Patterico's Pontifications

7/31/2019

Hot Air: Babylon Bee may Sue Snopes

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 7:26 am



[Headline from DRJ]

No Joke: Babylon Bee Sics Lawyers On Snopes Over “Fact Checks”

Even the satirists at the Babylon Bee have a limit to jokes — and the attempts by Snopes to “fact check” their humor doesn’t qualify. In a message to subscribers yesterday, the Bee declared that Snopes was attempting to exploit its position as a Facebook partner to “deplatform” the conservative satire site. In response, the Babylon Bee has decided to sic their very real and non-humorous attorneys against the urban-legend site to put an end to their harassment.

NOTE: I edited the title to add “may” since there doesn’t appear to be a lawsuit filed. My thanks to Davethulhu for pointing this out.

— DRJ

3/27/2016

Snopes Lamely Tries to Exonerate Emory Crybullies, Gets Facts Wrong [Updated]

Filed under: General — JVW @ 11:28 am



[guest post by JVW]

As a follow-up to last night’s post on the recent kerfuffle at Emory, I see that the website Snopes, which describes itself as “the definitive Internet reference source for urban legends, folklore, myths, rumors, and misinformation,” has weighed in. In what seems to be a curious take on the subject, the snopes blogger Kim LaCapria focuses on the claim that Emory students “were offered ’emergency counseling’ after pro-Trump graffiti appeared overnight in campus ‘safe spaces,'” and judges it to be “mostly false,” decreeing the following:

WHAT’S TRUE: Students at Emory University gathered in protest after pro-Trump graffiti appeared overnight; administrators investigated the graffiti as it appeared outside designated areas for chalk markings.

WHAT’S FALSE: “Emergency counseling” was offered to or demanded by students; Emory students complained that their “safe spaces” had been violated; students were afraid of or traumatized by the chalk markings.

It strikes me as a bit odd that Ms. LaCapria is so fixated on the idea of emergency counseling being offered. Yes, as she points out, some conservative critics claimed that the school had offered the students “emergency counseling,” and in fact, the word “counseling” was not used in any official communication from Emory’s administration, let alone “emergency counseling.” But the administration did promise “. . . regular and structured opportunities for difficult dialogues, a formal process to institutionalize identification, review and [the] addressing of social justice opportunities and issues and a commitment to an annual retreat to renew our efforts,” and announced that the student government would be holding extra office hours “to provide Emory students an opportunity to discuss such support and inclusivity on Emory’s campus.” While this might not rise to the level of official counseling sessions with trained psychiatric professionals, it seems to me to be at least some sort of counseling or other.

But let’s put that aside for a moment, giving Ms. LaCapria the benefit of the doubt in her judgement. What can’t be explained away, though, is her puzzling assertion that students were not in fact “afraid of or traumatized by the chalk markings.” If that were the case, then how would Ms. LaCapria explain the following quotes from the article in the Emory Wheel campus newspaper:

An antiphonal chant addressed to University administration, led by College sophomore Jonathan Peraza, resounded “You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain!” throughout the Quad. [. . .]

“I’m supposed to feel comfortable and safe [here],” one student said. “But this man is being supported by students on our campus and our administration shows that they, by their silence, support it as well. I don’t deserve to feel afraid at my school. . .” [. . .]

“What are we feeling?” Peraza asked those assembled. Responses of “frustration” and “fear” came from around the room. . . “

[bolded emphasis in all cases is added by me]

Though I have never been a huge believer in the idea that Snopes is part of a left-wing media cabal seeking to push a progressive agenda, I find it difficult to read this particular entry and not get the sense that Kim LaCapria sought to spin this controversy in a way to mitigate the damage that Emory crybullies and their venal and cowardly administration have done to their university. Honing in on the idea that the word “counseling” was never used, and the weird obsessiveness with debunking the idea that “emergency” counseling was offered is one thing, but Ms. LaCapria is flat-out wrong in her assertion that no students expressed fear or a sense of trauma at the chalkings.

I rate her coverage of the Emory Crybully Saga to be “Mostly False.”

UPDATE: MD in Philly, who at the moment is not in Philly, reminds us that this site has had opportunity in the past to call into question the Snopes ruling on disputed events. Thanks for the timely reminder.

– JVW

12/17/2008

Xrlq Takes on Snopes.com

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:28 am



He focuses on their lies by omission.

They still haven’t fixed their error‘ about Obama’s pledge not to run for President, by the way.

