Shockingly, NYT lied about anonymous source

October 28, 2020

In September 2018, the New York Times published an op-ed by an anonymous “senior administration official” who said that he and others were secretly working to sabotage the Trump administration from within.

Now, Miles Taylor has come out as “anonymous” and the NYT confirms that he is the author. At the time the op-ed was written, Taylor was the deputy chief of staff (i.e., an advisor) to the secretary of Homeland Security, which is not what most people would consider to be a senior administration official. Eyebrows are being raised, to say the least.

In a piece that accompanied the original op-ed, the NYT explained (sort of) what they mean by “senior administration official”:

I understand readers’ frustration that we didn’t provide a more precise description of the official. . . The term we chose, senior administration official, is used in Washington by both journalists and government officials to describe positions in the upper echelon of an administration, such as the one held by this writer.

(Emphasis mine.) This doesn’t say much, but the part in bold does confirm that they are using the term according to its conventional meaning.

The New York Times is trying to obfuscate this now. The profile of Miles Taylor they published today says:

On Wednesday, he disclosed his identity and his role in the administration as a top official in the Department of Homeland Security. Mr. Taylor ultimately became chief of staff to Kirstjen Nielsen, Mr. Trump’s former homeland security secretary. In that position, Mr. Taylor was one of the most senior political officials in the sprawling department, which employs more than 240,000 people.

The chief of staff to a cabinet secretary might be considered a senior official, but he was not in that role at the time. In their profile, they do not mention anywhere what role Taylor was in at the time, which is weird since there’s no other reason why anyone would be interested in a profile of Taylor today.

The New York Times has published reams upon reams of attack pieces against President Trump using anonymous sources. Now that we know, for certain, that they are willing to lie about their anonymous sources, why should we believe any of their other reporting?

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.)

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.

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.)

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.)

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.

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.)

“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.

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.)

NYT still peddling obsolete spin

October 27, 2012

Astonishingly, the New York Times still seems to think that the Benghazi attack was sparked by a YouTube video:

Beyond the political issues, the film may carry the risk of associating Mr. Obama with any backlash in a Muslim world already inflamed by the YouTube trailer for an insulting film portrayal of its prophet. In September riots erupted in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere as Muslim crowds reacted violently to what they perceived as the unforgivable insults of a scratch production, “The Innocence of Muslims,” some of which was posted on YouTube.

I guess when the Obama campaign switched to their new we-knew-it-was-terrorism-all-along story, the memo didn’t get to the NYT’s television reporters.

Well, at least they ran a correction:

An earlier version of this article misstated the title for Howard T. Owens. He is the president of the National Geographic Channel, not the chief executive.


(Via the Corner.)

The NYT on the NYT’s bias

August 25, 2012

The New York Times ombudsman writes in his final column:

[T]he hive on Eighth Avenue is powerfully shaped by a culture of like minds — a phenomenon, I believe, that is more easily recognized from without than from within.

When The Times covers a national presidential campaign, I have found that the lead editors and reporters are disciplined about enforcing fairness and balance, and usually succeed in doing so. Across the paper’s many departments, though, so many share a kind of political and cultural progressivism — for lack of a better term — that this worldview virtually bleeds through the fabric of The Times.

As a result, developments like the Occupy movement and gay marriage seem almost to erupt in The Times, overloved and undermanaged, more like causes than news subjects.

The idea that the NYT is even-handed in presidential elections is nonsense, but the rest seems right. It’s interesting that the Times’ ombudsmen consistently only admit this sort of thing on their way out.

(Via Althouse.)

The NYT’s bogus gun-crime figures

January 4, 2012

The New York Times wants you to believe that holders of firearms permits are dangerous:

The New York Times examined the permit program in North Carolina, one of a dwindling number of states where the identities of permit holders remain public. The review, encompassing the last five years, offers a rare, detailed look at how a liberalized concealed weapons law has played out in one state. And while it does not provide answers, it does raise questions.

More than 2,400 permit holders were convicted of felonies or misdemeanors, excluding traffic-related crimes, over the five-year period, The Times found when it compared databases of recent criminal court cases and licensees. While the figure represents a small percentage of those with permits, more than 200 were convicted of felonies, including at least 10 who committed murder or manslaughter.

Here’s the hint that the NYT is trying to deceive you: these are all absolute numbers. What matters is the crime rate, and how it compares to the general population. They don’t say. But Robert VerBruggen does:

Fortunately, state-level murder data are easy to find. North Carolina has a statewide murder rate of about 5 per 100,000. Even without counting manslaughter, that’s 25 murders committed per 100,000 North Carolinians every five years. There are about 230,000 valid concealed-carry permits in North Carolina, so by pure chance, you’d expect these folks to be responsible for nearly 60 murders over five years. And yet only ten of them committed murder or manslaughter.

So the murder rate among permit holders is a sixth of that among the general population. The NYT knows this — you can’t tell me that at no time in their investigation did it occur to them to perform this simple calculation — but they chose not to share the fact with their readers. They want you to believe the opposite.

If you trust content from the New York Times, you’re a sucker.

POSTSCRIPT: VerBruggen’s calculation is good, but here’s one that’s even better: The crime rate among members of Mayors Against Illegal Guns (Mike Bloomberg’s anti-gun astroturf group) is at least 45 times higher than among Florida’s permit holders. (Via Instapundit.)

NYT reporter faces allegations

September 20, 2011

A group called the Franklin Center alleges that New York Times reporter Ian Urbina deceived readers in his reports attacking fracking. According to the Center, Urbina described his sources deceptively — making them sound better connected than they were — and described single sources using multiple different descriptions — making his sources sound more numerous than they were.

(Via Instapundit.)

NYT standards

September 3, 2011

One of the less consequential false statements in the New York Times’s hatchet job on Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is that his office overlooks a golf course. The Times now admits that the golf course is not visible from Issa’s office (the video proves that), but they argue that their characterization of Issa’s office as “overlooking a golf course” is accurate because you can see the golf course from somewhere in the building.

That might be barely true. On the map you can see that the two locations are not particularly close, and there is a big hill between them. But the building containing Issa’s office is three stories tall, so although you certainly can’t see the golf course from the ground (you can look at the building on Google Street View here, then turn south-southwest to face the golf course), you might just be able to see part of it in the distance from the top floor, around the hill, if the intervening structures aren’t too tall.

Still, “technically barely true” is a low standard for journalism, or at least it ought to be.

POSTSCRIPT: I know, this isn’t all that interesting, but I enjoyed the opportunity to link Street View.

(Previous post.)

NYT sticks by its guns

August 21, 2011

More on the New York Times’s front-page hatchet job on Darrell Issa (R-CA): Issa has sent the NYT a letter pointing out 13 errors (some of them quite serious) and demanding a front-page correction. I noted some of the errors in my previous post, but this one is new:

The “1,900 percent” profit allegation is, again, based on reporting errors by the New York Times. This … assertion is based on an incorrect form obtained by the Times. According to a financial transaction record, the Issa Family Foundation’s initial investment in the AIM Small Company fund was not $19,000 but $500,000. The asset was later sold for $375,000 resulting in a $125,000 loss – not a 1900 percent gain as was reported.

The New York Times is refusing to correct any of the errors other than the most trivial of them.

(Previous post.)

NYT does the NYT thing

August 16, 2011

Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-CA) investigations must be getting too close for comfort, because he’s getting the full New York Times calumny treatment:

The Times piece has the odor of a rush job. It gets some small but important facts wrong. For example, contrary to the Times, Issa’s San Diego company doesn’t have an office in a building overlooking a golf course. The Times also accused Issa of splitting a holding company into “separate multibillion-dollar businesses” when he owns none (The Times corrected this in a later edition). The Times even suggested Issa went easy on Toyota during its recent troubles because his company is a supplier to the Japanese automaker. It’s not.

But the big stinker in the Times hit piece is its central accusation — that a building Issa bought for $10.3 million appreciated 60 percent after he secured congressional earmarks for nearby road construction. The Times used the wrong sale price, which was actually $16.6 million. So much for the Times’ 60 percent appreciation accusation. We hope the timing of the Issa slam has nothing to do with his subpoena threat to Sebelius, just as we hope the Times’ oversight regarding Waxman’s trial lawyer lucre and Obamacare is coincidental. But we’re not holding our breath.

(Via Instapundit.)

Another NYT lie

July 6, 2011

Ed Whelan generally demolished the New York Times’s recent editorial attacking the Supreme Court, but I want to focus on one point in particular:

The editorial states (emphasis added):

Among the court’s 82 rulings this term, 16 were 5-to-4 decisions. Of those, 10 were split along ideological lines, with Justice Anthony Kennedy supplying the fifth conservative vote.

The hyperlink (not available in the print edition, of course) instructs the reader, “See p. 11, SCOTUSblog Stat Pack.” Any reader who follows the link will discover that 14 of the 16 decisions “were split along ideological lines,” with Kennedy supplying the fifth liberal vote in four of the cases. But the NYT instead gives the false impression that the conservative side won all the 5-4 cases decided “along ideological lines.”

I suppose that “gives the false impression” is the polite way to put it. I call it lying.

NYT integrity: endangered or extinct?

February 20, 2011

The New York Times says that talking about someone being on the Endangered Species List constitutes a threat. Now, if you’re thinking that the Times has surely used that metaphor themselves, you’re thinking more clearly than the Times.

NYT immune to facts

February 12, 2011

The New York Times editorial page has weighed in on the constitutionality of Obamacare. It’s failure on a basic factual level isn’t a good sign for nationalization supporters. If they had a strong case, you would think that they could describe the debate accurately.

UPDATE: The Times runs Barnett’s letter. In keeping with NYT policy, the letter doesn’t say that they were wrong — a reader would have to go back and compare with the editorial to discover that.

How the NYT does news

February 6, 2011

Last week Kathryn Jean Lopez caught ABC News republishing a story from Mother Jones. Now David Bernstein finds the New York Times republishing a story from Bay Citizen, a Bay-area lefty online magazine. Unsurprisingly, it’s a mess.

The NYT has a lot of problems (to say the least!) but they still have a reputation to protect, a reputation that is damaged (further) when they run dreck from lesser publications. Why would they do that?

