Thursday, November 30, 2017

Law is hard. Let's go shopping!

Thursday morning's top two stories may be about sexual harassment (well, about sexual harassment at the competition), but let it not be said that the Fair 'n' Balanced Network is overlooking the Mueller investigation. Take it away, Fox legal analyst Gregg Jarrett!

A direct conflict between the U.S. and Russia is a daily threat.

This is unheard of! We've never been at risk of conflict with Eurasia!

Two months ago, the Pentagon accused Russia of dropping bombs dangerously close to American special operations forces in eastern Syria. The U.S. issued a stern warning. In response, Russia threatened to retaliate if its troops came under fire by the U.S.

The two nations use a “de-confliction” hotline every day to share information about their operations in Syria, as military officers seek to avoid a mistake or miscalculation that could ignite a full-scale war between them.

Surely no one would get in the way of that important work! Or would they?

Such a conflict is something neither side may want, but its two leaders may be powerless to prevent it. Why? Because of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s continuing investigation.

Read more »

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Gordie Howe hat trick

When three of the day's corrections are from stories about Canada, you're entitled to wonder if the Nation's Newspaper of Record gets anything right at all about our neighbor to the south:

The Inside The Times article on Friday about the close attention paid to indigenous people and their culture in Canadian media relative to media in the United States misstated the province in which indigenous groups account for nearly 17 percent of the population. It is Manitoba, not British Columbia.

An article on Monday about communities in Northern Canada affected by receding sea ice gave the incorrect age for Derrick Pottle when he moved to Happy Valley-Goose Bay from Rigolet as a child. He was 11 years old, not 9.*

... An article on Monday about a New York Times Twitter account being accidentally locked referred incorrectly to the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador. It is a single province, not two separate provinces.

There is also, of course, the usual confusion about proper names:

Because of an editing error, a subheading in the Scoreboard column on Saturday about a fine for an Arizona Cardinals receiver misstated his surname. As the article correctly noted, he is Larry Fitzgerald, not Fitzpatrick.

A film review on Friday about the documentary “Eric Clapton: A Life in 12 Bars” misidentified one of the musicians who inspired Eric Clapton. It was Little Walter, not Little Milton.

Yes, all those people whose first name is Larry look alike. Yes, all those blues players whose first name is Little look alike. On the bright side, at least the Times no longer seems to think they're all blind.**

* And thanks to Fish for the meta-correction here.
** Would a "because of a reporting error" on the last one there be too much to ask?

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Saturday, November 25, 2017

Fox weirds verbing

Was the morning's lead story at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network -- "Trump lower booms on GOP Senate" -- just a glitch? After all, it was fixed ("Trump lowers boom") within half an hour or so. But before jumping to conclusions, consider this:
"Man open fires" was from the early stages of the Texas church massacre, and it too was replaced before long. But with two of them in three weeks, you have to wonder if something's gotten into the water cooler at Fox. Are we going to regularize all these idiomatic verb phrases by moving the inflection to the noun? Can we bring back Tribune spelling, too?

We can't let this one go without a look at the level of booms-lowering in the tax story (which might help explain why it's fallen completely off the homepage as of this writing; hate it when that happens to a lead story). The inside hed (and the link) are fall-off-the-bone milquetoast: "Trump to visit GOP Senate in push to deliver tax 'Christmas present' to Americans." But it appropriately reflects the high drama of the lede:

President Trump is meeting next week with Republican senators in a push to get a congressional tax reform bill on his desk by Christmas, with a final vote purportedly coming as early as Thursday.

Surely there's some Trumpian elbow-throwing, though?

Trump is eager to pass major tax reform -- the first in nearly three decades -- to get his first major legislative victory.

"We're going to give the American people a huge tax cut for Christmas,” Trump said last week. “Hopefully, that will be a great, big, beautiful Christmas present."

Hardly what you'd expect from ... how's that, Oxford English Dictionary?

Amer. slang. to lower the boom on: to inflict severe damage or harsh punishment on; to treat severely; (also) to put a stop to (an activity). Also to lower the boom: to deal a decisive or destructive blow.

No doubt Massster appreciated the effort.

