Monday, October 22, 2012


Imitation is the best form of flattery.

Last week the usually indubitable Washington Trade Daily broke a very, very Washington-centric story on a proposed reorganization of the Commerce Department’s international trade administration.

As any long-term or careful reader of WTD knows full well I – Jim Berger – tend to make very dumb mistakes – not big ones or earthshaking ones, but ones that show that I am not thinking right when I compose the story.  An example – the sun rises in the West.

The latest occasion of this softheadedness came in the reorganization story where I explained that any internal government reorganization plan must be reviewed by the respective House and Senate oversight committees before going ahead.

In the story I remarked that the Foreign Affairs Committee was the oversight committee on the House side for Commerce Department’s export promotion programs, and that the Senate Banking Committee was the counterpart oversight committee in the Senate.  Sounds good so far, except that I was wrong about the Senate – which came to me the first thing in the morning after the issue was published.  Actually, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee has jurisdiction over export promotion (The sun actually rises in the East.)

Two days after the story ran in WTD, a very similar report appeared in Inside US Trade.  It is certainly not unusual for a publication to pick up on scoops left by its competition.  Except that Inside Trade made – published – the same mistake I made – naming Banking as the chief export promotion oversight committee in the Senate.

Obviously, the Inside US Trade writer made little effort or took any time to check what he or she was copying from us.

The only thing worse than a stupid mistake is a stupider one – in this case it is picking up an obvious error and not crediting WTD with making it.

So the next time you read “according to sources” in Inside US Trade, you can safely take it to mean the item came either directly from us or from one of its “sources” who read it in Washington Trade Daily.

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