Another NYT lie

February 5, 2011

Benjamin Wittes writes:

The Times editorial writers are knowingly and intentionally misstating the law in order to misinform their readers. . . The general point is that the Times repeatedly states, often in very strong terms, that detention without trial is unlawful. And it refuses, in doing so, to give a minimally correct account of the body of cases that say precisely the opposite. The latest editorial on detention, published yesterday, reads in relevant part as follows:

Much of the public and most politicians seem to feel that as long as these suspects are held out of sight on the island of Cuba, they can be held indefinitely without trial, in violation of basic constitutional protections and international treaties.

Once again, the Times is clearly alleging that detention without trial is unlawful–contrary both to “basic constitutional protections” and international law. And once again, it is doing so either without reference to or by grossly mischaracterizing a large and growing body of case law that stands for precisely the opposite proposition. . .

Because the Times’ last editorial acknowledged that “judges have upheld” these detentions (while flamboyantly misstating the basis for those decisions), I can no longer attribute these misstatements of fact to gross ignorance of these cases. They are willful, not incompetent.

The Times is actively and repeatedly propounding a theory of law to its readers as though it were an established principle that the federal courts have, in fact, consistently rejected. It is no more complicated or defensible than if the Times described its preference for the legality of same sex marriage (which I share) by describing same-sex marriage as “legal in every state.”

Via Volokh, who adds:

While in context “this is unconstitutional” may sometimes be understood by readers of some kinds of publications as “I think this is unconstitutional under the right reading of the Constitution, whatever courts might say,” I agree with Wittes that this is not how a casual reader would understand the statement in the Times editorials.

NYT letter policy

February 2, 2011

Letters to the New York Times aren’t allowed to say the New York Times is wrong.

NYT ombudsman: we were too hurried to be fair

January 22, 2011

The New York Times’s ombudsman says (essentially) that the Tucson massacre story was developing just too quickly for them to resist allowing their prejudices to drive their reporting.

And that’s in his defense of the paper. He doesn’t mention the Times’s editorial or its even worse Krugman column, presumably because they were indefensible.

(Previous post.)

Cover yourself, NYT

January 17, 2011

PJ O’Rourke’s takedown of the New York Times’s disgusting performance of the last week is full of sober, measured criticism, but the pull-quote is this:

Liberalism, as personified by the New York Times, became a dotty old aunt sometime during the Johnson administration. She’s provincial, eccentric, and holds dull, peculiar views about the world. Still, she has our fond regard, and we visit her regularly in her nursing home otherwise known as Arts and Leisure and the Book Review. Or we did until Sunday, January 9, when she began spouting obscenities and exposing herself.

(Previous post.)

NYT blows another one

January 5, 2011

The New York Times reports:

Early in his presidency, [President Obama] issued several signing statements that made relatively uncontroversial challenges. But he has not issued any since June 2009, when lawmakers of both parties expressed outrage over a statement he attached to a bill saying that he could disregard requirements imposed on certain negotiations with international financial institutions.

(Emphasis mine.)

Simply untrue, as John Elwood notes.

POSTSCRIPT: The subject of the article is the possibility that President Obama might issue a signing statement asserting that he can ignore the budget’s provision that forbids him to move terrorist detainees from Guantanamo to the United States. I’ve remarked before that signing statements — in the abstract — can be entirely appropriate. But the idea being asserted in this case, that Congress’s legislative power does not extend to the manner by which detainees are held outside a theater of war, is absurd.

NYT retracts, sort of

August 4, 2010

The New York Times has belatedly corrected its week-old story that reported Rep. John Lewis’s (D-GA) fictional tale of Tea Party racism as though it were fact:

The Political Times column last Sunday, about a generational divide over racial attitudes, erroneously linked one example of a racially charged statement to the Tea Party movement. While Tea Party supporters have been connected to a number of such statements, there is no evidence that epithets reportedly directed in March at Representative John Lewis, Democrat of Georgia, outside the Capitol, came from Tea Party members.

But this correction is woefully inadequate. It suggests that the epithets were issued, but it hasn’t been shown that they came from Tea Party participants. In fact, there is no evidence to suggest that the epithets were issued at all. To the contrary, all the available evidence suggests that Lewis and company made the whole thing up.

Still, the NYT’s partial correction shows that this particular fabrication is losing its effectiveness.

POSTSCRIPT: There’s also the pathetic smear that “Tea Party supporters have been connected to a number of such statements.” Out of the hundreds of thousands that have attended Tea Parties, I’m sure that the Times could find a few racists (although most of those are plants). Among the NYT’s darling Democrats, one hardly has to wade into the crowd to find the racists.

(Via Big Government.) (Previous post.)

NYT op-ed based on wrong bill

April 28, 2010

On Monday the NYT published a hyperbolic op-ed by Linda Greenhouse attacking Arizona’s new immigration law. The whole piece was based on an error:

And in case the phrase “lawful contact” makes it appear as if the police are authorized to act only if they observe an undocumented-looking person actually committing a crime, another section strips the statute of even that fig leaf of reassurance. “A person is guilty of trespassing,” the law provides, by being “present on any public or private land in this state” while lacking authorization to be in the United States — a new crime of breathing while undocumented.

This is false. The trespassing provision was stripped from the bill before it passed, as the NYT concedes in its correction:

An earlier version of this Op-Ed essay referred incorrectly to the provisions of the new Arizona immigration statute. The version of the bill signed by the governor no longer includes a section under which undocumented immigrants would be guilty of trespassing for being on Arizona soil.

Oops. Is it too much to expect that a “Distinguished Journalist in Residence” at Yale Law School might actually read the bill, or at least determine its provisions, before trashing it? Apparently so.

Anyway, the NYT has corrected the piece by deleting the offending paragraph, but without that paragraph the piece makes no sense. Greenhouse calls Arizona a police state, saying:

Wasn’t the system of internal passports one of the most distasteful features of life in the Soviet Union and apartheid-era South Africa?

Actually “distasteful” is far too mild a word. (But why limit your attention to bygone eras in the Soviet Union and South Africa? How about today’s UK? Oh, but the UK is run by progressives. Hmm.) However, if the law applies only to those who are arrested for a crime — as it does — that description really doesn’t apply. So now the piece is a hyperbolic expression of outrage (yes, it does compare the law to the Holocaust, if obliquely) without any hook to hang that outrage on.

POSTSCRIPT: I feel compelled to remind my readers that I’m a proponent of open borders. I’m not concerned about Latin American immigrants changing the nature of our society or whatever. Unfortunately, open borders are incompatible with the welfare state. If we cannot prevent immigrants from becoming a drain on public finances (as seems to be a political and/or legal impossibility), we have to restrict immigration to those who can earn their keep. Personally I would rather fix the government and open the borders, but it’s not up to me.

In any case, if we have immigration controls, Arizona is within its rights to turn over illegal immigrants that it arrests for other crimes to the federal government for deportation. As I understand it, that’s what the Arizona law does. Not being familiar with the debate, I’m not sure if I would support the bill. It certainly wouldn’t be a priority for me. But I also certainly don’t see it as some sort of Nazi-esque outrage.

UPDATE: This was probably an honest (if stupid) mistake. But Greenhouse’s errors aren’t always innocent.

NYT: What summit?

February 25, 2010

So, who won the summit today? Here’s a hint:

Kerrey, the NYT, lies, and airbrushes

January 23, 2010

One of the media’s tricks for spreading misinformation is to quote someone uncritically who is telling a lie. The story may be technically truthful, if the person really did say it. Nevertheless, if the lie is reported without any rebuttal or caution that it might not be true, the story gives the impression that the lie is true, particularly when the lie is woven into the broader narrative of the story. That’s dishonest.

Indeed, my definition of “lie” is to make any statement with the deliberate intention to cause the audience to believe something that the teller thinks is false. By that definition, Bob Kerrey and the New York Times lied about Scott Brown:

“If he’s running against 60 votes and wins, that is not good,” said Bob Kerrey, a former Democratic senator from Nebraska. “It says that in Massachusetts, they are willing to elect a guy who doesn’t believe in evolution just to keep the Democrats from having 60 votes.”

For the record, Scott Brown does believe in evolution:

“Scott Brown believes in evolution but in the case of Bob Kerrey he’s willing to make an exception.”

Here’s where the story gets interesting. The NYT revised its story to remove the portion of the quote that referred to evolution. But it did so without noting a correction.

ASIDE: As of today, the original story still appears at the Seattle Times, with a byline indicating the story is from the New York Times. Also, Patterico has a screenshot of the Google cache.

What justification could the NYT have for airbrushing the story without a correction? If Kerrey didn’t really make the remark (the likelihood of this seems vanishingly small), then they’ve libeled Kerrey and they need to run a retraction. Much more likely, the NYT was being called on the lie and pulled it. Leaving out the evolution bit would have been the right thing to do in the first place, but they didn’t do that, and now it’s out there. Once they’d helped to spread misinformation, the NYT needed to issue a correction.

So why didn’t they? I can only see one explanation: Issuing a correction would draw attention to the fact that Democrats were lying about Scott Brown. Obviously, the NYT wanted Martha Coakley to win. That’s why they ran the lie in the first place, and if they ran the correction, the whole matter would have been a net positive for Brown. From the NYT’s perspective, that was unacceptable. Better just to leave the lie out there, and take the rip from people who hate the NYT already.

POSTSCRIPT: We can now look forward to Clark Hoyt’s column on the matter, in which Hoyt will defend the paper (as he nearly always does) writing that although they made an error in judgement, that error was not the result of bias.

NYT fauxtography

January 23, 2010

Dishonesty in the New York Times is not limited to politics and international affairs, we can also find it in the gossip/fashion pages. The NYT admits distorting a photograph of actress Christina Hendricks to make her look big. They claim it was an accident “during routine processing”. You can decide whether to believe that; I’ll just point out that the distortion happened to be exactly what the article needed to support its catty point, a point that the original photograph failed to support.

(Via Instapundit.)

NYT on the ACORN scandal

September 16, 2009

The New York Times has broken its silence on the ACORN scandal, and they pretty much tell the story straight. I suppose they deserve a little credit for that, even if the story ran on page A14.