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Sunday, November 19, 2017


No doubt you've all been waiting for the latest from renowned world-affairs analyst Piers Morgan on America's newfound return to international respectability:

... Trump also praised China for out-smarting America in business.
They don’t hear that very often, and certainly not from US presidents.
But it’s true, they have, and Trump’s made it clear he’s not going to make it so easy for them going forward.
Knowing the Chinese mentality a bit from filming a documentary in Shanghai a few years ago, I’d say this a very good strategy.
They respond well to a respectful carrot-and-stick approach, as indeed does Trump.
Let's zoom in for a moment on the cutline, though:
In Vietnam, Trump offered to mediate in the South China Sea dispute, and made encouraging noises about ‘fair and reciprocal’ two-way trade deal, both vitally important issues. Here is* Trump and Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang in front of a statue of Ho Chi Mihn. The President managed to not criticize his hosts
My, my, my. Uncle Ho doesn't usually get off so lightly when American heads of state are involved. Indeed, the whole business of casually posing within camera range of icons of communist mass mayhem seems -- how's that, The Fox Nation?
As the Weekly Standard notes, "the Obama-Che photo was even worse than it looked":

President Obama boasted on his trip that he wasn't going to tell Cubans to "tear something down," a reference to President Reagan's famous exhortation to tear down the Berlin wall. Of course, there's no wall - only ocean - separating Cuba from the rest of the world to tear down. But Obama could have at least told Castro to tear down the monument to repression that he was happily photographed in front of.

Because that's what real presidents do! Right, Piers Morgan?

Throughout his tour, Trump avoided publicly criticizing any of his hosts.
For a man who delights in criticizing absolutely everyone, this must have taken quite extraordinary self-control.
But it paid off. The press coverage from this trip, both in the countries concerned and in the US, is the best Trump’s enjoyed since becoming President.
That must have been a relief. Just consider what happened when ...
Say it ain't so, The Washington Times! Did the Kenyan usurper indulge in another selfie?
For a President who wants to stand on the “right side of history” – posing in front of a mural of an Argentinian Marxist revolutionary during his trip to Cuba probably wasn’t the best choice.

In a photo-op Monday, President Barack Obama and his delegation stood near a massive mural of Ernesto “Che” Guevara, a faithful follower of Karl Marx, and solider** feared by many for his brutality. Mr. Guevara personally oversaw the butchering of Cuba’s Catholics.
So he "snapped" the photo by either -- posing or standing, take your pick.
It's probably true that we overreacted to the vermin press a little bit in 1942. A more appropriate remedy is public ridicule. Please, consider it your constitutional duty to go forth and make fun of these folks. Justice Brandeis wants you to!
* They is?
** [sic], if you're scoring along at home

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Saturday, November 18, 2017

That's not how any of this works

To avoid a long disquisition on whether well executed or poorly executed news is better for the health of the republic, or whether the quality of news makes any difference at all, consider (above) what you have to wade through upon logging in to the airport* wi-fi in hopes of seeing what "the news" might look like.

For the record, no. Dog owners are not less likely to die, nor more likely to die, than the rest of us. Any sudden outburst of immortality on your part is entirely down to chance. There is no statistically significant effect of the treatment. We are all going to die. Is that clear?

Whether there's a significant effect of the malevolent cluelessness of our little friends at the Fair 'n' Balanced Network is a different matter (behold the morning's lead story). I think the jury's still out; there's some evidence indicating that Fox makes people stupid, but it's hard to rule out the antecedent idea that stupid makes people Fox. Either way, if you get there by way of the strange belief that some dog owners live forever,you get pretty much entirely what you pay for.

* DFW, thanks. North half west for the Long Sand head.

Friday, November 17, 2017

It's official: Christmas came early

Q: What could be worse than running the annual AP story on the year-on-year price increase of items in the damn partridge song?
A: Turning the index into a business front centerpiece by your personal finance columnist!

Q: Isn't it a mortal sin to call the list "quirky"?
A: On the bright side, it wasn't "famously rolled out."

Q: Should critical scholars be concerned that the price of lords a-leaping rose but the price of ladies dancing was stable?
A: Not until they look at the price differential between maids ($7.25) and ladies ($839).

Q: Why didn't the price of drummers* go up?

* "I don't like the sound of those drums, sergeant."
"I know, captain. It's not their regular drummer."

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Stop it before it kills again!

