Snopes: Only once in history has Louisiana flooded

September 4, 2017

The quality of Snopes’s work has declined dramatically as they have become more partisan, but this one really takes the cake:

(Screengrab via Mediaite.)

They are complaining about this tweet:

This is false, Snopes explains, because Obama wasn’t president during Hurricane Katrina. Ha ha, what an idiot! Naturally, this led to a rash of people mocking Republicans for forgetting who was president during Katrina.

Except, the tweet never says Katrina. The entire premise of this fact-check is that if you’re talking about Louisiana floods, you must be talking about Katrina. But Louisiana has flooded lots of times, including once during 2016 when Obama was president. An unnamed storm dumped three times as much rain on Louisiana as did Hurricane Katrina, and Obama faced criticism for going golfing instead of visiting the disaster:

Here’s why President Obama isn’t stopping his vacation to visit the Louisiana flooding

Two important things happened today in the political world of President Obama.

The first was that the Advocate, a Louisiana newspaper chain, published an editorial calling on the president to come to the state to see the horrible flooding first-hand. It read, in part:

We’ve seen this story before in Louisiana, and we don’t deserve a sequel. In 2005, a fly-over by a vacationing President George W. Bush became a symbol of official neglect for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The current president was among those making political hay out of Bush’s aloofness.

Sometimes, presidential visits can get in the way of emergency response, doing more harm than good. But we don’t see that as a factor now that flood waters are subsiding, even if at an agonizing pace. It’s past time for the president to pay a personal visit, showing his solidarity with suffering Americans.

This isn’t to say that this criticism of Obama is necessarily fair (see below), but indisputably it is factually accurate.

It gets worse. The internet naturally pointed Snopes’s error to them, but (as we’ve seen before) they were too invested in it to correct it. Instead, they revised it to add this:

. . . during similarly pervasive flooding in Louisiana in 2016. Other users took that argument even further, knocking Obama for not “doing enough” to help Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina.

Their revised version also demotes the featured “origin” tweet to be just the first in a collage of many. But this version is incoherent. They still have that tweet and a similar one first in the collage, even though they are perfectly accurate. The rest of the tweets in the collage, on the other hand, do mention Katrina, so why keep the first two? Because the first two (the ones that are right) are the only ones from Twitter “blue checkmarks.” The rest are all from random internet people. Fact-checking random internet people is silly.

And what about those random internet people? Are they just the kind of crazy people that blame everything on the opposing party? Maybe, but maybe not. Two of them specifically mention Obama being on vacation, as he was during the 2016 floods. One of them mentioned he didn’t answer for three days, a specific detail that fits if she was talking about the 2016 floods. (Obama broke his silence regarding the floods on their third day.) And nearly all of them mention the golf; Obama went golfing at Martha’s Vineyard three times while the floods were ongoing.

So I think that most of those random internet people remembered the vacation-golf-during-a-flood incident, but they didn’t remember the exact circumstances (the storm had no name to tie a memory to), and they erroneously attributed it to Katrina. In other words, I think those people committed exactly the same error as Snopes.

Snopes should rate the claim mostly true, but note that some of them misremember the incident’s name. But that’s not what they’ve done, even when their error was pointed out. Instead, they continued to peddle misinformation, and I’ve now seen that misinformation dozens of places around the internet.

That’s right, Snopes is now starting urban legends of their own.

POSTSCRIPT: Snopes makes it unnecessarily difficult to critique their work. I’d like simply to link to the original post on the Wayback Machine, but Snopes blocks the Wayback Machine so I had to settle for a screengrab that someone kept. I can’t think of any reason for Snopes to do that, other than to memory-hole their mistakes.

POST-POSTSCRIPT: Is it fair to criticize Obama for golfing during a natural disaster? Chris Cillizza, now of CNN, makes a stab at defending him:

[I]t speaks to Obama’s unique and long-lasting commitment to not playing by a core rule of modern politics: making at least some decisions based on “how it looks” and/or “how it will play.” Obama has long been a rejectionist on this front.

First of all, this is nonsense. I’ll grant that the Obama had the unique conceit that he didn’t make decisions based on how they would play, but of course he did exactly that all the time. But never mind that; it’s beside the point. The question is: should the president engage in useless gestures in order to make people feel good? And the answer is yes.

The president is not just the head of government, he is also the head of state. That means that the job of being the country’s ceremonial leader falls to him. Other nations assign that job to a monarch, but America (thank God) has no monarch. The head of state should not be clowning around on the golf course in full view of cameras while a natural disaster is underway. Showing some solemnity during a disaster is part of his job.

(Via F. Bill McMorris.)

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When “vote hacking” isn’t

December 31, 2016

Just one month ago, the left was extremely concerned about “fake news” tricking people into believing false things. Here’s something they might want to look at:

  • New York Times: Obama Strikes Back at Russia for Election Hacking
  • USA Today: Obama sanctions Russian officials over election hacking
  • The Guardian: Obama expels 35 Russian diplomats in retaliation for US election hacking
  • AFP: US sanctions Russia over vote hacking
  • CNN: House Democrats to offer bill on Russia vote hacking
  • BBC: Republicans Ryan and McConnell back Russia vote hack probe
  • BBC: Can US election hack be traced to Russia?
  • France 24: US expels 35 Russian diplomats over election hacking
  • Fortune: Obama Administration Will Announce Response to Russian Election Hack
  • CNBC: Russia’s election hack is a serious threat to US democracy
  • Yahoo: What we know about Russia’s alleged hacking of US vote

I could go on, but you get the idea. What all of these have in common is they describe the theft of emails from John Podesta and a few others as “vote hacking” or “election hacking.” This is grossly misleading, as it suggests that, you know, the actual vote was hacked.

It’s particularly misleading as it comes on the heels on intense interest in allegations that the voting machine totals in three key states were hacked. These allegations were never substantiated (and were denied by the White House), but the idea was planted, creating fertile soil for the media’s extremely sloppy headlines.

Given all the fake news, it’s no great surprise that a recent YouGov/Economist poll found that a majority (52%) of Democrats believe that Russia tampered with vote tallies in order to get Trump elected.

Before the election, the media (e.g., the New York Times) were very concerned that hacking allegations could undermine confidence in the legitimacy of the election. But that was before Trump was elected. Now that Trump is elected, undermining confidence in the legitimacy of the election is the order of the day.


Thank goodness for editors

November 26, 2016

cnn-editing-ftw

(Via Andrew Klavan.)


A misleading fact-check

September 30, 2016

The reason “fact checking” has become such a joke is the the supposed fact-checkers can’t seem to limit themselves to checking the facts. They also want to check that the facts give the right impression. This is natural for leftist journalists, I suppose, since the actual facts give an impression that they don’t want.

This has led the fact checkers to such absurdities as Politifact grading an objectively true statement — crime is rising — as “pants on fire,” their lowest possible rating. Murders rose by 10.8% in 2015 and other violent crime increased as well, but Politifact said that “crime is rising” is not only false, but actually absurd. Their justification is that, although crime rose in 2015 (and probably 2016), it is to soon to say that the long-term downward trend is over. This true fact gives (what they view as) a false impression, so they call it false.

Another problem with grading impressions rather than the underlying facts, is they aren’t able to do it consistently. When two politicians made essentially the same statement (the official unemployment rate doesn’t capture real unemployment), they graded one of them (the politician they like) “mostly true” and the other one “pants on fire.”

Once you go down that path, you’re not fact-checking any more, you’re just writing an opinion column. And if you want a leftist opinion column, there are much better ones than Politifact, Glenn Kessler, et al. Still, I think there’s room for a misleading fact-check. By “misleading”, I mean one that grades statements according to whether they are literally true, and doesn’t worry about whether they might lead to false impressions.

So let’s go through the first presidential debate and do exactly that. We’ll limit ourselves to determinate claims of fact, not to opinions. (We won’t assess whether Trump has a winning temperament, or whether Mexican industry is the eighth wonder of the world.) I also won’t grade claims made about private or classified conversations, or about their own state of mind, since there’s no way to know. We will still have to make some judgement calls, since some claims are ambiguous. Our rule will be that ambiguities are construed in favor of the speaker (even when I don’t think that’s what he/she really meant). Statements that too ambiguous to construe as concrete claims, I will simply omit.

I’ll put the statement (drawn from the Washington Post’s debate transcript) in bold, and my evaluation in plain typeface.

TRUMP: [China is] devaluing their currency. True. +1 Trump.

TRUMP: So Ford is leaving. You see that, their small car division leaving.Thousands of jobs leaving Michigan, leaving Ohio. This hasn’t happened yet, but Ford has announced it. +1 Trump.

TRUMP:  All you have to do is take a look at Carrier air conditioning in Indianapolis. They left — fired 1,400 people. They’re going to Mexico. True. +1 Trump.

CLINTON: We are 5 percent of the world’s population. 4.4% is close enough. +1 Clinton.

CLINTON: He started his business with $14 million, borrowed from his father. Actually, it was much more than that. We’ll construe her claim with an implicit “at least”. +1 Clinton.

CLINTON: My father was a small-businessman. . . He printed drapery fabrics on long tables. True. +1 Clinton.

TRUMP: I built [my father’s loan] into a company that’s worth many, many billions of dollars. Impossible to determine with the information he has released.

TRUMP: Let me give you the example of Mexico. They have a VAT tax. We’re on a different system. When we sell into Mexico, there’s a tax. When they sell in — automatic, 16 percent, approximately. This much is true. +1 Trump.

TRUMP: When they [Mexico] sell into us, there’s no tax. Although it is true that the US does not have a federal sales tax or VAT, plenty of states have sales taxes. It’s not true there’s no tax when they sell in America. This would have been literally true if he had said there was no Federal tax, but with his phrasing it’s false. -1 Trump.

TRUMP: We owe $20 trillion. The national debt held by the public is $13.6 trillion. But if you include intragovernmental holdings, it’s $19 trillion, which is close enough. According to our rules, we’ll resolve this ambiguity in favor of the speaker. +1 Trump.

CLINTON: Well, let’s stop for a second and remember where we were eight years ago. . . Nine million people — nine million people lost their jobs. False. By September 2008, we had lost 1.7 million jobs. If you include the rest of 2008, you get to 3.6 million. To get close to 9 million, you have to include the first year of the Obama administration in which 5 million jobs were lost. -1 Clinton.

CLINTON: . . . Five million people lost their homes. False. 862 thousand families lost their homes in 2008. To get to 5 million, you have to include five years of the Obama administration. -1 Clinton.

CLINTON: . . . And $13 trillion in family wealth was wiped out. True. +1 Clinton.

CLINTON: Donald thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese. . . TRUMP: I did not. I did not. I do not say that. We can’t know what he thinks, but he did say that. +1 Clinton, -1 Trump.

TRUMP: We invested in a solar company, our country. . . They lost plenty of money on that one. Solyndra cost the government between $535 million and $849 million, which satisfies a reasonable interpretation of “plenty of money.” +1 Trump.

TRUMP: Well, [Bill Clinton] approved NAFTA. . . True. +1 Trump.

CLINTON: [During the Clinton administration] Incomes went up for everybody. True. +1 Clinton.

CLINTON: Manufacturing jobs went up also in the 1990s. . . If you construe 1990s to mean the Clinton administration, manufacturing jobs went up slightly. +1 Clinton.

CLINTON: When I was secretary of state, we actually increased American exports globally 30 percent. We increased them to China 50 percent. As long as you’re talking about exports, not net exports, this is plausible. (It’s very sensitive to exactly how you measure and I wasn’t able to produce exactly this number.)  +1 Clinton.

TRUMP: And now you want to approve Trans-Pacific Partnership. You were totally in favor of it. . . CLINTON: Well, that is just not accurate. I was against it once it was finally negotiated and the terms were laid out. . . TRUMP: You called it the gold standard. CLINTON: No. TRUMP: . . . CLINTON: Well, Donald, I know you live in your own reality, but that is not the facts. The facts are — I did say I hoped it would be a good deal. . . Hillary said “This TPP sets the gold standard in trade agreements to open free, transparent, fair trade, the kind of environment that has the rule of law and a level playing field.” She did not say “hoped”. It is true that the deal wasn’t negotiated at that time, so it’s possible she changed her mind once it was, but we’re not grading their private thoughts. +1 Trump, -1 Clinton.

HOLT: Secretary Clinton, you’re calling for a tax increase on the wealthiest Americans. . . And, Mr. Trump, you’re calling for tax cuts for the wealthy. Obviously true. +1 Holt.

TRUMP: But you will learn more about Donald Trump by going down to the federal elections, where I filed a 104-page essentially financial statement of sorts, the forms that they have. It shows income — in fact, the income — I just looked today — the income is filed at $694 million for this past year, $694 million. TL;DR, but that seems to be in the right ballpark for what the document says. +1 Trump.

TRUMP: I’ve been under audit almost for 15 years. This seems impossible to verify or disprove.

CLINTON: We have been told through investigative reporting that [Trump] owes about $650 million to Wall Street and foreign banks. The New York Times did report this. +1 Clinton.

CLINTON: We have an architect in the audience who designed one of your clubhouses at one of your golf courses. It’s a beautiful facility. It immediately was put to use. And you wouldn’t pay what the man needed to be paid, what he was charging you to do. . . The architect exists and alleges what she says. It would be better if she said “alleges”, but we’ll call this true. +1 Clinton.

CLINTON: You even at one time suggested that you would try to negotiate down the national debt of the United States. TRUMP: Wrong. Wrong. This is muddled. Trump gave an interview in which he sounded like he was suggesting that, but during the same interview he gave a plausible clarification. We’ll resolve the ambiguity in favor of the speaker for both of them. +1 Clinton, +1 Trump.

HOLT: Stop-and-frisk was ruled unconstitutional in New York, because it largely singled out black and Hispanic young men. There’s been a lot of talk about this, but Holt is wrong. The Supreme Court has upheld stop-and-frisk, and district judges don’t overrule the Supreme Court. The ruling in question found that stop-and-frisk as applied by New York at the time was unconstitutional. -1 Holt.

TRUMP: No, you’re wrong. It went before a judge, who was a very against-police judge. It was taken away from her. And our mayor, our new mayor, refused to go forward with the case. They would have won an appeal. If you look at it, throughout the country, there are many places where it’s allowed. It’s true that the case was taken away from the judge; it’s true that the mayor refused to appeal; and it’s true it’s still legal in many places. Whether the judge was “very against-police” and what would have happened on appeal are opinion. +1 Trump.

TRUMP: . . . you have 3,000 shootings in Chicago from January 1st . . . True. +1 Trump.

TRUMP: . . . you have 4,000 people killed in Chicago by guns, from the beginning of the presidency of Barack Obama . . . I wasn’t able to find gun deaths specifically, but the number of murders is in the right ballpark for that to be plausible. +1 Trump.

CLINTON: Violent crime is one-half of what it was in 1991. Property crime is down 40 percent. True, crime rates peaked in 1991. +1 Clinton.

CLINTON: If you’re a young African-American man and you do the same thing as a young white man, you are more likely to be arrested, charged, convicted, and incarcerated. I wasn’t able to find a study with precisely this finding (it’s hard to control for “do the same thing”), but with all the studies finding disparities in the criminal justice system, we’ll say this is plausible. +1 Clinton.

TRUMP: In New York City, stop-and-frisk, we had 2,200 murders, and stop-and-frisk brought it down to 500 murders. The cause is opinion (and I don’t agree), but the numbers are accurate. +1 Trump.

CLINTON: Well, it’s also fair to say, if we’re going to talk about mayors, that under the current mayor, crime has continued to drop, including murders. So there is… TRUMP: No, you’re wrong. You’re wrong. CLINTON: No, I’m not. TRUMP: Murders are up. All right. You check it. The year before Bill DeBlasio took office there were 332 murders in New York City. Last year there were 352. That’s not a big increase, but it’s certainly not still falling. -1 Clinton, +1 Trump.

TRUMP (regarding who started birtherism): Sidney Blumenthal works for the campaign and close — very close friend of Secretary Clinton. And her campaign manager, Patti Doyle, went to — during the campaign, her campaign against President Obama, fought very hard. . . And if you look at CNN this past week, Patti Solis Doyle was on Wolf Blitzer saying that this happened. Blumenthal sent McClatchy, highly respected reporter at McClatchy, to Kenya to find out about it. He garbled the heck out of this, but something like this happened. +1 Trump.

TRUMP: When I got involved, I didn’t fail. I got him to give the birth certificate. That much is true. +1 Trump, I guess.

HOLT: The birth certificate was produced in 2011. You’ve continued to tell the story and question the president’s legitimacy in 2012, ’13, ’14, ’15. . . True. +1 Holt.

CLINTON: Donald started his career back in 1973 being sued by the Justice Department for racial discrimination because he would not rent apartments in one of his developments to African-Americans. True, except for it being the start of his career. +1 Clinton.

TRUMP: We settled the suit with zero — with no admission of guilt. True. +1 Trump.

CLINTON: It’s one of the reasons why 50 national security officials who served in Republican information — in administrations . . . have said that Donald is unfit to be the commander- in-chief. It was national security and/or foreign policy officials, but close enough. +1 Clinton.