5/31/2007

Snopes Remains Shameless

Filed under: General,Terrorism — Justin Levine @ 3:57 am



[posted by Justin Levine]

Patterico justifiably took Snopes to task in 2004 for skewing the real issue behind the Annie Jacobsen story concerning the suspicious behavior on flight 327.

Recent events seem to have vindicated key claims of Jacobsen’s story – but Snopes continues to be disingenuous about the controversy.

Snopes writes:

Claim: Passengers encountered by reporter on airline flight were proved to be terrorists making a dry run at assembling a bomb on-board.

Status: False

[UPDATE BY PATTERICO: Note that this is different from Snopes’s original characterization of the controversy, as detailed in my 2004 post:

Claim: Reporter encounters terrorists on airline flight who are making a dry run at assembling a bomb on-board.

Status: False.

More on this in the UPDATE BY PATTERICO below.]

Snopes then even has the gall to cite the latest government [PDF] report as “proof” about the veracity of its own assessment.

Technically, Snopes is correct of course – but only because it constructs a disingenuously worded “claim” upfront, rather than reassess the story under a reasonable “claim”.

It is true that none of the passengers were “proven” to be terrorists. The latest government [PDF] report does not offer any such proof either.

However, contrary to Snopes implication, (more…)

5/29/2007

Snopes: Wrong Again on Flight 327

Filed under: Air Security,General,Terrorism — Patterico @ 6:23 am



With the revival of the debate over Annie Jacobsen and Flight 327, commenters are pointing to Snopes as providing an allegedly authoritative opinion on the matter.

Hardly — as I showed long ago in this post.

Since I wrote that post, Snopes has doubled down — and their new material is disingenous indeed. Xrlq explains.

7/17/2017

A Ringing Defense Of Donald Trump From A Very Unlikely Source

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:26 am



No matter what you think of Donald Trump — not much, in my case — all sensible people agree that he has been the subject of many unfair attacks from the news media and elsewhere. A few days ago, a long list of such attacks was compiled by a very unlikely source: Snopes.com, which is usually absurdly left-leaning when it comes to political issues. The surprising and excellent piece is titled The Lies of Donald Trump’s Critics, and How They Shape His Many Personas. The deck headline reads: “An in-depth analysis of the false allegations and misleading claims made against the 45th President since his inauguration.”

Dan McGuill, the author of the piece, selects four categories of calumny against Trump. I’ll give you a short excerpt from each category to whet your appetite for the full piece:

  • Donald Trump: International Embarrassment

Take, for example, the claim that Trump was the only world leader at a G7 summit in May not to take notes, based on a photograph posted to Twitter by French President Emannuel Macron. Here Trump was portrayed as unprepared and out of his depth on the world stage, with a “ten-second attention span”. However, the claim was entirely untrue, with other images and video of the meeting showing that Trump did indeed have notes and a pen. Not only that, but the very image used to make the false claim clearly shows two other world leaders sitting with no note-taking paraphernalia. In this case, even the cherry-picked evidence chosen to make the point undermines it.

  • Trump the Tyrant

Then there was the satirical article that reported Trump had signed an executive order declaring himself the popular vote winner in 2016’s presidential election, or the claim that he had imposed martial law in Chicago, using a video of a police tank which has been in use since 2010.

  • Donald Trump: Bully baby

Sometimes these claims seem plausible enough to gain even more credibility and traction. In April, Trump met the public at the traditional White House Easter Egg Roll. A teenaged boy asked him to sign his “Make America Great Again” hat, and the President obliged, but appeared to toss the hat in the air.

This was presented as a callous act from a bullying, villainous Donald Trump by observers such as the Resistance Report web site, which wrote ” Trump Just Ruined This Kid’s Day at the Easter Egg Roll.” However, another camera angle clearly shows that Trump was playfully tossing the hat back to the boy, who happily receives the hat and walks away. This video was posted to Twitter 42 minutes after the original:

But even without the second camera angle, Occam’s Razor comes into play once again. Does it make sense that Donald Trump, asked by an enthusiastic young man to sign a hat bearing his iconic slogan, would sign the hat and then, smiling, deliberately throw it away from the boy? Or is it more likely that Trump was being playful with someone who acted admiringly towards him, and tossed the hat in the air with the intention of giving it back to the boy?

