Patterico's Pontifications


Michael Hiltzik Fails to Fact-Check His Column Accusing USA Today of Failing to Fact-Check a Column

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:32 am

I believe this is properly called “ironic” — no?

On August 7, Michael Hiltzik published a piece titled A Koch op-ed that USA Today should have fact-checked — but didn’t. The headline remains, but there is now a correction that tends to undercut the headline a bit:


Aug. 11, 2:22 p.m.: The headline on this post incorrectly states that USA Today did not fact-check its op-ed piece by Charles Koch. Michael Hiltzik did not contact USA Today to ask whether the piece was fact-checked. USA Today Forum Editor David Mastio said that the piece was fact-checked before publication in accordance with the newspaper’s practices.

I’ll note that I called this one:

Always trust content from Patterico.

I’ll have more to say about this piece in the next few days, but Hiltzik’s “fact-checking” of Koch’s op-ed seemed less like a fact-check and more like a tendentious argument that data should have been interpreted differently. Moreover, in setting forth his own data, Hiltzik screwed up. When I first stumbled across the column, it already sported this correction:


Aug. 7, 2:36 p.m.: An earlier version of this post stated that the BLS figure of people working part-time for economic reasons as of July was 7.4 million. The correct figure is 7.5 million.

My reaction at the time:

Time did tell — and now, Michael Hiltzik’s column about Charles Koch’s and USA Today’s lack of fact-checking now sports two corrections. Heckuva job.

As noted, I plan to have more to say about this column in coming days, so stay tuned.

21 Responses to “Michael Hiltzik Fails to Fact-Check His Column Accusing USA Today of Failing to Fact-Check a Column”

  1. As long as I have been reading Patterico (always trust content from Patterico), I never saw what Hiltzik looked like until I clicked the link in this post. I’m trying not to let that influence my opinion of his writing.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  2. Well, you can’t expect the left to get anything right.

    PPs43 (6fdef4)

  3. With this guy we have to come up with another term for “column”

    EPWJ (29d77c)

  4. Meh, I took it as rhetoric that Hiltzik thought the oped was full of errors, rather then a literal claim that they didn’t fact-check it.

    TTC (67a884)

  5. Thanks, carlitos… I just had to look… do I note a more than passing resemblance to Milton Waddams of Office Space?!?!

    Always distrust teh LAT.

    Colonel Haiku (3a7928)

  6. Writing “journalism” is easy when you just say whatever you want. It is rather pitiful that a blog has better journalistic acumen than the “best” can bring us. Keep up the good work, Patterico.

    dfbaskwill (ef4805)

  7. Hiltzik appears to share with Harry Reid, the composers of Democratic fund-raising letters, and miscellaneous combox partisans, the Tourette’s reflex of uttering ‘Koch brothers’. He seems to fancy that data and analysis are invalidated if they are produced by think tanks the Koch brothers have donated to, or that it’s somehow unseemly for USA Today to print an op-ed piece on the economy of a capable businessman if he is one of the Koch Brothers. Glenn Reynolds refers to reporters as ‘Democratic operatives with by-lines’, and you see the mentality right there.

    This just in from his recent offerings: “Steven Salaita is a respected scholar in American Indian studies and Israeli-Arab relations”. Dr. Salaita is neither. He is an English professor whose research specialty has been American niche literature (e.g. novels by ethnic Arabs). He has no background in anthropology or in Amerindian folklore or in any social research discipline which would give one insight into political conflict between Israel, the Arab states, and various paramilitaries. If you read the first thing about Sailaita, you’d know that. Maybe he’s projecting his own carelessness on others.

    Over to you ‘Mikekoshi’.

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  8. There’s a new owner over there now–maybe you could brighten up their day with a summary of your prior columns describing Hiltzik’s *totally awesome* work on behalf of their new acquisition over the years. If nothing else, it should give them a laugh at an employee’s expense.

    M. Scott Eiland (15aac4)

  9. An earlier version of this post stated that the BLS figure of people working part-time for economic reasons as of July was 7.4 million. The correct figure is 7.5 million.

    One person underemployed is a tragedy, but 100,000 is a statistic.

    Jeff Hall (4e23a4)

  10. There should be a name for this phenomenon.

    Seems that whenever someone criticizes someone else for something
    they’ve done or not done in their comment/post/twit whatever the odds
    of them doing it themselves in their criticism reaches unity.

    We’ve all done the spelling comment or the grammar comment and
    misspelled something or fouled the grammar.

    This is just more of the same.

    It’s fun when it happens though.

    jakee308 (e090f6)

  11. Michael Hiltzik seems to be talking about, not “fact-checking” but argument validating.

    Sammy Finkelman (b0c537)

  12. Here is a point that would go right over Hiltzik’s head:

    First, we need to encourage principled entrepreneurship. Companies should earn profits by creating value for customers and acting with integrity, the opposite of today’s rampant cronyism.

