No one should defend Jennifer Olsen, the Billngs GOP Chair, for posting a photo of a device designed to trap president Obama by luring him with a watermelon. But I suppose you could make a case that there could be some amount of leniency due, some forgiveness, based on the reality that people sometimes post things and re-tweet things, or forward things, without much thought. In an instant, they’ve made a grave mistake that will haunt them forever, perhaps more than they deserve (though they do derve to be held accountable) for doing or saying something without fully thinking it through.
But Olsen’s response has been disappointing, and does not reccomend her any reappraisal.
It would have been easy enough to just remove the item and state that she realized it was in bad taste. Her silence and refusal to even offer an opinion on whether the photo is racist could be taken as a greater indication that she’s a racist than the post itself. People make mistakes, forward things that they see or things that have come to them, sometimes without thinking. Or, perhaps more to the point in this case, sometimes they are not smart enough or sophisticated enough to even realize, in the moment of action, that the item is inappropriate or distasteful. We don’t really know what was in her mind as she posted the photo. Certainly she does not appear to be an intelligent, educated or sophistcated person.
But now Olsen is compounding her problems by keeping mum while allowing the GOP to release an idiotic statement on her behalf, defending her on grounds that “none of Olsen’s 1,000 or so Facebook friends have corroborated” that they ever received the posting, and that the possibility thus exists that Olsen “may have been hacked.”
Meanwhile, Olsen herself has not said that she was hacked. Rather, she issued a garbled statement accusing Nicole French (the Montanafesto blog author with an impeccable reputation who posted a screenshot of Olsen’s Facebook page which clearly showed that Olsen posted the photo) of “making up stories about me because we’ve had a falling out.” She further says that Ms. French’s “posting this about me is all fabricated,” whatever that means.
This response appears to be a “non-denial denial,” as the Watergate journalists Woodward and Bernstein might have described it. Olsen can’t decide on an alibi. She is being vague about whether her defense is that she was hacked or whether somebody, Nicole French or some other person, created some sort of fake image. And Olsen, ou will notice, stops short of making either of these allegations. She instead parses words and remains factually vague in her outrage, so that she can appear to be some sort of victim, without specifying precisely what malfeasance has been visited upon her.
Which is another way of admitting that she posted the photo.
At any rate, this is a lesson for everyone. If you do something like this, just admit you were wrong, apologize, and move on to act better in the future.