George Will is Not Entitled to His Own Facts

Over at Wonk Room, Brad Johnson is trying to get responses from the Post about why George Will is allowed to ignore fact and reality, and why the Post won't run a correction of his errors. It's pretty pathetic. The great conservative "intellectual"--Will--is apparently unaccountable.

And you wonder why newspapers are failing today.

I think we need them desperately--see this Paul Starr cover story of the latest New Republic--but when the Washington Post acts in such a boneheaded manner in defending one of its columnists' egregious errors, it's hard to feel too bad for them.

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My mistake.

By afarensis (not verified) on 20 Feb 2009 #permalink

To me these days almost all the mainstream media is becoming a forum for hacks and quacks. The NYT, WSJ, Wash Post; to me all of them are gradually appearing to be the same. I am sorely disappointed and almost ready to start considering most of their items as irrelevant. Thank you.

George Will is a white male heterosexual Republican pundit.

Therefore, he is entitled to everything.

By Pierce R. Butler (not verified) on 20 Feb 2009 #permalink

Aren't traditional journalists justifying their economic position based on the value-add of in-depth research and fact checking?

Well, so much for that argument ...

By D. C. Sessions (not verified) on 20 Feb 2009 #permalink

I shall forward that remark to Mr. Will together with the observation that you will be at his home at nine this evening in a tutu ready for orders.

By vanderleun (not verified) on 20 Feb 2009 #permalink

There's a reason the Post editors let Will hire his own fact-checkers, methinks. It keeps the editor from the awkward position of showing his "liberal bias" in not running Will's column, and Will gets to hire fact-checkers who don't do their jobs to maintain uncertainty where there is none.

Will lies, repeatedly, after being corrected, the editor gets to point to all the fact-checking that went on, while everyone does this little kabuki dance where the only chumps who are supposed to fall for it is you and me.

You can't tell me these cleverly crafted responses aren't just meant to keep the issue fuzzy enough to allow them to keep conservative columnists unaccountable and keep the lies flowing through their op-ed pages.

We have plenty of references that support what George wrote, and we have others that dispute that. So we didn't have enough to send in a correction.

Plenty of references? Care to supply any, WaPO?

And thus we see the lunacy that results from the constant application of the "there are two sides to every story" axiom to all science stories--or editorials that pretend to be talking about science.

Let me tell you a story. This truly happened. A few years ago, I got a letter. I get a lot of mail, as a writer of matters fantastic and as a critic of the field, I get a lot of mail, and they are filled with opinions. Everybody has opinions: I have them, you have them. And we are all told from the moment we open our eyes, that everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. Well, thatâs horsepuckey, of course. We are not entitled to our opinions; we are entitled to our informed opinions. Without research, without background, without understanding, itâs nothing. Itâs just bibble-babble. Itâs like a **** in a wind tunnel folks. So, I get opinions.

-- Harlan Ellison

It's clear that journalists are spread so thin in the newsroom--i think this whole Post fiasco illustrates that pretty well. The Post is just exacerbating the issue by avoiding blame.

The real issue here seems to me that Americans take good journalism for granted. It was a luxury that journalism paid for itself all these years. And now that lots of the big media outlets are in crisis, and people act like they are just being lazy all of a sudden.

You can't use a data set Mr. Will did NOT refer to to amke Mr. Will's Point. Sorry, but just scratching out 1979 and sustituting 1980 doesn't actually change anything - and it's intellectually dishonest to boot.

In addition, any science grad student in first year statistics class will tell you can draw a straignt line between two points. It doesn't actually mean anything statistically, but it looks good.

"any science grad student in first year statistics class will tell you can draw a straight line between two points. It doesn't actually mean anything statistically, but it looks good."

Hell, any high school geometry student with a passing grade can tell you that.

What is important is that arctic sea ice area and extent (at the end of the summer melt season) have shown a significant downward trend over the past few decades, which is entirely in keeping with the calculations of climate models taking into account greenhouse gas buildup.

It's this significant downward trend that actually means something. the arctic is warming just like the climate models say it will and this is causing the arctic sea ice to melt (reducing both the cover and thickness at the end of the summer melt season over that time span)

George Will is certainly smart enough to understand this, so you can draw your own conclusions.