(YAHOO) It’s an exhilarating, if somewhat mystifying, experience to find yourself a supporting player in a modern media maelstrom. It’s even more instructive to learn that a dust-up over a few words can obscure a much more significant message.
“My first thought was, this is what they do in China on party matters if you talk off script.”
Those words were spoken Sunday night by Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor and Republican presidential candidate, in a public interview with me at New York’s 92nd Street Y. Huntsman was describing how his comments about the potential appeal of a third party got him disinvited to speak at a Republican National Committee event in Florida.
Before dawn, websites were reporting the quote under headlines like “Huntsman compares GOP to Communist Party of China.” By sunrise, Huntsman was on “Morning Joe,” scoffing that “bottom-feeder” blogs had taken his comments out of context. By midday,Buzzfeed–the target of Huntsman’s critique–had posted a lengthy video excerpt from my interview to argue that no, he had not been taken out of context.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think Huntsman was painting with a brush so broad as to compare the Republican Party with Communist China. For one thing, Huntsman is not yet under house arrest with his Internet access forbidden.
But here’s what the dust-up missed. If you take all of what he said to me over some 90 minutes, it is all but certain that John Huntsman is not going to be a Republican much longer.