Patterico's Pontifications

10/24/2003

WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED?: I

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 9:47 pm

WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED?: I am shocked — shocked! — to see that the New York Times opposes the confirmation of Janice Rogers Brown.

WATCHER’S COUNCIL WINNERS

Filed under: Watcher's Council — Patterico @ 7:00 pm

Spiced Sass had the winning Council entry: American Sleepers Awaken. Stefan Sharkansky had the winning non-Council entry: A Brief History of the Imminent Threat Canard.

MORE PROOF THAT CONGRESS IS

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:35 pm

MORE PROOF THAT CONGRESS IS STUPID: The passage of the bill calling for the FTC to set up a please send me spam list do not e-mail list.

You guys go ahead and sign up for that and let me know how that works out for you.

I MAY BECOME A NAT

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 6:31 pm

I MAY BECOME A NAT HENTOFF FAN: Nat Hentoff is quickly becoming my favorite liberal. Back in July I noted his crusade against the Supreme Court’s Michigan Law School affirmative action case. Lately he has been writing about Charles Pickering, in two columns titled The Ordeal of Charles Pickering and A Judge Who Did Justice. The former column has the wonderful subhead: “Are [New York] Times Editorials Fact-Checked?”

And he has another one coming next week!

ANOTHER QUOTATION MARK CONTROVERSY: James

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:07 am

ANOTHER QUOTATION MARK CONTROVERSY: James Taranto reports here how CNN doctored President Bush’s statement in connection with the partial-birth abortion ban.

See if you can spot the difference between the original quote and the CNN version. Here is the quote from Bush’s written statement:

I applaud the Senate for joining the House in passing the ban on partial-birth abortion. This is very important legislation that will end an abhorrent practice and continue to build a culture of life in America. I look forward to signing it into law.

Here is how CNN altered the quote in its story:

“I applaud the Senate for joining the House in passing the ban on ‘partial-birth abortion,'” Bush said in a written statement. “This is very important legislation that will end an abhorrent practice and continue to build a culture of life in America. I look forward to signing it into law.”

Did you see the difference?

As Taranto points out, the CNN version adds quotation marks around the words “partial-birth abortion.” Although the story purports to quote Bush’s statement, the story adds quotation marks that were not in the text of that written statement.

Now, for the mainstream media, sneering quotation marks around the words “partial-birth abortion” are second nature. As a journalist, when you see the words “partial-birth abortion,” your finger, in a conditioned reflex originating in the cerebral cortex, moves straight for the quotation mark key on your keyboard. As the CNN story shows, this reflex is so ingrained that trained journalists have been observed distorting the meaning of quotations through the use of these sneering quotation marks.

Bush believes that partial-birth abortion is just that, and it is a substantive misrepresentation of his beliefs to place non-existent sneer quotes around the term — particularly when quoting a written statement. This is because, as everyone knows, the use of sneer quotes indicates a belief that the word within the quotes is inaccurate.

It appears that “journalists” like this CNN reporter, or Maureen Dowd, or Alan Bill Arkin apparently need remedial training in the art of quoting people. As a public service, I will now present some simple rules for these accuracy-challenged folks. First: Only direct quotes go in quotation marks. Characterizations do not, if there is the slightest risk that the characterization could be misinterpreted as a quote. (The “Arkin rule.”) Critical context must be supplied, and ellipses must not be used to distort the meaning of the quote. (The “Dowd rule.”) And quotations must not add or delete quotation marks contained in the original quote — especially for sneering purposes. (The “CNN rule.”)

I bet even Xrlq, who was uncharacteristically forgiving of the Arkin misquotation fiasco, thinks this one is beyond the pale.

COMPARING BANS: Jacob Sullum compares

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:45 am

COMPARING BANS: Jacob Sullum compares the ban on partial-birth abortion with the ban on so-called “assault weapons” in this column at Reason.com.

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE:

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:25 am

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE: I criticize the Los Angeles Times a great deal, because there is a great deal of reason to do so. But I think it’s appropriate that I also mention when this paper does something right. I think the Times has done a nice job recently in its reporting on admissions standards at the elite UC schools.

As the paper states the issue today:

At UC Berkeley and UCLA, several thousand students with SAT scores exceeding 1400 were not admitted to some programs in recent years while hundreds of others with below-average scores gained entrance to the prestigious campuses.

This is an important story with obvious potential ramifications regarding affirmative action. It appears likely that Proposition 209 is being violated. It would have been the easiest thing in the world for the Times to ignore the story (or treat it as a non-story), and keep the P.C. elements in the newsroom happy.

Instead, the paper broke the news with this story, which revealed the findings of a confidential report criticizing UC Berkeley’s admissions practices. The paper followed up yesterday with a similar story about UCLA. Throughout, the paper has given the story appropriately prominent play.

Let’s give credit where credit is due. These stories have revived an important debate about the role of affirmative action in admissions processes. If the confidential findings had been buried or spiked, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. I say kudos to the Times for reporting this story in the way it has.

UPDATE: Beware. It is written, somewhere, that praise of the Times by myself and Xrlq in the same week is one of the signs of the Apocalypse.

FROM THE ONION: The most

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:24 am

FROM THE ONION: The most recent Onion has the following “man on the street” feature:

An advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration recommended that the 11-year ban on the sale of silicone breast implants be lifted. What do you think?

My favorite response was from Wilma Hines, Political Activist: “The ban should not only be lifted, but separated, as well.”


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