Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Elongated yellow grammar

Q: So how many sentences does it take for the annual paczki story to break its own prescriptive rule about singularizing the nummy waistline-busters
A: One or two sentences, tops. Why should this year be any different? 

Seriously, though. Since you don't follow your own rule, and no one else in town seems to either, shouldn't you consider rewriting the rule?

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Monday, February 27, 2017

Arrest them, in the name of the people!

How many sources does it take to lead the front page, Reagan's Favorite Newspaper?

Trump administration officials believe that a Department of Homeland Security report that undercut the president’s position on his travel ban was drafted with the express intent of leaking it to the press, a source close to the department says.

"Close to the department."

The source said the report was drafted by those loyal to the Obama administration inside the department’s office of intelligence and analysis. The drafters relied solely on open source material, which meant it could be delivered to reporters without violating federal laws on mishandling classified information.

“This was not really a leak but sabotage,” the source said. “This report was commentary. This is insurrection. They all took an oath.”

Arrest them, in the name of the people! But the plot's about to thicken:

The leak to The Associated Press appears to follow a pattern of suspected Obama loyalists still inside the government releasing draft documents that are immediately refuted by the White House, such as a supposed plan to mobilize the National Guard to arrest illegal criminal immigrants.

It must be a slow Sunday when you can't even get someone to go on the record to denounce the enemies of the state. Perhaps we'll hear more later in the week.

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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Today in sourcing

How are things on the sourcing front tonight, Fair 'n' Balanced Network?

As the Trump administration hunts for the source of a series of politically embarrassing leaks that have plagued the young administration, dozens of White House staffers have had their phones searched in what is being termed “recess” compared to what may be planned, two top administration officials told Fox News.

One official told Fox that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called nearly two dozen staffers into his office and demanded the staffers’ cell phones in order to check for evidence of leaks. Spicer warned that the initial search would be “recess” compared to what awaits staffers in round two of the investigation, if the leaker – or leakers – aren’t discovered.

A second senior administration official confirmed the first official's account to Fox, adding that staffers were instructed to place their phones on a desk as soon as they walked in.

Spicer also deleted the Confide app from his phone to show that high-ranking officials weren’t immune to rules and regulations, Fox News learned.

Spicer's action was first reported by CNN.

Granted, it's hard to match someone else's story if your sources won't answer your calls. But whether you say "two top administration officials told Fox News" or "Fox News learned," it hardly seems to be what Massster had in mind at CPAC last week:

He started with a familiar attack on the news media and went so far as to say reporters “shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name.”

"Let them say it to my face. Let there be no more sources," Trump said, though some of his administration officials recently have held briefings where they insisted no names be used.

How odd. Comments don't seem to be enabled on tonight's story.


Demons are summoned by the mention of their names

A: The distance you have to go into Drudge's top story before the Kenyan usurper's name is mentioned.

Q: What is "10 paragraphs," Alex?

... The former Cabinet member earned the endorsements of several Obama administration alums, including former Vice President Joe Biden and former Attorney General Eric Holder. 

Q: But surely there's some other reason for using the evil one's picture in an article about the DNC election!

A: The penultimate graf, and stop calling me Shirley:

... Ellison enjoyed the support of the party’s upstart liberals, who saw his candidacy as a way to snatch a victory from November’s presidential defeat. Perez, who was on Clinton’s short list for vice president, was backed most strongly by Democratic stalwarts in the Obama and Clinton camps.

This isn't just another Drudge headscratcher. Here's the top Fair 'n' Balanced story from midday Saturday:

And, should you have missed it, from Feb. 6:

Drudge again, with an iconic image beloved of The Fox Nation:
Here it is from 2013, if you're scoring along at home:

And the usual suspects (TWT, the Heritage Foundation and Fox):
In case the party faithful should be tempted to take it easy, this is their warning: The enemy never rests!

We could give the last word to Richard Hofstadter: "History is a conspiracy, set in motion by demonic forces of almost transcendent power." Or, to bring Conan the Barbarian forward to the age of visual framing: Demons are often summoned by the mention of their names, but images move you up in the search rankings a lot faster.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Bogus heds: 666 and all that

Shock horror outrage, The Washington Post! Quick, tell us what the guy really said:

I have been in places and experiences before where demonic activity was palpable. The power of the Holy Spirit of God was protecting me in those moments and was once again protecting me and my daughter in this moment.

