January 20, 2003

· Politics

Brad DeLong gives Eugene Volokh some advice on how not to get quoted saying something awkward or embarrassing in print about, say, your former boss Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Eugene is quoted as calling her rulings on race-conscious policies “contradictory,” which is not quite what he meant. Brad says the solution is to “Have two different kinds of conversations with reporters. First, have normal conversations on background that they agree not to quote… Second, have abnormal conversations designed to produce quotes in newspaper articles.” The benefits of this strategy are that “You are happier. Justice O’Conner is happier. [The reporter] is a little bit unhappier … But on the whole social welfare is improved and communication is made less imperfect.”

I guess this two-tier system means that even the marketplace of ideas turns out to be segmented.

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I am Associate Professor of Sociology at Duke University. I’m affiliated with the Kenan Institute for Ethics, the Markets and Management Studies program, and the Duke Network Analysis Center.



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