CLINTON: I was involved in a number of efforts to take out Al Qaida leadership when I was secretary of state, including, of course, taking out bin Laden. Yeah, yeah. +1 Clinton.

CLINTON: Donald supported the invasion of Iraq. TRUMP: Wrong. The claim that Trump supported the invasion of Iraq hinges on this: “Yeah, I guess . . . sooo.” Listen to the recording to get a sense of how unenthusiastic he was. He did say the words, though. On the other hand, he came out against it before it took place. He was never in a position to cast a vote, which would have made his position clear. There’s enough ambiguity here that we’ll give this one to both of them. +1 Clinton, +1 Trump.

CLINTON: He actually advocated for the actions we took in Libya and urged that Gadhafi be taken out. True. +1 Clinton.

CLINTON: George W. Bush made the agreement about when American troops would leave Iraq, not Barack Obama. This is misleading: The way the agreement worked was it needed to be renegotiated periodically. If it was allowed to expire, it contained a clause requiring American withdrawal. But, according to our rules, this is literally true. +1 Clinton.

CLINTON: The only way that American troops could have stayed in Iraq is to get an agreement from the then-Iraqi government that would have protected our troops, and the Iraqi government would not give that. This is unknowable because Obama never tried.

TRUMP: I read on the front page of the Wall Street Journal that NATO is opening up a major terror division. True. +1 Trump.

TRUMP: We pay approximately 73 percent of the cost of NATO. True, in the sense of being responsible for 73% of all defense spending by NATO partners. +1 Trump.

HOLT: Mr. Trump, a lot of these are judgment questions. You had supported the war in Iraq before the invasion. . . TRUMP: I did not support the war in Iraq. [More of the same.] As above, except that Holt is a little more careful (“had supported . . . before the invasion”) than Hillary. +1 Holt, +1 Trump.

CLINTON: You know, NATO as a military alliance has something called Article 5, and basically it says this: An attack on one is an attack on all. And you know the only time it’s ever been invoked? After 9/11, when the 28 nations of NATO said that they would go to Afghanistan with us to fight terrorism, something that they still are doing by our side. True. +1 Clinton.

CLINTON: [Trump] said, you know, if [Iran] taunted our sailors, I’d blow them out of the water and start another war. He didn’t say start a war, but if we read that part as her commentary, not as part of the quote, this is true. +1 Clinton.

CLINTON: [Trump] has said repeatedly that he didn’t care if other nations got nuclear weapons, Japan, South Korea, even Saudi Arabia. I don’t know about repeatedly, but he has said this. +1 Clinton.

TRUMP:  Just to go down the list, we defend Japan, we defend Germany, we defend South Korea, we defend Saudi Arabia, we defend countries. They do not pay us. False. Japan and South Korea pay us. -1 Trump.

TRUMP (regarding the Iran deal): One of the great giveaways of all time, of all time, including $400 million in cash. Nobody’s ever seen that before. That turned out to be wrong. It was actually $1.7 billion in cash. True. +1 Trump.

HOLT: Earlier this month, you said [Hillary] doesn’t have, quote, “a presidential look.” True. +1 Holt.

CLINTON: [Trump] is a man who has called women pigs, slobs and dogs. True. +1 Clinton.

CLINTON: [Trump is] someone who has said pregnancy is an inconvenience to employers. TRUMP: I never said that. He said it. +1 Clinton, -1 Trump.

CLINTON: [Trump said] women don’t deserve equal pay unless they do as good a job as men. TRUMP: I didn’t say that. (I have to interject here: why on earth is this a controversial proposition? Of course people don’t deserve equal pay if they don’t do as good a job!) What Trump said was, “You’re gonna make the same if you do as good a job.” Hillary is committing a logical fallacy, going from “P implies Q” to “not P implies not Q.” -1 Clinton. (I’m not giving +1 Trump, because when you listen, I think he is still replying to Clinton’s previous statement.)

CLINTON: And one of the worst things [Trump] said was about a woman in a beauty contest. He loves beauty contests, supporting them and hanging around them. And he called this woman “Miss Piggy.” Then he called her “Miss Housekeeping,” because she was Latina. . . Her name is Alicia Machado. The Trump camp has tried to rebut this with Machado’s very checkered past (allegations of murder, death threats, links to organized crime), but he did say those things. +1 Clinton.

TRUMP: She spent hundreds of millions of dollars on negative ads on me, many of which are absolutely untrue. It’s certainly true that she’s spent millions on attack ads. Whether they were untrue is beyond the scope of this fact-check. + 1 Trump.

TRUMP: I’m either winning or tied, and I’ve spent practically nothing. True. +1 Trump.

HOLT: One of you will not win this election. Preferably both. +1 Holt.

TRUMP: The other day, we were deporting 800 people. And perhaps they passed the wrong button, they pressed the wrong button, or perhaps worse than that, it was corruption, but these people that we were going to deport for good reason ended up becoming citizens. Ended up becoming citizens. And it was 800. And now it turns out it might be 1,800, and they don’t even know. True. +1 Trump.

Tallying up the score, we have Trump +25/-4, Clinton +25/-5, Holt +5/-1. So all three participants were almost exactly as accurate, when it comes to verifiable claims of fact. This is not to deny that an awful lot of nonsense was peddled on that stage, but when it comes to verifiable claims of fact, both candidates were correct by a ratio of about 5:1 or 6:1.

Is 5:1 or 6:1 good enough? If we look at it as a test of remembering facts, that’s probably a B. On the other hand, if we assume they both have very good memories, and it’s a test of honesty, then 5:1 or 6:1 is terrible.


Snopes can no longer be trusted

July 27, 2016

If there is one strategy the left has used to move our country in their direction it’s this: They find institutions that have built up public trust, often over generations, and they take those institutions over, corrupt them, and put them to work on the leftist agenda. It’s happened most notably with academia and the media, but they’ve done it everywhere.

Snopes, the urban legend debunking site, has not been building up credibility for generations, but since 1994 Snopes has been the go-to site for debunking misinformation travelling the internet. Now they seem to be carrying water for the Democratic party. Case in point: the Snopes article on American flags at the Democratic National Convention.

First let it be said, this is a somewhat silly controversy. But never mind that. It’s a question of fact that Snopes weighed in on; let’s see how they handled it. The allegation is that there were no American flags on display at the DNC, and Snopes rated it False. Not “mostly false”, not “mixed”.

You can read the Snopes article here. The thrust of their debunking is two-fold:

  1. A widely circulated image featured Donald Trump on a stage festooned with flags, but those flags weren’t real. They were digitally added in real-time.
  2. Look, there were a bunch of flags at the Democratic convention.

Let’s start with #1. Yes, it appears to be true that Trump’s flags were virtual, not physical. So what? Virtual flags are fine. Moreover, it has no bearing on whether there were flags at the DNC. I guess we’re supposed to think that the DNC had virtual flags too? If so, that would be a strong debunking. But they didn’t. Here is Michelle Obama, the final speaker on the convention’s first night:

All you see is a mottled gray and turquoise background. No flags.

On to #2. The Snopes article has eight photos of the DNC with flag-ish imagery in them. The first two are from a color guard ceremony:

moreflags

That image is from day two, but there was a color guard ceremony on day one as well. So there’s that.

The third image is a guy setting up some flags, and the fourth shows the podium with some flags on the far right:

democratic-national-convention-flags

That’s conclusive, right? No. That image is from the day before the convention opened. (UPDATE: I originally thought the image was from day two, but the Politifact piece I discuss below indicates otherwise.) The flags were gone on day one. Go back and look at first image in the Michelle Obama video. It briefly shows the entire stage and the flags aren’t there. You can skim the entire first day on video; no flags on stage. The flags reappear on day two, after the Democrats faced criticism for not having flags.

Next they have four crowd images:

flags-at-DNC-1024x853

Three of those are not actual flags. (In fact, the two on the left are improper uses of the flag on apparel, but never mind that. I seem to be the last person in America to care about that sort of thing.) But the upper-right is an actual flag. And, if you skim the full-day video, you can occasionally see other flags among the crowd.

Finally, they have a video of Fox News conceding that there are flags on stage. But, again, that’s from day two. (You can tell from the chryon, “roll call vote underway.”)

ASIDE: Bonus points for Snopes taking their Fox News clip from the far-left Media Matters.

Let’s take stock: There were no flags on stage on day one, except during the opening ceremony. On the floor there were a few small flags. (If there was a big one, I haven’t seen it.) On day two the flags appeared, but still pretty subdued.

The controversy seems to have started with a story in the Daily Caller. (ASIDE: Snopes calls them a “right-wing web [site] known as purveyors of misinformation.” Nice.) They mention a few other sources, including a Facebook page, but all of those came after the Daily Caller story.

The Daily Caller story is dated the evening of day one. On day one, the story was true, except for a color guard ceremony and a smattering of flags in the audience. There’s no way you can honestly call that story anything but mostly true.

POSTSCRIPT: When you google “dnc flags”, the first hit is the Snopes page. The second is the Daily Caller story. The third is on a blog called Occupy Democrats. It says largely the same thing as the Snopes page. In fact, almost the whole post is ripped off from the Snopes page. At the end, they conclude:

Flags are so ubiquitous at the DNC that it is not possible that conservative websites made a ‘mistake.’ They created a lie using a minority of DNC images, and they deserve to be held accountable.

“Ubiquitous”? Not remotely. Yes, even on day one you could find a few flags if you looked, but as we’ve seen, they were certainly not ubiquitous.

UPDATE: Snopes is doubling down on this. They’ve posted another article attacking the Daily Caller for claiming there were no flags at the DNC. As we’ve seen, the Daily Caller was largely correct. But that doesn’t stop Snopes from writing this:

The first thing you have to wonder is, was this Daily Caller “reporter” actually “at the Democratic National Convention,” as he implied? Because his entire article was based on two Getty Image news service photographs, one of which wasn’t even taken at the Democratic National Convention. Did this “reporter” not know how to operate a camera (i.e., a cell phone) to snap a few shots of what he supposedly witnessed? Did he have a really crummy seat at the DNC that didn’t afford him a view of the proceedings (in which case he shouldn’t have been writing about the subject at all)? Or is he just incredibly inept at his job?

The tone is surprisingly strident, very unlike the Snopes of old. They also include a picture of a crying baby.

When they get down to business, they make a claim explicitly that they merely insinuated in their first article:

Of course, the Daily Callerdeceptively didn’t mention that their RNC shot captured a digital backdrop displaying images of flags, and not actual physical flags — the very same form of display used at the DNC.

This is absolutely untrue. No, the DNC did not display virtual flags on a digital backdrop. Once again, you can scan the entire first day here. They simply did not use the digital backdrop that way. To be totally clear, when introducing a new session, they did use some bunting (flag-esque imagery) on the digital backdrop, like the image below, but did not use actual flags.

dnc

After stridently attacking the Daily Caller so stridently for its poor reporting, it is ironic that Snopes did not actually go to the video themselves to check this claim.

The rest of the attack piece was similar to the original article, but they did add one element, a tweet purporting to show a flag on day one:

kopack-flag-image

But, again, this is from the color guard ceremony. You can see the color guard if you zoom in (which you have to do to see the flags anyway). The “call to order” on the backdrop is also a clue.

If Snopes’s point is that the DNC had flags on their digital backdrop, they are dead wrong. You can see that by looking at the video. If Snopes’s point is that the flags at color guard ceremony are enough to refute a report of no flags, that would seem very weak for an unqualified “false” rating, but if they want to go with that, they need at least to mention the color guard. To leave it out entirely is simply dishonest.

In all, a very bad performance by Snopes. Getting the facts wrong is pretty bad, since that is Snopes’s entire trade, but it’s the overt malice with which they do so that shows clearly that Snopes has changed.

POSTSCRIPT: The second Snopes article is titled “Daily Caller Throws Another Temper Tantrum After Being Debunked by snopes.com”, but they don’t actually say anything about the supposed temper tantrum. The article is here. It sounds indignant, to be sure, and rightfully so, but it’s nowhere near as strident as the article that Snopes published in response. In substance it says pretty much what I wrote above, but I had it a day earlier.

UPDATE: They’ve added this paragraph to the original story:

In fact, U.S. flags were present on the stage during the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem, and photographs captured U.S. flags being set up prior to the start of the convention. Flags at stage left were apparently moved or removed at some point (for reasons unknown), but one or more flags were visible at stage right on Day 1:

There’s good and bad here. Good: they’ve admitted that the flags were on stage for the pledge and the national anthem (i.e., while the color guard was out). Bad: everything else. Photographs capture flags being set up prior to the start of the convention? Show us those photographs. All we see is an undated photo of a man setting up flags exactly where they were placed on day two. Flags were removed for reasons unknown? No, we know the reason: those flags were being carried by the color guard and the color guard left. One or more flags were visible at stage right? Exactly one, and only while the color guard exited to the right.

Look, none of this is hard. Just watch the video.

UPDATE: Snopes also wrote this in their second post:

The flag rumor, as is typical, went through multiple mutations as those who spread it repeatedly shifted the goalposts to try to keep up with the debunkings, moving it from “there are no flags (of any kind) at the DNC” to “there were no flags at the DNC on Day 1” to “there were no actual flags at the DNC on Day 1,” to “there were no actual flags on stage at the DNC on Day 1” to “there were no actual flags on stage at the DNC for the entirety of Day 1” — and, as is also typical, we’ve continually modified our article to keep up with the shifting rumors.

The second post, recall, was the one specifically about the Daily Caller. Did the Daily Caller change its article? I don’t think so. I didn’t keep a copy of the original, but there wasn’t much to change, it was only three sentences. (In fact, Snopes specifically insulted them for how short the report was.) No, here they switch to talking about “the flag rumor” in general. Doubtless that changed, as they tend to do, when people repeat things without reading carefully. But by including a paragraph about the rumor at large, and then going back to the Daily Caller as if nothing had happened, they give the false impression that the Daily Caller shifted its goalposts.

UPDATE: Amazingly, Politifact gets this story pretty much right. There were no flags on stage on day one, apart from the honor guard. They also show some footage of flags on the video screen before the convention opened. (Perhaps that’s what Snopes was thinking of with their talk of virtual flags, which otherwise seems irrelevant.) They also have a picture of physical flags on the right side of the stage the day before the convention opened. It’s interesting that they would have flags during the set-up and not during the first day of the convention itself.

UPDATE POSTSCRIPT: The Politifact image of physical flags on stage is from July 24, the day before the convention. (They say the photo is from the New York Times. I’ve been unable to find it with some persistent googling, but I’m taking their word for it.)

dnc-flags-july-24

This photo is interesting because the flags are in exactly the same place, and draped in exactly the same way, as in the Snopes image above (the one with the oval around flags on the right side of the stage). The flags clearly were not moved between the two photos. This shows that Snopes’s image is from July 24, and not July 26 (i.e., day two) as I previously thought.

 


Fact-checking is dead

September 29, 2015

Carly Fiorina likes to talk about she rose from secretary to CEO. For example:

I started as a secretary, typing and filing for a nine-person real estate firm. It’s only in this country that you can go from being a secretary to the chief executive of the largest tech company in the world, and run for president of the United States. It’s only possible here.

This is, in fact, true. She did start as a secretary. She did become a CEO. Full story here (sorry, video only).

But somehow, the Washington Post gives Fiorina “three pinnochios” for the claim. How does a completely factual statement become a big lie?

You’d have to read their article to get the full tortured reasoning. But the gist of it is that the secretary-to-CEO story is part of a “Horatio Alger-like” rags-to-riches narrative that they judge to not be a good description of her career. She left her secretary job to go back to school, earn advanced degrees, and work other jobs, before eventually returning as CEO of HP, and that — says the Washington Post fact-checker — isn’t a rags-to-riches story.

You can make that case, I suppose, but it isn’t fact-checking. The facts she stated were true and not even misleading.

(Via Ace.)


Movies that don’t exist

September 29, 2015

The most memorable scene in The Empire Strikes Back, I’m sure everyone would agree, is when Darth Vader reveals himself as Luke’s father:

No, Luke, I am your father!

As a kid in a movie theater, seeing Empire for the first time, this blew my mind. I remember it so vividly.

Alas, that movie doesn’t exist.

What, you ask? The Empire Strikes Back doesn’t exist? What are you talking about?!

It’s true. No such movie exists with that scene.

Observe:

As you can see, the line is slightly different than the one that is burned into my memory:

No. I am your father.

When I remember the line, I am off by one word. He never says “Luke”. The movie I remember doesn’t exist.

In a hyper-technical sense, what I just wrote is true. But if you were explaining the error, would you say (1) the movie doesn’t exist, or would you say (2) I made an insignificant error in remembering a key scene? Of course you would say (2). To say (1) is stupid, unhelpful, and misleading.

Unless, for some reason, I wanted to convince people that The Empire Strikes Back doesn’t exist at all. (Actually, for the Star Wars prequels, I do, but that’s another story.)