There are deeper questions of practice afoot: why the Post plucked a blog post out of the blue to build a story around (lacking even the "quickly went viral" excuse), how the audience is supposed to distinguish a second-hand claim* of supernatural activity at a Trump rally from the preelection tale of John Podesta drinking the blood at a satanic ritual, or why it takes 27 paragraphs to reach the quote that allegedly supports the hed and lede. And my sympathies are certainly with the protagonist, who seems to have done nothing more than politely try to keep some Trump droolers from getting out of hand. But if the Fair 'n' Balanced Network had baked a quote this seriously, I'd like to think the Post would join the civilized world in calling bullshit.

Apparently not, though:
Sigh. What do you suppose she really said?
Read more »

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Thursday, February 23, 2017

Let me spell the last name for you

Stop press! This just in from the Drudge Report, courtesy of the WashTimes:
Conservative sleuth James O'Keefe is ramping up his effort to take down the mainstream media by enlisting the help of ordinary citizens to go undercover and expose wrongdoing in newsrooms around the country.

The Project Veritas leader announced he will give $10,000 to anyone who brings him evidence of “corruption, malfeasance and wrongdoing” in the press.

You can just make the check out to me.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Angry snowflakes

Awwww! What has the little snowflakes upset over at InfoWars today?

The new season of Homeland features an obnoxious Alex Jones-style radio host in what is a transparent effort to discredit Infowars and appease liberals via the medium of entertainment.

The Alex Jones character was introduced early in the season via a voice on the radio. One of the lead characters, Quinn, is seen obsessively listening to the show. This same character has become violent and semi-deranged since surviving a biological assassination attempt and a stroke.

The not so subtle inference is that anyone who listens to Alex Jones is violent and semi-deranged.

Yes, you can see why someone might draw that inference. But if you're not yet familiar with Alex Jones-level droolerism, read on:

... The plots of earlier Homeland seasons were usually focused around Islamic terrorism, but in later series the show has kowtowed to political correctness and allowed social justice narratives to ruin the dynamism of what was once an enjoyable watch.

How very sad for you. Surely, though, there are some predictions!

... Expect the writers of the show to implicate the Alex Jones character as being responsible for a terrorist atrocity towards the end of the season.

The fact that an Alex Jones character has been written into the show tells us two things.

One – Infowars is part of the cultural zeitgeist and cannot be ignored.

Two – The establishment knows that young people don’t watch television news and don’t trust mainstream media so they have to resort to propaganda placement by smearing Jones through the medium of fictional entertainment.

It’s essential for our readers to understand that there is a concerted effort to take down Infowars on all fronts, including the suspension of our ability to run advertising which is set to cost $3 million dollars annually.

Weird. You know, usually they teach journalism majors that your "ability to run advertising" is sort of predicated on, oh, your ability to sell advertising.

It’s outrageous that we can be demonized in mainstream media, print, on national television, and even by fictional TV shows, while having our right to respond censored and removed.

"Right to respond." Where do you poor children think you are -- Canada or something?

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Getting ahead of the story

You have to figure anyone at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network could have written the hed in their sleep -- when Massster speaks, it's going to be "rousing," whether anyone actually saw the candidate eat the rat or not. But just as a matter of not getting caught, don't you think it might help to wait for the speech itself?

President Trump returns to friendly and familiar ground Saturday with a campaign rally in Florida, after a challenging first several weeks in the White House, largely deprived of the voter enthusiasm that helped propel him to his unexpected November win.

Trump will hold the event inside an airplane hangar in the central Florida city of Melbourne. The Republican president visited Florida nearly two dozen times during the 2016 presidential campaign and won the state after Democratic President Obama was victorious there in 2008 and 2012.

Even the alleged kings of the fake news business had updated their story before 8 p.m. Eastern:

Melbourne, Florida (CNN) President Donald Trump, after a month of arduous and, at times, turbulent governing, got what he came for Saturday during a dusk rally here: Campaign-level adulation.

... "I am here because I want to be among my friends and among the people," Trump said to open his rally. "This was a great movement, a movement like has never been seen before in our country or before anywhere else, this was a truly great movement and I want to be here with you and I will always be with you."

As of 8:25, though, Fox was still mired in the future:

... Since his November win and officially entering the White House in late-January, the president has continued to argue that much of the news media has treated him unfairly, which has slowed progress for his young administration.

