Patterico's Pontifications


Decision ‘08: The Most Painful Correction of All Time

Filed under: Media Bias,Morons — Patterico @ 9:00 am

Decision ’08 notes The Most Painful Correction of All Time: the correction the New York Times has finally run on Paul Krugman’s numerous errors regarding the 2000 election. Editor Gail Collins says:

A classic case of correction run amok involved a column that Paul Krugman wrote on Aug. 19 about the Florida recount in 2000 in which he said that two different news media groups reviewed the ballots and found that “a full manual recount would have given the election to Mr. Gore.” That was incorrect. Paul tried to clarify things in his next column, but the public editor, Byron Calame, objected that since nothing in the second column was labeled a correction, the original error would survive in the permanent record.

Paul published a correction in his next column. Unfortunately, the correction was based on information published in The Miami Herald that was wrong and had never been formally fixed. Paul appended another correction to the Web version of his column, but asked if he could refrain from revisiting the subject yet again in print.

I agreed, feeling we had reached the point of cruelty to readers. But I was wrong. The correction should have run in the same newspaper where the original error and all its little offspring had appeared. Here it is:


In describing the results of the ballot study by the group led by The Miami Herald in his column of Aug. 26, Paul Krugman relied on the Herald report, which listed only three hypothetical statewide recounts, two of which went to Al Gore. There was, however, a fourth recount, which would have gone to George W. Bush. In this case, the two stricter-standard recounts went to Mr. Bush. A later study, by a group that included The New York Times, used two methods to count ballots: relying on the judgment of a majority of those examining each ballot, or requiring unanimity. Mr. Gore lost one hypothetical recount on the unanimity basis.

Got that? Getting the facts right is “cruelty to readers.”

But as Tim Worstall notes, the corrections haven’t made it onto Krugman’s columns. [UPDATE: Tim is looking at the Lexis-Nexis versions, while I am looking at the Web versions.] Here are the links, and while it’s amusing that each has a bold notice stating: “Correction Appended,” the corrections (as of this posting) are not today’s correction, but rather earlier and largely incorrect corrections:

  • August 26 column

    [NOTE: See UPDATE below. It’s there now, in the August 26 column only.]

It’s not right yet, Ms. Collins!

UPDATE 10-2-05 4:54 p.m.: I noticed this morning, while clicking links on the Treo, that the 8/26 column did indeed appear to have the new correction as of 9:45 Pacific time. It clearly has it now. I thought I had checked all three this morning before posting, so I believe that the correction was added in between when I posted and when I checked it again — but I didn’t take a screenshot, and I am not 100 percent certain. It is possible that I simply made a mistake and overlooked it in my haste to get out the door. If I did make a mistake, I want to acknowledge it forthrightly — after all, I’m not Paul Krugman!

This is still pathetic. The two earlier columns that actually dealt with the 2000 election, from August 19 and August 22, both still contain the following language, uncorrected:

Unlike a more definitive study by a larger consortium that included The New York Times, an analysis that showed Al Gore winning all statewide manual recounts, the earlier study showed him winning two out of three.

This language is utterly false, as the new correction makes clear — yet these columns are still running with this false and uncorrected language. Unbelievable! After all this! What’s more, I’ll remind you of the ironic title of the August 22 column, which still contains false and uncorrected facts: “Don’t Prettify Our History.”

Ready to pay that $49.95 a year yet?

O.J. at the Horror Convention — Nothing Odd About That!

Filed under: Crime,Scum — Patterico @ 1:07 am

The L.A. Times reports: O.J. Stars at Horror Confab:

It was hard to miss the irony: There sat O.J. Simpson, waiting to sign autographs at a horror-themed collectibles convention just days before the 10th anniversary of his acquittal on charges that he had killed his ex-wife and her friend.

His spot in the Northridge strip mall had him practically rubbing elbows with a promotional display for a splatter movie, a haunted house and such decorations as severed heads and limbs.

. . . .

Some marveled at the spectacle of the Heisman Trophy winner among followers of the occult and the macabre. “I thought it was kind of weird, kind of ironic,” said Michele Sing, who was hawking theatrical contact lenses with such names as “Fury” and “Lone Wolf.”

. . . .

Promoter Thomas Riccio, who brought Simpson to Northridge for what was billed as his first public appearance in California since the trial, dismissed the idea that Simpson’s presence at a horror convention was peculiar.

“I don’t think it’s odd because everything here is odd,” he said.

Yup. Nothing odd at all. Just like there’s nothing odd about THIS:

[Cue the “Psycho” theme]


Criticizing vs. Doing

Filed under: Blogging Matters,Media Bias — Patterico @ 12:38 am

Jeff Jarvis says that journalists give terrible interviews:

Two surprising truths about journalists:

First, they give bad interview. You’d think all those years on the other end of the pencil would teach them how to give clear, concise answers to questions … and how to beware of reporters’ tricks. But, no. Reporters being interviewed tend to ramble and enjoy the attention a bit too much and, like a drunken criminal, say too much. That’s why media companies give reporters media training, which should be too ironic to bear. And I suspect that is also why media companies fear giving reporters blogs.

Second, reporters have thin skins. You’d think that all those years of probing, criticizing, attacking, and lampooning others would give them Teflon skin. But, no, like a schoolyard bad boy, if you confront them and criticize them back, they turn either weepy or prickly. Can give, can’t take.

I left this comment:

Not entirely off-topic, just analogous to your comment that journalists make bad interviewees: lawyers make terrible witnesses. I have seen one or two testify and they always ramble and say too much — even when they spend their careers telling witnesses to answer only the question asked and keep answers bite-sized.

Just another case of it being easier to instruct others in how to do things than it is to do it right yourself.

Which got me thinking: there is a lesson there as well for us bloggers who are media critics. Yes, we criticize; yes, our criticisms are often on target; and yes, our targets are often quite arrogant. But — it is always true that, as I said in my comment, it’s easier to tell other people how to do it than it is to do it yourself.

Unpopular as this might sound to bloggers and blog readers, that is probably a lesson that we media critics should take to heart.

John Williams: Thief

Filed under: General,Music — Patterico @ 12:20 am

While I’m on a music kick . . . a question for you classical music folks:

Am I the only person in the world who has noticed that the theme for “E.T.” is lifted directly from the final few bars of Dvořák’s “Dumky Trio”?

I assume not.

P.S. Also, the love theme from Superman sounds suspiciously like a recurring theme from Richard Strauss’s “Tod und Verklärung.” And anyone who has heard Holst’s “The Planets” hears a similarity between the “Mars” theme and the Darth Vader theme — though that is more a copying of style than a lifting of a particular theme, like the other two examples.

P.P.S. Does anyone know where a free .mp3 of the last movement of the Dumky trio is available on the Web? I can make the claim, but hearing is believing. Same question for the Richard Strauss piece.

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