Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Hilton's peril

Rumors floating around the Internets have said the Capitol Hilton is not renewing the lease of Fran O'Brien's Stadium Steakhouse because of liability issues about its hosting dinners for disabled veterans or some kind of anti-vet mentality. Those unconfirmed rumors have prompted outrage from right-wing veterans groups that are heatedly calling for a boycott of Hilton.

To my knowledge, no evidence has surfaced proving any anti-veteran bias or liability concern. Still, Hilton has a problem. Truth is no defense against an Internet rumor many people are eager to believe.

My blogging pals over at Blue Crab Boulevard have warned:

"Hilton does not know what is going to hit them because of this. They are ignoring bloggers at their peril."

True, although the Blue Crabbers give more credence to the tale than I. The facts are of little defense, however, once an Internet rumor takes hold.

The only "evidence"I have seen that the disabled veterans are the cause is speculation by the likes of Buzz Patterson, a veteran activist.

Patterson's email said in part:

"I've also discovered since then that the Hilton Corporation will not be renewing the lease. Apparently, there are too many "liability issues" in accommodating American heroes in wheelchairs."

Below Patterson's email in the Mudville Gazette was another making the same claim:

"Apparently Hal's support of our wounded veterans is playing a MAJOR part in Hilton's decision to shut him down. Part of it is that Hilton has refused to put in wheelchair access to the restaurant and their concern over liability if one of the amputees should be injured in the restaurant."

My response: How do you know that, gentlemen? Who told you Hilton has a "concern over liability"?

Here is another writeup, with questions answered by Hilton. Note that the hotel is offering to keep the veterans' dinner on site, which goes against the liability theory.

Yes, I could be missing something, as Gaius and the other Azure Crustaceans have told me. But sources are only as good as their information. Just ask Dan Rather.

Just a suggestion, guys: How about trying the carrot first? Get lots of traffic into Hilton, taking the hotel chain at its word that it will continue the dinners. Show your good faith in their good faith. And you still have the boycott as an option if Hilton does not follow through.

Right now, Hilton is in a lose-lose situation for ever having allowed the dinners in the first place. Is that the lesson the protesters want to send?

BTW, I plan to turn comments on in a few days, probably over the weekend. This is a baby blog, just 8 days old. I need to figure out a strategy for dealing with comments, mainly to avoid being overrun with spam.

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