Tuesday, November 24, 2015

You Can't Fix Stupid

Venerable Alfred E. Newman - Mad via Wikipedia
I thought I'd not have much to write here today. After all, I am into my third day of Thanksgiving idleness and starting to plan for cooking for family and friends. Yes I do anticipate a putting on a pretty good feed this year, but more on that later. Let's talk about truth.

I'll start out by saying I give most people the benefit of the doubt when discussing facts. Facts are very tricky things, especially when we are trying to remember not big trendy things, like say two buildings falling down in New York after getting hit by planes hijacked by Muslims. No, those are fairly easy to nail down. It's details that can be ethereal and difficult to grasp and hold them still.

With that in mind, I read with some bemusement the thread on Instapundit about the Washington Post's effort to play the gotcha game with Trump's statements about Muslims cheering when the towers fell. After all, it's not like they haven't gotten away with this before. Consider how successfully they managed to tank George Allen's campaign over the 'macaca' statement. In that case Allen used what he thought was a made up word, then the media looked it up and 'shazam!' it was an arcane curse. It was kind of like when you are playing scrabble with a 12 year old and they just make up a word because they are tired of playing. You invoke the dictionary rule, look it up and you are both surprised that it is there. The 12 year old struts away with the win while you are looking at a tray full of useless X's, Y's, and F's.

I thought that Powerline had pretty much nailed down that Trump was correct about Muslim's cheering when the towers fell and the Post would crawl back in their hole and let that one go. But no, as the title of this post notes, you can't fix stupid. Today they decided to go ahead and double down on that. This time a different writer, Chris Cilliza, took the stupid ball and ran with it, writing about "Donald Trump's Increasingly Fact Free Campaign"

First off, let's go with the premise that at some point, the Donald spoke only the truth, and now he mostly isn't. That would require a diligent reporter to cite examples of when he spoke the truth and where exactly he deviated from that. Did any of that happen in this post? Er, no.

So let's look at where exactly Trump was supposed to deviate from the truth. First let look at exactly what Trump said:

Note how he tees it up. He wants the Post to jump on this like they have. The throw off is he doesn't really care about the 'thousands and thousands' part. That is just hyperbole. When asked about specifics in the Stephanopoulos interview, he drops into factual territory and talks about what he saw on TV. Here is exactly the kind of thing that he is talking about:

There are home grown terrorist that need to be monitored. They are advocating attacks on the US. This is undeniable. What's wrong with saying that these people need to be monitored?

Cilliza goes on to make this astounding statement:
If there is no agreed-upon neutral arbiter, there are no facts. 
Naturally, the Post should be the arbiter. But of course Trump is ignoring them, and, in a hat trick, they continue to whine about it, giving him more press and keeping his polling numbers high.

The writer wraps up the post by claiming that this tweet by Trump quotes 'inaccurate' facts about black on black crimes:


The Trump ad people are great! What are the two facts that catch your eye in this graphic?

  • about 1% of blacks that are killed are killed by the police
  • about 97% of blacks that are killed are killed by other blacks
Empirically sampling the police blotter from say Chicago on any given weekend, I'd say that is just about right. On the other hand, the Post wants you to look at the 81% of whites are killed by blacks. I didn't even see that in there until they pointed it out, did you?

That's the brilliance of the Trump campaign. They knew someone in the media would pick up on that 'fact' and blow up the internet with it. Like the loyal lapdogs they are, the Post didn't disappoint. This of course effectively gets that graphic moved from just a throwaway post into the a national spotlight. The net effect is that more people see that Trump is highlighting the fact that matters - the problem in the black community is black on black violence, not cop on black killings, something seemingly lost in the Black Lives Matter movement.

Chris is right in one sense. The media's apparent inability to fairly fact check all candidates leaves the average reader to assume that any fact check is just another hatchet job. What the Trump campaign has done is the take that hatchet away from the erstwhile political reporter who risks getting hoisted by their own petard when they try to pull the old 'gotcha' trick out of the playbook.

Good for you Trump, Good for you.

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