Trump has continued to use Twitter to sidestep reporters and communicate directly with Americans. But his use of social media has not appeared to spark as much energy as his freewheeling campaign stops -- notorious for chants of “Drain the swap,” "Lock her up" and “Build a wall.”

Saturday’s rally will likely be a return to the old style, which appeared to energize Trump as much as it did voters, if his roughly 70-minute press conference Thursday was a prelude.

Read more »

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Thursday, February 16, 2017

More squirrels!

The degree seems to have gone out from Caesar Augustus, and the Fair 'n' Balanced network is on the case! (Indeed, it's the No. 3 story on the homepage at this writing.)

The Republican chairman of the House Oversight Committee, who has refused Democratic requests to investigate possible conflicts of interest involving President Donald Trump, is seeking criminal charges against a former State Department employee who helped set up Hillary Clinton's private email server.

Well, OK, it's an AP story, as you probably could have told by that annoying relative clause in the lede. You can see how that might have slipped by in the thrill of the chance to say "homebrew server" -- let alone BENGHAZI!!!!!!!!! -- again. But the real fun is in the fourth graf:

Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Thursday asking him to convene a grand jury or charge Bryan Pagliano, the computer specialist who helped establish Clinton's server while she was secretary of state.

Pagliano did not comply with two subpoenas ordering him to appear before the oversight panel. The GOP-led committee later voted to hold him in contempt of Congress.

Earlier this month, Chaffetz met with Trump at the White House and agreed not to discuss oversight. He has rebuffed calls for his panel to look into Trump's businesses and possible conflicts.

Why do you suppose comments aren't enabled on this one?


Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Although it easily could be!

Q: Do they really think like that?
A: Why, yes!

The U.S. military plans to take over America by 2030.

No, this is not another conspiracy theory. Although it easily could be.

Nor is it a Hollywood political thriller in the vein of John Frankenheimer’s 1964 political thriller Seven Days in May about a military coup d’etat.

Although it certainly has all the makings of a good thriller.

No, this is the real deal, coming at us straight from the horse’s mouth.

When you skip ZeroHedge, you're not just missing the had-hitting economic reporting, you're missing the ...um, something. You should go read the whole thing (and definitely watch the video), because it's hard to excerpt without, you know, just copying the whole thing, but here's the summary you need:

... Suddenly it all begins to make sense.


As you can imagine, it really hasn't been a good day to talk about national security at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network, so you can see why Tuesday evening's No. 2 story is -- libruls! Doing "science"!

On any given day, the Twitter account of New Real Peer Review features the latest in wacky, abstract liberal research, from feminist glaciology to the racism of Pilates and pumpkin spice lattes.

The account, which has some 23,000 followers, is shrouded in secrecy -- its moderators unknown to those reading the satirical tweets mocking what it considers outlandish theses, like a Ph.D. dissertation titled: "'Wow, that bitch is crazy!' Exploring gendered performances in leisure spaces surrounding reality television."

Anonymity is required, say moderators of the account, which has been threatened by hackers looking to shut it down.

Because it's Fox (and thus, because almost anything is more fun at this point than talking about how national security is actually compromised by hiring drooling racist buffoons to actual policy positions), we have certain expectations about the sourcing:

Read more »

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The second-cycle lede

What's the top story at 6:45 a.m. there, Fair 'n' Balanced Network?
A Russian official said Tuesday that the resignation of President Trump’s national security adviser may show early signs that the administration has been “infected” by anti-Russian feelings, Reuters reported.

Michael Flynn handed in his resignation late Monday night, conceding that he gave "incomplete information" about his calls with Russia's ambassador to the U.S.

"Either Trump has not gained the requisite independence and he is consequently being not unsuccessfully backed into a corner, or Russophobia has already infected the new administration also from top to bottom," MP Konstantin Kosachev said, according  to news reports out of the country.

Does it seem that's applying the old forward spin a little early? How does it look overseas?

US National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has resigned over allegations he discussed US sanctions with Russia before Donald Trump took office.

Mr Flynn is said to have misled officials about his call with Russia's ambassador before his own appointment.

How about in the elite swamps of the nation's capital?

Michael Flynn, the national security adviser to President Trump, resigned late Monday over revelations about his potentially illegal contacts with the Russian ambassador to the United States, and his misleading statements about the matter to senior Trump administration officials. 