This is the bizarre place we find ourselves in the attack on Carly Fiorina, who said in the Republican debate:

Anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’ This is about the character of our nation, and if we will not stand up and force President Obama to veto this bill, shame on us.

First, let it be conceded that Fiorina made an insignificant error in remembering the scene. The sentence “We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain” is not word-for-word, it’s a paraphrase; and the paraphrase obscures the fact that the fully formed fetus to which the interviewee referred is not the same one that appears on screen. As it turns out, the fully formed fetus on screen — its heart beating and its legs kicking — is B-roll footage, used to illustrate the interview. The whistleblower didn’t have a hidden camera to capture the scene she described.

So we don’t know what happened to the fetus on screen. Well, we do know that it was left to die, cold and alone, in a stainless steel specimen vessel. But we don’t know whether someone cut into his skull to harvest his brain.

Nevertheless, the video certainly exists. (Warning: horrifying footage.)

When discussing this, you can say (1) Fiorina’s video doesn’t exist, or you can say (2) the video is slightly different that Fiorina’s off-the-cuff description.

Why would you say (1), which is stupid, unhelpful, and misleading?

There’s only one reason. You want to insinuate that the video doesn’t exist at all (even though you know it does). You want the people who read your column to think that video appeared out of Carly Fiorina’s fevered imagination.

For their target audience at least, it seems to be working. Other leftists echoing the attacks — people who haven’t seen the videos, and therefore don’t know how narrow and hyper-technical the attacks are — misunderstand them, and thus say things that are simply false. They say that the videos are “imaginary”, which they certainly or not. Or, this outright falsehood (from Amanda Marcotte):

There is nothing in the videos made by CMP, either in the edited or full-length versions, that has anything approaching images of legs kicking or hearts beating.

(ASIDE: I’m assuming that Marcotte is a dupe here, but perhaps she is simply lying.)

So that is the plan: Announce that the video does not exist [whispering] precisely as described [/whispering]. Let everyone draw the wrong conclusion and repeat that the video doesn’t exist at all.

In support of this, they also Dowdify Fiorina’s defenders. For example, Jonah Goldberg wrote:

The exact scene, exactly as Fiorina describes it, is not on the videos. But anybody who has watched the videos would find Fiorina’s off-the-cuff account pretty accurate.

(Emphasis mine.) But when Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick quoted Goldberg, she deleted the part in bold. (ASIDE: She also added many outright falsehoods, such as describing live babies as stillborn, but that’s not my point here.)

I’ll be interested to see if the new standard for off-the-cuff descriptions is consistently adhered to. (Just kidding! We know it won’t be.) Misremember a detail from Uncle Tom’s Cabin? That means the book doesn’t exist, and no one needs to grapple with its content.

It’s just too bad about Casablanca, Dirty Harry, Silence of the Lambs, Field of Dreams, The Graduate, The Wizard of Oz, All About Eve, and Snow White and Seven Dwarves. I guess I imagined some really good movies.

(Previous post.)

POSTSCRIPT: More along these lines from Ross Douthat. (Via Instapundit.)


Fact-checking is hard, I guess

September 18, 2015

In the most recent GOP debate, Carly Fiorina had strong words for abortion-supporting Democrats in light of the Center for Medical Progress’s expose on Planned Parenthood’s horrifying practices:

As regards Planned Parenthood, anyone who has watched this videotape, I dare Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.

The left went ballistic, claiming that no such video exists. Uber-feminist Amanda Marcotte, for example:

There is nothing in the videos made by CMP, either in the edited or full-length versions, that has anything approaching images of legs kicking or hearts beating. . .

and again:

Many people have [watched the videos] and continue to be pro-choice anyway—and not just because they missed the part with the legs kicking (which doesn’t exist!).

(Emphasis mine.) Clearly Amanda Marcotte is not one of those people, since the leg-kicking part does indeed exist. It is horrifying.

Glenn Kessler, who writes a fact-checking column for the Washington Post, and who usually seems to be trying to be somewhat fair, is more connected with reality, but nevertheless starts with the snark:

Fiorina might have trouble finding this video to show to Clinton. No video has surfaced showing the scene Fiorina describes taking place inside a Planned Parenthood facility.

What he’s getting at here is not that the video doesn’t exist (it does, of course), but he is nit-picking Fiorina’s description. The fetus pictured with legs kicking is not actually the same one from which the former procurement technician being interviewed in the video was ordered to harvest the brain. It’s an illustration using stock footage (properly noted as such on screen), which of course is standard practice for any news organization unable to obtain pictures or video of an actual event.

So yes, CMP was not able to obtain footage of the vivisection. (Or, if they did, they haven’t released it yet.), However, they did get people to admit to extracting brains from live fetuses exactly like that one.

Others have claimed that the fetus wasn’t from an abortion, that it was stillborn. This is stupid, since the fetus was moving and thus obviously not stillborn. More plausibly, they claim that the fetus might be from a miscarriage. Not so, says the organization that obtained the footage:

The video clip we provided to CMP depicted an intact delivery abortion. It was filmed at an abortion clinic. It was not a miscarriage. Mothers don’t go to abortion clinics to miscarry. Had this case been a miscarriage, the mother would have presented at a hospital and her baby would have been rushed to an Isolette for appropriate neonatal care — not abandoned to writhe and eventually expire in a cold, stainless steel specimen vessel. As regards the organizational affiliation of the abortion facility in which this termination was performed, our access agreements forbid the disclosure of any information which might tend to identify the relevant clinics or personnel with whom we work. Preserving confidentiality is vital to future clinic access. I can, however, assure you that the footage in question is not anomalous. It is representative of the frequent outcomes of many late term intact delivery terminations performed at clinics of all organizational affiliations.

In short, Planned Parenthood extracts brains from live babies, and sells them. There is a video about it. That video is very disturbing. Carly Fiorina challenges abortion-supporting Democrats to watch it. However, it does not contain video of any actual vivisection; it merely contains people talking about performing vivisections — some cheerfully, and others in horror.

Also, it’s not a “tape”. No one uses video tape any more. Gotcha, Carly!


Thank heaven for the editors!

September 16, 2015

There was a time, not that long ago, when the New York Times was a good newspaper. It’s not good any more.  It’s not just the relentless bias, but how their relentless bias prevents them from employing good writing and reporting. Kevin Williamson edits an egregious example from two days ago.


Ha ha ha

August 10, 2015

Thank goodness for the fact checking. (Via Instapundit.)


Do not trust content from the New York Times

August 6, 2015

Sixteen days later, the New York Times post a major correction of its reporting on the Planned Parenthood body-parts-for-sale scandal:

An article on July 21 about a video made by abortion opponents, which they said proved that Planned Parenthood sells tissue from aborted fetuses for profit, referred incorrectly to the timing of the release of what was described as the full-length, unedited version of the video showing a Planned Parenthood employee talking about how much clinics charge for specimens. The full video was posted at the same time as the edited version. It is not the case that the full video was not released until “after Planned Parenthood complained of selective, misleading editing.”

Sixteen days seems a bit long for an error that is easily checked in under a minute, if they had ever bothered to look. One might hope that the NYT would now be more hesitant to accept Planned Parenthood’s claims as fact, but that would assume that the NYT is more interested in accurate reporting than in protecting progressive institutions.

I don’t think Planned Parenthood can be at all dissatisfied in the service the NYT did them. Their misreporting aided Planned Parenthood in their claim that there was something dishonest or misleading in the videos. Planned Parenthood could never cite anything that was actually misleading, so they relied on a vague accusation that the video was edited. (As if a nine-minute video drawn from a lengthy conversation might somehow not have been edited.) The untrue notion that the Center for Medical Progress might have been hiding the full context certainly assisted that spin.

POSTSCRIPT: This is actually the second (at least) version of the correction. The August 5 version included this gem:

While the full-length video of more than two hours took longer to download than the nearly nine-minute edited footage, the full video was in fact posted at the same time as the edited version.

162 > 9. A New York Times exclusive!

(Via Twitchy.)


Potemkin interview

August 1, 2015

In 2009, Hillary Clinton was fed questions in advance of an appearance on Meet the Press.

(Via Instapundit.)


NYT standards

July 24, 2015

When a politician complains about the New York Times’s coverage, the NYT’s practice is to find some story attacking him and put it on the front page the next day. They admit this.

Obviously, though, that practice applies only to Republicans.

When Hillary Clinton complains about the New York Times’s coverage, they fix it overnight:

The Times also changed the headline of the story, from “Criminal Inquiry Sought in Hillary Clinton’s Use of Email” to “Criminal Inquiry Is Sought in Clinton Email Account,” reflecting a similar recasting of Clinton’s possible role. The article’s URL was also changed to reflect the new headline.

As of early Friday morning, the Times article contained no update, notification, clarification or correction regarding the changes made to the article.

One of the reporters of the story, Michael Schmidt, explained early Friday that the Clinton campaign had complained about the story to the Times.

“It was a response to complaints we received from the Clinton camp that we thought were reasonable, and we made them,” Schmidt said.

(Via Hot Air.)


This is CNN

June 27, 2015

Dylan Byers writes:

No matter their perceived editorial biases, it would be difficult to imagine legacy news brands like The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, NBC News, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, NPR or Time magazine taking sides in a political debate that they were expected to cover. The Times, Post or Journal editorial boards would surely be expected to take a stand, but not so the news divisions.

You might have thought so, but:

UPDATE: CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin accidentally admits celebrating the decision. (Via Instapundit.)


Press agrees not to report Ebola news

November 5, 2014

I guess the public has no right to know:

The Associated Press and other press outlets have agreed not to report on suspected cases of Ebola in the United States until a positive viral RNA test is completed.

I would be very interested to know who it was that requested they adopt this policy. Usually the press rejects such requests, such as when national security is at stake. But I guess “avoiding a panic” has is important in a way that national security just isn’t.

(Via Instapundit.)


NYT: Bush covered up WMD finds

November 1, 2014

Old and busted: “There were no WMDs in Iraq. Bush lied!” New hotness: “There were lots of WMDs in Iraq. Bush lied!”

Yes, in a story so bizarre I can scarcely believe I’m seeing it, the New York Times is attacking President Bush for covering up all the chemical weapons that have been found in Iraq:

From 2004 to 2011, American and American-trained Iraqi troops repeatedly encountered, and on at least six occasions were wounded by, chemical weapons remaining from years earlier in Saddam Hussein’s rule. In all, American troops secretly reported finding roughly 5,000 chemical warheads, shells or aviation bombs, according to interviews with dozens of participants, Iraqi and American officials, and heavily redacted intelligence documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

“What?!” you say, “Chemical weapons were found in Iraq? So Bush is vindicated!”

Not so fast, the New York Times spin-machine is on the case. You see, the weapons they found were — the NYT insists — the wrong ones:

The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West.

To understand what they are talking about, we need to think back to 1998. In 1998, Saddam Hussein ejected weapons inspectors from Iraq after they discovered Saddam was hiding chemical weapons from inspectors. It defies logic that Saddam would destroy his chemical arsenal after ejecting weapons inspectors, but would do so in secret so sanctions could remain in place. In 2003, it seemed certain they were still there. But we didn’t find them.

So what became of them? One theory says that most of them were shipped to Syria. This theory is supported by reports from Iraqi defectors, second-hand accounts from Russians who reportedly assisted, satellite imagery, and witnesses on the ground. But none of it is conclusive. (ASIDE: A well-cited Wired article says categorically that it didn’t happen. It’s evidence is two-fold: (a) Saddam wouldn’t have done it, and (b) if he had, there would have been satellite evidence. But (a) is pure conjecture,  and there was satellite evidence.)

But even if much or most of them were shipped to Syria, it seemed unlikely that all of them could have been, particularly in light of the Duelfer report’s conclusion that if weapons were shipped to Syria, it was done unofficially. So the question remained, what became of them?

Now we know. They were still in Iraq, scattered here and there. Thousands of them.

Why are we only hearing about this now? The Bush administration decided not to talk about the weapons after the war, preferring to move forward than re-argue the past. This was a terrible decision, as it allowed the left to build up a mythology of the Iraq war unchallenged. The left, of course, didn’t want to talk about it because it contracted that very mythology it was constructing.

So why are we hearing about it now? Because — good news! — those weapons are now in the hands of ISIS. When ISIS uses them, as surely they will, the news would come out, so they want to get their story straight now.

But how do they do that? After years of “Bush lied!” how do they admit the weapons were there all along? And more importantly, how do they admit that, and yet not see Bush vindicated? Well, the New York Times rose to the challenge.

The key is to make a distinction between old weapons and new ones:

The United States had gone to war declaring it must destroy an active weapons of mass destruction program. Instead, American troops gradually found and ultimately suffered from the remnants of long-abandoned programs, built in close collaboration with the West.

and, just to be totally clear:

The discoveries of these chemical weapons did not support the government’s invasion rationale.

After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Bush insisted that Mr. Hussein was hiding an active weapons of mass destruction program, in defiance of international will and at the world’s risk. United Nations inspectors said they could not find evidence for these claims.

The new story goes like this: we were told there was an active weapons program, and they never said anything about old weapons, so Bush still lied!

In fact, the new story is a lie. Bush never drew such a distinction. The New York Times offers not a single line from any speech in support of it. Gabriel Malor at Ace of Spades goes through all of Bush’s most famous speeches and finds not one in which he focused on new weapons to the exclusion of old ones.

In fact, the last quote above (“did not support . . . the rationale”) doesn’t even fit into the flow of the story. It looks like it was inserted by an editor who was concerned that the story was not sufficiently clear that the “Bush lied!” narrative is still in effect. The New York Times sets the agenda for leftist spin, so it’s important to make it clear.

But the story goes further. It not only charges Bush with lying about the new weapons, it actually alleges that the government covered up the old ones. That strikes me as trying too hard. Sure, Bush — unwisely — preferred not to talk about the WMD issue after the war, but is anyone going to believe that he would actually cover the evidence that would exonerate him? That doesn’t even make sense.

Our narrative makes more sense, and also has the benefit of being true: The United States and its allies invaded Iraq to build a stable democracy in the Middle East and to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of terrorists. By early 2008, both aims seemed accomplished: Iraq was stable and had soldiers guarding Al Muthanna and other sites. Then Obama abandoned Iraq and both accomplishments collapsed.

This story, published a few weeks ago, seems to have settled into obscurity for now. But when ISIS uses these weapons, as seems woefully inevitable, it will be everywhere.


AP OMG

October 23, 2014

The latest Palestinian terror attack:

A three-month old girl, identified by her grandfather as Chaya Zissel, was killed and several US citizens and Israelis were wounded Wednesday evening when a convicted Palestinian terrorist from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan rammed his vehicle into a crowd of people in the capital. . .

The terrorist was shot by police and late Wednesday evening he died in hospital.

The Associated Press ran this headline:

Israeli police shoot man in East Jerusalem

POSTSCRIPT: The first paragraph makes clear that, even at the time, they had enough information to know their headline to be totally inappropriate.


Gawker: the world will be a better place if you let criminals do their thing

September 15, 2014

With no apparent irony:

On Friday, a white lady named Clara Vondrich had her iPhone stolen out of her hand in Williamsburg but was able to catch one of the thieves, a 13-year-old boy. This story . . . taught us all important lessons about what not to do when you’re able to capture your own child mugger. . .

The boy will now enter New York’s vaunted juvenile justice system, which will likely [expletive] his life even further, simply because he snatched a white lady’s iPhone in Williamsburg.

If you are nonviolently mugged by a child, continue to let him run along with his friends. The world will be a better place.

Let the criminals steal; the world will be a better place. Amazing. And bonus leftism points for irrelevantly bringing up the victim’s race four times (twice in the excerpt).

Gawker speaks for no one, of course, but it’s illustrative of the sickness of today’s left.

(Via Vox Popoli.)


AP violates its own style guide

August 22, 2014

The Associated Press, reporting a story you’ve probably heard:

County Autopsy: Unarmed teen short 6 to 8 times

FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — A St. Louis County autopsy has found that the unarmed black teenager killed during a confrontation with a white police officer was shot six to eight times.

This, and several other AP stories, give the deliberate impression that Michael Brown was a child, when in fact he was a very large 18-year-old adult. Avoiding this sort of misleading impression is presumably why the Associated Press forbids using the word “teenager” this way:

youth Applicable to boys and girls from age 13 until 18th birthday. Use man or woman for individuals 18 and older.

Why would the AP break its own rules? Indeed, why would they break their own rules to mislead the public on a point that, legally at least, doesn’t even matter? (After all, killing an adult, if unjustified, is just as bad — legally speaking — as killing a child.)

There seems to be only one conclusion. Their purpose here is not to report the facts; their purpose is to create outrage. The killing of a child is more outrageous, so that’s what they reported, even though it’s not what happened.

(Via Hot Air.)


Resolute ignorance

August 22, 2014

Okay, CNN anchor Don Lemon doesn’t know the difference between an automatic weapon, and a semi-automatic (i.e., non-automatic) weapon:

If you don’t even know what the terms mean, you have no business reporting on gun policy. But this is much worse than merely that, because Lemon’s guest explains the difference to him, and Lemon says (paraphrasing): I don’t care; I prefer to use the word incorrectly.

