Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fact-checking, anyone?

Apparently, opponents of health-care reform think that their message is more important than actual facts...and didn't fact check things. Even the really, really obvious things that could have been check with a 2-second query in Google, for pete's sake.
Investors Business Daily, in criticizing the Obama health care plan, charged that if the famed scientist Stephen Hawking lived in Britain, its National Health Service wouldn’t save his life, which “because of his physical handicaps is essentially worthless.” Mr. Hawking, 67, who has a motor neuron disease that is like Lou Gehrig’s disease, is a British subject and has received lifelong care from that nation’s health system.
Not only are they wrong on the basics (Hawking does live in Britain, he is the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge University and has received lifelong medical care there, which he has recently praised for prolonging his life) they are also wrong on their assertion that medical care in Britain would have left him out in the cold.

The magazine ran a standard correction merely stating that Hawking actually lives in the UK. No mention of their false premise, no mention that they had banked on it being true to make their point. The Columbia Journalism Review pointed out that the error fundamentally invalidated the editorial's main argument.

When you make an error of that proportion, where the correct information COMPLETELY DISPROVES YOUR POINT, don't you think a little crow-eating is in order? This was a mistake of the worst sort, just half-assed, lazy journalism. Obviously, if it's more important that the initial idea was floated so people can spread the talking point properly -- the truth doesn't really matter much, does it?

No comments: