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Misrepresented Meg Whitman’s comments

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POSTED October 7, 2009 2:08 a.m.
Editor, Manteca Bulletin,
First off, I am no fan of Meg Whitman.  I would not cast a ballot for her if she had registered to vote on her 18th birthday and hadn’t missed voting in an election since that time.

That being said, your Oct. 1 opinion piece, “Raising a family & voting was too much for Meg Whitman to handle,” misrepresents the facts.  While you are entitled to your opinion and I won’t argue your opinion, at times your reporting of facts leaves something to be desired.

In your column, you quoted Whitman as saying, “When I came to eBay, what I saw was the incredible difficulties that government created for small business ... inspired individuals who created business who got slapped down by taxation, by bureaucracy and regulation.”  You then go on to write that, “First of all, describing eBay as a small business is akin to calling Wal-Mart a corner store.”

I ask you, where in Whitman’s quote does she describe eBay as a small business, or even infer such a belief?  She doesn’t.  You are putting words into her mouth and that is beyond poor journalism, it is inexcusable.

I’ll grant you, her statement is a bit ambiguous, but that doesn’t excuse your interpretation.  At the very least you should have used a disclaimer and written “First of all, if Whitman was calling eBay a small business...,” but then that would have left you without the basic premise for your column.  However, no column would have been better than putting your own words into Whitman’s mouth.  That is, the end does not justify the means.

I’m not going to do as you have done and put words in Whitman’s mouth, but let’s look at what she might have meant.

 1) She was describing eBay as a small business as you assert.

2) Small businesses are clients of eBay, in fact they are the life-blood of eBay.  Any good business leader knows that in order to best serve your clients you must understand your clients.  Thus, as leader of eBay Whitman came to understand small businesses because it was her job to do so.  

Could Whitman have been speaking in terms of No. 2, and not No 1 as your assert?   Again, I will not put words into Whitman’s mouth, but logic dictates that she was likely speaking in terms of scenario No. 2 and not No. 1.

By the way, contrary to the typical letter you may receive, I find it interesting that I agree with many of your opinion pieces, it is just your misrepresentations and/or misstatements of fact that I find troubling.
Robert Plante
Manteca
Oct. 6, 2009
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