There’s a word for using the wrong word when you know it’s the wrong word; it’s called lying.

POSTSCRIPT: The particularly galling thing about this, as Charles C. W. Cooke points out, is that recent gun control efforts have centered on making fine, nearly meaningless distinctions. Bill Clinton’s now-defunct assault weapons ban prohibited weapons with two or more scary-looking features. Here you have a major functional difference (automatic fire vs. single fire) and the liberals dismiss it with contempt.


Spiked

August 18, 2014

Simon and Schuster spikes a book proposal about Bowe Bergdahl because it might make Obama look bad:

“I’m not sure we can publish this book without the Right using it to their ends,” Sarah Durand, a senior editor at Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster, wrote in an email to one of the soldiers’ agents.

“[T]he Conservatives are all over Bergdahl and using it against Obama,” Durand wrote, “and my concern is that this book will have to become a kind of ‘Swift Boat Veterans for Truth'” — a reference to the group behind a controversial book that raised questions about John Kerry’s Vietnam War record in the midst of his 2004 presidential campaign.

It’s interesting to see a publisher admit openly that it is more interested in protecting Obama than in making money.

POSTSCRIPT: The original Yahoo article isn’t loading now, but it’s still in the Google cache for now.


The first casualty of Hamas is truth

August 8, 2014

The media’s practice of reporting Hamas’s fabricated casualty reports as if they were fact is flatly dishonest. There’s absolutely no excuse for it. Hamas’s official policy, announced in the open, is to falsify their casualty statistics:

Anyone killed or martyred is to be called a civilian from Gaza or Palestine, before we talk about his status in jihad or his military rank. Don’t forget to always add ‘innocent civilian’ or ‘innocent citizen’ in your description of those killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza.

If you know it’s a lie, and you report it anyway, you are a liar.

It’s impossible to know what the real civilian toll is, since the only people who could say won’t tell the truth, but we can see that military-aged males are strikingly overrepresented among the “civilian casualties”, while women and children are strikingly underrepresented.

POSTSCRIPT: As far the actual civilian casualties go, don’t forget that Hamas’s policy is to maximize them, not only on the Israeli side but on their own.


This is CNN

August 7, 2014

(Title shamelessly stolen from Rick Wilson.)


Down NPR’s memory hole

August 1, 2014

When the Senate defeated President Obama’s awful nominee to head the DOJ’s civil rights division, NPR reported it this way:

A handful of southern Democrats joined Republicans yesterday to defeat President Obama’s choice to head the Justice Department’s civil rights division. . .

NPR wanted to paint Adegbile’s detractors that way because in the NPR lexicon, “southern” is code for racist. Leaving that matter aside for now, the Democrats who jumped ship were from Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Montana, North Dakota, and West Virginia. Only three of those states could be considered southern under even the broadest possible definition. Certainly none of them are from the Deep South.

But rather than omit their error, NPR covered it up, rewriting the story to begin:

A handful of Senate Democrats joined Republicans yesterday . . .

Not only did they change the story on the transcript, they actually went so far as to re-record it with the revised script.

This is so astonishing that you wonder if people simply misheard Werthheimer; if she really said “Senate” all along. Nope, Will Collier had the foresight to save the original.


It’s hard to be cynical enough

June 27, 2014

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the New York Times bestseller list is fake, and yet I still am. Is anything they do legit?


What the world needs now is DDT

May 27, 2014

Google has seen fit to honor Rachel Carson today. To heck with that. Instead read this: “What the World Needs Now Is DDT.” Some choice quotes:

In her 297 pages, Rachel Carson never mentioned the fact that by the time she was writing, DDT was responsible for saving tens of millions of lives, perhaps hundreds of millions. DDT killed bald eagles because of its persistence in the environment. ”Silent Spring” is now killing African children because of its persistence in the public mind. Public opinion is so firm on DDT that even officials who know it can be employed safely dare not recommend its use.

And:

DDT is a victim of its success, having so thoroughly eliminated malaria in wealthy nations that we forget why we once needed it. But malaria kills Africans today. Those worried about the arrogance of playing God should realize that we have forged an instrument of salvation, and we choose to hide it under our robes.

As Josh Billings once wrote (but is often attributed to Mark Twain), it ain’t so much the things we don’t know that get us into trouble. It’s the things we know that just ain’t so. We know that DDT is dangerous, but, used properly, it just ain’t so.

POSTSCRIPT: In a Terry Gross interview I had the misfortune to hear on the radio, she alleged that DDT was toxic to humans. Not so. (That’s not even what Carson charged! Carson accused DDT of being bad for birds, not humans.) In fact, the best use for DDT is to use it precisely where humans reside. Alas, the interviewee failed to correct Gross, perpetuating this misinformation.


White House outs CIA station chief

May 25, 2014

As I’ve often said, the thing that was hardest to take about the Plame-Armitage was watching the left pretend that they cared about the identities of covert CIA agent being leaked. Now we have the opportunity to prove their hypocrisy, when we observe whether or not the left gets upset about this:

The CIA’s top officer in Kabul was exposed Saturday by the White House when his name was inadvertently included on a list provided to news organizations of senior U.S. officials participating in President Obama’s surprise visit with U.S. troops. The White House recognized the mistake and quickly issued a revised list that did not include the individual, who had been identified on the initial release as the “Chief of Station” in Kabul, a designation used by the CIA for its highest-ranking spy in a country.

In the Plame-Armitage affair — the left’s mythology aside — Plame was only technically covert (she worked in America), and her name was accidentally leaked by the State Department. Here we have the CIA station chief in Afghanistan, a real target if there ever were one, being leaked by the White House. Of course, there’s no suggestion that his name was leaked out of malice, but that didn’t happen in the Plame-Armitage affair either.

Then there’s this:

The only other recent case came under significantly different circumstances, when former CIA operative Valerie Plame was exposed as officials of the George W. Bush administration sought to discredit her husband, a former ambassador and fierce critic of the decision to invade Iraq.

This is technically true, insofar as the Bush administration wanted to discredit Joe Wilson’s lies and contemporaneously Plame was exposed. But the clear implication, that the two events were connected, is an OUT-AND-OUT LIE.

The Washington Post, where the offending article appeared, knows this perfectly well. They ran this editorial lamenting the Democrats “myth-making” in 2010, so they have no excuse for signing onto the myth now.

(Previous post.) (Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: “When Bushies blew a CIA cover, it was ‘treason’; now, it’s a mistake.” Indeed.


Lies, damn lies, and Paul Krugman

March 17, 2014

Paul Krugman, doing the old Paul Krugman thing, explains that nothing but racism can explain Republicans’ otherwise-inexplicable political views. He can produce two examples, the first of which is:

We are told, for example, that conservatives are against big government and high spending. Yet even as Republican governors and state legislatures block the expansion of Medicaid, the G.O.P. angrily denounces modest cost-saving measures for Medicare.

Now, let’s pretend, just for a moment, that the politics of Medicare isn’t much more easily explained by age politics than race politics. Krugman doesn’t specify what “modest cost-savings for Medicare” Republicans have angrily denounced. I assume he is referring to Obamacare’s deep cuts to Medicare Advantage, which — not modest at all — virtually kill the program. Krugman really can’t think of any reason other than racism why any Republican might oppose Obamacare.

In fact, he’s being even more dishonest than that, if you consider what Medicare Advantage is. Medicare Advantage allows the elderly to obtain private health insurance using Medicare. By killing Medicare Advantage, Obamacare forces all those people back onto the government plan, thereby increasing the reach of big government. But sure, the only reason a small-government Republican might oppose that would have to be racism. . .

Krugman’s other example is simply an outright lie:

Or we’re told that conservatives, the Tea Party in particular, oppose handouts because they believe in personal responsibility, in a society in which people must bear the consequences of their actions. Yet it’s hard to find angry Tea Party denunciations of huge Wall Street bailouts, of huge bonuses paid to executives who were saved from disaster by government backing and guarantees.

This is utter nonsense. It’s not remotely difficult to find Tea Party denunciations of the financial bailout. (Here’s a link, but no one who identifies with the Tea Party will have any need to click it.)  Obviously Krugman has never been to a Tea Party rally, and doesn’t watch Fox News, and I’m sure doesn’t have any Tea Party friends either. But that doesn’t let him off the hook; as a prominent political commentator, he ought to know something about the body politic, or at least he should find out before slinging spurious accusations of racism.

Unless he doesn’t care whether it’s true. After all, most of his readers don’t have any Tea Party friends either, so they won’t know any better.

(Via Instapundit.)


Kitty Genovese, a story of media dishonesty

March 1, 2014

The Kitty Genovese murder is the classic story of “bystander apathy”, the phenomenon that people are prone to do nothing when they think there are others around who could help. The phenomenon may well be real (psychologists say so), but it turns out the story was a lie:

Word of the attack spread though the building. A woman named Sophie Farrar, all of 4-foot-11, rushed to the vestibule, risking her life in the process. For all she knew, the attacker might have still been there. As luck would have it, he was not, and Farrar hugged and cradled the bloodied Genovese, who was struggling for breath. Despite the attempts of various neighbors to help, Moseley’s final stab wounds proved fatal, and Farrar did her best to comfort Genovese in the nightmarish ­final minutes of her life.

The murder of Kitty Genovese shifted from crime to legend a few weeks later, when The New York Times erroneously reported that 38 of her neighbors had seen the attack and watched it unfold without calling for help. The Times piece was followed by a story in Life magazine, and the narrative spread throughout the world, running in newspapers from Russia and Japan to the Middle East.

New York became internationally infamous as a city filled with thoughtless people who didn’t care about one another; where people could watch their neighbors get stabbed on the street without lifting a finger to help, leaving them to die ­instead in a pool of their own blood. . .

But as journalist Kevin Cook details in his new book, “Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime that Changed America” (W.W. Nor­ton), some of the real thoughtlessness came from a police commissioner who lazily passed a falsehood to a journalist, and a media that fell so deeply in love with a story that it couldn’t be bothered to determine whether it was true.

The primary culprit? The New York Times, of course.

UPDATE: More here. (Via Instapundit.)


What?!

March 1, 2014

The New York Times says it had a reporter on the scene during the Benghazi attack.

There has been a bit of public interest in the Benghazi attack, so why haven’t we heard from this guy? One possibility — never to be discounted with the NYT — is they are simply lying. But suppose it’s true. They must not want us to hear what he saw! And, given the NYT’s well-known partisan stance, it’s not hard to draw conclusions.


“Gun safety demonstration”

March 1, 2014

The Huffington Post breathlessly headlines:

Man Accidentally Kills Self With Gun During Demonstration On Gun Safety

This sounded strange, since gun safety lectures generally comply with the rules of gun safety, so I clicked through to find out what they were talking about. Here’s what happened:

The 36-year-old man, whose name has not been released, was showing his girlfriend how his three handguns are safe when they aren’t loaded, according to the Detroit Free Press. He was attempting to demonstrate the safety of the handguns by holding them to his head and pulling the trigger.

So, this isn’t a gun safety demonstration. It’s the opposite of a gun safety demonstration. It’s a gun stupidity demonstration. There are various versions of the gun safety rules, but all of them include this one (this formulation is by the NRA):

ALWAYS keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
This is the primary rule of gun safety. A safe direction means that the gun is pointed so that even if it were to go off it would not cause injury or damage.

Clearly no one at the Huffington Post, from the article’s author to its editors (actually, does the Huffington Post have editors?), knows anything about gun safety. A better headline would have been:

Man Accidentally Kills Himself While Screwing Around With Gun


Milbank plays to type

February 14, 2014

milbank 001Dana Milbank, the notoriously biased Washington Post reporter, levels an accusation so flimsy it was debunked by MSNBC:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has been caught using purloined passages in several of his speeches. Now the aspiring presidential candidate stands accused of filing a lawsuit stolen from its author.

Since December, the libertarian lawmaker, a tea party favorite, had been working with former Reagan administration lawyer Bruce Fein to draft a class-action suit seeking to have the National Security Agency’s surveillance of telephone data declared unconstitutional. . . But when Paul filed his suit at the U.S. District Court in Washington on Wednesday morning, Fein’s name had been replaced with that of Ken Cuccinelli. . .

Fein, who has not been paid in full for his legal work by Paul’s political action committee, was furious that he had been omitted from the filing he wrote.

Milbank backed up his claim by quoting Fein’s ex-wife. Amazingly, he never verified it with Fein himself. MSNBC did, and found it was bogus:

Did Rand Paul lift legal work from a celebrated conservative lawyer without fully paying him? The attorney in question says he didn’t. . .

A spokesperson for RANDPAC forwarded an email from Fein denying Mattie Fein’s allegations. “Mattie Lolavar was not speaking for me,” Fein said in the email. “Her quotes were her own and did not represent my views.  I was working on a legal team, and have been paid for my work.” Bruce Fein confirmed to msnbc that the email was from him.

Seems convincingly debunked to me, but Milbank isn’t ready to give up. In a column entitled “E-mails back claim that Sen. Rand Paul ‘stole’ NSA lawsuit”, he dumped a bunch of internal emails (presumably leaked by the ex-wife) that indicate he was disgruntled about being left out of some key decisions. But they also make clear that Fein was indeed hired and paid for his work.

In Milbank’s original column, he claimed that Fein wasn’t paid at all. (ASIDE: I haven’t been able to verify this myself, since the Washington Post won’t let Archive.org crawl their site, but Milbank says so (“An early version of my Wednesday column said that Fein had not been paid and that Paul’s aides had not responded to inquiries.”), and I assume he wouldn’t lie about his own work in a way that makes him look worse.)

Now Milbank has edited his column to say that Fein “has not been paid in full,” as you see it in the quote at the top. That is technically true but deliberately misleading. What Milbank doesn’t say, but you can see in the emails he publishes, is that the outstanding payment isn’t even due until today:

My outstanding invoice for work indispensable to the lawsuit should be paid no later than Friday, February 14, an expectation which is completely justified in light of all the circumstances.

Truly shoddy work, and typical of Milbank. I’ll bet the Post is glad they have him off the news page and onto opinion.

(Via Instapundit.)


Useful idiots

February 9, 2014

Charles Blow, a New York Times columnist, says that Barack Obama can’t be a lawless president, because he hasn’t issued very many executive orders.

Apparently he is arguing that the number of executive orders matter more than their contents! If the next president were to issue an executive order to imprison one Charles Blow for excessive ideological idiocy, that wouldn’t make him lawless, because that would be just one order.

He can’t actually be stupid enough to believe this, which tells you what he thinks of the New York Times’s readership. I wonder if he’s right.

(Via Instapundit.)


OMG

February 8, 2014

NBC calls communism one of history’s pivotal experiments. No matter how low your opinion of them, they still manage to disappoint.

UPDATE: Meredith Vieira calls the end of communism “bittersweet”.


Obamacare delenda est

February 5, 2014

The only silver lining to Obamacare is all the chances I get to say I told you so:

The new healthcare law will cost the nation the equivalent of 2.5 million workers in the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated in a report released Tuesday.

The nonpartisan agency found the reform law’s negative effects on employment would be “substantially larger” than what it had previously anticipated.

It said the equivalent of 2.3 million workers would be lost by 2021, compared to its previous estimate of 800,000, and that 2.5 million workers would be lost by 2024. It also projected that labor force compensation would be reduced by 1 percent from 2017 to 2024 — twice its previous estimate.

But wait, there’s more:

One killer detail comes on Page 111, where the report projects: “As a result of the ACA, between 6 million and 7 million fewer people will have employment-based insurance coverage each year from 2016 through 2024 than would be the case in the absence of the ACA.”

Well, maybe millions will lose their employment-based coverage, but they’ll all get coverage back from the exchanges, right? Nope:

“About 31 million nonelderly residents of the United States are likely to be without health insurance in 2024, roughly one out of every nine such residents.”

Why? Because, in selling the bill to the American people in a nationally televised September 2009 address, President Obama said the need for ObamaCare was urgent precisely because “there are now more than 30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage.”

Now the CBO is saying is that in 10 years, about the same number of people will lack insurance as before. This, after new expenditures of as much as $2 trillion and a colossal disruption of the US medical system.

ASIDE: That statistic, bad as it is, doesn’t even tell the whole story. It just counts all those with some kind of insurance, neglecting the fact that nearly everyone is paying more for worse insurance.

In short, Obamacare is a complete failure. It is wrecking the economy, while utterly failing to do anything about the problem of the insured. More precisely, it’s a disaster, not a failure. Despite everything, it is succeeding in its real aim, which is to give the government more power.

BONUS: As a bonus, Glenn Reynolds digs this up, where Factcheck.org “fact-checked” Republican predictions that Obamacare would fail:

Independent, nonpartisan experts project only a “small” or “minimal” impact on jobs, even before taking likely job gains in the health care and insurance industries into account. . . One leading health care expert, John Sheils of The Lewin Group, puts the loss at between 150,000 and 300,000 jobs, at or near the minimum wage. And Sheils says that relatively small loss would be partly offset by gains in the health care industry.