The WashTimes can't quite be bothered to wake its own sources up, but at least it doesn't indulge the old apology tour with the Evil Empire:

But hurt feelings are definitely the order of the day at Fox:

Kosachev, chairman of the foreign affairs committee at the upper chamber of the Russian parliament, said in a post on Facebook that firing a national security adviser for his contacts with Russia is "not just paranoia but something even worse."

Kosachev's counterpart at the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, Alexei Pushkov, tweeted shortly after the announcement that "it was not Flynn who was targeted but relations with Russia."

My, my, my, Can't wait for the White House press briefing!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

A date which will live in ... wait, what?

Here's the paragraph as it appears at the Herald's website:

Lawyers at the Guantánamo war court had wanted military judges to obtain and preserve copies of the report for use in the Sept. 11 and USS Cole death-penalty cases of six men who spent years in the CIA prisons called Black Sites. The chief judge, Army Col. James L. Pohl, refused but eventually ordered the Pentagon to safeguard one of its copies.

Shakespeare's job is safe. There are no early entrants for Clause of the Year here, and that's fine.  Reporting is less like a first rough draft of history than a first rough draft of furniture. Reporters go into the forest and return with freshly hewn lengths of news, which the factory then shapes, sands and polishes -- with an eye on demand, space on the assembly line and the like -- into finished journalism. There's a lot to learn from what happens at different stages of the assembly line: in this case, a story's transition from the wires to the individual paper (here, the Freep, though I can't find the story on its website).

I'm glad Black Sites was lowercased, though I probably would have put it in quotes as well, under the old "words as words" concept. I'd want to  unstack the noun pile* in the highlighted sentence, too. But since even the AP Stylebook says "Sept. 11" (or "9/11") can stand by itself, it's hard to see what exactly was improved by inserting the year after "Sept. 11." Particularly if -- just a suggestion here -- you insert the wrong year.

It's worth noting that none of the grisly battlefield photos from the War on Editing are unique to this particular stage of industrial upheaval. The same mistakes showed up when we were plucking and sharpening our own goose quills, and they'll be around when we edit with eye-mounted lasers. That's one of the reasons no single mistake can be blamed on any particular change to the process. But the really glaring ones do contribute to the steady erosion of the assumption that the assembly line adds value just by being there.

* Should we start a pool on when "nounpile" becomes one word?


Friday, February 10, 2017

Break it, don't fake it

For those who still have your "News: Break it, don't fake it" buttons from the ACES plagiarism summit a few years back, here's a real-life reminder: The more you rely on fake news ...
... the less likely people are to believe it when you break news:
In the second position, we have an important story -- the new national security adviser appears to have lied like a rug about "inappropriate and potentially illegal" doings, and in turn the vice president either was misled or lied right along -- done with old-school heft:

“They did not discuss anything having to do with the United States’ decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia,” Pence said in an interview with CBS News last month, noting that he had spoken with Flynn about the matter. Pence also made a more sweeping assertion, saying there had been no contact between members of Trump’s team and Russia during the campaign. To suggest otherwise, he said, “is to give credence to some of these bizarre rumors that have swirled around the candidacy.”

Neither of those assertions is consistent with the fuller account of Flynn’s contacts with Kislyak provided by officials who had access to reports from U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies that routinely monitor the communications of Russian diplomats. Nine current and former officials, who were in senior positions at multiple agencies at the time of the calls, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence matters.

All of those officials said ­Flynn’s references to the election-related sanctions were explicit. Two of those officials went further, saying that Flynn urged Russia not to overreact to the penalties being imposed by President Barack Obama, making clear that the two sides would be in position to review the matter after Trump was sworn in as president.

Nine sources is pretty good. Unlike, say, the accompanying case of Mission Not Impossible:

On its face, this is a remarkable story. The man whom Trump picked to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court is turning on the president just a week after he was nominated. Given how much Trump hates being criticized by alleged allies, it was a stunning comment — and one that lit the political world on fire Wednesday night. How would Trump react? Would he pull the nomination? Attack Gorsuch? Both? Neither? As always with Trump, all options were on the table.

But dig a little deeper and the conspiracy theories begin to seem, well, not so conspiratorial.

That's been true of conspiracy theories at least since Roosevelt orchestrated Pearl Harbor. It made damn sure that Pilate washed his hands and sealed his fate, and that Obama had Scalia murdered in a fit of pique. And when you're told that the witch Elizabeth Warren soured the milk of Mitch McConnell's cows, the first source you should turn to is ... 