    And then this :

    Sergei Brin and Larry Page told an interviewer that they were reluctant to get into the health care business because there were too many lawyers in the medical business. Brin said, “generally, health is just so heavily regulated. It’s just a painful business to be in. It’s just not necessarily how I want to spend my time. Even though we do have some health projects, and we’ll be doing that to a certain extent. But I think the regulatory burden in the U.S. is so high that think it would dissuade a lot of entrepreneurs.”

    Page added “I am really excited about the possibility of data also, to improve health. But that’s– I think what Sergey’s saying, it’s so heavily regulated. It’s a difficult area. I can give you an example. Imagine you had the ability to search people’s medical records in the U.S.. Any medical researcher can do it. Maybe they have the names removed. Maybe when the medical researcher searches your data, you get to see which researcher searched it and why. I imagine that would save 10,000 lives in the first year. Just that. That’s almost impossible to do because of HIPAA.” In the battle between doctors and lawyers, the lawyers have won, hands down.

    a Health Affairs report of 2009 [estimated] that physicians, on average, spend 3 hours per week dealing with insurance companies and related paperwork. Nurses and other staff invest even more time in these efforts. A 2012 perspective in the NEJM on administrative costs of care highlights findings of an IOM study, and states this: “The United States spends $361 billion annually on health care administration — more than twice our total spending on heart disease and three times our spending on cancer.”

    ” spend 3 hours per week dealing with insurance companies and related paperwork. ”

    A good friend who retired from practice last January told me in December that he spent 2-3 hours PER DAY after office hours entering data in the electronic medical record that is mandated by the Obama administration. The EMRs that I have dealt with are clumsy and difficult to use. A friend on the USC faculty assured me that this is because they are designed by computer people with no experience in medical practice. Sounds like Obamacare.

    MikeK (b5c01a)

  13. The examples Sergei Brin and Larry Page give are almost trivial. There are far worse prollems slowing progress.

    Elizabeth Holmes istrying to o some good.

    Now if things were better, right now, she’d be sending kits for testing of white blood cell counts (much better than temperature, which can be affected by Tylonel and aspirin) and even a test for the ebola virus There is already the basic techhnology to test for anything with a drop of blood.

    And that’s just medical devices or tests, which by themselves, can’t do any harm.

    Sammy Finkelman (b0c537)

  14. As of this moment there are 21 comments on the Hiltzik piece over at the LA Times. Exactly two of them are marked as “Editor’s Picks,” which one would assume means they have been chosen by the editors because they make salient points that amplify the main piece. One comment expresses the fact that conservatives lie about facts and statistics and therefore have no credibility and that the “main stream (sic) media ” shouldn’t “allow all sides to speak equally” during debates like this. In other words, the ramblings of a totalitarian leftist. The other “Editor’s Pick” comment is quoted in full as follows: “Conservative elites are liars? Who would’ve thunk it? Oh, that’s right, anyone who isn’t a moron or a conservative elite.”

    That’s it, the two comments that the “editors” of the Dog Trainer thought were insightful or wise. What an utterly contemptible newspaper this is. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if it turns out that Hiltzik himself is the one who designates the “Editor’s Picks,” but at this point I simply hope that this rag of a fishwrap is put of its misery by the good lawyers specializing in Chapter 7 bankruptcy.

    JVW (638245)

  15. “The examples Sergei Brin and Larry Page give are almost trivial. ”

    No, the medical regulation problem is costing billions. As well as innovation. My group of students this year is six members of a USC bioengineering program. They already have engineering degrees (except one who has a BS in computer science). Will they get into real medical innovation ? We’ll see. We spent today talking about things like type I diabetes and nerve regeneration. I’m not sure the bureaucrats are very interested in this sort of thing.

    Mike K (b5c01a)

  16. Nintendo announced on the 28th,TIA/EIA TSB 102.CAAC, that they will be releasing a new “entry level handheld” on October 8th of this year. So if you haven’t been paying attention to Facebook or Twitter, or any other internet forum, then you probably missed all the criticism that Nintendo has been catching regarding their new handheld console the Nintendo 2DS. People all over are up in arms about the design, about the fact that it lacks the 3D features that have become rather standard, leaving li

    TIA-102.BACF (fc6c31)

  17. Hey, Patterico, we are two handsome devils, are we not?

    SPQR (c4e119)

  18. What JWV said. This fellow Hiltzik is past 60 and a veteran reporter who has won this award and that award. So, a thoroughbred in their stable (or his supervisory editor) fancies vulgar and poisonous utterances of the worst sort of partisan is a ‘pick’. That should tell us something about the calibre of people employed by the Los Angeles Times.

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  19. OT on Fact-checking:

    Of course the August 4th B-day is out of sequence with birth certificate number, out to have been August 8th. But they were barely a state by then.

    gary gulrud (46ca75)

  20. Ya gotta love that prayer above Hilti’s LAT column-“God, make our enemies ridiculous.” Not even a smidgen of irony there!

    Dirty Old Man (b25e94)

  21. Gary, the claims at that article you linked are bulldust.

    Milhouse (9d71c3)

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