Nevertheless, there is one paragraph that is worthy of note:

In a statement over the weekend, Bertha Lewis, the chief organizer for Acorn, said the bogus prostitute and pimp had spent months visiting numerous Acorn offices, including those in San Diego, Los Angeles, Miami and Philadelphia, before getting the responses they were looking for.

You’ll notice that the NYT does not use a direct quote. The full statement is here, and this is the relevant part:

This recent scam, which was attempted in San Diego, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Philadelphia to name a few places, had failed for months before the results we’ve all recently seen.

(Emphasis mine.) You’ll notice New York on ACORN’s list of places where the sting had failed, but it was left off of the NYT’s version of the list. Why? Because New York is the one that proves ACORN’s statement was a lie. Immediately after ACORN released its statement, O’Keefe released the video of his visit to a New York office.

Leaving New York in the list eliminates the value of ACORN’s statement as a rebuttal, so the NYT struck it. Most organizations don’t get such a favor.

ACORN, by the way, has removed the entire statement from its web site.

POSTSCRIPT: The NYT article also contains this gem:

Robert L. Borosage, co-director of the liberal Campaign for America’s Future, called the tactics used to go after Mr. Jones and Acorn “McCarthyite,” and said the critics were harping on minor failings and distorting records that over all were admirable. “This is dangerous stuff,” Mr. Borosage said. “I don’t think progressives will sit back and let this gain momentum.”

Hmm. Abetting the importation of child sex slaves from Central America is a “minor failing”?

(Previous post.)

UPDATE: Duane Patterson noticed the same thing. (Via Power Line.)

NYT reverses on death panels

August 22, 2009

Tom Maguire notes that the New York Times is belatedly starting to get it:

The Times is now defending fears about health care rationing that they previously derided. Here is their latest “reporting”:

A Basis Is Seen for Some Health Plan Fears Among the Elderly

WASHINGTON — White House officials and Democrats in Congress say the fears of older Americans about possible rationing of health care are based on myths and falsehoods. But Medicare beneficiaries and insurance counselors say the concerns are not entirely irrational.

My goodness – was it only “White House officials and Democrats in Congress” that said elder-fears were “based on myths and falsehoods”? Have the Times editors forgotten their headline from August 13?

False ‘Death Panel’ Rumor Has Some Familiar Roots

The NYT’s early reporting notwithstanding, the “death panel” controversy is neither true nor false. It is a prediction. And, given the evidence, it’s a very good one.

NYT buries CBO story

July 18, 2009

The CBO report that health care “reform” would push costs up, not down, was a big blow against Democratic efforts to take over health care. Big news? For most newspapers, yes, but for not the New York Times. The “paper of record” buried the story in the middle of the paper, and gave it a misleading headline to boot. What bigger news was the NYT dedicating its front page to, leaving no room for the day’s top political story? President Obama addressing the NAACP.

(Via Hot Air.)

NYT-Iseman post-mortem

February 20, 2009

Vicki Iseman’s lawsuit against the New York Times never had much of a chance.  Given U.S. libel laws, it’s nearly impossible for a public figure to obtain a judgement against a newspaper for defamation, particularly when the defamatory material is merely implied.  This is as it should be.  We don’t want to see the press intimidated out of publishing negative stories, and the marketplace is punishing the NY Times in the appropriate way, by plunging subscription rates and ad revenues.

So, it wasn’t very clear what Iseman expected to get from her lawsuit.  Some supposed that she wanted the chance to dig through the Times’s records during discovery, and others supposed that she wanted some sort of official concession from the Times that its story’s implication was false.  As far as I know, the closest the NY Times has come to such a concession are some mildly critical comments by its ombudsman.

Now that the lawsuit is settled, both parties are in the victory-claiming phase.  Naturally, the Times says it is vindicated.  According to Greg Sargent, Iseman says (through her lawyer) that she was looking for an official concession, and got it:

The Times memo [arguing that the settlement vindicates it] says in passing that a “note to readers” will run in tomorrow’s paper, and the Times says the note will merely repeat what the paper has already conceded about the story in past statements.

But Iseman’s lawyer, W. Coleman Allen, Jr., claims that the statement is a concession by the paper — and that it’s the concession Iseman sought. He asserts that the statement goes considerably further than anything the paper has said before and that it was agreed upon by the two camps after negotiations. He sends me a copy of the statement that will run tomorrow:

An article published on Feb. 21, 2008, about Senator John McCain and his record as an ethics reformer who was at times blind to potential conflicts of interest included references to Vicki Iseman, a Washington lobbyist. The article did not state, and The Times did not intend to conclude, that Ms. Iseman had engaged in a romantic affair with Senator McCain or an unethical relationship on behalf of her clients in breach of the public trust.

Allen says that the line her camp had sought was this one: “The Times did not intend to conclude, that Ms. Iseman had engaged in a romantic affair with Senator McCain or an unethical relationship on behalf of her clients in breach of the public trust.” The original article didn’t state an affair or an unethical relationship outright, but it seemed to imply both; this statement seems like a straightforward statement that neither happened.

“That was what we were particularly interested in,” Allen says. “We’re pleased that the lawsuit was able to be resolved successfully, with the complete vindication that Ms. Iseman sought in filing the lawsuit.”

(Via Instapundit.)

There’s no way to know what Iseman was looking for, and a lawsuit seems like a lot of effort just to obtain a retraction of an implication.  (But I suppose wealthy people make these sorts of calculations differently than I.)  Nevertheless, the question remains, has the New York Times previously conceded this?

I certainly never heard that they did (outside the ombudsman’s column, anyway).  Now that Iseman’s attorney’s statement has attracted the attention of the blogosphere, I’m sure someone will go through the archives and find out who’s right.

NYT taken in by “man in the street”

November 3, 2008

The NYT’s vaunted army of editors and fact-checkers strike again:

The parade drew fans from beyond the region, too. Greg Packer, 44, of Huntington, N.Y., drove in for Game 5 of the World Series and stayed for the celebration. He arrived on Broad Street near City Hall at 5 a.m. to secure what he considered the best spot.

“In New York right now, we have no Mets, no Yankees, no stadiums,” he said. “I came here to represent and cheer our neighbors.”

What’s wrong with this? Just this:

He’s not just another face in the crowd at concerts, book signings, and sporting events. Somehow, over the course of 10 years, one man has managed to become the media’s go-to guy, quoted more than 100 times in various publications, including several prominent newspapers. Greg Packer is the “man on the street.” . . .

While Packer says “honesty is very important to me,” he does admit that about 5% of the time, “I’m making stuff up to get in the paper.” A Boston newspaper, for example, quoted him as saying he had a ticket for the 1999 baseball All-Star Game there when he really didn’t. . .

In June 2003, the Associated Press circulated a memo instructing its reporters not to quote Packer in any more stories, saying the media had been over-relying on him. Conservative columnist Ann Coulter has deemed him “the entire media’s designated man on the street for all articles ever written.” Sheryl McCarthy, a columnist for New York’s Newsday, said, “The fact that Greg Packer’s quotes have turned up everywhere suggests that man-on-the-street interviews are worthless.” . . .

“I do not think members of the press are pansies, but there are times when I go home and laugh because I can’t believe that I made the newspaper pages again,” Packer says.

(Via Patterico, via Kausfiles, via Instapundit.)

NYT admits to retaliation

October 20, 2008

The NYT’s executive editor Bill Keller admits (queue to 42:13) that he uses their front page to retaliate for criticism:

Question: When they jam the ref as they did with you; when McCain’s people complain and attack the Times, does that have any impact on you?

Bill Keller: My first reaction when they do that is to say, what’s the toughest McCain piece we’ve got and let’s put it on the front page tomorrow, just to show them that they’re not going to get away with that.

(Via the Corner.)

Interestingly, although the NYT’s ethics policy does forbid retaliating against uncooperative sources, it does not appear to forbid retaliating against news figures that criticize the Times. I guess that makes it okay.

UPDATE: The preceding exchange was interesting too (queue to 40:16). In it, Bill Keller argues that the NYT has done more tough pieces on Obama than McCain, but admits that they were in the “early spring”, before the nominees were decided. (That is, back when they didn’t matter. Or, more cynically, back when they served to ease the path for Hillary Clinton, the then-inevitable Democratic nominee. Also, back when McCain was the left’s preferred Republican candidate.) Keller says that they are planning to run a special section reprising their earlier reporting on Obama. Even if they actually do so (most likely on November 5), that’s a poor substitute for running new stories on matters that have surfaced since the spring.

The NYT’s dumpster diving

October 18, 2008

Are we watching our media’s most disgusting exhibition of partisan excess in history? I don’t have the historical perspective to say, but we’ve got to be up there.

Power Line reports that the NYT emailed schoolmates of John McCain’s 16-year-old daughter looking for dirt on his wife. If there’s any doubt what they were looking for, simply look at the tone of the article they produced (without any help from Bridget’s schoolmates). It is shockingly nasty, particularly for a candidate’s spouse. It reads almost like a Keith Olbermann piece.

Meanwhile, vast swaths of Barack Obama’s history, swaths with real public-policy import, are left unexamined. The media has its priorities.

UPDATE: The New York Times defends its piece, calling it “completely fair, respectful — even empathetic.” I’d hate to see a disrespectful piece.

UPDATE: The NYT’s own ethics policy says: “We do not inquire pointlessly into someone’s personal life.” I guess emailing McCain’s daughter’s schoolmates must have been really necessary.

NYT apparently can’t read

October 11, 2008

In the NYT Politcs Blog, Michael Grynbaum writes:

Underscoring the McCain campaign’s aggressive attacks on Senator Barack Obama’s character, Gov. Sarah Palin accused the Illinois senator today of “putting ambition above country” at several private fund-raising events in Ohio.

In making her remarks, Ms. Palin cited a disputed report in The Washington Times today that said Mr. Obama, on a trip to Iraq with other members of the Senate, had encouraged an Iraqi official to delay an agreement that would extend the presence of American troops in Iraq. Mr. Obama’s campaign denied that claim, as did other attendees on the trip. . .

The Obama campaign, which faced these allegations in mid-September, reiterated its denials today. It called them categorically untrue, citing spokesmen for other senators who attended, including Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, and Jack Reed, Democrat of Rhode Island, who agree that Mr. Obama informed the Iraqis at the beginning of the meeting that the United States spoke with one voice on foreign policy and he would not contradict the Bush administration.

