Last week was a great reminder that we all need some time to decompress and come back ready to hit the ground running. I’m back from vacation. Let’s get into some of the things that happened while I was gone.
Twice the speed of light … While scientists have found a limited number of things that can travel faster than the speed of light, that doesn’t include a small spaceship. That’s what makes this headline published last week from Newsweek, so funny. Reporting on a test flight of the Virgin Galactic space plane, Newsweek’s headline read, “Virgin Galactic space plane travels twice the speed of light, commercial flights next?” Here’s the archived copy of the web-page, which has since changed the headline to match the story.
This one’s more a blooper than a bit of actual fake news, but it caught my eye while I was gone, and had me laughing.
Small errors lead to big ones … Not to harp on Newsweek, but there’s something amiss in its editorial department. A Newsweek story published today about the move by the City of Austin to explore a name change due to its namesake’s support of slavery, got a lot wrong. Here’s what the Newsweek summary of The Statesman article linked above says:
The city of Austin, Texas has suggested in a preliminary report, that highlighted historical connections to a former Confederate leader, Stephen F. Austin, otherwise known as the “Father of Texas”, that it might consider changing its name.
In addition to identifying several neighborhoods and towns linked to the Confederacy, the report, released by Texas’ Equity Office also suggested name changes for city streets honoring the Confederacy or Confederate leaders, including slave owner William Barton, The Austin American Statesman reported Friday.
Austin, who founded the city in 1839, was notable for his staunch disapproval of an effort to ban slavery in the Tejas province following the Texas Revolution.
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A PolitiFact shot-chaser … Recently Bill Adair, who came up with the “Truth-O-Meter” when he helped to start PolitiFact lamented that the quick infographic nature of the meter has led to conservatives misunderstanding the “journalism” that goes into a “fact-check.” Adair wants to come up with a different way to grade statements and “fact-checks” to regain conservatives’ trust.
It isn’t the meter, Bill. It’s the selective rating of “fact-checks” when looking into conservative and leftist statements. NewsBusters explains how this sort of thing worked last week:
Here’s a contrast that shows how the PolitiFact “Truth-o-Meter” is a very skewed instrument. We noted the PF Patrol gave ultraliberal Sen. Kamala Harris a “Mostly True” on July 25 when her facts on apartment rentals weren’t factual. By contrast, on July 20, PolitiFact declared it “Mostly False” when a Republican challenger tweeted that ultraliberal Sen. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin “opposed displaying the flag and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance or singing the National Anthem in our classrooms.”
Did she? Yes, that’s true. But it was “Mostly False” because….she later made other more patriotic votes in Congress.
That’s not False. It’s “that didn’t always happen.” If a Republican voted once against for a bill to deny a Martin Luther King holiday, PolitiFact would probably not rule that reminding voters of that true vote was “Mostly False” because the Republican later decided that wouldn’t look good, and started voting for it.
Until PolitiFact treats all people equally and removes its built-in bias, conservatives aren’t going to rush to trust “fact-checkers” just because they change a graphic. It’s going to take a lot more than that.
Quick Links … Here’s some of what I’m reading today.
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Robert Eno is the editor of the WTF MSM!? newsletter and director of retention for Blaze Media.