CA Congresswoman Mocks Native Americans

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    What was she thinking?

    Politicians have a long history of making idiotic remarks “behind closed doors”. The difference today is that everyone carries that teeny tiny recording device called a cell phone in their pocket, landing what would formerly be private remarks firmly in the public eye.

    Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif) had barely announced her entrance into the race for a Senate seat when she committed a serious faux pas. NBC News broke the story:

    While talking to a group of Indian Americans — people with links to India — the politician was captured on cell phone video mocking Native Americans.

    In talking about how she was confused about an upcoming meeting with an Indian American, Sanchez said, “I am going to his office, thinking that I am going to meet with a…” — then she put her hand over mouth and made the noise that is the stereotypical imitation of a Native American war cry — “Right? … because he said Indian American.”

    Several of those who were in attendance wasted no time in sharing their shock and outrage with reporters, and Sanchez was left delivering a half-assed apology over and over again as members of the media continued to bring it up in previously scheduled interviews.

    The crisis management lesson here is simple – think before you open your mouth. Going off the cuff is great for entertainment purposes, but when it comes to protecting your reputation and pushing a specific message there’s far too much risk of veering into dangerous territory.

    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is vice president for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]

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