The Democratic National Committee, for one, was not fooled. “While Donald Trump’s morning tweets show [White House strategist] Steve Bannon may not have clued him in on the ruse, this is clearly a meaningless White House-orchestrated attempt to help Judge Gorsuch pretend he won’t be a rubber stamp for the Trump administration,” said a DNC spokesman.

This is actually serious, kids. The Post has done, and continues to do, noble and risky work in cataloguing the incompetence, thuggishness and buffoonery of the entire Trump enterprise. That's not the same kind of checking and balancing a real branch of government might do, but it's a reminder of why we've conceived of the press as a "fourth branch": an independent actor that puts the evidence-based question to the public when the existing three branches get out of line. That role is critically compromised when the press decides to buy into conspiracy theories, period -- whether you side with the proponents of the theory or not. We are supposed to be the adults in the room, not the ones who come home with a handful of magic beans we got in trade for our credibility.

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Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Today in framing

Judging from Wednesday's centerpiece, bb dayorder was received and understood at the Washington Times*: Massster speaks and the Times listens!

For all of President Trump’s celebrated battles with the media, he is also allowing the press more extended access to some of his White House meetings than previous presidents did.

Did you ever wonder about how the president's celebrated openness looks elsewhere? Say, at Military Times?
White House officials held their first listening session on problems with the Department of Veterans Affairs on Tuesday, but without inviting prominent members of the veterans community to the event.

What fun could be had at White House briefings if topics like this came up! In the good old days, you'll recall, the president would occasionally bring things like the Iron Cross to bestow on particularly offensive tools of the far-right press. Perhaps those days could return.

* How quickly things change. The reporter seems to be vastly less interested in how often the president plays golf than he was a few months ago.

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Saturday, February 04, 2017

The other statements are inoperative

Why do you suppose it took the Fair 'n' Balanced Network a whole day to catch up with the tale of the Bowling Green massacre? (Still in the No. 2 position on the homepage, though the Penitent Conway image only lasted a few hours.) Finding the right tone apparently wasn't easy, even for a seasoned media critic like Howard Kurtz:

Kellyanne Conway admits she made a mistake in talking about a Kentucky massacre that never took place. But that’s not all she has to say about it.

In an interview airing Sunday on “Media Buzz,” President Trump’s counselor called some of her critics “haters” and said she corrected her error as soon as she learned about it. The misstatement has drawn substantial media attention, given Conway’s high profile.

And, not to put too fine a point on things, because it was a lie -- several of them, as it turns out:

... On MSNBC’s “Hardball,” Conway was defending the president’s temporary ban on refugees and on any travel to the United States from seven countries, including Iraq. She said that after former President Obama greatly restricted the flow of refugees from that country, “two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized, and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre” -- which, she said, “didn’t get covered.”

We're eliding something important here. How does that last thought go, Washington Post Fact Checker?

"Two Iraqis came here to this country, were radicalized, and they were the masterminds behind the Bowling Green massacre. Most people didn’t know that because it didn’t get covered.”

So she didn't just make up a massacre that didn't happen or lie about the order of events (the perps of the non-massacre admitted involvement in attacks on American troops while they were still in Iraq, according to the Post's reconstruction). She wove the lie into a causal claim about the impact of liberal media failures, which she supported by tweeting a link to a 3-year-old liberal media story hedded "US May Have Let 'Dozens' of Terrorists Into Country As Refugees." That's some major-league lying, right there. But Fox, of course, has a mission:

“They’re masterminds, I had said that before,” Conway told me. “I should have said plot or I should have just called them terrorists. … I clarified immediately. I should have said terrorists and not massacre.” Still, she said, “I’m sure it will live on for a week.”
I'm still having trouble with the second paragraph: "as soon as she learned about it." How long does it generally take to "learn" that the thing you made up wasn't true? According to the Post, somewhere north of 90 minutes:

Conway was on her way to a Four-Pinocchio rating when, about an hour and a half after The Fact Checker sent her a query about her remarks, she tweeted that she meant to say “Bowling Green terrorists.” ... She added that this was an “honest mistake” of the type also made by journalists.

So "immediately" means "an hour and a half after somebody asked why I made something up"? Got it! Back to Fox:

She encouraged people to read a 2013 ABC News article on how the two Iraqis in Bowling Green were later convicted of sending weapons to al Qaeda in Iraq to kill American soldiers. She also said MSNBC and host Chris Matthews did not catch the error.

