Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Oh, just make some stuff up

What do you do if you're Fox News, it's the day after a holiday, and you don't have anything to toss the faithful by way of pre-convention appetizers? Easy: Just make some stuff up and lead the page with it!

See how well it works in this example? Here's what the Democrats' arugula-munching celebutante nominee said, according to Fox's exhaustive five-graf* account:

“Well, my understanding is that Governor Palin’s town of Wasilla has, I think, 50 employees. We’ve got 2,500 in this campaign. I think their budget is maybe $12 million a year. You know, we have a budget of about three times that just for the month. So I think that our ability to manage large systems and to execute I think has been made clear over the last couple of years,” Obama said.

If you've watched many campaigns, particularly when a candidate is claiming experience in the Real World, you've heard some variant of this. Maybe we should call it argumentum ad marketerium: My opponent might know how things work in the statehouse, but he's never met a payroll! What Obama is doing -- on the evidence that's presented -- is more or less the same thing: You want executive experience, here's the organization I'm chief executive of.

If you don't see any comparison there -- any declaration that one level of executive experience makes a candidate "more experienced in executive matters," as the lede says, or "I have more executive experience," as the hed says -- it's because it isn't there. Fox made it up. Just ... totally, completely, gleefully made it up. Makes you wonder why we put the fact-checking exercise** in the editing course at all, doesn't it?

Fox must think its readers and viewers are very, very stupid. One would like to hope they're wrong, but there's all that pesky evidence.

*This just in: It's now eight grafs, with three fresh grafs of "blast" from Carly Fiorina. Of course, as of this writing, you can't find it on the homepage.
** Not to mention the thing about the informal logical fallacies. Or the ethics bit about, you know, not lying.

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3:16 AM, November 13, 2008  

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