No, there's no indication of why a month-old story popped up again Thursday on the Fair 'n' Balanced homepage. One can only speculate whether the commenters would have blamed the tree-hugging Swedish liberals, rather than the parents, if this latest case had happened in Alabama rather than California.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Tabloid fail

Really, Fair 'n' Balanced Network? A digital tabloid passing as the Republican house organ (and blood kin to a New York tabloid yourself), and the most salient thing you can find to say about Liz Smith is "covered Trump divorce"?

For a proper tab sendoff (it's hard to go wrong when you can toss off lines like "ghostwriter for the Hearst gossip column Cholly Knickerbocker in the late 1950s"), see the New York Daily News. And pause, perhaps, to wonder briefly why Fox omitted most of the Trump mentions in that obit.

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

I can see how that might happen

At some point, we've all wished for (a) one more look at the centerpiece and (b) time travel.


Friday, November 03, 2017

Why read the story?

With a hed like that, you may well ask, why bother to read the story? Well, since it's Fox, one answer might be: To see how much of it is true! Should we start with the lede?

A former University of North Carolina student who reportedly stripped down, yelled "Hail Satan!" and tried to blow up the college's "Tree of Knowledge," ended up instead burning a professor who tried to extinguish the flames howling from the Davie Poplar, cops said. 

If you're a bit confused, for God's sake don't read the cutline:

A University of North Carolina Chapel Hill professor was burned after he tried to blow up the college's "Tree of Knowledge" on Thrusday. 

Amid from the spelling, the random commas and the howling flames, one point for the lede: the suspect is neither a professor or a student, but a "former student." A few points off, in that the cops don't appear to have said anything about nudity or Satan-hailing. "Eyewitnesses" do appear to have described those happenings to WTVD, though the state capital daily is circumspect with its video: "The voice of a man shouting 'Hail Satan' can be heard." But let's get back to Fox:

Student Name, a student at the college, said he witnessed the suspect near the tree before the fire started.

"I was standing right there," Name said. "It burnt like alcohol or lighter fluid. So it was just there and gone really fast and he backed up and fell to the ground and just had some first- and second-degree burns."

This also appears to come from the TV station's account, though it seems pretty un-Fox-like to have omitted the sentence that precedes the quote, in which the student saw the suspect  "sitting under the tree moments before the fire started, adding that the suspect starting skipping away saying, 'Yes, yes, yes' once flames were present." Either way, the suspect seems to be the only available "he" in that clause to have suffered the burns, even though that's how the professor* describes his own injuries. (One wonders if Fox's "severe burns" or the N&O's "minor burns" is farther from the mark, in that the professor expects to be hospitalized over the weekend.)

How else is Fox adding to the sum of human knowledge?

... Carrboro police were discharged to the school to investigate a suspicious vehicle. A bomb squad and robot were deployed but found nothing in the car.

Look. If you were a postcard from Chapel Hill, you would probably show something along the axis from the Old Well past the Davie Poplar to McCorkle Place.** You wouldn't show something from Carrboro, because that's the town next door to Chapel Hill. Why were the Carrboro cops "discharged" to the middle of the old part of campus? Let's ask the newspaper:

UNC police contacted Carrboro police shortly after responding to the Davie Poplar fire Thursday to alert them to a possible bomb in a car in a public parking lot on West Weaver Street.

Read more here:

The suspect having left his car in Carrboro, then, that's where the cops went.

No one's covered much in journalistic glory over this one, but Fox stands out for not letting other people's facts get in the way of a good story. Indeed, it hardly seems to let the facts get in the way of anything.

* Who, if you don't read the accompanying stories, seems to be a really good character, and certainly not deserving of the cutline's random Foxness.
** In case you're wondering, Google Maps reports that it can't find Silent Sam; it has no problem with the Old Well, Old East, the Davie Poplar or the Bell Tower and only a little with the Francis M. Owen Jr. Memorial Blood Research Laboratory.

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Thursday, November 02, 2017

Droolers and magic words

The droolers are all about the performative magic of  words these last few days! The is from the Town Hall piece linked at The Fox Nation above:

... As the investigation continues, the media once again showed how they’ve become a clown show. First, a New York Times columnist decided to give a hat tip to New York for having strong gun control laws - totally absurd since Saipov is not a New York resident. Also, he was still able to kill eight people. It was just a dumb remark and politicized the tragedy. This was a terror attack. It’s not the time to peddle gun control talking points.