This is simply untrue. At the Washington Times article made quite clear, it was reporting on a telephone meeting with Iraqi leaders in June, which is entirely separate from the trip of Senate members in July. The July trip was the subject of a controversial column in the New York Post. Grynbaum apparently assumed the Washington Times was writing about the same thing, without ever bothering to check.

What I’m really curious about is whether the Obama campaign’s denial that Grynbaum reports actually happened.  Such a denial makes no sense, since Hagel and Reed were at the July meeting, not the June meeting.  While it’s certainly possible that Obama’s campaign issued a nonsensical denial, I think it’s just as likely that Grynbaum invented the denial that he thinks Obama will/should issue.  Moreover, he doesn’t include any direct quote from the Obama campaign, and it’s hard to believe he would forgo such a quote if there was one.

(Via JustOneMinute, via Instapundit.)

NYT promotes the rape kit lie

September 29, 2008

A New York Times editorial promotes the myth that Sarah Palin’s Wasilla charged rape victims for rape kits. It’s not true. Slate has the latest debunking, but it appears that nothing can stop this smear. The editorial contains quite a few errors/lies, and the facts are simple:

  • There is no record of a victim ever being charged for a rape kit in Wasilla.
  • It was never Wasilla policy to charge victims for rape kits. For a time, the chief of police did have a policy of trying to bill insurance (which is also stupid), but there was no policy of billing the victim if that claim was denied.
  • Sarah Palin has given a direct answer on the subject, despite the editorial’s claim that she has not.
  • An Alaska law that prohibits charging victims for rape kits was not directed at Wasilla.
  • Sarah Palin never banned any books as mayor. (Lord knows what this has to do with rape kits, anyway.)

(Via Instapundit.)

McCain unloads both barrels on NYT

September 24, 2008

The McCain campaign released a statement this morning:

Today the New York Times launched its latest attack on this campaign in its capacity as an Obama advocacy organization. Let us be clear about what this story alleges: The New York Times charges that McCain-Palin 2008 campaign manager Rick Davis was paid by Freddie Mac until last month, contrary to previous reporting, as well as statements by this campaign and by Mr. Davis himself.

In fact, the allegation is demonstrably false. As has been previously reported, Mr. Davis separated from his consulting firm, Davis Manafort, in 2006. As has been previously reported, Mr. Davis has seen no income from Davis Manafort since 2006. Zero. Mr. Davis has received no salary or compensation since 2006. Mr. Davis has received no profit or partner distributions from that firm on any basis — weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, semi-annual or annual — since 2006. Again, zero. Neither has Mr. Davis received any equity in the firm based on profits derived since his financial separation from Davis Manafort in 2006.

Further, and missing from the Times’ reporting, Mr. Davis has never — never — been a lobbyist for either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Mr. Davis has not served as a registered lobbyist since 2005.

Though these facts are a matter of public record, the New York Times, in what can only be explained as a willful disregard of the truth, failed to research this story or present any semblance of a fairminded treatment of the facts closely at hand. The paper did manage to report one interesting but irrelevant fact: Mr. Davis did participate in a roundtable discussion on the political scene with…Paul Begala.

Again, let us be clear: The New York Times — in the absence of any supporting evidence — has insinuated some kind of impropriety on the part of Senator McCain and Rick Davis. But entirely missing from the story is any significant mention of Senator McCain’s long advocacy for, and co-sponsorship of legislation to enact, stricter oversight and regulation of both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — dating back to 2006. Please see the attached floor statement on this issue by Senator McCain from 2006.

To the central point our campaign has made in the last 48 hours: The New York Times has never published a single investigative piece, factually correct or otherwise, examining the relationship between Obama campaign chief strategist David Axelrod, his consulting and lobbying clients, and Senator Obama. Likewise, the New York Times never published an investigative report, factually correct or otherwise, examining the relationship between Former Fannie Mae CEO Jim Johnson and Senator Obama, who appointed Johnson head of his VP search committee, until the writing was on the wall and Johnson was under fire following reports from actual news organizations that he had received preferential loans from predatory mortgage lender Countrywide.

Therefore this “report” from the New York Times must be evaluated in the context of its intent and purpose. It is a partisan attack falsely labeled as objective news. And its most serious allegations are based entirely on the claims of anonymous sources, a familiar yet regretful tactic for the paper.

We all understand that partisan attacks are part of the political process in this country. The debate that stems from these grand and sometimes unruly conversations is what makes this country so exceptional. Indeed, our nation has a long and proud tradition of news organizations that are ideological and partisan in nature, the Huffington Post and the New York Times being two such publications. We celebrate their contribution to the political fabric of America. But while the Huffington Post is utterly transparent, the New York Times obscures its true intentions — to undermine the candidacy of John McCain and boost the candidacy of Barack Obama — under the cloak of objective journalism.

The New York Times is trying to fill an ideological niche. It is a business decision, and one made under economic duress, as the New York Times is a failing business. But the paper’s reporting on Senator McCain, his campaign, and his staff should be clearly understood by the American people for what it is: a partisan assault aimed at promoting that paper’s preferred candidate, Barack Obama.

In fact, if Fannie and Freddie were somehow indirectly supporting McCain, they sure didn’t get anything for their investment. McCain cosponsored the bill to rein in Fannie and Freddie, but was stymied in that effort by Democrats, who overtly accepted huge sums from Fannie and Freddie. The rest is history.

As for the idea that the NYT is an advocacy organization determined to boost Obama, that is too obvious to discuss. But, I don’t think that it’s a business decision, at least not a good one. By becoming openly partisan, Sulzberger is sacrificing his company’s most valuable asset.

NYT doesn’t understand the corporate income tax

August 15, 2008

Power Line spots an egregious error:

As dumb as the Levin-Dorgan press release was, however, it wasn’t dumb enough for the New York Times. The paper got out its calculator, multiplied the gross revenues of the companies in the GAO study by 35%, and came up with this classic of economic ignorance:

At a basic corporate tax rate of 35 percent, all the corporations covered in the study in theory owed $875 billion in federal income taxes.

In theory, a company pays 35% of its net income to the feds, not its gross receipts. That reporters and editors at the New York Times should be ignorant of this basic fact is shocking. How in the world can these people purport to instruct the rest of us on economic matters, when they lack the most fundamental understanding of how our tax system works?

The NYT story is here. They’ve since edited it and added a correction:

An article on Wednesday about a Government Accountability Office study reporting on the percentage of corporations that paid no federal income taxes from 1998 through 2005 gave an incorrect figure for the estimated tax liability of the 1.3 million companies covered by the study. It is not $875 billion. The correct amount cannot be calculated because it would be based on the companies’ paying the standard rate of 35 percent on their net income, a figure that is not available. (The incorrect figure of $875 billion was based on the companies’ paying the standard rate on their $2.5 trillion in gross sales.)

I know the New York Times has had cutbacks, but they still have editors, don’t they? Not one editor understood how the corporate income tax works? We might want to keep that in mind when reading NYT editorials.

It’s even worse than Power Line says, because the correction is wrong too. There is actually a very good way to estimate the tax liability of these companies, which is to look at the actual tax paid. Almost no corporation is going to make the mistake of failing to pay the taxes that their own books show they owe. Corporations reduce their taxes by clever accounting, not by outright failing to pay. So the NYT’s mistake is not just a failure of calculation. The calculation they were trying to do was fundamentally nonsensical. They could argue (as Levin and Dorgan do) that corporations’ accounting unfairly lowers their taxes, but that argument cannot be illustrated by this sort of back-of-the-envelope calculation.

(Via Instapundit, who quips “It was my understanding that there would be no math.”)

UPDATE (8/17): More New York Times innumeracy, including the prevalence of 1-square-foot apartments.  (Via Instapundit.)

NYT ombudsman: reporting is just too hard

August 11, 2008

Cue the violins:

THE John Edwards “love child” story finally hit the national news media and made the front page of yesterday’s Times. For weeks, Jay Leno joked about it, the Internet was abuzz, and readers wondered why The Times and most of the mainstream media seemed to be studiously ignoring a story of sex and betrayal involving a former Democratic presidential candidate who remains prominent on the political stage. . .

Murray Bromberg of Bellmore, N.Y., was glad The Times was not touching this seamy business. “I heartily approve,” he said. But everyone else I heard from over the past several weeks was either puzzled or outraged that the newspaper, which carried front-page allegations of a John McCain affair, was ignoring the relationship between Edwards and Hunter. John Boyle of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., said, “I hope you will find the time to tell me why this news story is not reported by your paper.” Some readers, like Bert A. Getz Jr. of Winnetka, Ill., were sure they already knew the answer: liberal bias.

I do not think liberal bias had anything to do with it. But I think The Times — like The Washington Post, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, major networks and wire services — was far too squeamish about tackling the story. The Times did not want to regurgitate the Enquirer’s reporting without verifying it, which is responsible. But The Times did not try to verify it, beyond a few perfunctory efforts, which I think was wrong. Until the ABC report, only one mainstream news organization, McClatchy newspapers, seemed to be making headway with the story.

Not that it would have been easy. David Perel, the editor of the Enquirer, said, “This is a very hard story to prove, and I think that has frozen people in place.”

Oh, boo hoo.  Reporting is just too hard.  Better not to try.

Anyway, Hoyt’s shtick is familiar now: admit that the NYT screwed up (it’s generally inarguable anyway), but deny bad faith.  Sometimes, though, denying bad faith is hard. For example, he has to explain why they ran the Vicki Iseman story (an undersourced, inconclusive story about an affair that some people thought McCain might have had), but wouldn’t touch this:

[NYT editors] Keller and Stevenson said it was wrong to equate the McCain and Edwards stories, as so many readers and bloggers have. The editors saw the McCain story as describing a powerful senator’s dealings with lobbyists trying to influence government decisions, including one who anonymous sources believed was having a romantic relationship with him. “Our interest in that story was not in his private romantic life,” Keller said. “It was in his relationship with lobbyists, plural, and that story took many, many weeks of intensive reporting effort.”

I would not have published the allegation of a McCain affair, because The Times did not convincingly establish its truth.