Look, you can’t fact-check a prediction. It’s a prediction! And, as it turns out, all the predictions that they labeled misleading (as many as 1.6 million jobs lost) were much more rosy that what the CBO now says is actually happening (2.5 million jobs lost).

POSTSCRIPT: It’s worth noting that we’ve moved on from the side-show which was the Healthcare.gov debacle (although Healthcare.gov still doesn’t work!), and on to the first confirmation of real economic damage. Healthcare.gov was a surprise; we assumed that they would be able to build a web site. Stuff like this is what we were expecting. And worse to come.

(Previous post.)


NYT lies about Plame-Armitage

January 27, 2014

The New York Times revisits the Plame-Novak-Armitage affair:

Retaliation is hardly unusual in politics either. The Christie affair reminds me of the I. Lewis Libby scandal, when top White House officials, including Mr. Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney’s top aide, decided to punish Joseph Wilson, a former ambassador critical of the Bush administration’s policies in Iraq, by outing his wife, Valerie Plame, as a covert C.I.A. agent.

I’m sure the NYT wishes this were true. It certainly would tie up the affair in a neat bow if were. But, as the NYT is well aware, it isn’t true.

Plame’s name was leaked by Richard Armitage, who did so accidentally, without any nefarious intent, and without any direction from anyone, including Libby or any other “top White House officials”. Libby went to jail on an unrelated charge.

The story is dated 10 days ago, and it carries no correction yet.

(Previous post.)


I call BS

January 12, 2014

The Denver Post, it seems, is happy to print Sen. Mark Udall’s (D-CO) fevered imagination as fact:

More than two-thirds of the 250,000 people whose health policies the state Division of Insurance said last week were “terminated” have actually been offered renewals of existing plans through 2014, according to research by U.S. Sen. Mark Udall’s office. . .

Insurance companies have been sending out cancellation notices to consumers with plans that don’t meet minimum benefit levels required by the health care act. . . Many of the cancellation notices, however, also contain language allowing customers to renew their existing policies.

(Emphasis mine.) According to “research” by Udall, who previously tried unsuccessfully to pressure his state to fudge the cancellation numbers.

What would it even mean to send out a cancellation notice that allowed the customer to renew? That’s simply a contradiction in terms. I’ve looked at hundreds of cancellation notices at mycancellation.com and I’ve never seen anything that could possibly be described this way. We are asked to believe that there are hundreds of thousands of such self-contradictory letters in Colorado alone. Were that true, they could include at least one example.

(Previous post.) (Via Power Line.)


Blind spot

January 3, 2014

The Washington Post managed to write an entire article entitled “2013 is the year that proved your ‘paranoid’ friend right” without ever once mentioning the IRS scandal.

NSA, EZ-Pass, even Area 51, but they managed to memory-hole the biggest political scandal in more than a generation.

(Via James Taranto.)


NYT on freedom of religion

January 3, 2014

The New York Times (writing on Justice Sotomayor’s “perplexing” decision that people are better equipped to judge what is a burden to their religion than the New York Times) also has this to say about the Hobby Lobby case:

In November, the Supreme Court agreed to hear two challenges to the birth control mandate brought by secular, profit-making companies seeking to elevate the religious views of company owners over societal interests and the well-being of employees.

This makes clear what the NYT thinks of the matter, but really, how is this different from any freedom of religion case? Isn’t freedom of religion always about elevating religious freedom over the supposed societal interests that would be served by suppressing it?

From this, it’s not hard to infer the NYT’s opinion of religious freedom in general.

(Via Althouse.)


Double standard

January 1, 2014

Here’s how NSA spying on Americans is reported during the Obama administration:

A German magazine lifted the lid on the operations of the National Security Agency’s hacking unit Sunday, reporting that American spies intercept computer deliveries, exploit hardware vulnerabilities, and even hijack Microsoft’s internal reporting system to spy on their targets.

I chose that article simply because it is ABC News’s most recently article on the topic. Now contrast how ABC News reported such things during the Bush administration:

Despite pledges by President George W. Bush and American intelligence officials to the contrary, hundreds of US citizens overseas have been eavesdropped on as they called friends and family back home, according to two former military intercept operators who worked at the giant National Security Agency (NSA) center in Fort Gordon, Georgia.

See how ABC ties the NSA’s actions to the Bush administration in the very first phrase (and then again in the third paragraph). But ABC doesn’t use the word “Obama” in the other article at all.


MSNBC sees Christianity as homo-erotic

December 27, 2013

Because Christians are awfully into Jesus, dontcha know:

The same men who will stand up in the church of all men. “I put my God, Jesus, overall women. I love him more than I love her.”

Hmmm. Do you really? That sounds interestingly homoerotic to people who are outside your religious traditions. I’m not suggesting it is but I’m suggesting that there are some very interesting, subtle, narrative tensions within the Bible itself and within Christianity beyond that.

ASIDE: Don’t be distracted by the “I’m not suggesting it is”, since that’s exactly what he’s suggesting. Otherwise, why bring it up?

Now, this is so stupid, it’s hard to be offended by it. But I am a bit offended that this guy is teaching sociology at Georgetown University, which I thought was a respectable school. He teaches sociology and he’s ignorant of the very existence of non-sexual love? Yikes.


Independent Hawaii

December 21, 2013

Ah, the Huffington Post. If it didn’t exist, we would have to invent it:

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article referred incorrectly to Hawaii as an independent country.


MSNBC encourages viewers to commit fraud

December 21, 2013

These people like to style themselves as morally superior. They’re not:

“If a lie is told to a corporation, it’s not really a lie,” Touré [Neblett] declared.


Ah, journalism

October 28, 2013

CBS confuses famed FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover with President Herbert Hoover.


Lies, damn lies, and Paul Krugman

October 14, 2013

Paul Krugman weighs in on the Obamacare rollout catastrophe:

So, very early reports are that Obamacare exchanges are, as expected, having some technical glitches on the first day — maybe even a bit worse than expected, because it appears that volume has been much bigger than predicted.

Here’s what you need to know: this is good, not bad, news for the program.

Ha! It’s a good thing it doesn’t work!

But anyway here’s the instructive thing about Paul Krugman: he says that the Obamacare glitches happened because volume was much bigger than predicted, but he is making it all up.

The Obamacare web site got 8.7 million visits during the first week. That is not so many. During the past week, the Huffington Post got 67 million visits, and the Huffington Post didn’t cost half a billion dollars to build. Further, all technical observers agree that the Obamacare site problem is not load, but serious design flaws.

So Paul Krugman is making up the facts that would need to be true in order to support his position, and not for the first time. Keep that in mind whenever you read anything by Krugman.

POSTSCRIPT: The “disaster is a good thing” meme still reminds me of these:

(Previous post.)


The Obama shutdown

October 9, 2013

The federal goverment is (17%) shut down, and Barack Obama is going to make sure that the people pay. The State of Arizona asked to reopen the Grand Canyon itself, at state expense. The Obama administration refused to allow it.

Meanwhile, the Park Service — which is supposedly doing all this shutdown theater because it has no money to operate — somehow is able to pay armed guards to stand watch outside a hotel to make sure none of the visiting senior citizens slip out and see something:

The bus stopped along a road when a large herd of bison passed nearby, and seniors filed out to take photos. Almost immediately, an armed ranger came by and ordered them to get back in, saying they couldn’t “recreate.” The tour guide, who had paid a $300 fee the day before to bring the group into the park, argued that the seniors weren’t “recreating,” just taking photos.

“She responded and said, ‘Sir, you are recreating,’ and her tone became very aggressive,” Vaillancourt said.

The seniors quickly filed back onboard and the bus went to the Old Faithful Inn, the park’s premier lodge located adjacent to the park’s most famous site, Old Faithful geyser. That was as close as they could get to the famous site — barricades were erected around Old Faithful, and the seniors were locked inside the hotel, where armed rangers stayed at the door.

“They looked like Hulk Hogans, armed. They told us you can’t go outside,” she said. “Some of the Asians who were on the tour said, ‘Oh my God, are we under arrest?’ They felt like they were criminals.”

What kind of “shutdown” is this? They are spending money they supposedly don’t have, just to make sure that public is harmed!

Meanwhile, the Barack Obama holds a press conference, and the lapdog press asks not one question about any of this. Not a single question! It’s absolutely astonishing, even for them.

I’m not expecting them to ask, “Mr. President, why is the Park Service being complete assholes?” (Although if it were a Republican doing this, that — minus the profanity — is exactly what they would ask.) But how about asking about what legal opinions justify the shutdown theater?

POSTSCRIPT: Jonathan Last has a nice summary of what’s happening, although he leaves out several instances.

(Previous post.)


How the legacy media works

October 7, 2013

The cover of Time magazine from a few weeks ago, when Vladimir Putin was having his way with Obama’s flailing, incoherent foreign policy, was really very revealing of how Time (and, by extension, the legacy media) see their role in the body politic. The European edition had this cover:

time-cover-putin

The text reads:

America’s weak and waffling, Russia’s rich and resurgent — and its leader doesn’t care what anybody thinks of him.

The Asian and South Pacific editions had these covers:

time-cover-putin time-cover-putin

So Time gets it. Obama’s foreign policy is a disaster, and Putin is making him look like a fool. Time is going to tell the truth, and make sure everyone knows what is going on.

Everyone except Americans. The American edition had this cover:

time-cover-college-athletes

In Time’s view, it’s great for America to look weak overseas. But in America, where the future of American foreign policy is determined, the people must be shielded from the truth of how foolish we look. God forbid, we might actually correct the problem.

Once, the mission of the media was to keep people informed. (Or so we’re told.) Now, the mission of the media is to keep people from being informed.


So what, exactly, is the NYT good for?

September 25, 2013

If you want to understand the maneuvering going on in the Senate over the budget and Obamacare — that is, if you want informed reporting on breaking national newsyou won’t get it from the New York Times.

Evidently, the NYT is no longer in the business of reporting news; it is only in the business of reporting Democratic spin to the credulous. I can sort of see why liberal ideologues might want to be in that business, but why does anyone pay for it?

UPDATE: Just to be clear, this isn’t a case of the NYT distorting the facts in favor of its side; heck, most of the NYT’s readers probably want that. This is the NYT straight-up failing to deliver its promised product: Something important is going on in the Senate, and the New York Times doesn’t understand what’s going on.


Which side is NPR on?

September 18, 2013

Brandon Darby turned in his left-wing terrorist friends who were planning to attack the 2008 Republican convention. For that, NPR calls him an “FBI rat”.

As they say, there’s no enemy to the left.

UPDATE: I got the names of the documentarian and his subject backwards. Fixed now.


On the Navy Yard shootings

September 18, 2013

So there was an awful shooting rampage Monday at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC. And, as always happens after a gun-related incident in the United States, the anti-gun crowd says we need a “national dialogue” on gun control, by which they really mean that gun-rights supporters should shut up and do what they say. But yes, let’s have a dialogue. Three main points:

First, the anti-gun movement is a bunch of liars. A number of legacy media outlets, including the New York Times and the AP, reported that the Aaron Alexis, the murderer, used an AR-15. This is false, he did not. Sure, it’s easy to report erroneous facts in a developing story (particularly when you’re not too concerned to get the story right), so it may be little harsh to call them liars on that basis.

But when you’re still getting the story wrong after the facts are known, then you’re lying. The NYT has finally corrected its story some time yesterday afternoon or evening, but does not have a correction noted. The AP still has the story wrong. The NYT is now reporting (still, at this hour) that Alexis tried to buy an AR-15 but was prohibited from buying one by state law, which is also false.

The New York Daily News made the involvement of an AR-15’s its cover story yesterday, including a photograph of an unrelated medical emergency and a stock photo of an AR-15. Not having a photograph of Alexis brandishing an AR-15 (since no such photo exists), MSNBC just mocked up a graphic, which they were using long after the facts were known.

ASIDE: MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow aimed higher (perhaps we should say, leaned further forward) than a particular weapon. Mass shootings, she claimed, were on the rise. Her claim is narrowly true, based on a definition of mass shootings as one with 12 or more deaths. But the number 12 was carefully selected to exploit a statistical blip. If you choose a higher or a lower number the pattern goes away, and mass shooting are down dramatically. (And, by the way, why the focus on mass shootings rather than mass killings? Is murder only bad when it’s committed with a gun?)

But the grand prize for misinformation has to go to CNN. Unable to let go of the AR-15 meme, even when it was known that Alexis used a shotgun, CNN reported that Alexis had used an “AR-15 shotgun”. That makes about as much sense as an “iPod piano”. (But these are the same people who invented the “white hispanic” category to make George Zimmerman white.)

Second, the whole premise of the argument is stupid. Suppose he had used an AR-15; so what? The AR-15 is a good weapon. That’s why it is the most popular rifle in America today. The same features that make it attractive to law-abiding citizens can also make it attractive to criminals.

Third, and more importantly, it’s high time we stopped focusing on stopping gun control and took the rhetorical offensive. (You say you want a dialog, let’s have one!) Banning guns isn’t going keep them out of the hands of criminals, who are criminals anyway after all. If you want to stop mass shootings, we should let law-abiding citizens go armed.

Nearly all mass shootings take place in gun-free zones; there is only one exception since 1950. Research shows that active killers seek out gun-free zones. Gun-free zones kill; it’s time to get rid of them.

When the University of Texas sniper struck in 1966, it wasn’t the police who stopped him. It was ordinary armed citizens who pinned him down with rifle fire until the police (with help from other ordinary citizens) could take him down. BuzzFeed has an article about nine potential mass shootings averted by armed citizens. The sailors and Marines at the Navy Yard could have dealt with Alexis quickly, but they were disarmed.

It is absolutely astonishing that members of our armed services are kept utterly defenseless at home. In the wake of the Fort Hood terror attack, it’s not just astonishing but inexcusable. People have a right to keep guns off their private property (although it’s not as though we respect any other private property rights any more), but on public property gun-free zones should go away today. They serve no purpose but to get people killed.

POSTSCRIPT: One more thing: f*** you, Alexey Pushkov.


Journalists get honest

September 13, 2013

Top journalists are giving up the pretense and going to work for the Obama administration:

Whether the number is 15 or 19, the fact that this many so-called journalists from outlets as influential as CBS, ABC, CNN, Time, the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and the Los Angeles Times want to work at the very same administration they are supposed to hold accountable, is not only troubling, it also explains a lot.

Why would anyone enamored enough with an Obama administration they want to go work for, do anything that might make a potential employer uncomfortable — you know, like actually report on ObamaCare and the economy honestly, or dig into Benghazi and the IRS?

The media is left-wing and crusading enough without the potential of a cushy government job being held out as a carrot.

And don’t think the Obama administration isn’t doling out these jobs for a reason. What a wonderful message to send to the world of media: Don’t go too far, don’t burn a bridge, don’t upset us too much and there just might be a lifeline off the sinking MSM ship.

But the problem isn’t those guys; the problem is the ones who stay.

(Via Instapundit.)


So much water to carry

September 11, 2013

The “fact-checkers” at the Washington Post and PolitiFact, commenting on President Obama’s absurd denial that he ever set a “red-line” in Syria, can’t bring themselves to call a lie a lie, but can’t produce a plausible argument to call it true either, so in the end they refrain from rating the comment.

That said, the Washington Post’s article is actually pretty good at laying out the facts; it’s too bad Glenn Kessler didn’t have the guts to draw the required conclusion. PolitiFact, on the other hand, is useless as always.


Obama anti-gun orders based on lies

August 30, 2013

Yesterday, the White House announced the president’s latest anti-gun executive orders:

One measure would close a loophole under which felons, those convicted of domestic violence and others banned from having guns can evade required background checks for machine guns or other weapons by registering the gun to a trust or corporation. The ATF received more than 39,000 requests last year for transfers of restricted firearms to trusts or corporations, Biden said, calling it “a very artful dodge to get around people who are not capable legally of owning weapons to be able to gain access.”

The White House adds that “felons, domestic abusers, and others prohibited from having guns can easily evade the required background check . . . by registering the weapon to a trust or corporation.”

Not so, explains John Lott:

Yes, when registered to a corporation any officer is allowed to posses the machine gun, but the point that the transfer occurs still requires a NICS check for the person actually picking up the gun.

So registering a gun to a corporation does not allow you to evade the background check. That is a lie.

The effect of this rule is that a corporation cannot register a weapon unless all of its officers are permitted to possess it, even those officers who never will. One domestic abuse charge is enough to blackball an entire company.

And why do companies need to register weapons anyway? Because the government has made them prohibitively expensive for individuals.

The second order is also dishonest:

The other measure will end a government practice that allows military weapons, sold or donated by the United States to allies, to be re-imported into the United States by private groups. The White House said the United States has approved the re-importation of 250,000 such guns since 2005; under the new policy, only museums and a few other groups such as the government will be allowed to re-import these weapons.

The weapon at issue here, what the White House calls “military grade”, is the obsolete M-1 Garand, which the United States produced in enormous quantities during World War 2. Lott explains that the M-1 is just like any civilian .30-06 hunting rifle, except that it is too heavy by modern standards.  It is “military grade” in the exact same sense as a 17th-century blunderbuss: it was once used by the military. Today it is mainly sought after by collectors.

