Sunday, December 24, 2006

Ministry of Truth

A quick scissors-and-paste job from Fox News, and the Big Soviet Encyclopedia is more or less in order. That means the contest mentioned below is now closed, though readers are still welcome to check in with comments and observations.

Brief summary: A quick check of news sites this morning (Central Standard Time, if you're wondering) found that Fox had a global warming story in the No. 3 position on its opening page. Not just any global warming story, but one that (without attribution) blamed the phenomenon for sinking an inhabited island. Half an hour later, the offending tale was gone -- not just from the front, but apparently excised altogether (a search for the island's name on Fox finds no hits, and a search for "inhabited island" nets one tale about Vieques).

Is Fox going through the overnights and cleaning up everything it can't affirm on its own? Hmm. The global warming story was a straight link to a piece from the Independent, but the lede is still a rewrite from this morning's Observer about a purported terrorist plot to attack the Channel Tunnel (it has a Fox credit at the top and a staff shirttail, but if the Fox staffer added anything that isn't in the original, I can't find it). The No. 2 tale is now an AP piece about Iran. At No. 3 is Donald Trump's flag lawsuit, also from the AP. So what's up?

One, it's a holiday weekend. Fox's web operation always feels a bit short-staffed anyway, and the copyediting is careless even by Internet standards (Fox can't even be consistent with its signature tweaks, like capitalizing "War on Terror" and changing "suicide bomber" to "homicide bomber"). Two, Fox is more than just the armed propaganda wing of the Bush administration. It's also a geek channel -- "geek" as in "bites the heads off live chickens," not as in "computer programmer." Fox doesn't love car chases because they fit the party line; it loves car chases because it's an old-fashioned populist tabloid at heart.

Three, "news" consists of two channels. One is a stream of data (usually quite accurate, sometimes utterly fictional). The second carries a series of calibrating signals about The Way The World Ought To Work. That's as true of any news organization as it is of Fox; it's why CNN's front page has a video story up today called "Christmas In America: We All Join In." Somebody at Fox (pulling a holiday weekend lobster trick; guess the seniority level) must have mistaken the Lost Island for a straight-up geek tale and overlooked the flashing red light on the Party Line. Fox World doesn't have global warming. Oops.

"No, Comrade Editor, there is no heat on the train to the gulag. Perhaps your precious global warming will come in handy now! HAHAHAHA!"

[UPDATE: As of 11:25a, the story's back as a six-graf rewrite (with attribution and Fox credit), downpage. Let's see how long this one lasts.]


Anonymous Leo Morgan said...

The piece from the Independant didn't mention that it's 'news' happened 22 years ago.
It asserts that it was caused by global warming.These Delta Islands have been eroding since the time of the British Raj, but they blame this one on was caused by by 1980's Global warming instead. Absolutely no study quoted at all.
Their attribution of comments to Professor Sugarto Hazra resemble those in the BBC report of 2003, but a current 'people search' at the University did not turn up the Professor's name.

2:01 PM, December 27, 2006  

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