Hoyt is too much of a company man to point out that the last sentence refutes Keller and Stevenson’s argument. Their case might hold water, if they had been able to establish any of what they insinuated. But, as it turned out, they had nothing — unlike the Enquirer — and the story they ultimately ran hinged on the conjecturally salacious lede.

NYT rejects McCain op-ed

July 21, 2008

Wow. The New York Times is happy to publish Obama’s op-ed, but won’t publish McCain’s rebuttal. (Via Instapundit.) It’s like they’re picking sides or something.

UPDATE: Last year, the NYT ombudsman defended their decision to run an op-ed piece for Hamas.  (Via LGF.)  The final line:

Op-ed pages are for debate, but if you get only one side, that’s not debate. And that’s not healthy.

Ethical journalism at the NYT

July 15, 2008

The New York Times’ Standards Editor reminds the staff of their rules of “Ethical Journalism.” There’s nothing about accurate, balanced articles in those rules; they’re all about avoiding obvious politicking that might tend to give people the right idea. For example:

Staff members may not themselves give money to, or raise money for, any political candidate or election cause. Given the ease of Internet access to public records of campaign contributors, any political giving by a Times staff member would carry a great risk of feeding a false impression that the paper is taking sides.

He says it explicitly: the problem isn’t supporting the candidate; the problem is the Internet makes it easy for people to know that you’re supporting the candidate. You don’t want to feed a “false impression” of bias. (He must have chuckled as he wrote that one.) Anyway, that ship has already sailed.

(Via LGF.)

UPDATE: It’s old, but I’m reminded of this as another sort of thing the NYT might want to avoid.

NYT returns to form

June 22, 2008

The strangest thing about the Plame-Novak-Armitage affair was the spectacle of liberal journalists pretending to be outraged at the leaking of the name of a CIA agent. Ordinarily, the media are delighted with any classified leaks they can get, and care not a whit about the implications to national security. What was different in the Plame affair was that the leak favored Republicans, and might have been (but, in fact, wasn’t) done by the White House.

Now the New York Times, who was shocked (shocked!), by the horrible disclosure of a CIA agent’s name, has decided to disclose a CIA agent’s name. There is a difference though: in this case, unlike in the Plame affair, the CIA requested them not to do so.

It’s a good thing the Plame affair has largely run its course. Any more crocodile tears from the NYT on Plame’s behalf would be awfully hard to take.

(Previous post.) (Via the Corner.)

Does NYT use extortion to obtain access?

May 22, 2008

According to Ed Morrissey’s source in the McCain campaign, yes. (Via Instapundit.)

The allegation isn’t exactly solidly sourced, but is it plausible? I guess the matter comes down to whom we think is more respectable, the New York Times or an anonymous source cited by Hot Air. Tough call.

UPDATE: It’s not proof that they made the threat, but if they did, they followed through on it.

NYT omits Obama rock concert

May 21, 2008

The New York Times breathlessly reports:

Senator Barack Obama drew the largest crowd of his campaign so far on Sunday, addressing an estimated 75,000 people who had gathered here on the banks of the Willamette River.

“Wow! Wow! Wow!” were his first words as he surveyed the multitude, which included people in kayaks and small pleasure craft on the river on an unseasonably hot day in Oregon.

It is “fair to say this is the most spectacular setting for the most spectacular crowd” of his campaign, he told the audience. His wife and daughters, who have been with him most of the weekend, joined him on the stage at the beginning of the event but left as he was about to speak.

Also on the stage was a free concert by a popular local rock band, which might have drawn a fan or two to the park on a beautiful Sunday. The NYT didn’t think that was worth mentioning. (Via the Corner.)

NYT admits flawed Wright coverage

May 5, 2008

Public Editor Clark Hoyt admits that it might have been useful to report the news:

While The Times was aggressive with its coverage on the Web, it was slow to fully engage the Wright story in print and angered some readers by putting opinion about it on the front page — a review by the television critic of his appearances on PBS, at an N.A.A.C.P. convention and at the National Press Club — before ever reporting in any depth what he actually said. . .

Carol Hebb of Narberth, Pa., spoke for many when she wrote that she found the newspaper’s initial coverage “very strange.” If editors did not think Wright’s remarks were newsworthy enough to be on the front page, she asked, why did they put the review by Alessandra Stanley there? “I was very surprised that her piece was not accompanied by a ‘factual’ article reporting the content of Mr. Wright’s comments more completely and perhaps adding some meaningful context.” . . .

Peter Weltner of San Francisco wrote that he wished The Times had examined what he said were falsehoods in Wright’s remarks — like the claim that blacks and whites learn with different parts of their brains — instead of “merely guessing why Mr. Wright said it.”

I’m with Hebb and Weltner. For a newspaper that showed great enterprise on the subject last year — breaking the story that Obama had disinvited Wright to deliver the invocation at the announcement of his presidential campaign, and publishing a deep examination of their relationship before most Americans had heard of Wright — it was a performance strangely lacking in energy at a potential turning point in the election.

“Strangely” lacking? Not so strange, I would say.

Incidentally, Tom Maguire notes that the NYT still has yet to report the “God damn America” phrase in any news story.  (Via Instapundit.)

NYT releases second McCain hatchet job

April 22, 2008

Jim Rutenberg, who wrote the NYT’s last McCain hatchet job, has been called in for a second.  This one is even more pathetic than the last.  Ed Morrissey has the story.

NYT fictionalizes again

April 11, 2008

The New York Times invents a McCain gaffe. Unfortunately for the NYT, John Hinderaker checked the transcript.

UPDATE (4/17): Power Line notes that the NYT has finally issued a correction. The correction doesn’t seem right either, but it’s an improvement.  What’s more interesting is this bit from a follow-up post:

I’ve had an email exchange with someone at the Times who shed interesting light on the story. It turns out that the reporters who wrote the original story didn’t fabricate the claim that McCain said Iran was training al Qaeda in Iraq; that was interpolated by an editor who “changed the copy!” The paper’s spokesman declined my request that he identify the editor who juiced up the story to put McCain in a bad light.

I thought editors were supposed to be a strength of the established papers.

NYT hits a new low

April 1, 2008

The New York Times goes where it must to find the desired narrative; in this case a news story written in the first-person by a former captain from Saddam’s army.  (Via Instapundit.)  Wow.

UPDATE: Instapundit prints a letter from another NYT reporter defending the article.

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.

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:


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:


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:


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.


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:


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”, 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.)


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.


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.


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!

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.)

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.

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.


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.)


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

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.)


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 “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 debacle (although still doesn’t work!), and on to the first confirmation of real economic damage. 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.)

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 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.)

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.)

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.)

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. . .

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.

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.

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.)

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.


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.)

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.)

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.

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.

Those who don’t know, report

December 28, 2012

The more the media talks about guns, the more you realize how completely ignorant they are on the subject.

  • PBS’s Mark Shields: “In the United States of America in 2012, it’s easier in many states . . . to buy an automatic weapon than it is to rent an automobile.” Since automatic weapons are illegal in all 50 states, this is not even close to true.
  • New York Times: A “.9-millimeter” Sig Sauer? I suppose that would sting.
  • Newsweek’s Howard Kurtz: “Should there be limits on high-magazine clips?” Whatever that is.
  • Pace the New York Times, the US murder rate is not 15 times that of other rich nations. Also, the rate of violent crime rate in the UK (which the NYT apparently cherry-picked as the typical rich nation) has soared since the statistics the NYT uses were collected, and is now nearly 5 times worse than the US. Australia’s gun ban did not correlate with a drop in the murder rate. And, 300 is greater than 250.
  • CBS’s Bob Schieffer, weeks after he should have known better: Semi-automatic weapons “keep firing” when you pull the trigger. No they don’t.

That’s only since the Newtown shootings. Including older instances of gun ignorance like the classic “shoulder thing that goes up” (not what a barrel shroud is) would take all day.

The media’s cover-up

November 2, 2012

The Benghazi debacle is big news, with new information about the administration’s incompetence and/or indifference coming out almost every day. But the news media wants to talk about anything else, and it’s pretty obvious why.

Most telling is the Sunday morning talk shows, where only Fox News thought the latest revelations were worth discussing. On NBC’s Meet the Press, David Gregory even went so far as to cut off a guess who brought up Benghazi.

UPDATE: John Hinderaker compares New York Times’s treatment of Benghazi to its 2004 drumbeat on the Al Qaqaa, a non-story about an unsecure ammunition dump from which as much as 0.06% of Iraq’s munitions might have been looted. The Times immediately abandoned the story after the 2004 election, tacitly acknowledging its unimportance.

(Previous post.)

“Otherizing” Romney

October 29, 2012

One leftist meme that I first heard this election year, but apparently goes back at least to 2008, is the racism inherent in observing — or merely “dog-whistling” — that Barack Obama is not like most Americans. Obama may have been raised in Indonesia and mentored by radicals upon his return to the United States, but none of that is a legitimate subject for discussion.

On the other hand, “otherizing” (not to put too fine a point on it, but that’s not really a word) is central to Obama’s campaign against Mitt Romney. The centerpiece is Romney’s Mormonism of course, but it’s dangerous to be too overt about that, so they use his vocabulary as stand-in.

The vocabulary line of attack was one of the very first that Obama adopted when Romney became his presumptive opponent:

President Obama is not only starting to cite Mitt Romney by name, he is seeking to link his likely Republican opponent to at least two things. One, the Republican budget developed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. Two, the word “marvelous.” . . .

Obama said Romney is “very supportive of this new budget, and he even called it ‘marvelous’ — which is a word you don’t often hear when it comes to describing a budget.”

“It’s a word you don’t often hear generally.”

The New York Times is chiming in with a piece on Romney’s quaint, clean vocabulary. A sample:

At a campaign stop in Rockford, Ill., not long ago, Mitt Romney sought to convey his feelings for his wife, Ann. “Smitten,” he said. . .

It was a classic Mittism, as friends and advisers call the verbal quirks of the Republican presidential candidate. In Romneyspeak, passengers do not get off airplanes, they “disembark.” People do not laugh, they “guffaw.” Criminals do not go to jail, they land in the “big house.” Insults are not hurled, “brickbats” are.

But is his vocabulary really so unusual? Byron York looked into it and found that the New York Times itself likes those same words:

Anyone check frequency with which those words appear in NYT? ‘Smitten’? 707 times in past five years. ‘Guffaw’ 109 times. ‘Brickbat,’ 63.

