffman said, in large part because - with so many major decisions strung so closely together - people would forget about actions that may have pleased them and seize on the ones that didn't.

Stringing major decisions too closely together can indeed cause problems, especially when all the decisions are wrong. And get her use of "interest groups," as if there were no moral issues involved. Hartman doesn't notice. He just notes that Hoffman, who has

weathered 18 months of relentless coverage, warned that many leaders in the public and private sector "are unprepared for how rapidly the media is changing," and cited talk radio and TV and Internet Web logs, or blogs, as part of a dizzying network that moves too fast for story subjects to get out their side on an issue.

"Web logs, or blogs." I'm dizzy already. But however daft, Hoffman's speech makes one point clearly: her screwups (except maybe the claim that "cunt" is a term of affection) are not her fault. It's just that somehow common ordinary American citizens are kept from hearing her side of things, and "[o]fficials and institutions 'are tried and convicted in an instant,'" mainly in the nightmare courts of that eldritch cabal of evil, the "blogs."

The "blogs"

She cited blogs in particular for changing the civic landscape. Ten minutes after one blogger posted the first report on Churchill's Sept. 11 comments, people were calling Gov. Bill Owens, demanding he order Hoffman to fire Churchill, she said.

And if you can't understand how upsetting that would be, you're a cunt (endearing! I'm being endearing!).

But Hoffman emphasized that there's little anyone can do to change the ballooning number of media outlets and opinion mongers. She urged leaders to adapt, rather than simply lament the changing landscape.
Lamentations, eh? But Hartman manages to end the story on a hopeful note, focusing on Hoffman's limitless future:

Whether she becomes a university president again, writes a book or shares her recent experiences with other leaders, she has yet to decide.

Take me now Jesus please take me now.

"Out of every crisis comes opportunity," she said. "Everything bad that happens you step back and say, 'What have I learned from this experience?"

Boy, that's too easy for Drunkablog, even.

Update: The Denver Post's David Harsanyi writes about Hoffman's speech today--Hoffman has excuses, not answers--and mentions something I did not know: Hoffman singled out Charles Johnson's Little Green Footballs in her criticism of those evil blogs. Not smart. Johnson responds to Hoffman in Harsanyi's piece and on his blog: Former CU pres smears LGF.

Update II: Post title has changed. Old one sucked.

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