POSTSCRIPT: The media, alas, has been typically credulous in reporting the president’s anti-gun orders, taking the White House’s claims at face value. For example, NPR simply quoted the White House “fact sheet”, without doing the minimal reporting that would have shown that it wasn’t true. The Washington Post did note the bogosity of the reimportation rule, but not the registration rule.


No snickering, please

August 28, 2013

WTAE breathlessly reports a topless protest in Pittsburgh:

Topless protestors take over Pittsburgh
Group says women still not treated equally

Except, the thinly attended protest hardly took over Pittsburgh, and did not in fact contain any topless protestors (unless you count men):

Pittsburgh topless rally winds up anything but
Fewer than a dozen protesters showed up Sunday, and none of the women bared their tops — though a handful of men did.

Aside from that, the headline was accurate. . .


They never, ever learn

August 28, 2013

The Washington Post is deeply clueless:

Analysts worry that its members, bitter and angry after the deaths of more than 1,000 Morsi supporters in the past week, could abandon the Brotherhood’s decades-long commitment to nonviolence . . .

(Emphasis mine.)


60 Minutes softballs Obama

August 22, 2013

60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft admits that they are “not going to play ‘gotcha’ with [Obama].” That’s a pretty amazing admission, since ambush interviews are pretty much 60 Minutes’ bread and butter.


NYT standards

August 22, 2013

The New York Times says that it won’t correct any errors over a year after it runs a story, even in its online archive.

(Via Instapundit.)


Creative counting

August 17, 2013

As Daniel Patrick Moynihan once famously said, you’re entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. But that’s a problem for CNN’s Piers Morgan, because the real facts don’t support his position:

When guest A.W.R. Hawkins cited Virginia as an example where violent crime fell in 2012 as gun sales increased, Morgan answered that “It’s Virginia, the very state you just quoted to me actually has the highest murder rate in the country. According to 2009 statistics by the FBI.” Morgan’s assertion was entirely false, according to the FBI’s 2009 report on crime.

The FBI’s 2009 Crime In the United States report placed Virginia behind 23 other states plus Washington, D.C. and Puerto Rico in the murder and nonnegligent manslaughter rate per 100,000 inhabitants. And in case Morgan was referring to the firearm murder rate, Virginia still did not have the highest in the country.

The 2009 FBI statistics are here. But why dwell on 2009, anyway? In 2011 (the most recent year for which the FBI has published statistics), Virginia’s murder rate had improved further, by more than the nation as a whole I might add.

Moreover, the FBI cautions against making the sort of comparison Morgan is trying to make in the first place:

Each year when Crime in the United States is published, many entities—news media, tourism agencies, and other groups with an interest in crime in our Nation—use reported figures to compile rankings of cities and counties. These rankings, however, are merely a quick choice made by the data user; they provide no insight into the many variables that mold the crime in a particular town, city, county, state, region, or other jurisdiction. Consequently, these rankings lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that often create misleading perceptions adversely affecting cities and counties, along with their residents.

In this case, I think a misleading perception is what Morgan was going for.


Lying by omission

August 16, 2013

Don’t trust content from the Huffington Post. If you did, you might buy in to stuff like this:

Next time you feel uncomfortable showering at the gym, blame it on liberals and their abortion rights agenda. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (R) does.

Speaking to anti-abortion group Students for Life after receiving an award last month, Santorum attempted to explain what he saw as an enthusiasm gap between liberal and conservative activists. During his speech, a clip of which can be seen above, via Right Wing Watch, Santorum argued that the pro-choice movement infuses passion about abortion rights into “every aspect of their life.” He said that because of this, showering at a gym had become an “uncomfortable” prospect for students.

“They make it uncomfortable for students who come to Austin to shower at a Young Men’s Christian Association, YMCA, gym,” he said.

This led various people to chortle about Santorum having some sort of weird obsession about youths in showers. In fact, Santorum was referring to a specific incident in which Students For Life were barred from using the showers at an Austin YMCA after pressure from abortion supporters:

For one week the students planned to rally during the day, shower at the Town Lake YMCA, and then head to a church to sleep. . .

“We had absolutely no incidents. They talked to us afterwards and said, ‘You guys were great. You were respectful,” Coombs added.

But Tuesday morning, Coombs got an unexpected call from the Town Lake YMCA.
“Said, again, ‘You guys were respectful. We have no problems with you, in particular, however there were some people that support abortion who talked to our staff, intimidated them.’ They actually said that they felt threatened, and they asked us not to come back,” Coombs said.

It’s wouldn’t have taken much for the Huffington Post to contact Santorum’s office and find out what he was talking about. But even that modicum of actual reporting is more than we can expect from them.

(Via Twitchy.)


Elevator-less building has elevators

August 13, 2013

A few days ago, one meme circulating the internet was the skyscraper in Spain in which they accidentally forgot to put an elevator shaft. For example, here’s the New York Daily News:

In what will surely go down in history as one the greatest architectural blunders, the town of Benidorm in Alicante, Spain, had almost completed its 47-story skyscraper when it realized it excluded plans for elevator shafts.

Except, the building actually does have elevators. The story apparently goes back to a Gizmodo article that mistranslated an article from a Spanish newspaper.

Gizmodo defends itself, claiming that the Spanish article “plainly states” that it had no elevators. I don’t read Spanish, but according to the Google translation that doesn’t seem to be true. The article mentions elevators twice. Both mentions refer to problems with the elevators, but the existence of elevator problems would seem to imply the existence of elevators.

What is particularly striking about this story is how it spread without anyone — including the journalists — checking the facts. Apparently CNN and CBS both sent TV crews to Benidorm to cover the story.

But in the absence of fact-checking, there’s always fact invention. Here’s an amusing fact from the New York Daily News:

Because of the way the building was constructed, there is no space for a shaft anywhere.

It’s amusing because it seems the Daily News made it up from whole cloth. No space for an elevator shaft? Actually it has eleven elevators.

(Via Instapundit.)


AP airbrushes Obama gaffe

August 11, 2013

After President Obama foolishly implied that Charleston, Savannah, and Jacksonville are on the Gulf Coast, the AP came to his rescue, rendering the remark:

“If we don’t deepen our ports all along the Gulf – (and in) places like Charleston, S.C., or Savannah, Ga., or Jacksonville, Fla. – if we don’t do that, these ships are going to go someplace else and we’ll lose jobs,” Obama said.

Incidentally, in the usual quotation usage, editorial remarks and corrections are inserted in square brackets, not parentheses. Putting them into parentheses is simply wrong.

The AP issued a correction the next day.


Ombudsman admits NPR wrongdoing

August 11, 2013

Internal investigations usually are merely whitewashes, but occasionally one gets results, since as the NPR ombudsman’s investigation of a deeply flawed 2011 NPR story attacking South Dakota’s foster care system. The ombudsman reported:

The series committed five sins that violate NPR’s code of standards and ethics. They were:

1. No proof for its main allegations of wrongdoing;
2. Unfair tone in communicating these unproven allegations;
3. Factual errors, shaky anecdotes and misleading use of data by quietly switching what was being measured;
4. Incomplete reporting and lack of critical context;
5. No response from the state on many key points.

No doubt the investigative team was driven by the history of injustices suffered by Native Americans. There is much to be outraged about. But good intentions are not enough. Specifically, there is no whistleblower, no document — no smoking gun even — to support the unmistakable allegation that for nearly the last 15 years, state social workers have been so evil as to take Indian children from their families as a way to reap federal funds for the state government. The charge is so shocking and such a potential insult to many dedicated social workers that the burden of proof should have been especially high.

One would like to view this as a story of NPR doing the right thing, if belatedly. Alas, we cannot. The NPR editors have blown off the ombudsman’s damning findings, proclaiming:

NPR stands by the stories.

Wow. We can see how dedicated NPR is to their espoused standards.


Any opposition to Obama is racist

August 8, 2013

Bloomberg very nearly comes right out and says it:

House Republicans Set to Defy Obama Are Mostly White Men


“Right-wing” = anything bad

August 8, 2013

When the Boston Marathon bombing happened, the media leftists immediately jumped to the conclusion that it must have been perpetrated by Tea Party types, as they always seem to do. Of course, we quickly learned that Islamic terrorists were responsible. But the BBC, it would seem, has not given up trying to pin it on the right:

One of the brothers suspected of carrying out the Boston bombings was in possession of right-wing American literature in the run-up to the attack, BBC Panorama has learnt.

What right-wing literature? Tracts in support of small government, individual liberty, low taxes, and sound monetary policy? Not at all. No, it was just a bunch of crazy stuff:

The programme discovered that Tamerlan Tsarnaev possessed articles which argued that both 9/11 and the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing were government conspiracies.

Another in his possession was about “the rape of our gun rights”.

Reading material he had about white supremacy commented that “Hitler had a point”.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev also had literature which explored what motivated mass killings and noted how the perpetrators murdered and maimed calmly.

There was also material about US drones killing civilians, and about the plight of those still imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay.

Some of this could be representative of the right (such as gun rights and concerns about drone strikes), some could be representative of the left (9/11 conspiracy theories, Guantanamo), and much of it isn’t representative of either, even in extreme form. If you really wanted to generalize this stuff, the best you could do would be to call it anti-American. (Of course, revealing that some terrorists were anti-American is something less than a major scoop.)

What’s going on here is the liberal trope that anything leftists don’t like (now) must be of the right. Thus the common spectacle of the Nazis being called right-wing, even though their ideology (to the extent it fit on the left-right spectrum at all) was of the left.

But just because it’s lazy doesn’t make it any less dishonest.


True lies

August 8, 2013

The New York Daily News makes a serious accusation:

ARLINGTON, Va. — This state is good at peddling guns. Now it’s peddling lies about New York.

A war between the states erupted Friday, after Mayor Bloomberg blasted Virginia for its weak gun laws. . . The office of Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell tried to turn the tables, arguing that Virginia’s “homicide and robbery (rates) are significantly lower than New York City’s.”

The funny thing about this “lie” is that it is actually entirely true. The story’s point is that the comparison is apples-and-oranges, and that’s probably even true. But there’s a world of difference between “your argument is rebuttable” and “you are lying”. If you say the latter when you mean the former, then you’re the liar.

The worst kind of scoundrel is the man who lies in calling another man a liar.


News gathering is hard

July 26, 2013

The New York Times doesn’t like Antonin Scalia, I get that. But that doesn’t really excuse an organization whose purported business is gathering news for not getting the facts before writing:

Scalia’s Latest Outburst . . .

Justice Scalia brought Godwin’s Law to Snowmass, suggesting in an address to the Utah State Bar Association that activist judges helped bring about the Holocaust.

Godwin’s Law refers to inappropriate reference to the Nazis to score rhetorical points. Is that what Scalia did? Not exactly:

The context is vital. . . As you can see Justice Scalia was the principal speaker on Saturday morning—Day 3 of programming. On Friday morning (Day 2 of the meeting), the principal speaker was Dr. William F. Meinecke of the Holocaust Memorial Museum giving his presentation “Law, Justice, and the Holocaust: How the Courts Failed Germany.” It is a fascinating presentation of how the Nazi party co-opted the Courts and lawyers to further its agenda against the Jews and used the judiciary to “legalize” its conduct.

Justice Scalia opened his remarks by noting that, at the previous evening’s Utah State Bar’s Past Presidents Dinner, there had been a great deal of discussion about Dr. Meinecke’s talk. Justice Scalia then indicated that, prior to beginning his prepared remarks, he had some observations about Nazi Germany and the law.

Scalia was adding to an ongoing conversation about Nazis and the law, which the NYT belatedly acknowledged, once someone else had gathered the facts for them.

I think the NYT’s real point, which they doubtless stand by, is that Scalia really shouldn’t say anything about anything.


Lies

July 26, 2013

When the media can’t tell a story without seasoning it with lies, that’s a hint that the narrative might not be true. On PBS:

JELANI COBB: . . . we can’t escape — and finally the fact of the matter is, Mr. Zimmerman had called the police 46 times in previous six years, only for African-Americans, only for African-American men.

Not so. In fact, only six calls had to do with African-American men, and two of those were Trayvon Martin. Most of the calls were this sort of thing:

8/12/04: Reports male driving pick-up without car seat
9/20/04: Neighbor’s garage door open
8/20/04: Reports white male walking in the road carrying a paper bag, presumably drinking
3/17/05: Pothole
4/27/05: Neighbor’s garage door open

(Previous post.)


Does the truth even matter?

July 26, 2013

This particular lie has been going around throughout the left, but I’ll take The New Republic for the canonical version:

[George] Zimmerman was an edgy basket case with a gun who had called 911 46 times in 15 months, once to report the suspicious activities of a seven year old black boy.

Every single statement in this sentence, other than Zimmerman owning a gun, is a lie. He did not call 911 46 times; most of his calls were to the non-emergency number. His calls were over the course of nearly a decade, not 15 months. And, most libelously, he never called to report a seven-year-old boy. In regards to the last, the record of his call reads (original document here):

Advsd is walking alone & is not supervised on busy street compl concerned for well-being.

Zimmerman wasn’t reporting the boy for suspicious activities, quite the opposite; he was concerned for the boy’s well-being.

ASIDE: As I said, this lie is popular on the left. Here’s the Daily Beast’s version:

April 22, 2011 – 7:09 p.m.
Type: TEL
Subject: Suspicious activity
Report: Juvenile black male “apprx 7–9” years old, four feet tall “skinny build short blk hair” last seen wearing a blue t-shirt and blue shorts

Again, the reference to “suspicious activity” is a fabrication.

When made aware of their error, the New Republic was loathe to correct it. Here’s their first semi-correction:

Zimmerman was an edgy basket case with a gun who had called the polics [sic] 46 times in 15 months, once to report on a seven year old black boy.

They corrected the least significant of the falsehoods (911 vs. non-emergency call) — replacing it with a typo — but left the substantive lies in place. Yes, they did remove the explicit reference to “suspicious activities” but replaced it with a phrase (“report on”) that implies the same thing.

As Michelle Meyer comments:

It’s one thing to make a mistake about facts. It’s quite another to double down on damaging falsehoods after having your mistake pointed out. In that respect, TNR’s cure here is worse than the disease.

TNR’s next version finally removed the seven-year-old-boy lie, and the typo, but left the 15 months lie:

Zimmerman was an edgy basket case with a gun who had called the police 46 times in 15 months.

They also failed to note the seven-year-old-boy correction in the editor’s note.

Finally, today, they got the last of the correction out, finally writing:

Zimmerman was an edgy basket case with a gun who had called the police 46 times in about eight years.

They also recognized all three error in an editor’s note at the end. However, they did not mark the correction at the top where it might be noticed. Moreover, by stalling the correction for ten days, they ensured that almost no one would see it, other than those drawn to the article by the controversy itself. Justice delayed is justice denied.

Now, what about the “edgy basket case”? Wendy Dorival, who coordinated Neighborhood Watch Programs for the Sanford Police didn’t think so. She had high praise for Zimmerman’s work, and even tried to recruit him into Sanford’s “Citizen on Patrol” program, but Zimmerman declined.

And what about those 46 calls? Here’s the first five calls, just to get the flavor:

8/12/04: Reports male driving pick-up without car seat
9/20/04: Neighbor’s garage door open
8/20/04: Reports white male walking in the road carrying a paper bag, presumably drinking
3/17/05: Pothole
4/27/05: Neighbor’s garage door open

If he hadn’t been a Neighborhood Watch member, it might be safe to call him a busybody.

(Previous post.)


The long history of Stand Your Ground

July 23, 2013

One meme going around the blogosphere is to say that Barack Obama is being hypocritical to oppose Stand Your Ground now when he was a co-sponsor of a Stand Your Ground law in Illinois. David Weigel (of Journolist infamy) fires back, writing:

Oh, you can probably guess the twist. [Scofflaw: sucking up to the brilliant readers at Slate, who are oh so much smarter than those stupid wingnuts, check!] Illinois’ 2004 SB2386 was passed by a unanimous vote in the state Senate. It amended a self-defense law first passed in 1961. Alarm bells should be ringing at this point, because Florida was pretty famously the first state to pass a “stand your ground” law, a year after this Illinois bill. Have reporters been blowing that story? No: “Stand your ground” is substantively different than what Obama backed in Illinois. He backed a tweak to the “castle doctrine,” which reads . . .

The degree of similarity between the two laws is debatable. It didn’t take much digging to find that there is a lot of similarity between them, but the similarity in a different area (a shield from lawsuits in self-defense cases) than the one most people are talking about most when they bring up Stand Your Ground. So while there’s some truth to the meme, Weigel also has a point.

Of course, that’s all based on the counterfactual assumption that this debate has anything to do with the substantive contents of the law, rather than pure demagoguery.

But never mind all that, I want to go back to this point, where Weigel seems to believe he proves that Illinois’s law can’t possibly be Stand Your Ground:

Alarm bells should be ringing at this point, because Florida was pretty famously the first state to pass a “stand your ground” law, a year after this Illinois bill.