So all that stuff about vocabulary is really just cover. They’re really just talking about his odd refusal to use profanity, which points directly back to Mormonism.

Now, the left is always fabricating racist connotations out of whole cloth. But we can be sure I’m committing the same error here — drawing a connection to Romney’s religion that isn’t there — because they make it explicit:

His Mormon faith frowns on salty language, and so does he. A man of relentless self-discipline, he made clear to lawmakers in Boston and colleagues in business that even in matters of vocabulary, he “held himself to a high standard of behavior.”

In the end, it’s a strange line of attack. There’s a lot wrong with Mormonism, theologically speaking, but attacking Mormons’ commitment to personal morality is fundamentally wrong-headed. More than that, it’s telling. The Democratic ticket has lately been flaunting their vulgarity, and clearly they think America is with them.

Zefram Cochrane, call your office

October 27, 2012

MSNBC reports that, during his skydive from space, daredevil Felix Baumgartner exceeded the speed of light. Tell me again about the legacy media’s vaunted fact-checkers and editors. . .

BONUS SNARK: The second update here is just mean. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; she’s got it coming.


October 15, 2012

The New York Times says that Republican cuts to the State Department’s budget are to blame for the Benghazi consulate attack. We are to believe that the State Department just didn’t have the money for competent security!

The ugly truth is that the same people who are accusing the administration of not providing sufficient security for the American consulate in Benghazi have voted to cut the State Department budget, which includes financing for diplomatic security. The most self-righteous critics don’t seem to get the hypocrisy. . .

ASIDE: Oh, I get the hypocrisy all right. . . The New York Times is saying that it’s wrong to criticize security and also cut advocate cuts to spending on security, a surprising position given the NYT’s positions on the war in Iraq.

Of course, the NYT doesn’t mean a word of it. They just want this thing to go away. And they’re doing their part by keeping it off the front page, which was too much even for the NYT ombudsman.

The Congressional hearings on Benghazi resulted in major revelations, such as (1) contrary to the administration’s story, there was no protest at all before the attack, (2) Benghazi security relied on a local militia that hadn’t been paid in months, and (3) Washington wouldn’t even respond to requests for more security.

All this, and more, the NYT editors deemed insufficiently newsworthy: “I didn’t think there was anything significantly new in it,” and “There were six better stories.” Those better stories included Lance Armstrong (the lead story), taped phone calls at JPMorgan Chase, and a woman who died of meningitis.

Back when Benghazi looked like a negative for Romney, they weren’t so reticent. The editors who were “wary of the political nature of the hearing,” had no problem running a front page story attacking Mitt Romney’s remarks on Cairo and Benghazi.

It’s only news if it’s bad for Romney.

(Previous post.)

Making stuff up

October 1, 2012

Does MSNBC have any standards at all? In their latest bit of creative reporting, they’ve been caught mis-subtitling a Romney event to make Romney seem vaguely pathetic. According to MSNBC, the crowd at a Romney-Ryan event were chanting “Ryan!” and Romney corrected them to chant “Romney-Ryan!”

But, that’s not what happened. The crowds were chanting “Romney!” and Romney corrected them to chant “Romney-Ryan!”

It’s hard to make out from the low-quality audio exactly what was being chanted. It clearly started with an R, but of course that doesn’t help. However, the reports from people who were there are unanimous that they chant was “Romney!” You might set aside the caller on the video, since we have no idea who that was. But there’s also BuzzFeed reporter McKay Coppins both in a BuzzFeed article and on Twitter. There’s National Review’s Byron York. Even the freaking New York Times reported it.

POSTSCRIPT: The video’s title refers to MSNBC “doctoring” a clip. I think that’s going a little far. They dishonestly mis-subtitled a clip, which isn’t quite the same thing.

Your lips are moving again

September 26, 2012

Obama speaks to a campaign rally of 18,000 people, in an area that accommodates only 5,000. It turns out that the media uncritically repeats any count the Obama campaign gives them, without doing even the modicum of fact-checking that would show that the number is impossible.

This is a truly nasty pattern. Anything a Republican says is aggressively “fact-checked” (and usually ruled false even though it was true), while anything from Obama is accepted at face value. This has been going on for a long time.

Benghazi and Cairo

September 15, 2012

At first I was too outraged to comment on the 9/11/2012 attacks against our embassy in Cairo and consulate in Benghazi. Then it took time to write out how truly horrible the whole mess is. There are three different aspects of the story, each demanding a different sort of outrage at different people.

The terrorists

The first is the terrorists themselves. We now know that the attacks were planned in advance, and the street protests against an anti-Islam movie were merely a pretext. We also know that the diplomats in Libya were betrayed by Libyan security. (The story doesn’t make clear whether “Libyan security” refers to security forces of the Libyan government, or just Libyan nationals hired by the consulate.)

These people are evil, and they need to be destroyed. But there is little else to say on the matter. Despite all the promises of justice, we know that nothing will be done. The history of attacks against our embassies and consulates in such places as Tehran in 1979, Beirut in 1983, Tel Aviv in 1990, Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998, and Beijing in 1999, among others, shows clearly that attacks against our embassies will always be forgotten when pursuing justice is inconvenient.

The diplomats

But since those people are evil, we don’t expect any better of them. The same is not true of the pusillanimous fools at the US embassy in Cairo, who condemned the anti-Islam movie that the attackers used as their pretext. They reiterated the statement multiple times, and it was later echoed by the Secretary of State and by the President.

The embassy originally issued the statement before the attacks, and the attacks took place anyway, which demolishes any pragmatic defense that might be offered for their attempted appeasement. And as a matter of principle, their statement is a disaster:

Our entire message regarding any criticism leveled against Islam or anything else should be this: The United States government is not in the business of approving or disapproving anyone’s speech. This should not be hard!

Not only did the embassy’s statement give short shrift to the value of free speech, it was simply untrue. They said “we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions”. Well, no, actually you don’t!

We don’t condemn offense to Mormons, Catholics, Evangelicals, or Orthodox Jews. Those people and their beliefs are insulted all the time. This is true every day, but especially during election season: Our president’s re-election campaign is running a whisper campaign targeting Mormons; attacking Catholicism gets you a prime-time slot at the Democratic convention; and our president famously denigrated Evangelicals and conservative Catholics as bitter clingers. No, it’s only Muslims whom it is forbidden to offend.

Moreover, there is nothing wrong with denigrating a religion (or all religions), at least as a general matter. We call that debating ideas! Religious ideas are important, and should be debated openly. To suggest that religious ideas, unlike others, are not worthy of open debate is simply demeaning.

On the film in question, I have no opinion. I have not seen it, nor have I seen the trailer. Many people who have seen the trailer say it doesn’t look very good. That does not matter one iota. Freedom of Speech is not limited to skilled craftsmen.

The press

Finally there’s the Obama campaign and the press (who are one and the same). On the day after terrorists attack our embassy and consulate, killing our ambassador and three others, with Obama’s foreign policy lying in smouldering wreckage, Romney holds a press conference and these tools don’t ask about foreign policy. No, they want to talk about whether Romney committed a gaffe by criticizing the Embassy’s aforementioned craven statement:

It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.

ASIDE: We actually get here a rare glimpse of how the press coordinates its anti-Republican message. On an open microphone we can hear reporters from NPR and CBS discussing how to phrase a question to make Romney look bad, and how to ensure that question gets asked no matter whom Romney calls on.

It’s true that Romney got one fact wrong: the Embassy first issued its apology before the embassy attack, not after. But since the Embassy reiterated its apology multiple times after the attack, that really makes no difference.

Beyond that, I honestly don’t understand what they see wrong with Romney’s statement. It can’t be that the Embassy’s statement was right. It was terrible for all the reasons I discussed above, but even if you don’t agree with a single word of that, the Obama administration itself also repudiated the Embassy’s statement:

The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government.

It is suggested that he commented too soon; that by rushing to comment he missed the chance to adjust the tone for the murders that became public later. But that makes no sense. By that reasoning,  you would never comment on anything, lest something else happen afterwards. Moreover, Romney’s statement wasn’t released from embargo until the Obama administration had already repudiated the Embassy’s statement.

It’s suggested that it was unfair for Romney to blame the Obama administration for the actions of the Cairo embassy. I find this maddening. These people refuse to hold President Obama accountable for any action of his administration. Our economic woes aren’t his fault. Trafficking guns to Mexican drug cartels isn’t his fault. He apparently doesn’t even control his own administration’s policy toward Jerusalem.

ASIDE: Mitt Romney, on the other hand, is answerable for every stupid comment made by any Republican anywhere. He’s even somehow responsible for the death of a woman who is six degrees of separation from even a flimsy connection to Romney.

No. The Embassy is part of his administration. That doesn’t mean that every action is his personal responsibility, but it’s perfectly fair to refer to it as part of the “Obama administration”.

Finally, there’s the notion that Romney shouldn’t have weighed in at all. “Politics should end at the water’s edge.” “Playing politics while people are dying.” This is such a load of crap it’s awfully hard to take.

Perhaps politics should end at the water’s edge. But if it ever did, which I doubt (is there even a single example of Democrats ever supporting a war or military action initiated by a Republican president?), that notion was killed during the Reagan administration, and its corpse was dismembered during the Bush 43 administration.

The centerpiece of John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign was opposition to the war in Iraq. And here’s Barack Obama attacking President Bush (and John McCain) for the conduct of the War on Terror, in which he explicitly cites a “brazen attack on a US base where nine servicemen were killed”:

(Via Hot Air.)

Clearly, this suggestion that one should refrain from criticizing the administration while people are dying overseas is completely disingenuous. Or perhaps they think it should only apply to Republicans.

What you have here is a disgusting display of appeasement, set against the backdrop of the complete failure of Obama’s policy toward the Muslim world. Obama said his inauguration would end the hostility of the Muslim world toward America. Instead, his weakness has exacerbated it. The media, in their role as praetorian guard for Obama’s image, naturally need to distract from that.

Their vigor in doing so has led them to coordinate at attack against Mitt Romney that makes no sense. And it has also led them to tell outright lies. On Thursday morning, I heard NPR try to isolate Romney from other Republicans, saying that other Republicans had refused to join Romney’s criticism. (This isn’t the story I heard, but late in the piece it makes the same allegation.)

