The mayor of East Haven, Connecticut made a racially insensitive comment this week at a rather racially sensitive moment, and now he's learning that there are just some statements so dumb that they can't be blamed on media sensationalism. The FBI arrested four East Haven police officers Tuesday on charges of harassing and abusing the community's Latinos, and when WPIX reporter Mario Diaz asked Mayor Joe Maturo "what are you doing for the Latino community today," he replied, "I might have tacos when I go home, I'm not quite sure yet." Oh boy ... The reporter himself actually interrupted to suggest that wasn't such an appropriate statement. Maturo replied, and we'll just quote it all here, "I might have spaghetti tonight, being of Italian descent. I could go out -- I've had ethnic food, and when you asked me what I was doing for Latinos tonight, I may go out and have a Latino dinner in the Latino community. There's nothing wrong with that and you can twist it and turn it whichever way the press decides to do."
Ah, yes. Blame the reporter. (Call it "Gingriching.") Even as criticism grew, he kept on it, saying, "To say we got the mayor in a gotcha, if that's what the press wants to do, I don't think they're helping the situation," Maturo said. We like The Atlantic's Ta-Nahesi Coates' paraphrase of this defense: "Yes, how dare you twist my remarks by video-taping them and posting them in full online." Watching the video makes the statement worse, not better. (See for yourself.) It's not that the reporter half-quoted him to make him sound worse. It's that the reporter posted a full video that actually angered people who watched it, including the reporter! Gov. Dan Malloy, admittedly of the other party, nevertheless rightly issued a rather candid-sounding statement to say, "The comments by East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo are repugnant. They represent either a horrible lack of judgment or worse, an underlying insensitivity to our Latino community that is unacceptable." And indeed, Maturo seems to be learning since his little turning of the tables on the reporter that his comments are actually getting press not because they sounded dumb but because they were dumb. He seems to have gotten the point and issued a real apology Wednesday. "Unfortunately, I let the stress of the situation get the best of me and inflamed what is already a serious and unfortunate situation. I regret my insensitive comment and realize that it is my job to lead by example." Well done, we guess. But next time you accuse someone of twisting your words, just make sure they actually, you know, twisted them.
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