  • Trump the Buffoon

Almost instantly, Trump was mocked for citing as an Irish proverb a poem written by a Nigerian man.
[]
The entire episode is a remarkable example of something bordering on collective hallucination, most likely brought on by confirmation bias. Here hundreds of thousands of people — including professional journalists working for influential news organizations, and a chat show host with more than three million nightly viewers — literally heard Trump say something he never said, in most cases probably because it confirmed a pre-existing image of the President as a poorly read, culturally ignorant buffoon.

Of course, one thing that feeds these falsehoods is the fact that Trump has aspects of his personality that are embarrassing, tyrannical, bullying, and buffoonish.

It has to be acknowledged that since January, many of Trump’s opponents, and even lukewarm supporters, have found considerable fault with his policies and behavior, based on accurate facts. There have been many occasions when Trump himself, undistorted and unfiltered, contributed mightily to the four personas we have outlined.

Indeed, even if you are a fierce opponent of the President, you should be an equally fierce opponent of manufactured stories designed to make him look bad. Because those stories undercut the genuine criticism he often deserves — and give his supporters a lazy way to dismiss as exaggerations even valid points about his character or behavior.

Snopes.com has a deserved reputation for left-leaning political bias. This piece undoes some of the damage the site has done to its own reputation for honesty … honesty which ought to be, and in this case is, integral to the brand of a site built to debunks myths and lies. This is a win for them and for us. And for integrity.

Fact-checkers of the world, take note. This is how you do it.

[Cross-posted at RedState and The Jury Talks Back.]

12/20/2016

Who Is Going To Fact Check The Fake News Fact Checkers?

Filed under: General — Dana @ 4:57 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Fake news is all the rage these days. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently announced that he is establishing a group of media professionals as fact-checkers who will check and flag fake news:

The decision comes after Facebook received heated criticism for its role in spreading a deluge of political misinformation during the US presidential election, like one story that falsely said the Pope had endorsed Donald Trump.

To combat fake news, Facebook has teamed up with a shortlist of media organizations, including Snopes and ABC News, that are part of an international fact-checking network led by Poynter, a nonprofit school for journalism in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Starting as a test with a small percentage of its users in the US, Facebook will make it easier to report news stories that are fake or misleading. Once third-party fact-checkers have confirmed that the story is fake, it will be labeled as such and demoted in the News Feed.

Also included in the described “respected fact-checking organization”: PolitiFact, Factcheck.org and the Associated Press. Obviously, there are any number of problems with this plan. Further, it’s troubling that along with several other politically liberal billionaires, the involvement of George Soros in the fact-checking effort is hypocritically being overlooked by the very media outlets claiming that this will be an objective and non-biased endeavor.

So, does it count as fake news when the fact-checkers themselves are posting intentionally incomplete or misleading reports?

Here is ABC News this morning – even after German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere said yesterday that, “authorities have “no doubt” that the attack was intentional,” and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also said yesterday, “We must assume at the current time that it was a terrorist attack.”:

untitled

And, on a side note, shouldn’t this also be flagged as fake news, too?:

MSNBC host Chris Hayes reported on the comments made by Turkish assassin Mert Altintas in the aftermath of his murder of the Russian ambassador Tuesday, but curiously left out the fact that he yelled “Allahu akbar“– “God is great” in Arabic.

“The gunman was Turkish, a 22-year-old officer in the Ankara special forces,” the All In host said. “According to witnesses, the gunman yelled out, ‘Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria,’ wounding three additional people before being fatally shot by police.”

Video of the shooting is readily available online, and shows that Altintas immediately yelled “Allahu akbar” after firing the shots. While nearly all outlets included that fact in their reports on the shooting (including MSNBC earlier in the day), Hayes did not.

–Dana

9/30/2016

Donald Trump’s Latest Late Night Tweet Storm

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:32 am



[UPDATE: Ah, I see Dana already did this story. Well, read both of our posts!]

All the online polls say this was a good idea. All of them!

After the Machado story broke, places like the Daily Caller reported: “Snippets of an adult film starring Machado are available on multiple free porn websites.” This has been debunked:

It should come as no surprise that celebrity nude photographs and sex videos drive major traffic on the Internet. But when legitimate photographs or videos are not available, hoaxsters often resort to creating their own. In some cases, this involves Photoshopping a famous face onto a nude or near-nude body (as was done with Sarah Palin), or changing the title of a sex video if it features a porn actress who bears a resemblance to a celebrity

The latter is the case with Alicia Machado. In 2009, a video clip purportedly showing the former Miss Universe winner engaging in anal sex was circulated online, and that is the clip that now most frequently shows up in response to web searches on the phrase “Alicia Machado porn.” However, the woman seen in that video is not Alicia Machado — the clip was taken from the 2004 DVD Apprentass 4, which features porn actress Angel Dark, and was later retitled to suggest it showed Alicia Machado:

The Daily Caller article now sports the correction: “Correction: The star of Apprentass 4 was Angel Dark, not Alicia Machado.”