She could also, of course, have encouraged them to travel back in time and read their local newspapers -- which generally don't cover things that don't happen, but might after all have done a pretty good indexing job with the events that did happen.

Keeping track of the Trump people is a challenge; they lie so casually, and so consistently, about everything under the sun that you can see why nobody jumped in to correct her. When the whole statement is fabricated, how do you even start to prove the negative? Fox again:

Conway added: “I misspoke one word. The corrections in the newspapers that are attacking me are three paragraphs long every day.”

Which may or may not be another lie -- I mean, I'm sure there are days in which the corrections in the newspapers that are attacking her run to three paragraphs exactly, but a daily newspaper contains a lot of words, many of them not about Kellyanne Conway. If you screw up one hockey score, one former employer of the bride in a society wedding and one world despot in a caption from overseas, you're already at three paragraphs. Conway told three lies in the space of a moderate-sized lede, and she couldn't even correct one of them without -- how's that again, The Fact Checker?

In an email she wrote to The Fact Checker, she said: “Not exactly the paragraphs of corrections we see in WaPo but hopefully this helps.”

It's charitable, in a self-congratulatory way, of the Post to let her off easy:

Uncorrected, this would have been worth Four Pinocchios. But Conway says it’s an “honest mistake.” We appreciate that she sought to correct the record. Readers can judge for themselves, but as we don’t play gotcha, we will leave this unrated.

Well, good for you. She lied like a rug, backed out of a fraction of her lies when caught at it, and kneed the media in the fusebox when the ref wasn't looking. I'm still waiting for The Fact Checker to come to grips with its tortured intellectual gymnastics about BENGHAZI!!!!!!!!!!!!, but I suppose partial credit is better than no credit. Fox's media analysis, on the other hand, is exactly what you'd expect.

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No, but thanks for asking

Given the frontpage play in both local dailies Saturday (and on the radio Friday), it's worth asking: Is it OK to indulge in fake news when the cause is good and your intentions are pure?

For those of you outside the immediate area, Macomb County is dealing with some fairly serious problems stemming from the collapse of a sewer line and the resulting risk of sewage spills (the request to hold down water use came last week). Hence, the top of today's Freep:

More Lady Gaga watching and less toilet flushing in central Macomb County during halftime of Sunday's Super Bowl.

Well, that's not exactly what* County Public Works Commissioner Candice Miller encouraged today, but she is urging residents in 11 communities affected by the Dec. 24 sewer interceptor collapse and sinkhole in Fraser to restrict water usage.

And the point is?

That means during the big game and what is known — either in reality in some places or urban legend in others — as "The Big Flush."

Sadly, no. The reason a "big flush" associated with a broadcast event is an urban legend in some places is that it's an urban legend, period -- according to Snopes (frequently cited in the numerous stories debunking the myth), one that dates to the days of "Amos 'n' Andy" on the radio. But some fictions, under some circumstances, are just too hard to resist.
As football fans head to their bathrooms en masse during the Super Bowl halftime — residents in northern Macomb County may want to hold it. Or at least not flush.

The News's presentation is less adolescent than the Freep's,** but it relies on the same underlying misperception: Why would you think people wait until halftime to use the bathroom? And it raises the same question: Given that the event is true (there is such an official, and she did make such a plea), and that it's in the public interest to pay attention to the underlying situation, are you justified in drawing attention to the matter by putting a bogus claim on the front page?

I'd like to think not. If nothing else, we hardly seem to have run out of true stuff to say about the sinkhole matter. For another, what you print tends to set the boundaries of what you consider credible; a high proportion of Bigfoot stories suggests that you should be very careful around those friendly games of chance. I'm all for printing what Commissioner Miller said:

“I hope everybody enjoys themselves and has a great time. Just be cognizant of how much water you’re using. That’s going to be a very high water usage day.”

... as long as we note that it's going to be a high water usage day, no matter whether you contribute before, during or after the halftime festivities. Go ahead and call an urban legend an urban legend. The credibility will come in handy the next time you have to point out that the president is lying.

* Sorry, a "that's not what" lede still qualifies as a "that's what" lede, and thus is on the banned list. And you're short a few hyphens, too.probably jget one
** Why a porta-john would be "closed for halftime," given that you could probably help the situation by having a few of them trucked in from Oakland or Wayne, is a question for the ages.