This is grossly misleading on its face; they failed to note that a lot more information had come out since Romney and the White House issued their statements. Of course Congressional Republicans were going to be more circumspect. But it’s also an outright lie. At the very least, Senator Kyl (R-AZ), the number two Republican in the Senate, and Senator Blunt (R-MO) both echoed Romney’s criticism. I’m sure others did as well.

In short, we have a ruthless enemy determined to hurt us, a feckless and pusillanimous foreign service incapable of dealing with the threat, and a dishonest media determined — for narrow partisan reasons — to do all it can to obscure those facts. What a horrible, horrible affair.

UPDATE: Some have been defending the embassy, saying that its statement was not an apology. That’s actually true; it’s worse. An apology would identify with the society that permitted the video (which is to say, us). They were expressing solidarity with the Islamists.

UPDATE: Patterico says that CBS’s Jan Crawford (the one coordinating the Romney questions) is getting a bum rap. If so, she should explain herself.

UPDATE: The White House has refused to respond to calls for them to condemn a notorious anti-Christian “art” display. Well, it’s not like Christians are likely to attack any embassies.

(Previous post.)

FACT: The New York Times is full of crap

September 1, 2012

With the rise of bogus fact-checking, the New York Times laments that people aren’t listening any more:

But while there is arguably more fact-checking now than ever — and, thanks to the Web, more ways to independently check what candidates and campaigns say — verdicts that a campaign has crossed the line are often drowned out by dissent from its supporters, who take it upon themselves to check the checkers.

Brendan Nyhan, an assistant professor of government at Dartmouth College, said nonpartisan fact-checking groups now compete with ideologically motivated groups from both sides that consider their work to be checking facts as well. (The political campaigns also call some of their own news releases “fact-checks.”)

“The term ‘fact check’ can easily be devalued, as people throw it onto any sort of an opinion that they have,” Mr. Nyhan said. “The other problem is that the partisans who pay attention to politics are being conditioned to disregard the fact-checkers when their own side gets criticized.”

Internet Scofflaw rates this analysis “half true”. (See how easy that is?) Yes, fact-checking has been devalued as people throw onto it any sort of opinion they have; but no, there aren’t any competing nonpartisan fact-checkers.

And that’s the best part of the article. Then there’s this:

The cycle was on display at the Republican convention when Mr. Romney’s running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, made a number of questionable or misleading claims in his speech. Even before he stopped speaking, some of his claims were being questioned on Twitter. Soon fact-checkers were highlighting some of the misleading statements. More partisan sites rushed to Mr. Ryan’s defense with posts finding fault with the first round of fact checks.

Internet Scofflaw rates this claim “mostly false”. Ryan did make claims in his speech that were “questionable”, in the sense that Democrats did in fact question them. But, as it turned out, all of the “fact-checks” either were not fact but argument, or were simply wrong. This claim gives the misleading impression that Ryan might have actually said something that was false.

And then there’s this but, which the article leads with:

Mitt Romney highlighted the nation’s dire unemployment crisis, its record number of home foreclosures and the rising national debt, and showed video of President Obama delivering this arresting remark: “If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.”

There was one problem: the quotation was taken so wildly out of context that it turned Mr. Obama’s actual meaning upside-down. The truncated clip came from a speech Mr. Obama gave in 2008 talking about his opponent, Senator John McCain of Arizona. The full quotation? “Senator McCain’s campaign actually said, and I quote, ‘If we keep talking about the economy, we’re going to lose.’ ”

It’s a fair point. But the New York Times and other so-called fact-checkers leave out the full context as well. In fact, Obama was lying in 2008 when he attributed the statement to the McCain campaign. The statement came from a story in the New York Daily News (a liberal tabloid), which quoted an anonymous source who they described as a “top McCain strategist” making the statement. Internet Scofflaw rates this reporting “mostly true” (although, to be fair, Politifact has gone full “pants on fire” for less).

Fact-checkers lie

August 29, 2012

Oh good grief; the Politifact spin artists are saying that Paul Ryan’s story about the Janesville GM plant (Obama said he’d keep it open for 100 years, but it lasted less than one year) is false because: (1) it closed under Bush, and (2) Obama never promised he would keep it open anyway.

Nonsense. The plant closed April 23, 2009. (Via Stephen Gutowski.) And as far as Obama’s promise goes, he said:

And I believe that if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to re-tool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years.

Okay, according to a very narrow reading, he never promised to keep it open, he only said that he believed that his policies would keep it open. That’s a pretty thin reed on which to call Ryan’s comment false.

Except it’s even worse than that. In fact, Ryan quoted him accurately:

Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said, “I believe that if our government is there to support you, this plant will be here for another 100 years.”

Put in an ellipsis, and that’s a verbatim quote. Ryan did not misrepresent Obama at all, even in the utterly insubstantial way that Politifact suggests.

Moreover, Politifact’s shtick is various different grades of truth or falsehood. But they didn’t grade Ryan’s 100% accurate claim as “mostly true” or even “half true”; they go all the way to an unmodified “false”. Even if there were some wiggle room here for Politifact to work with, which I don’t see, there’s no way to get all the way to “false”. They’re lying; plain and simple.

UPDATE: Further, David Freddoso points out that Ryan never said the plant closed under Obama. That’s true, but since the plant actually did close under Obama, it’s not a critical point.

Also, the Obama campaign claims that the plant was “slated” to close during the Bush administration. If true, that wouldn’t change anything: Obama knew the plant was in trouble when he delivered his not-quite-a-promise, but a planned closure can be reversed if times improve and that was the hope he held out for Janesville. (Indeed, a idled plant can be re-opened.) But, moreover, depending on how you define “slated” (their whole argument is one of semantics), the claim isn’t even true. Although the plant had been on the chopping block for some time, its final closure was announced February 18, 2009.

UPDATE: Indeed:

What I really like is how the Leftist media is pretending it knows more about a GM plant in Paul Ryan’s HOMETOWN than Paul Ryan does.

UPDATE: MSNBC’s “fact-checker” Ezra Klein (who used to run a discussion group for journalists to coordinate the liberal spin in their reporting) offers this:

Ryan says it had not yet shut down Obama was elected, that Janesville was “about to” lose the factory at the time of the election. This is false, as Ryan knew in 2008 when he issued a statement bemoaning the plant’s closing.

Either Klein never read the page he linked to, or he hopes that no one clicks through. Anyone who did click through found that Ryan’s statement said this:

Following the announcement by General Motors that it planned to close its Janesville plant by 2010, U.S. Senators Russ Feingold and Herb Kohl and Representative Paul Ryan sent a letter to General Motors CEO Rick Wagoner asking him to reconsider the decision. . .

(Emphasis mine.) Exactly as Ryan said — and Klein contradicts — the plant was going to close but hadn’t yet. Bogus “fact-checking” is a plague on our body politic, but Klein has invented a new genre: the self-refuting bogus fact-check. Bravo! (UPDATE: Ezra Klein demonstrates how not to correct your mistakes.)

UPDATE: Here’s GM:

Janesville was placed on standby capacity in May 2009 and will remain in that status.

(Via Phil Kerpen.)

UPDATE: I’ve been focusing on the outright lies, but it’s also worth taking a note of the misdirection. Obama and his media allies are complaining than Ryan is unfairly blaming Obama for the plant’s closure. That would be unfair, if Ryan had said that, but he didn’t. Everyone knows that GM has been in trouble for years, and no one blames Obama for GM’s woes in 2008-2009. (Post-bailout is another matter!)

Ryan’s point, with Obama and his allies are trying to obscure, is simply this: The Janesville plant was in trouble. Obama told the worried people of Janesville that his policies would fix the problem. They didn’t.

This is just one example — a personal example from Ryan’s home town — of how Obama promised a bright tomorrow (“hope and change”) but failed to deliver.

It’s valuable to get the particulars right, since the left is lying about the particulars, but we shouldn’t lose sight of the key point.

UPDATE: More here.

UPDATE: Dear ABC: when you correct the factual errors in your article, it’s good form to correct the headline too.

Since this is apparently not just Politifact’s hackery, but the entire left’s main attack on Ryan’s speech, I’ve changed the title.

UPDATE: It turns out that GM considered re-opening the plant, but did not, at a time when the government was running the show, so you actually can blame Obama for the plant remaining closed if you want to. Fine, but that’s not really the point. The point is that Obama said he could turn around the auto manufacturing industry so that Janesville and plants like it would stay open, and he failed.

Also, in case there’s still any confusion about when the plant closed, there’s this video from April 2009:

UPDATE: A detailed chronology here.


August 20, 2012

The New York Times refuses to correct an unambiguous error:

The centerpiece of the photograph . . . shows a naked child, screaming in pain as she fled an aerial napalm attack near a village in South Vietnam. . . The Times described the image as “the aftermath of one of the thousands of bombings in the countryside by American planes: a group of terror-stricken children fleeing the scene, a girl in the middle of the group screaming and naked, her clothes incinerated by burning napalm.”

But as I pointed out in an email sent to the Times soon after the obituary was published, the aircraft that dropped the napalm wasn’t American; it was South Vietnamese.

The newspaper’s assistant obituary editor, Peter Keepnews, replied to me on May 22, stating in an email:

“You are correct that the bombing in question was conducted by the South Vietnamese Air Force. However, the obituary referred only to ‘American planes,’ and there does not seem to be any doubt that this plane was American –- a Douglas A-1 Skyraider, to be precise.”

As if the aircraft’s manufacturer were a crucial element in the napalm strike by the South Vietnamese.

UPDATE (8/29): The NYT belatedly, half-heartedly corrects. They stick with the it-was-an-American-plane-because-Americans-built-it argument, but at least they put the facts in front of the reader. Two-and-a-half weeks later.


August 14, 2012

The New York Times unloads a nasty attack piece against Lolo Jones, the American woman who came in fourth in the 100m hurdles in London.

Judging from this year’s performances, Lolo Jones seems to have only a slim chance of winning an Olympic medal in the 100-meter hurdles and almost no possibility of winning gold. Still, Jones has received far greater publicity than any other American track and field athlete competing in the London Games. This was based not on achievement but on her exotic beauty and on a sad and cynical marketing campaign.