Happily, we can still carry on the debate, because there is some grainy footage of figures squirming together on a bed on a Spanish reality show. As Snopes.com says:

Machado is also often described as having been in a “sex tape,” a claim that stems from her 2005 appearance on the Spanish reality show La Granja (similar to the United States’ The Real World), which she was reportedly kicked off of after being filmed having sex with another cast member:

The romantic relationship between Alicia Machado and her fellow Venezuelan, baseball player Bob Abreu, is finished. The breakup was announced by the athlete himself in an interview with the Telefutura cable network.

The remarks followed a scandal that erupted over Machado’s appearance on the Spanish television program La Granja. In the course of that reality show, the former Miss Universe and Spanish actor Fernando Acaso were filmed having sex. After the incident, the Venezuelan actress and singer was booted from the program, and two weeks ago she apologized on the air to her boyfriend.

“I never thought things would happen like that. [Fernando] behaved very respectfully towards her as a woman” Abreu says. He also said that Machado would now have to think things through. Abreu emphasized that he is no longer Machado’s boyfriend and said their relationship had ended before Machado went to Spain to participate in La Granja.

However, the so-called “sex tape” stemming from that incident, which is nothing more than some grainy, night-vision footage of a couple of covered figures writhing in a bed, hardly qualifies as explicit. And reality television being what it is, the scene the tape depicts was quite possibly staged or fabricated.

I have a friend who once played a role on a reality show. He was the cheating husband caught on tape with multiple bikini-clad women in a hot tub. My friend has never been married, but he got paid cash money to pretend he was so he could sit in a hot tub with bikini-clad women. Not a bad gig. Lesson: “reality” shows are fictional trash. Sorry to burst your bubble.

So now maybe Mike Pence can spend part of the Vice Presidential debate defending the notion that Trump’s late night reference to a sex tape was not a debunked reference to a porn tape, but a reference to grainy footage from a reality show. I think that would be a good use of his time, don’t you? Better than, say, using that time to talk about, say, Tim Kaine boycotting Netanyahu’s speech to Congress and his ties to J Street.

Thanks, Donald!

1/18/2015

Empowering Middle School Students…With Canned Food

Filed under: General — Dana @ 5:03 pm



[guest post by Dana]

Public schools in America. I thought nothing coming out of them could surprise me, but then I read about this. In Alabama, the actions of one middle school appeared so ridiculous that even Snopes was compelled to confirm the veracity of the story.

As reported:

In a letter Friday, W.F. Burns Middle School Principal Priscella Holley asked parents to have each student bring an 8-ounce canned item.

We realize at first this may seem odd; however, it is a practice that would catch an intruder off guard,” she wrote in the letter, published by TV station WHNT in Huntsville.

“The canned food item could stun the intruder or even knock him out until the police arrive,” Holley wrote. “The canned food item will give the students a sense of empowerment to protect themselves and will make them feel secure in case an intruder enters their classroom.”

When asked about the canned food empowerment, Superintendent Kelli Hodge explained:

This plan is the result of an active shooter school training program called ALICE: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate.

Using cans or other items as weapons would be a last resort for students unable to evacuate, Hodge told the AP.

Teachers are taught to barricade classroom doors if an intruder is in the school, but if that fails, the cans and items such as textbooks could be used, she said.

“If somebody is going to force their way through, then as the last resort you would start throwing any objects you could get your hands on,” Hodge said.

Asked whether throwing cans of food could make a student a target, Hodge said they would already be a target at that point.

“If it comes to the situation that they are forced to do that, then they are a target because they’ve not been able to evacuate,” she said.

From the ALICE website:

The web site for the ALICE Training Institute explains the program was created after the Columbine High School shootings in 1999 when a police officer and his wife, a school principal, began to look into active shooter protocols for schools and found recommendations to protect staff and students between a 911 call and the arrival of police officers were scant.

Further:

The purpose of ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training is to prepare individuals to handle the threat of an Active Shooter. ALICE teaches individuals to participate in their own survival, while leading others to safety. Though no one can guarantee success in this type of situation, this new set of skills will greatly increase the odds of survival should anyone face this form of disaster.