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Friday, February 03, 2017

Do groundhogs dream of elongated yellow fruit?

Thanks for the share to Brian, who notes that Groundhog Day never fails to disappoint.

In other news of the hurried morning meal, this from last fall's round of the Great Bacon Crisis:

U.S. bacon reserves have hit a 50-year low, sending prices for the scrumptious breakfast meat upward as pig farmers struggle to keep up with demand, according to a recent report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 


Thursday, February 02, 2017

Somebody forgot to tighten the verb?

Aside from Baddest Photoshop of the (still-young) Year, we have a genuine grammar question here. Is Iran rattling because somebody left the transitizer loose on the verb and the direct object is about to fall off, or are "Iran rattles" something the newly inaugurated 3-year-old bangs on his crib when he needs attention?

If you had to pick someone who was rattling some swordlike object in this scenario, would it be the one who said "this is not the first time that an inexperienced person has threatened Iran," or the one who said ... how did that go again?

Trump tweeted, "Iran has been formally PUT ON NOTICE for firing a ballistic missile. Should have been thankful for the terrible deal the U.S. made with them!"

He added in another tweet: "Iran was on its last legs and ready to collapse until the U.S. came along and gave it a life-line in the form of the Iran Deal: $150 billion."

You'd like to think that eventually even the droolers will realize that when Iran is being the adult in the room, their side has cause for concern. Maybe someone at the Park Service could say something distracting and get his attention again?

Yes we kahn khan

How many times, Nation's Newspaper of Record?

The About New York column on Wednesday, about the challenges of resettling refugees under President Trump’s recent executive order, misstated part of the name of a refugee agency in Connecticut. It is the Integrated Refugee & Immigrant Services, not the Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Assistance. The article also misspelled the surname of a member of a group that helped to raise money for refugees. She is Megan Khan, not Kahn.

Let's try again on that stylebook entry:

Kahn, Khan: Oh, hell. Just toss a coin. See Khan, Kahn.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Fake news via hazy paths

Step right up, step right up! How about it there, young reporter from The Washington Times; want to try your luck at the Fake News Wheel?

After spending more than $22 million on the Dakota Access pipeline protest, North Dakota wants to make sure any paid activists remember to submit their state income taxes.

Tax Commissioner Ryan Rauschenberger said his office is keeping an eye out for tax forms from environmental groups that may have hired protesters to agitate against the 1,172-mile, four-state pipeline project.

“It’s something we’re looking at. I can tell you I’ve had a number of conversations with legislators regarding this very issue,” said Mr. Rauschenberger. “[We’re] looking at the entities that have potential paid contractors here on their behalf doing work.”

BZZZZZT! So close! Ready for another go? Or ... say, could this be the same reporter who wrote the "paid activists" story two weeks ago?

Donald Trump may have a point about paid protesters: Job ads running in more than 20 cities offer $2,500 per month for agitators to demonstrate at this week’s presidential inauguration events.

Or, on reflection, he may not. The screen grab above is from The Fox Nation, because -- although the url still points to "ads-two-dozen-cities-offer-protesters-2500-agitate/" -- the Times story itself has been (ahem) somewhat modified:

The polished Demand Protest website, the Backpage.com ads recruiting paid protesters for the Trump inauguration: Apparently it was all a hoax.

A man using the alias “Dominic Tullipso” said Tuesday on Fox News Channel — well, it was hard to figure out what he was trying to say, but it was also clear that he wasn’t running a business that involved spending thousands on hiring activists.

So even after having been caught out -- by Tucker Carlson, as if somehow that might not be embarrassment enough -- as the sort of rube who falls for the "paid protesters" trope on its first appearance, we're still all in for ... how does that go again?

It’s no secret that millions have been funneled into the six-month-old demonstration via crowdfunding websites, and that more than 30 environmental organizations, including the Sierra Club, Indigenous Environmental Network, Food and Water Watch, 350.org and Greenpeace, have backed the protest.

If national environmental organizations are paying protest personnel, they’re not saying so publicly. Still, Mr. Rauschenberger said red flags will be raised if he doesn’t start seeing W2 or 1099 tax forms from those affiliated with the protest arriving at his office.

“It’s something we could possibly pursue if we don’t see 1099s coming in for the activity,” Mr. Rauschenberger said.

Does anyone out there think Ryan Rauschenberger ought to be allowed to go to the county fair by humself? Or even accompanied by a Washington Times reporter?