Second, there’s still the allergic reaction to call things what they are on the Left. CBS News at least put it in their report, but CNN decided to go the old Associated Press route and say Saipov yelled “God is great” in Arabic. Granted, some reporters at the network said Saipov said “Allahu akbar,” but I guess Wolf Blitzer didn’t get the memo. In April, 39-year-old Kori Ali Muhammad opened fire in Fresno, shouting “allahu akbar,” as he was arrested by law enforcement.

The prize, though, goes to the Washington Times's elite "Rapid Reactions" desk:

Jake Tapper, of CNN fame, spoke in the aftermath of the terror attack in New York City by saying — get this — that the phrase “Allahu akbar,” reportedly uttered by the suspected terrorist, is actually a phrase of beauty, in the right circumstances.

Yes — and, in that vein, so was Heil Hitler, depending on the source and context of the utterance.

But this is how the media rolls. When Islam meets terror, and Allah’s at the root, count on the mainstream, lamestream of the media world to find any which way possible to dig up a defense.

I suppose there's no use waiting for the copy desk to ask about those circumstances under which "Heil Hitler" is a phrase of beauty to the reporter. But we're about to get to the fun part:

Breitbart picked up the televised exchange, between Tapper and CNN’s crime and justice reporter, Shimon Prokupecz.

It went like this:

Tapper: Shimon’s got some breaking news on this “horrific incident.”

Shimon: “That’s right Jake. So what we’re told, I’m told by three sources now that the NYPD and the FBI are investigating this as a terrorism incident. Our understanding is that, according to witnesses … they’re telling police that they heard the driver saying, yelling, ‘Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar,’ during this incident.”

And Tapper’s response?

“The Arabic chant, Allahu Akbar, God is great, sometimes is said under the most beautiful of circumstance and too often, we hear it being said in moments like this,” he said.

Today's pro tip? If you have to quote Breitbart, stop before you get to the part the proves you're lying. But onward!

Oh please, make it stop.

It’s bad enough the leftists of the country can’t take even the most mundane and common sense of national security protections to stave off radical Islam terror attacks — like clamping the borders, for example.

But now we’ve got to listen to tripe like Tapper‘s, that uses a terror attack — a terror attack committed by an Islamic believer in the messaging and violent means of ISIS — to propel a politically correct view of the phrase “Allahu akbar?”

Sorry, Tapper. Allahu akbar is what it is. And what it is, at least in the minds of Americans wearied by Islamic-tied terror, is a rally call to violence. Calling it beautiful, especially in context of discussing the latest terror hit on American soil, is indicative of a mind blinded by political correctness, disconnected with reality — and even, sadly, a heart that’s apathetic and callous toward the innocent victims of the “Allahu akbar” terrorists.

Breitbart, in turn, tries to bail the writer out (apparently, there is honor among the foamy-mouthed):

But on top of misleading his viewers, there is the jaw-dropping  inappropriateness of Tapper’s imperious reminder that “Allahu Akbar” is “sometimes said under the most beautiful of circumstances.” As Cheryl K. Chumley of the Washington Times accurately points out, “so was Heil Hitler” said at weddings, funerals, family reunions, and children’s birthday parties. But who thinks offering that kind of context is anything but unseemly?

... Using one of his transparent semantic arguments, Tapper publicly freaked out and launched a hysterical Twitter crusade declaring his critics a liar, including those who quoted him directly, like Sean Hannity, who did nothing more than broadcast video of the segment in question:

Breitbart does us a real favor here, presenting a goodly catalog of its fellow liars. Should you be wondering, no. You should never miss a chance to mock these clowns.

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Diagramming party to action stations

If you were having trouble telling who did what to (how many of) whom from the hed, wait until you get to the Fair 'n' Balanced lede:
A man charged with fatally stabbing and shooting a popular Ohio middle school teacher was engaged to her daughter and a pallbearer at her funeral, officials said Tuesday.

The local Fox affiliate provided an example for your editing midterm:

STRONGSVILLE, Ohio -  Strongsville Police Chief Mark Fender announced Tuesday that 20-year-old Jeffrey Scullin, the fiance of murder victim Melinda Pleskovic's daughter, has been arrested in her death.

... while the AP seems to have kept its eye on the ball:

STRONGSVILLE, Ohio — A man charged with fatally stabbing and shooting a popular middle school teacher was engaged to her daughter, police said Tuesday.

 That's Fox for you. Come for the paranoia, stay for the diagramming.

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