So, if and when an armed intruder makes his way into the classrooms at W.F. Burns Middle School or other schools that have undergone ALICE Training, he better look out. Those flying cans of food just might find their target.

Sigh. This is what public schools have come to.

–Dana

3/17/2014

Tim Rutten: Why, You Can See the Great Wall of China and the California Aqueduct from the MOON!!!!!!

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 8:58 pm



Tim Rutten, cut by the Los Angeles Times, is now spewing his nonsense at the Daily Breeze, the South Bay paper that many read as alternative to the nonsense put out by the Dog Trainer. Fact-checking was never Rutten’s strong suit, and it looks like he slipped one by the editors:

Think California’s recent rain storms solved the state’s water crisis?

Well, they didn’t, and to understand why, you have to go beyond the uncertainties of our state’s climate and into our unique — often confounding — economic and political history.

When American astronauts stood on the moon and looked back toward Earth, there were only two works of man that they could glimpse with the naked eye: One was the Great Wall of China and the other was the California Aqueduct.

Really?

It’s certainly news to NASA that you can see the Great Wall of China from the moon:

It has become a space-based myth. The Great Wall of China, frequently billed as the only man-made object visible from space, generally isn’t, at least to the unaided eye in low Earth orbit. It certainly isn’t visible from the Moon.

If you can’t see the Great Wall from low Earth orbit (around 100-1240 miles) it’s going to be a little tricky to see it from about 239,000 miles.

The theory that the wall could be seen from the Moon dates back to at least 1938. It was repeated and grew until astronauts landed on the lunar surface.

“The only thing you can see from the Moon is a beautiful sphere, mostly white, some blue and patches of yellow, and every once in a while some green vegetation,” said Alan Bean, Apollo 12 astronaut. “No man-made object is visible at this scale.”

But what does NASA know, compared to the great knowledge of Timothy Rutten?

Bean ain’t the only astronaut to say this. Here is Neil Armstrong:

AMBROSE: I wanted to ask, I have heard or read somewhere that there are only two man-made objects on Earth that can be seen from the Moon, and that one of these is the Chinese [Great] Wall and the other is the Fort Peck Dam [Montana]. [I wonder if some Montana governor said that! — Patterico]

ARMSTRONG: I would challenge both. We could see continents, could see Greenland. It stands out, just like it does on the globe in your library, all white. Antarctica we couldn’t see because there were clouds over Antarctica. Africa was quite visible, and we could see sun glint off a lake. It might have been Lake Chad. I’m not certain which lake it was, but we could catch that reflection, sun reflection…. But I do not believe that, at least with my eyes, there would be any man-made object that I could see. I have not yet found somebody who has told me they’ve seen the Wall of China from Earth orbit. I’m not going to say there aren’t people, but I personally haven’t talked tothem. I’ve asked various people, particularly Shuttle guys, that have been many orbits around China in the daytime, and the ones I’ve talked to didn’t see it.

I’m beating this into the ground, but it’s fun. Here is Dr. Karl at ABC Science:

It’s claimed that you can see the Great Wall of China from the Moon.

That’s one big claim, but let’s take this apart brick by brick.

. . . .

Many other authors, publicists for travel agencies and even the drunk guy down at the pub kept on repeating this story. But is it true?

Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the Moon, said about the Great Wall of China, “It is not visible from lunar distance”. Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, his co-pilot said, “you have a hard time even seeing continents.”

So we can’t see the Great Wall from the Moon, which is about 400,000 km away. But could you see it from the Space Shuttle? It flies in Low Earth Orbit, 300-530 kilometres up.

The astronaut William Pogue, who flew in space on Skylab 4, was able to see the Great Wall, but only with binoculars, and with lots of practice.

(Tim Rutten, for purposes of this blog post, is “the drunk guy down at the pub.”)

As for the notion that the California Aqueduct is visible from space, well . . . as best as I can tell, the sources for that preposterous notion include Andy Warhol, renowned for his deep knowledge of astronomy and physics, and Pat Brown (who was so proud of his pet project that he predicted it would join the Great Wall of China as one of only two manmade objects that could be seen from the Moon!) (Except, didn’t we just show that, um . . .?).

C’mon, Rutten. Even the drunk guy down at the pub could recognize that for the puffery it is.

Thanks to JVW, who has demanded a correction. Here’s hoping the Daily Breeze is more conscientious about facts than the L.A. Times was. I’d like to think so, but . . . they’re publishing Tim Rutten, aren’t they?

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