Journalists should take note of the factual errors in Delta County Republicans’ explanations of how and why a racist meme appeared on the Facebook page of Delta GOP Chair Linda Sorenson. Some of the lapses are going unchecked in media coverage of the incident.
Sorenson didn’t simply “like” the Chimp post; she shared it. As you can see on the right where it says “Linda Storm Sorenson shared…”, she affirmatively shared the chimp meme; she posted it to her profile, as GOP Chair Steve House explained to CBSDenver TV.
So Sorenson’s apology is wrong when she writes, “I confess to ‘liking’ a tired old Facebook meme, and I apologize for my bad judgment.”
“While reports have circulated that Sorenson posted the meme, she is claiming that ‘someone I don’t know tagged me’ in the post and that she ‘liked’ it — which led to its appearance on her public timeline. She has yet to clarify her story.”
Sorenson’s Facebook page was not hacked. The Sentinel reported: “‘It was hacked,’ [Sorenson] said Tuesday night at the meeting, before adding: ‘I liked it, and then it was there.’”
There’s no evidence of hacking, and Sorenson’s own story precludes it. Sorenson made the decision to share the racist meme. Where she first saw it is not known, but it doesn’t matter. She made the decision to share it. (Plus, if hacking were a serious accusation, this would presumably have been reported to the police.)
Sorenson misquotes herself. “I admit to saying to the blogger that; ‘I don’t care if you’re offended,’ however I do care very much if anyone else was offended,” wrote Sorenson in her apology first reported by the Colorado Statesman’s Ernest Luning. “Please forgive me for being insensitive and not thinking of others in the heat of the moment.” The blogger she references is yours truly, and she actually factually told me, “I don’t care if people are offended.” (Listen to the recording here.) She did not say, as she claims in her apology, “I don’t care if you’re offended.” Of course, I take Sorenson at her word that she’s sorry she offended others, not just me. But she told me she didn’t care if people were offended, as in all people.
In addition to watching out for these errors, some clarifications are needed:
What does Rep. Scott Tipton mean? He told the Colorado Statesman that there is no place for racism in the GOP. Does that mean he wants Sorenson to resign?
Finally, Sorenson does not offer a full apology. Sorenson apologizes for her insensitivity, not for the sharing the meme. She doesn’t say she thinks it was a racist act, or that the meme was racist. Instead, she regrets that others view it that way.
She wrote in her apology: “I apologize for my bad judgment.” And, “Please forgive me for being insensitive and not thinking of others in the heat of the moment.” This is in keeping with her original comment to me, that her post was a joke.