Absolutely, utterly false, and by saying it Weigel beclowns himself far in excess of any legitimate point he might have had. Florida might have been the first to use the phrase “Stand Your Ground” (doubtful, but I can’t say for sure one way or the other), but the doctrine is over a century old. Andrew Blanca notes numerous cases doing as far back as 1877.

You needn’t be a lawyer to know this. Any history covering the American West (I recommend Paul Johnson) will tell of how the frontier did away with the duty to retreat that was typical back east. That doctrine, which we now call Stand Your Ground, was what gave rise to the gunfighting mythology of the West. That mythology persists today, providing not only most of the misconceptions employed to attack Stand Your Ground, but indeed providing most of the attack terminology (e.g., “the Wild West”) as well.


Anti-fracking fakery

July 22, 2013

The anti-fracking film Gasland featured an iconic scene in which filmmaker Josh Fox set a kitchen faucet on fire. Fox was aware that the town had reports of methane in the water going back decades, long before fracking, but he didn’t share that information with his viewers.

His follow-up film, creatively named Gasland 2, is even worse. It features a scene in which a garden hose is lit on fire, which is even more bogus than the infamous Gasland scene:

Texas’ 43rd Judicial District Court found in February 2012 that Steven Lipsky,  “under the advice or direction” of Texas environmental activist Alisa Rich, “intentionally attach[ed] a garden hose to a gas vent—not a water line” and lit its contents on fire.

(Emphasis mine.)

UPDATE: Josh Fox also made up a cancer spike in fracking country that didn’t exist.


The Zimmerman case

July 18, 2013

Last week a Florida jury found George Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Despite the collective freak-out of the media and the liberal establishment, no one who followed the trial would find the verdict at all surprising.

George Zimmerman told a consistent story from day one: He spotted an individual (Martin) whom he did not recognize and thought was behaving suspiciously. He called the police. He then got out of his car and walked in the same direction as Martin. (Zimmerman says he wasn’t following Martin, but was looking for an address to report to the police. Many people, even defenders of Zimmerman, find that part odd, but it doesn’t really matter.) He lost sight of Martin and subsequently tried to return to his car. Then Martin, who had doubled back, accosted Zimmerman. Martin attacked Zimmerman, pinning him to the ground, and repeatedly smashed his head against the pavement. Martin then saw Zimmerman’s gun, threatened to kill him with it, and tried to take it. Zimmerman then drew the gun and shot Martin once.

If Zimmerman’s story is true, the shooting was clearly justified self-defense. At the trial, the prosecution never presented any plausible evidence that contradicted his story.

Most of the state’s witnesses either were irrelevant to the self-defense claim, and many actually supported it. This was a very strange aspect of the case that I assume is atypical: witness after witness called by the prosecution but whose testimony actually supported the defense. Particularly damaging to the prosecution was the testimony of the lead investigator who said that he believed Zimmerman, and the eyewitness who corroborated a key part of Zimmerman’s story.

Only a few witnesses contradicted Zimmerman’s story at all. One was an excitable woman whose testimony contradicted the physical evidence in multiple ways. Some of Martin’s family members identified the person screaming for help (captured in a 911 call) as Martin. The defense rebutted their testimony with other witnesses who identified the screamer as Zimmerman, and by getting an expert witness for the prosecution to testify that the procedure used with the Martin family prevented a reliable identification.

That left only the prosecution’s star witness, one Rachel Jeantel who testified that she was on the phone with Martin as the fight began. Her testimony was damaging to the prosecution, as she testified that Martin used a racial slur to describe Zimmerman. (This was the only role that race played in the trial.) But she also contradicted Zimmerman’s story, testifying that Zimmerman started the fight and she heard Martin yelling “get off!”

The problem for the prosecution was that Jeantel wasn’t believable. Her behavior on the stand was erratic. During the investigation she told many lies, some of them under oath. But the most astonishing moment was when she admitted that she was unable to read the letter that she supposedly wrote to Martin’s family telling her story.

In short, the prosecution never dented Zimmerman’s story. For their part, the defense presented various witnesses supporting his story, and also got admitted into evidence the fact that Martin was under the influence of drugs at the time. (On the other hand, the judge did not allow the defense to present Martin’s text messages that showed he liked to get into fights.) Zimmerman himself never needed to testify, because — bizarrely — the prosecution played videos of Zimmerman telling his story, essentially giving Zimmerman the opportunity to testify without facing cross examination.

No one who followed the trial is surprised about the verdict. (Even Jimmy Carter!) But the media’s campaign against Zimmerman has never been about the facts. Big Journalism has conveniently collected a rundown of media lies about the Zimmerman.

With all the lies the legacy media tells against Zimmerman, you might expect to find public opinion overwhelmingly against him. But the truth seems to have gotten out, nonetheless. But a Rasmussen poll finds that Americans agree with the verdict by a 48-34 margin. Disintermediation of information is working.

POSTSCRIPT: Not all the lies told about the Zimmerman case are attacking Zimmerman. There’s also a consistent effort to lie about Florida’s (and 33 other states’) “Stand Your Ground” law. From the very beginning, Stand Your Ground has been legally irrelevant. It says that persons facing an attacker are not required to retreat from that attacker, even if they can do so safely. But even states that do require you to retreat, require it only when you can do so safely.

Zimmerman could not retreat safely (according to his story, at least). Indeed, being pinned to the ground, he could not retreat at all. Thus, Stand Your Ground never came into play. This hasn’t stopped the media from trying to implicate Stand Your Ground in this case. For example, the New York Times, always eager to get things wrong, editorialized that Stand Your Ground played a role in the case, despite its own reporting to the contrary. (In a very narrow sense it did: since Stand Your Ground is the law, it appears in the standard jury instructions, but it wasn’t relevant.)

(Previous post.)


MSNBC history

July 12, 2013

MSNBC thinks that George Wallace was a Republican. Like Jefferson Davis, Roger Taney, James Buchanan, George McClellan, Lester Maddox, and Bull Connor.


Faux News

June 6, 2013

Haters of Fox News like to call it “Faux News”, a lame play on words that doesn’t even work if you actually know how “faux” is pronounced. But the real faux news channel is at the other end of the political spectrum, where MSNBC now admits that it’s not really a news channel:

At a time of intensely high interest in news, MSNBC’s ratings declined from the same period a year ago by about 20 percent. The explanation, in the network’s own analysis, comes down to this: breaking news is not really what MSNBC does.

“We’re not the place for that,” said Phil Griffin, the channel’s president, in reference to covering breaking events as CNN does. “Our brand is not that.”

I’m reminded of years ago when professional wrestling admitted it was fake, in (if I recall correctly) a legal filing that argued it was entertainment, not sport, which thereby improved its legal position somehow.

In MSNBC’s case, the article goes on to say — hilariously — that political opinion is the brand that MSNBC “has cultivated with success”. (Sure, if by success you mean having no one watch you.) But Fox, CNN, and even Headline News all manage to have both opinion and news. By managing only the opinion side, they fall into the same category as Current TV, Al Gore’s network (now owned by Al Jazeera) that manages to draw even fewer viewers than MSNBC.

(Via Jennifer Rubin.)


Scapegoating CIA, take two

May 27, 2013

When the sub-scandal over the Obama administration’s bogus Benghazi talking points erupted, the White House initially attempted to scapegoat the CIA, saying that the talking points were prepared by the intelligence community. This turned out to be a complete and utter lie.

Now the new line is that the Benghazi talking points where David Petraeus’s fault, because his office prepared the first draft (ASIDE: In CIA people are responsible for what their offices do? Interesting.), which contained too much information. How exactly that excuses the State Department for insisting on talking points filled with lies is beyond me. In the end, Petraeus wanted to scuttle the talking points but was overruled.

Pathetic.

POSTSCRIPT: The story is unsourced, but clearly comes from the White House, since the White House is the only group it portrays in an entirely positive light. One thing it says in particular:

The only government entity that did not object to the detailed talking points produced with Petraeus’s input was the White House, which played the role of mediator in the bureaucratic fight that at various points included the CIA’s top lawyer and the agency’s deputy director expressing opposition to what the director wanted.

Oh my. In fact, we don’t know anything about the role the White House played in the corruption of the talking points. The publicly released emails don’t contain any input from the White House until after the draft was already filled with misinformation. This might mean that they didn’t object, or it might mean that the White House’s early emails were not among the ones released.

But what we do know is that in the White House’s “mediator” role it ultimately sided with the State Department and the bogus talking points. And we know that the White House was concerned with the “messaging ramifications that would flow from a hardened mis-impression.” Of course, the “hardened mis-impression” they wanted to avoid was actually the truth.

(Previous post.) (Via Power Line.)


White House lies about Benghazi memos

May 22, 2013

In the days leading up to the Benghazi hearings (before all the other scandals broke out), there was a rather uninteresting dispute between Jake Tapper (CNN), and Stephen Hayes (The Weekly Standard) and Jonathan Karl (ABC) over the Obama administration’s Benghazi memos.

Hayes and Karl reported — accurately — that the State Department had considerable influence in the rewriting of the Benghazi talking points to remove the terror attack and insert a non-existent protest in its place. Indeed, they appear to have been the primary drivers of the rewrite. This contradicted essentially every aspect of the story the White House put out as to how those talking points were developed.

However, Hayes and Karl did not have access to the actual memos. They each worked from notes taken by Congressional investigators who saw the memos but were not allowed to make copies. Thus, they did not have verbatim quotes. Karl was not originally clear on this point.

Someone then leaked a cherry-picked memo to Tapper, who reported that it differed a little bit from the paraphrase in Karl’s reporting. In particular, Karl’s paraphrase read:

We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities, including those of the State Department, and we don’t want to undermine the FBI investigation. We thus will work through the talking points tomorrow morning at the Deputies Committee meeting.

The italicized portion was not present in the actual memo. For this, Tapper reported “White House email contradicts Benghazi leaks” and the left thundered about the email being “doctored”.

ASIDE: To further muddy the waters, Tapper made some mistakes in his reporting of Hayes reporting.

But, as it turns out, Tapper got taken. When the full (or fuller, anyway) email chain was released, giving the context, it substantiated Hayes’s and Karl’s reporting in nearly its entirety, save only Karl’s lack of clarity on the language being a paraphrase. Although Rhodes didn’t use those words, the context makes clear the State Department’s “equities” were the ones under discussion.

The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler summarizes this way:

Note the correct version is missing a direct reference to the State Department. CNN, which had only obtained the single e-mail, used strong words in its report about its competitor, ABC: “Whoever provided those accounts seemingly invented the notion that Rhodes wanted the concerns of the State Department specifically addressed.”

When the White House last week released all of its e-mails, it became clear that Rhodes was responding at the tail end of a series of e-mail exchanges that largely discussed the State Department concerns.

In other words, the summary would have been fairly close if the commas had been removed and replaced with brackets: “We must make sure that the talking points reflect all agency equities [including those of the State Department] and we don’t want to undermine the FBI investigation.”

(Emphasis mine.)

With the context present, it’s quite obvious that the leaker deliberately gave Tapper the wrong impression by carefully selecting one memo to leak. The leaker even masked out the string of replies that typically appears at the end of an email. Had the replies been present, the very next few lines (after the email headers) would have been:

Given the DOJ equities and States desire to run some traps, safe to assume we can hold on this until tomorrow?

I don’t know what it means to “run some traps”, but even in the absence of the rest of the chain, this alone would have made it clear that State was involved.

While this talk of “doctoring” remained the province of fevered left-wing blogs, I wasn’t very interested. But now it has become part of the White House’s official spin:

I think one of the problems that there’s so much controversy here is because one of the e-mails was doctored by a Republican source and given to the media to falsely smear the president.

The White House wants to distract from the fact that they outright lied about the development of the talking points. But with this White House, the distractions from their lies are just more lies. As we’ve seen, the emails were not doctored, and the reporting on them was accurate in every significant particular.

Kessler gives White House mouthpiece Dan Pfeiffer three pinocchios:

It has long been part of the Washington game for officials to discredit a news story by playing up errors in a relatively small part of it. Pfeiffer gives the impression that GOP operatives deliberately tried to “smear the president” with false, doctored e-mails.

But the reporters involved have indicated they were told by their sources that these were summaries, taken from notes of e-mails that could not be kept. . . Despite Pfeiffer’s claim of political skullduggery, we see little evidence that much was at play here besides imprecise wordsmithing or editing errors by journalists.

(Previous post.) (Via the Corner.)


NYT defends IRS misconduct

May 20, 2013

A week ago I noted that the NYT was on record in favor of special IRS scrutiny for Tea Party groups, and wondered if they would rethink that in light of the IRS scandal. Nope: the NYT is still defending the IRS.

On a similar note, this phrase seems not to have appeared in the pages of the NYT: “Please detail the content of the members of your organization’s prayers.” I guess that might make it harder to defend them.

(Previous post.)


They knew

May 20, 2013

Top Treasury officials were aware of the investigation into the IRS office that reviews tax-exempt applications in June 2012:

The inspector general gave Republicans some fodder Friday when he divulged that he informed the Treasury’s general counsel he was auditing the I.R.S.’s screening of politically active groups seeking tax exemptions on June 4, 2012. He told Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin “shortly after,” he said. That meant Obama administration officials were aware of the matter during the presidential campaign year.

But Wolin never passed the information on, or so we are asked to believe.

Also, the White House Counsel was notified weeks ago:

The White House’s chief lawyer learned weeks ago that an audit of the Internal Revenue Service likely would show that agency employees inappropriately targeted conservative groups, a senior White House official said Sunday.

But the White House Counsel, Kathryn Ruemmler, never passed the information on, or so we are asked to believe.

This, is has become clear, is how the Obama administration operates. Whenever the White House learns of misconduct in its administration, the information never goes to the top. (Or so we are asked to believe.)

POSTSCRIPT: The New York Times’s original headline for this story was “Treasury Knew of I.R.S. Inquiry in 2012, Official Says.” But, when the story began to get a lot of attention from the blogosphere, they changed their headline to “Republicans Expand I.R.S. Inquiry, With Eye on White House.” That’s much better for the narrative; they want the story to be about opportunistic Republicans, not Obama administration malfeasance.

UPDATE: In addition to changing the headline, they took this lead paragraph:

The Treasury Department’s inspector general told senior Treasury officials in June 2012 he was auditing the Internal Revenue Services’s screening of politically active organizations seeking tax exemptions, disclosing for the first time on Friday that Obama administration officials were aware of the matter during the presidential campaign year.

transmogrified it into the paragraph I quoted at the top (gotta make Republicans part of the scandal somehow), and put it at paragraph twelve. Twelve!

(Previous post. “Please detail the content of the members of your organization’s prayers.”)


Non-denial denial

May 17, 2013

Yesterday, President Obama was asked the obvious question about the IRS scandal:

Can you assure the American people that nobody in the White House knew about the agency’s actions before your counsel’s office found out on April 22nd? And when they did find out, do you think that you should have learned about it before you learned about it from news reports, as you said last Friday?

His answer seems very carefully worded:

Let me make sure that I answer your specific question. I can assure you that I certainly did not know anything about the IG report before the IG report had been leaked through the press.

(Emphasis mine.) But he didn’t answer the specific question. The specific question was when he knew about the agency’s misconduct, not when he knew about the investigation, which no one cares about. That careful wording seems significant.

POSTSCRIPT: Obviously he wants people to think that he denied any knowledge, though, and the New York Times is happy to play its part, ending its quotation just before the key wording, and filling it in inaccurately:

President Obama said he “certainly did not know anything about” the targeting of conservative groups by the I.R.S. . .

(Previous post.)


Good grief

May 12, 2013

Time’s Joe Klein, writing on the IRS scandal, says:

The President has been very proud of the absence of scandal in his administration, and rightly so.

Oh please. You mean, except for Gunwalker, Benghazi, Solyndra, Black PanthersNEA propaganda, DOJ hiring, HHS campaigning, Lightsquared, and Americorps, just from the first page of hits for Obama+scandal?

What he means is:

The President has been very proud of his ability to squelch reporting of his administration’s numerous scandals, and rightly so.


Motive remains elusive (to some)

May 6, 2013

I can’t excerpt this story any better than Andrew Johnson, so here is his version:

French police are investigating a recent attack on a rabbi and his son outside a Paris synagogue. An Iranian man screaming “Allah-u-Akbar” slashed the rabbi’s throat with a box-cutter. The AP reports that “an official investigation [is] underway to determine a possible motive.”

Gee, I hope they can figure it out.


Fake

March 13, 2013

There’s an old adage that goes: if it’s too good to be true, it probably is. The legacy media ought to keep it in mind when they consider quoting wonderfully implausible people, like self-hating gun owners. Yes, he’s a fake.


Covering for Obama

March 1, 2013

When Michelle Obama, interviewed by Good Morning America, made an important factual error (claiming that a shooting death in Chicago was at the hands of an automatic weapon, which it almost certainly was not), the folks at ABC were good enough just to edit her mistake out.