ASIDE: Don’t people often pay attention to athletes for their off-the-field story, rather than their on-field performance? (If Geena Davis had made the Olympic archery team, do you think that she might have gotten some media attention?) Indeed, doesn’t NBC produce and market the Olympics on that basis at least as much as for the athletics alone?

Why does the New York Times hate Jones? This might explain it:

At the same time, she has proclaimed herself to be a 30-year-old virgin and a Christian. And oh, by the way, a big fan of Tim Tebow.

We’re used to this sort of thing in politics. There we understand that the New York Times has a reason to tear people down, and we’ve come to expect it. But Lolo Jones has no policy implications whatsoever. There’s only one reason for them to give Lolo Jones the hatchet-job treatment: they hate Christians.

(Via Tim Groseclose, who uses the piece as a case study in media bias.)

That was then

June 21, 2012

If a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, the New York Times’s editors must be great minds indeed. Yesterday:

A Pointless Partisan Fight

The political feud between the White House and Congressional Republicans has now culminated in a House oversight committee vote to cite Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. for criminal contempt. His supposed crime is failing to hand over some documents in an investigation of a botched gunrunning sting operation known as “Fast and Furious.” The Republicans shamelessly turned what should be a routine matter into a pointless constitutional confrontation.

But in 2007, the Times saw matters a little differently:

Defying the Imperial Presidency

The House Judiciary Committee did its duty yesterday, voting to cite Harriet Miers, the former White House counsel, and Joshua Bolten, the White House chief of staff, for contempt. The Bush administration has been acting lawlessly in refusing to hand over information that Congress needs to carry out its responsibility to oversee the executive branch and investigate its actions when needed. If the White House continues its obstruction, Congress should use all of the contempt powers at its disposal.

POSTSCRIPT: The Times is also being dishonest when it describes Fast and Furious as a “sting operation”. It wasn’t a sting, even a botched one, as there was never any intention to sting anyone. They were simply trafficking money and weapons to drug cartels, for reasons that have never been explained.

(Via Byron York.)


June 19, 2012

MSNBC wants to make this Mitt Romney’s visit to Wawa (a convenience store chain) into his supermarket scanner moment (referring to the apocryphal incident in which President Bush Sr. was impressed by a supermarket scanner):

  • First of all, there’s nothing wrong with being impressed by a well-run business, and (from what I hear) they do run a good operation. In fact, I seem to recall Mitt Romney in particular having an affection for well-run businesses.
  • Second, this whole attack is a lie, Romney wasn’t amazed by the Wawa operation, as becomes clear when you watch his speech without the MSBNC edits (cue to 2:10):

    Romney was contrasting the incompetence of the government (exemplified by a 33-page change of address form) with the effectiveness of the private sector (exemplified by Wawa). They actually cut him off mid-sentence: “Touch this, touch this, touch this, go pay the cashier, there’s your sandwich. It’s amazing: [MSNBC ends here] people in the private sector learn how to compete; it’s time to bring some competition to the federal government!” Then they glue that together with some other stuff about WaWa from elsewhere in his speech, and voila, you have an ode to Wawa that Romney never gave.
  • Third, Bush Sr. never had a supermarket-scanner moment either. No matter how vividly some journalists claim to remember it, it’s a myth. It never happened.

Don’t believe anything you see or hear from the legacy media. Any reporting they do anymore is incidental; their main job is to lie to you.

POSTSCRIPT: On a completely different note, there’s something I noticed in watching Romney’s stump speech: just how good-natured it is. This guy has a positive outlook on America. When was the last time President Obama delivered a positive speech about America. Has he ever? I haven’t seen it. Obama, at best, likes what he thinks America could be, not what America is.

(Via Hot Air.)

UPDATE: The chain is named “Wawa”, not “WaWa”. I’ve corrected accordingly.


Lauren Skowronski, a spokeswoman for NBC, which owns MSNBC, denied that any deceptive editing took place. “MSNBC did not edit anything out of order or out of sequence and at no time did we intend to deceive our viewers,” Skowronski said.

Oh, is that the standard now? You can edit however you want as long as you don’t take anything out of order? I guess this is fair, then:

“MSNBC did . . . intend to deceive our viewers,” Skowronski said.


Politifact mocks Romney campaign

May 1, 2012

If you try to load a non-existent page on the Politifact web site, this is how it signals the 404:

In a political context, it’s hard to see an Etch-a-sketch as anything other than a thinly veiled jab at the Romney campaign.

Politifact’s pretense as a neutral arbiter of truth in politics is growing more threadbare with each new hatchet job, but this still seems awfully blatant.

Getting it wrong

April 27, 2012

CNN says the Obama-eats-dogs story came from the Romney campaign. Not that there would be anything wrong with that, but it’s not true. The story came from Jim Treacher, a blogger with the Daily Caller.

However, I’ll bet that Romney would be more than happy to answer everything on the Daily Caller, if Obama is answerable for everything on the Huffington Post.

(Via Jim Geraghty.)

Smearing Breitbart

April 20, 2012

I want to take the occasion of Tina Brown’s (editor of the Daily Beast and its new subsidiary, Newsweek) latest attack on the late Andrew Breitbart to set the record straight. First, what Brown said:

Breitbart didn’t report anything. What Breitbart did, really, was he was a provocateur. He was a death by 1,000 tweets. He was, you know, quite happy to take the flying sound bite – any sound bite – and misapply it in its context and create an absolute mayhem for the person concerned like he did for poor Shirley Sherrod who was the obscure official in the Agriculture Department. He gave the impression by the cutting of her words in a tape that he released that she was giving racially motivated financing decisions when she was doing the opposite.

This is a complete lie. The left has had great success in promulgating this lie, but there’s not a word of truth in it.

Breitbart’s original article has disappeared from the site, but you can find it on the Wayback Machine. The archive’s first capture of the article is here. The text contains the context of Sherrod’s remarks in every particular:

In the first video, Sherrod describes how she racially discriminates against a white farmer. She describes how she is torn over how much she will choose to help him. And, she admits that she doesn’t do everything she can for him, because he is white. Eventually, her basic humanity informs that this white man is poor and needs help. But she decides that he should get help from “one of his own kind”. She refers him to a white lawyer.

To reiterate: It’s an lie to say that Breitbart was trying to hide the context; he made the context completely clear. The video — the infamous “edited video” — similarly carried all these details.

In fact, Shirley Sherrod was never Breitbart’s target. Sherrod was not so obscure as Brown suggests (she was actually a lightning rod for criticism, which is why the Obama administration was so eager to get rid of her), but Breitbart didn’t care about her. He was attacking the NAACP:

We are in possession of a video from in which Shirley Sherrod, USDA Georgia Director of Rural Development, speaks at the NAACP Freedom Fund dinner in Georgia. . . Sherrod’s racist tale is received by the NAACP audience with nodding approval and murmurs of recognition and agreement. Hardly the behavior of the group now holding itself up as the supreme judge of another groups’ racial tolerance.

The NAACP had just condemned the Tea Party as racist, and Breitbart was demonstrating that the NAACP — or at least its members at the meeting in Georgia — were the real racists. The fact that Sherrod had a moral epiphany by the end is a defense for Sherrod, but not for the NAACP, who cheered her reluctance to help the white farmer without knowing the end of the story.

The Obama administration quickly fired Sherrod, in part because they were glad of an excuse to be rid of her, but mostly to change the subject. The NAACP, unlike Sherrod, was valuable, and they needed to put the focus somewhere else.

This story is being used to tarnish the legacy of a great man, and it needs to be set straight.

How to lie through editing

April 2, 2012

I’ve resisted commenting on the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida because I don’t know what really happened. With all the contradictory statements being made, I’d rather let the justice system sort things out. I certainly don’t trust the media to sort things out, and here’s a good example of why:

Both NBC and MSNBC played this excerpt from a 911 call made by George Zimmerman, the man who shot Martin:

This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.

That sounds pretty damning. Clearly Zimmerman was racially motivated.

Except that’s not what he said. This is what he actually said:

ZIMMERMAN: This guy looks like he’s up to no good, or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

911 OPERATOR: Okay. And this guy, is he white black or Hispanic?

ZIMMERMAN: He looks black.

NBC deleted Zimmerman’s expressed reasons for suspecting Martin was “up to no good”, and also deleted the 911 operator’s direct question about Martin’s race, which Zimmerman answered. Their dishonest editing completely changed the exchange from one with no racial bias whatsoever into one with a clear bias. Put more simply, NBC lied.

ASIDE: It’s possible that Zimmerman’s motive was racial nonetheless. I can’t claim to know. But the 911 tape is not evidence of it.

NBC reportedly has launched an internal investigation into the matter. These things usually end in a whitewash, but we’ll see.

(Via Instapundit and the Blaze.)

UPDATE: As predicted:

During our investigation it became evident that there was an error made in the production process that we deeply regret. We will be taking the necessary steps to prevent this from happening in the future and apologize to our viewers.

That is the full statement. NBC lies in order to further inflame racial tensions in an already tense racial controversy, and all we get is “oops, sorry”. No apology at all to the man they slandered. No disciplinary action.

Through his, even more than through the original offense, NBC shows that the truth is just not a priority.

UPDATE: NBC has reportedly fired a producer, but doesn’t seem to have identified who that producer is. (Via Big Journalism.)

Also, Richard Epstein comments on NBC’s non-apology.

UPDATE: Talk Left discovers that the Today piece was the second time that NBC aired the dishonest edit. Also, NBC’s Miami affiliate made the dishonest edit several times on their website (and presumably on the air as well), in articles that are still posted (for example). All of which seems to deny NBC their “one guy made a mistake” defense. (Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: Tom Maguire isn’t letting go.

Culture of death

March 31, 2012

The New York Times celebrates a murder-suicide. After 55 years of marriage, Adrienne Snelling came down with Alzheimer’s, and five years later her husband killer her, and then himself. The New York Times thinks that’s just great.

There’s no better weather-vane for liberal opinion than the New York Times. That’s the sort of people that President Obama will hire (if he gets the chance) to make life-and-death medical decisions for our elderly: ones who believe that sick, old people are better off dead. But at least they will never be called death panels.

(Via Althouse.)