Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Thin Line Between White House's PR and BS

We have noted the goofy nature of White House / Department of Justice PR work on clemency before. The classic stunt had to be bragging about the President's "bold" action re commutations of sentence and offering up - as proof - the fact that he had granted more commutations than the previous four presidents combined. It was of course, something like bragging about being more merciful than Attila the Hun. Punch line was that the President had only granted 1 (that's right, a whopping ONE) more commutation of sentence than the previous four, despite the fact that he had received 1,000 plus more applications for such (see our commentary here).

Today, the White House produced a similarly goofy chart, for PR purposes, but, more entertainingly, starving / sleepless Neil Eggleston crafted this paragraph:
Earlier this month, President Obama granted commutation to 214 federal inmates,  the most commutations granted in a single day by any President in this nation’s history. With today’s additional 111 grants, the President has commuted the sentences of 325 people in the month of August alone, which is the greatest number of commutations ever granted by a president in a single month. The 325 commutations the President has granted in just one month is more than any president granted in a single year for nearly a century.
First, when the President granted the 214 commutations of sentence, it was NOT announced as the "most commutations granted in a single day by any President in this nation's history." There is a simple reason why 1) at the time, no one in the White House or Department of Justice had any idea whatsoever that that was the case, because  2) no one in the White House or Department of Justice had comprehensive data on the matter.  So - at the time - Neil Eggleston simply guessed that it was the highest number of commutations of sentence granted in a single day "since at least 1900." And he was wrong. The effects of sleep deprivation, no doubt.

Eggleston now guesses - out loud - that Obama has set a record for the most commutations of sentence in a single month. Are we to conclude they now have comprehensive monthly data back to 1789? We are very confident that is not the case.

This is all Jeffrey Toobin-like, And that is very, very sad.

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