I wonder if I’ve simply misunderstood what the phrase “news coverage” means? I always thought it meant to cover (i.e., report) what people say and do, but maybe it means to cover for them.


Another deceptively edited NBC video

March 1, 2013

I think Jim Treacher is right:

At this point, it’s a given that any audio or video that’s aired on NBC News or MSNBC could be faked in some way.

In the latest, Rachel Maddow edits a video of John McCain, making him seem unsympathetic by editing out all the sympathetic parts.


Situational credulity

February 24, 2013

Have you noticed that the legacy media are much more willing to believe obviously fake stories when they come from a leftist point of view?

In the latest, the Atlantic was taken in by an obviously faked still from a Fox News broadcast, photoshopped to say “Was the Russian meteor a plot by President Obama to prove that global warming is real?”


Christiane ♥ Robert

February 22, 2013

CNN’s Christiane Amanpour gets behind the fist, wishing Robert Mugabe — Zimbabwe’s murderous dictator — a happy birthday. Weird.


Don’t trust AP content

February 19, 2013

Oops:

The Associated Press has withdrawn its story about Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., saying he sees some in the his party favoring a 2016 presidential candidate with an immigration policy that would “round up people … and send them back to Mexico.” . . . A subsequent Associated Press review of an audio recording of the show determined that the transcript had dropped the word “don’t” from that quote, and Paul actually said, “They don’t want somebody who wants to round people up, put them in camps and send them back to Mexico.”

(Emphasis mine.) In other words, the AP story reported the exact opposite of the truth.

The correction blames Fox News for the error appearing in its rush transcript. I guess that indicates that the AP does no independent fact-checking of its own, regardless of how outlandish the report is.

(Via the Corner.)


NPR’s “conspiracy theorists”

February 13, 2013

In an piece on NPR’s weekend edition on Lance Amstrong and doping, a commentator (ESPN’s Howard Bryant) dropped in an ad hominem attack against the NRA, apropos of nothing at all. NPR edited out the attack when it re-aired the piece in later time zones, and then left it out of the archived recording and the transcript. These facts are all confirmed by NPR’s ombudsman.

In his column on the controversy, the ombudsman then goes on to explain why, with NPR’s procedures, it’s perfectly reasonable for this to go down the memory hole with no trace in the permanent record outside the memories of those who heard it. Let’s even stipulate that that makes sense.

Nevertheless, when people are alleging that you have edited a remark out of the transcript, and when you have, in fact, edited that remark out of the transcript, exactly as alleged, you don’t get to malign them as “conspiracy theorists”:

Brown contacted our office suspicious of a conspiracy.”There is no explanation for the post-broadcast edit. Is this instance a representative one, for NPR editing and posting policy(ies)?”

Well, in some ways, yes, as I myself discovered when I went to ask.

and:

I did wonder whether online transcripts and audio files could have some sort of a routine date-time stamp for when they were broadcast by NPR. Stencel told me that NPR’s systems do not have a way to do that now, but that he would look into the idea. It wouldn’t satisfy conspiracy theorists . . . But, it would create an official baseline of sorts.

You’ve just admitted that they are right, and NPR doesn’t keep accurate transcripts. They’re not “conspiracy theorists”, they are “critics”.


Professional journalist at work

February 13, 2013

The Washington Post’s crack reporting staff delivers:

Sarah Palin tries to stay relevant

CORRECTION:  An earlier version of this post and the post’s URL incorrectly reported that Sarah Palin had signed on as a contributor to the Al Jazeera America news network. The blogger cited a report on the Daily Currant Web site as the basis for that information without realizing that the piece was satirical.

Apparently sneering has replaced fact-checking at the Washington Post. Here’s the deleted material:

Late last week Al Jazeera America announced the former vice-presidential candidate would be joining their news network.

“As you all know, I’m not a big fan of newspapers, journalists, news anchors and the liberal media in general,” Palin told the Web site The Daily Currant. “But I met with the folks at Al-Jazeera and they told me they reach millions of devoutly religious people who don’t watch CBS or CNN. That tells me they don’t have a liberal bias.”

Oy. Anyone who would believe that is as stupid as they they think Sarah Palin is. That isn’t even good satire.

Anyway, the piece’s author, Suzi Parker, who apparently has not been fired for incompetence, now has her very own hashtag trending on Twitter.

POSTSCRIPT: This is actually a case of fake news imitating real news, as Iowahawk notes:

Leftwing satire headline: “Palin to work for Al Jazeera.” Rightwing satire headline: “Al Gore sells CurrentTV to Al Jazeera.” #SatireisDead


Aside from that, it was accurate

February 9, 2013

I don’t expect much from Mother Jones, an unrepentant far-left rag, but I thought that the Atlantic was supposed to be a respectable magazine. This story makes me question that. There’s a lot here that could be debunked, but I want to look at just one statement:

“Not one of 62 mass shootings in the United States over the last 30 years has been stopped this way [by an armed civilian],” reported Mother Jones’s Mark Follman, adding that the majority of mass shooters killed themselves. . .

It’s true that most mass shooters kill themselves in the end, but what about the first part? There are at least three problems with it.

The first is a logic error. Yes, mass shootings are rarely stopped by an armed civilian. Of course. Because when an armed civilian stops the incident, he stops it promptly, before it becomes a mass shooting. The civilian, you see, is already there, while the police are minutes away, at best. Those minutes are what gives the shooter the chance to become a mass shooter.

Second, armed civilians avert mass shootings not infrequently. For example, there were two instances the very same week as the Newtown shootings: one in San Antonio and one in Clackamas, Oregon. And there are plenty of others.

Third, mass shootings always take place in gun-free zones (with only one exception in the last half-century). Mass shooters deliberately seek out places where guns are not permitted. Thus, they aren’t very many armed civilians at such places.

In short, Mother Jones’s claim — echoed by the Atlantic — might be narrowly true (although I don’t know that), but it certainly doesn’t demonstrate anything like what they suggest it does.


Liars

February 9, 2013

The story of the Alabama nutcase that abducted the 5-year old is horrifying (although it ended well), but unfortunately for the gun-control movement, it didn’t have any relevance to their efforts to ban modern sporting rifles, since the man used a shotgun. But never mind that, the Associated Press will simply transmogrify that shotgun into an “assault rifle”. This can’t be an honest mistake, since they had the story right, and then changed it.

To add insult to injury, they didn’t even issue a correction when caught in the lie. Indeed, they didn’t even change the weapon back to a shotgun. Instead, they used the less-specific phrase “firearm”. Why not be specific, unless it’s to leave open the possibility that the reader might misunderstand the weapon as a modern sporting rifle?

(Via Instapundit.)


Liars

January 30, 2013

In politics, it seems there are three levels of discourse. Level one: if you have a good argument, you make it. Level two: attack the opposition with truth. Level three: attack the opposition with lies. It tells you something about the weakness of the gun-controllists case that they are settling for the bottom level.

The buzz of the day is over how gun-rights supporters heckled the father of a victim of the Sandy Hook massacre at a hearing on gun-control measures. Or, more precisely, the buzz of the day is over how that didn’t happen, but the media reported that it did.

The story seems to have started with a story in the Connecticut Post, which reported that gun-rights supporters interrupted Neil Heslin as he argued for gun control. But the video (cue to 15:00) shows that that didn’t happen. On the contrary, Heslin asked a question and was answered:

Heslin: Is there anybody in this room that can give me one reason or challenge this question, why anybody in this room needs to have one of these assault-style weapons or military weapons or high-capacity clips?

[Pause. Heslin looks around the room as if waiting for a response.]

And not one person can answer that question or give me an answer.

Audience members: [unintelligible] The Second Amendment shall not be infringed.

Heslin: Alright.

Lawmaker: Please no comments while Mr. Heslin is speaking. Or we’ll clear the room. Mr. Heslin please continue.

Not content to merely lie in their descriptions, MSNBC and CBS went further, airing videos that made it appear as though Heslin really was heckled, by editing out “Is there anybody in this room that can give me one reason . . .” to hide the fact that Heslin asked the room a question and was waiting for an answer. MSNBC’s original editing reportedly was even more dishonest. It’s gone down the memory hole now, but the appended update tacitly admits it (“the original video has been replaced with a fuller version”).

The story being completely debunked hasn’t put it to rest. Although a few have admitted their error, the claim that Heslin was “interrupted”, “heckled”, or even “shouted down” remains throughout the media, to say nothing  of the leftist blogosphere.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: Video of MSNBC’s earlier, even-more-deceptive editing, is here. It not only edits out the question (as their later video did), but also edits out the several seconds that Heslin waited for a response, and his follow-up statement that no one could answer him. It jumps in the middle of Heslin’s sentence to the audience members answering his question, making it appear he was interrupted, when he was not. Martin Bashir, you are a damned liar.

UPDATE: Some of the the people who joined in the lie: Eric Boehlert (Media Matters), David Frum, Josh Marshall (Talking Points Memo), Charles Johnson (Little Green Footballs, which once was good), Piers Morgan (CNN), as well as publications and/or group blogs Gawker, Wonkette, the Daily Beast, and the Huffington Post. A few other credulous fools (Slate, and Andrew Kaczynski of Buzzfeed) joined the liars but later retracted.


Bob Menendez in trouble

January 25, 2013

It’s not just Sen. Menendez’s staff that are in trouble with the law, Menendez himself is in big trouble:

Emails show FBI investigating Sen. Bob Menendez for sleeping with underage Dominican prostitutes

If true, and they seem to have considerable evidence, his actions were not just unethical, they were criminal in both the Dominican Republic and the United States:

The age of consent in the Dominican Republic is 18. The PROTECT Act, a U.S. law passed in 2003, made it a federal crime for Americans to engage in sex for money with anyone under 18, even in countries where the age of consent is lower.

What might save Menendez is the fact that Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, would appoint his replacement. Faced with losing a Senate seat, the Justice Department might try to make this thing go away. (Don’t tell me they wouldn’t. These people traffic guns to Mexican drug cartels.)

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: ABC News had Menendez on This Week, and never asked him about this.

UPDATE (3/6): The Washington Post briefly ran a story purporting to debunk this, but the Daily Caller de-debunked their story, and the Post seems to be backpedaling (somewhat dishonestly). We’ll have to wait and see. Meanwhile, Glenn Reynolds wants everyone to remember that Menendez has two scandals going at once, and the influence-peddling scandal is unchanged.


CBS journalism

January 19, 2013

If CBS had any journalistic standards left to mock, this would be a good opportunity:

CBS forced CNET staff to recast vote after Hopper won ‘Best in Show’ at CES.


Politifact’s lie of the year

January 19, 2013

Politifact called this Mitt Romney ad its “lie of the year” for making this claim:

[Obama] sold Chrysler to Italians who are going to build Jeeps in China.

This is, of course, the absolute truth.

How does Politifact get away with such an outrageous lie? They say that they aren’t attacking the actual statement, which they concede is true:

Like many political distortions, Romney’s claim contained a grain of truth. . . Bloomberg reported on Oct. 22 that the company was planning to restart production of Jeeps in China.

and:

The Romney campaign was crafty with its word choice, so campaign aides could claim to be speaking the literal truth, but the ad left a false impression that all Jeep production was being moved to China.

Instead, they claim to be criticizing the ad’s implicit message, a completely different statement that the ad didn’t make and wasn’t true, but that Politifact claims is what the Romney campaign was really trying to say.

This of course, puts paid to Politifact’s whole pretense of running an objective operation. More than that, their ability to divine a “clear message” different from the ad’s actual content is highly dubious in light of their need to hedge about exactly what that supposedly clear message was. Moreover, even setting all that aside, it’s just not true.

(Via PJ Tatler.)


Good grief

January 8, 2013

No one ever accused Ed Schultz of being well-informed, but this really takes the cake:

For the record, the truth is the exact opposite of what Schultz says: Chicago has the most draconian gun laws in the country.

Is he really so absurdly misinformed, or is he just lying? I would guess the former; most people don’t deliberately make themselves look like fools.


Anti-gun, pro-crime

January 4, 2013

Fox News reports:

Reformed crooks say the New York newspaper that published a map of names and addresses of gun owners did a great service – to their old cronies in the burglary trade.

The information published online by the Journal-News, a daily paper serving the New York suburbs of Westchester, Rockland and Putnam counties, could be highly useful to thieves in two ways, former burglars told FoxNews.com. Crooks looking to avoid getting shot now know which targets are soft and those who need weapons know where they can steal them.

“That was the most asinine article I’ve ever seen,” said Walter T. Shaw, 65, a former burglar and jewel thief who the FBI blames for more than 3,000 break-ins that netted some $70 million in the 1960s and 1970s. “Having a list of who has a gun is like gold – why rob that house when you can hit the one next door, where there are no guns? . . . What they did was insanity.” . . .

Frank Abagnale, who was portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio in the 2002 film “Catch Me if You Can,” and is perhaps the most famous reformed thief to ever earn a legitimate living by offering the public insight into the criminal mind, called the newspaper’s actions “reprehensible.”

“It is unbelievable that a newspaper or so called journalist would publish the names and addresses of legal gun owners, including federal agents, law enforcement officers and the like,” said Abagnale, who noted that he grew up in the suburban New York area served by the Journal-News. “This would be equivalent to publishing the names of individuals who keep substantial sums of money, jewelry and valuables in their home.”

UPDATE: More:

Law enforcement officials from a New York region where a local paper published a map identifying gun owners say prisoners are using the information to intimidate guards.

Rockland County Sheriff Louis Falco, who spoke at a news conference flanked by other county officials, said the Journal News’ decision to post an online map of names and addresses of handgun owners Dec. 23 has put law enforcement officers in danger.

“They have inmates coming up to them and telling them exactly where they live. That’s not acceptable to me,” Falco said. . .

 


The easiest way to lie with statistics is simply to lie

January 2, 2013

Ezra Klein (of Journolist fame) is running a list of “facts” about guns in America. Most of them are nonsense, but for most of those showing so requires some analysis that I will leave to other commentators. I want to focus on just one, this chart:

assault-deaths-some-oecd

The chart shows the US with a significantly higher rate of assault deaths than all “other OECD”. Klein adds: “We are a clear outlier.”

Now, you can’t tell with them drawn atop each other, but there are 24 graphs on that chart. (They are shown separately here.) But there are 34 OECD members. If you include those (which the graph’s author did later, after being questioned on the point) you get a very different picture:

assault-deaths-all-oecd

Not so much of an outlier with eight more countries put in — particularly if you look at 2010 and not the late 1970s — are we? The original graph left out all the countries with a higher or similar rate.

But wait, eight more countries? Weren’t we missing ten? If you peruse the list, it is still missing Iceland and Turkey. I wonder what’s going on in those two. The author (who does not study violence, by the way) says he couldn’t get data for Turkey. He doesn’t mention Iceland at all.

Finally, I should mention that other measures of violence paint a very different picture (see number 6, here), but that gets into the realm of analysis, so I’ll stop here.


New York Times: scrap the Constitution

December 31, 2012

This is a real op-ed in the New York Times:

AS the nation teeters at the edge of fiscal chaos, observers are reaching the conclusion that the American system of government is broken. But almost no one blames the culprit: our insistence on obedience to the Constitution, with all its archaic, idiosyncratic and downright evil provisions.

The author doesn’t quite say what should replace the Constitution, but makes it clear that the purpose is to eliminate the obstacles it poses to his liberal agenda. The rights and institutions he likes would be kept, the rest scrapped.

POSTSCRIPT: Don’t bother saying that this is just an op-ed, and doesn’t express the NYT’s position. From an important person, the NYT might run an op-ed they didn’t agree with, although rarely. (They wouldn’t even run John McCain’s op-ed in 2008.) From a little-known law professor, the NYT won’t run a piece with which they disagree.


Ah, the civility

December 31, 2012

The Des Moines Register brought a columnist out of retirement for this column. Here’s the key bits:

Here, then, is my “madder-than-hell-and-I’m-not-going-to-take-it-anymore” program for ending gun violence in America:

  • Repeal the Second Amendment, the part about guns anyway. It’s badly written, confusing and more trouble than it’s worth. . .
  • Declare the NRA a terrorist organization and make membership illegal. . .
  • Then I would tie Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, our esteemed Republican leaders, to the back of a Chevy pickup truck and drag them around a parking lot until they saw the light on gun control.

And if that didn’t work, I’d adopt radical measures.

(Via Instapundit.)

The Des Moines Register thought these ideas so compelling that they brought their author out of retirement: We should the 2nd Amendment from the Bill of Rights, eliminate the free-speech rights of gun owners, torture the Republican leaders to death, and then move on to more severe measures.

Not long ago, these same people had the nerve to prattle on about the need for civility in public discourse. The same people who alleged (yes, in the pages of the Des Moines Register) that Sarah Palin’s mailer targeting various Congressmen for defeat, which was clearly not a threat of violence, was nevertheless somehow responsible for the attack on Gabrielle Giffords, those people are now talking explicitly about the torture and murder of Republicans. As a first step.


Ha ha ha

December 31, 2012

What a buffoon you are, David Shuster.