Thursday, April 17, 2014

Playoff preview: Deke of Earl

Let's start with a few questions for language fans:

  • How well do you get the summary deck shown at right?
    Dissidents and supporters abroad are determined to deke the communist regime's security agents
    (Miami Herald, 1A Sunday)
  • Where are you from?
  • What's your favorite sport on TV?

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Today in question design

Hey, kids! Who wants to guess at the wording of the question that produced Wednesday evening's top Fair 'n' Balanced story?

Here are the three preceding questions:

23.-25. Do you think [NAME] is honest and trustworthy, or not? (ROTATE)
  • Jeb Bush
  • Hillary Clinton
  • Chris Christie
Ready to try?

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Friday, April 04, 2014

How to lie with (other people's) statistics

One of the reasons Fox News and its bedmates are able to pass themselves off as news organizations so effectively is the Emperor's New Clothes effect. If somebody calls out an authority figure or declares that the official version of something ought to be in doubt, the journalist's job is to pass out the pitchforks and torches -- not to ask whether the numbers might say exactly what they appear to say. It's sort of like that first cry of "-gate" over some publisher's favorite scandal-in-the-making: Your watchdog reputation is at some risk if you point out that it's bogus, even when it is.

Hence, even though in this case it's an out-and-out lie, "another phony poll" doesn't just resonate around the echo chamber; it puts a bug in the grownup world's ear too. It looks like what journalism is supposed to be doing. Polls are suspect anyway (being based on data, which is inferior to gut feelings and news sense), and catching a fake one is a triumph of  the common man over the spinmeisters -- right, The American Thinker?

This week brought news of Obamacare securing 7.1 million enrollees and the expected jubilation from the White House. ... The veracity of these numbers is questionable, as many have pointed out. But predictably, the media is doing its best to paint a rosy picture of the success of Obamacare, sharing all of the “good news” of the enrollment numbers.

ABC News and the Washington Post piled on with a poll of their own, demonstrating how public opinion has shifted in a favorable direction coincident with the President’s announcement of the enrollment numbers. “Public support for the Affordable Care Act narrowly notched a new high in the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll” they gleefully report. But a closer look at the poll suggests otherwise.

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No comment

What depths of unspeakable evil must be on display for the Fair 'n' Balanced Network to close reader comments on a story?
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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Today in making stuff up

For you fans of how the public understanding of natural disasters is created, here's the upper-left ear from the Drudge Report (still leading with Friday's Los Angeles earthquake as of this writing*). It's standard Drudge, meaning "links allegedly related to the top story, with ellipses," and we're especially interested in the third and fifth ones, which (ahem) appear to link to the (kaff) same story.

The first of those is true-ish, in that it pretty closely resembles something that a not-quite-accurately identified person said:

Jones said Friday’s quake was 10 times larger than the March 17 magnitude-4.4 quake near Encino. She added that every quake has a chance of leading to something bigger.

“Every earthquake has a 5 percent chance of being followed by something larger. The fact that this had a foreshock doesn’t particularly increase that probability,” she said.
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Read text before posting

Or maybe it's just "read in a couple of different browsers before posting."

It could be the difference between "Francis factor blows" and "Francis factor blows away Vatican cobwebs." And that, children, is no small difference. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Those wacky Baptists

"Guns & Rosaries" -- what a bunch of kidders at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network, huh? Evidently too busy tracing the Global War on Christians to ask whether a church called Grace Baptist is the sort of place where you're likely to encounter a lot of rosary action.

Fox might actually be a little more concerned about calling the pesky thing an "assault rifle," to hear their friends at  the National Review tell it:

I have no doubt that many people genuinely do not grasp these differences — or do not care. But it really does matter, in part because the way in which the Left talks about rifles is deliberately misleading, and they rely upon nobody pushing back with the truth. Gun controllers want to create the impression that your average murderer is walking around with a machine gun, and to use this perception to build support for banning unrelated semi-automatic weapons. They must not be allowed to get away with it.

Let's not find you hauling water for the Left again there, Fair 'n' Balanced Network!


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Today in, um, averages

Now why do you suppose the expected rise in water levels is the No. 3 story of the evening at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network? OK, before you answer that, maybe we should look at the quote that the quote in the headline came from:

But even with the estimated rise of 13-15 inches, the levels are still well below historic levels.

“The levels have risen significantly, but the caveat is that they are still a foot below the all-time average high,” Keith Kompoltowicz, watershed hydrology chief for the Detroit district of the Army Corps of Engineers told

So if you were wondering what "all-time average high" means in this case, just subtract a foot and carry on. Because we already know why the story's on the front page, don't we, commenters?

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Worst active clause of the month

I'm sure this is all true. I have no doubt that a "For Sale" sign much like this one was standing outside a home, and that the home was in Princeton, Ill., and that the sign was standing there on Jan. 22. I'm a little confused about why any of that is relevant to the story on the business front in Detroit that it's illustrating in March.

Really. Wasn't it easier when we had cartoonists on staff to produce the requisite symbols?

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