A little more on the non-endorsement endorsement

Some of the coverage about yesterday’s release of NASA’s new “information policy” (which says, in essence, that NASA employees are encouraged but not required to coordinate media interviews with public affairs officers) focused instead on NASA administrator Michael Griffin’s apparent, if not intended, endorsement of Rep. Tom DeLay last Friday night in a speech in Houston. NASA has not yet released a transcript of the speech but the agency did provide NASA Watch with the relevant snippet of Griffin’s remarks:

The space program has had no better friend in its entire existence than Tom Delay. He’s still with us and we need to keep him there. There just are no better people.

According to the New York Times, Washington Post, and Reuters, Griffin blamed an “inartful choice of words” for any confusion, and that he meant to say that “we need to keep him as a friend” to the space program. (Is there any real danger that he will no longer be a “friend” of NASA in the foreseeable future?) There may be something to the “inartful choice of words” argument: when I first saw the phrase “he’s still with us”, I wondered who could have thought that Tom DeLay was, in fact, dead.

Reuters noted that Griffin also said, “I’m not endorsing anybody, I don’t intend to (but) I remind you that I can if I want.”

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