Fat Steve's Blatherings

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Still Clueless After All These Months, part I

     In the last few days, I've found two examples of why the MSM are losing the public trust.  They are interesting because the people making them have no idea what's changed since the rise of blogger factchecking.  I'll deal with one of them in this post, and the other seperately.

      The Columbia Journalism Review has published a particularly awful article on Rathergate, by someone named Coery Pein.  It's a terrible intellectual mess.

      Some of the things wrong with the article should have stood out to anyone, even if they'd never heard of the web.  The piece is riddled with ad hominem.  It contradicts himself, in consecutive sentences ("the document may have been typed. . . the documents are typed").  After sneering at Joseph Newcomer as a "self-proclaimed typography expert." who "supposedly proved" the documents were frauds, he trots out David Hailey, "not a professional document examiner, but a former Army illustrator," and expects us to blindly accept Hailey's supposed conclusions.  Pein asserts you could make a replica of almost any document using Word," but neglects to offer an example of this supposedly easy feat.  And Pein is blatantly hypocritical, saying of the critics of CBS "Their driving assumptions were often . . . based on faulty logic. Personal attacks passed for analysis," which are faults of his noted above.

      But the worst problem comes with Pein's links.  There aren't any.

      The entire problem for CBS resulted because they expected their story to be taken on faith.  Instead, people started examining the memos, pdf of which were posted on CBS's website.  The memos were quickly shown to be very bad forgeries, as documented here, here, here, and especially here.

      Pein tried to deal with this by not telling you where to find the arguments for the other side.    He also claims that the aforementioned David Hailey showed that the documents might have been produced on a typewriter.  Hailey's claims were ripped to shreds here, here, and here.  In fact, Hailey claimed the memos were produced with ITC American Typewriter Condensed Medium, a font available on typewriters since 1944.  If you follow the link, you find that the font doesn't have the superscript 'th,' much less one that looks like the Word 'th' that appears in the documents.

      Pein is trying to pull off an intellectual fraud here.  Once he might have gotten away with it.  But even though he's writing about blogs, he apparently didn't realize how easily his dishonesties could be exposed.  Or perhaps he's only aiming at people who don't use the Web?  Who take things on faith?  Who have no idea what the controversy was about?

      No matter.  What's important is that the people he can deceive are a shrinking and increasingly less influential part of the public.

      The world has changed, but even when writing about the change, the MSM don't get it.



  • Great reference on the attempt by Viacom to smear the President. You have some good links. Thanks for your work.
    Rod Stanton

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:50 PM  

  •       Thank you, Mr. Stanton.  I hope I continue meeting with your approval, and I also hope that you tell everyone you know about the blog, as well as stopping strangers on the street and forcing them to read it. ;-)

    By Blogger Stephen M. St. Onge, at 3:21 PM  

  • I will tell all net friends. Strangers on the street? I am a little shy, sorry.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:56 AM  

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