In Arizona, Governor Jan Brewer is term limited. As such, her potential replacements have begun to run ahead of the 2014 election. One of those candidates is State Senator Al Melvin (R). Like most candidates for higher office, Melvin is on Twitter. And that’s where he got into trouble.
Al Melvin took to Twitter and used quotes from President Lincoln to attack President Obama’s “class warfare”:
The problem: President Lincoln never said any of these quotes.
Both actually came from William J.H. Boetcker, a conservative Presbyterian minister who toured the country in the early 20th century and was born after Lincoln’s death. His quotes are frequently attributed to Lincoln, a practice which started as early as 1942.
Melvin said that he got the quotes from a Republican News letter and called the error an “innocent mistake.” “It sounded good,” he said. “It seemed like it was something that he would say.”
If Melvin was writing a school report, I think he would have failed for falsely attributing one of his sources. Incidentally, this story has gone nationwide, which means it is getting significant play in Arizona. For many Republicans, this is going to be their first impression of Melvin: the man who wants to lead their state inappropriately attributes quotes. Probably not what Melvin was going for.
The lesson here is obvious: check your sources! If you see a quote you like and want to run with on Social Media, it’s very easy: just copy and paste it into Google and see what comes out. You may find out that your facts are wrong or that your attribution is incorrect. Really, Google is a plagiarizers nightmare but a politicians best friend. A simple check can save you a lot of heartache.