This Is Not Intended As A Factual Post

Last Friday, Arizona Senator Jon Kyl took to the Senate floor to denounce Planned Parenthood, a not-for-profit organization that provides many health services, including abortion.

Senator Kyl: “You don’t have to go to Planned Parenthood to get your cholesterol or your blood pressure checked. If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood, and that’s well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.”

Turns out that according to some measures, just three percent of the services Planned Parenthood provides – not 90 percent –  are related to abortions. But that’s not the weirdest part of this story.

Upon learning of his mistake, Sen. Kyl didn’t simply apologize and correct the record. Instead, his office released this bizarre statement to CNN:

“His remark was not intended to be a factual statement, but rather to illustrate that Planned Parenthood, a organization that receives millions of dollars in taxpayer funding, does subsidize abortions.”

Wait…the Senator’s floor speeches are not intended to be factual? By releasing such an absurd excuse, his office extended the life of this story, which has become widely lampooned over the past week. Stephen Colbert’s pointed satire offers one such example:

On Twitter, Colbert also started posting ridiculous statements about Jon Kyl, pairing them with the hashtag #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement. (For the non-tweeters, hashtags are used as an “index” to organize tweets by all users on the same topic.) Twitter users had a blast with the story, composing thousands of “true” Jon Kyl stories, including:

CommanderHalo wrote: “Jon Kyl only eats food he’s personally stolen from children #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement”

ProfessorBibble wrote: “Jon Kyl has 5 terabytes of amputee pornography. #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement”

And Colbert himself wrote: “Every halloween Jon Kyl dresses up as a sexy Mitch Daniels. #NotIntendedToBeAFactualStatement”

None of this was necessary. All Kyl’s office had to say was, “The Senator clearly misspoke, and he apologizes. But the underlying issue remains the same….” Instead, he chose to turn a mere misstatement into a much bigger story.

As Elton John once sang, “sorry seems to be the hardest word.”

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Related: Bad Apologies Are Worse Than No Apologies

Related: March 2011: The Five Worst Video Media Disasters