Saturday, February 03, 2007

Morning Call editorial pages

There is a major factual error in John Brinson's column (January 28), for which the Morning Call refused to print a Correction. (Most of the other errors, unsubstantiated claims, and misinterpretations can, I suppose, be excused as matters of 'opinion'.)

The column stated that "We spend more on Medicaid -- free health insurance for ''the poor'' -- than on the entire national defense budget."

According to figures published by the Office of Management and Budget and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, we spend almost twice as much on national defense as we do on Medicaid. So Brinson's statement is just plain false, and the Morning Call has an obligation to correct an error of this magnitude.

When called to the attention of the editor of the opinion pages, he said, "I took a look at Brinson's interpretation of figures and my judgment is that this is a matter of opinion, rather than factual error."

In other words, it's a matter of opinion -- not basic math -- whether $200-billion is greater than $640-billion.


Bernie O'Hare said...

I could see your point if this were a news account. But it was an op-ed.

Brinson himself is intolerant of views that differ from his. For a time on a local radio talk show, he and his host refused to accept calls from anyone who disagreed with their opinion that our involvement in Iraq was necessary.

Your argument assumes that people accept everything they read as gospel, and that information sent their way must be carefully vetted. You imply people can't be trusted to distinguish an op-ed from a news account. That view has led to the rise of blogs, which present more unfiltered views than in mainstream media. Your argument makes sense as an attack on Brinson, but not on the papers for publishing his op-ed.

As illogical as it sounds, worse is better.

Michael Drabenstott said...

Although it's an op-ed, The Morning Call and other media must strive for complete accuracy. Do you think the New York Times or Wall Street Journal would run a contributed op-ed with such an egregious factual error? I doubt it. That's the standard to which The Morning Call should aspire. Op-eds and letters are frequently edited for space and content. And while the authors' opinions must remain intact, the media has an obligation to vet the facts that are presented in those pieces.

Anonymous said...

Whoa, whoa, whoa!

A fact is a fact is a fact.

Are you saying that a newspaper only has to print facts some of the time, instead of all of the time?

Or are you saying that they only have to print those facts that they agree with?

The FACT is that the 3 people who actually read that op-ed now believe that Brinson's "fact" is true!

So, the Morning Call deliberately printed his "opinion" as "fact" and allowed its readers to believe it MUST be true (because readers assume that if it wasn't true, the newspaper would've corrected it!).

So much for the truth, I guess.

"Unfiltered argument," my ass.

His "opinion" is neither wrong nor right. It depends upon your own point of view. But the "fact" he cited is either wrong or it is right. Facts do not depend upon your point of view.

By their very nature, facts are data -- things that can be measured, proven, and quantified.

1 + 1 ALWAYS = 2, regardless of my political opinion. 6 is ALWAYS > 2, even if I strongly believe otherwise. Shoplifting is ALWAYS a crime, even if you're Ron Angle.

That's why most newspapers employ "fact checkers" to make sure that phony "facts" do not appear in print and confuse or mislead their readers.

Bernie, once again, you're so eager to wear your Morning Call chearleader's outfit and shake your pom-poms that you give them a free pass AND a pat on the back.


Dean N Browning said...

According to the OMB, for FY 2006 spending for the Dept. of Defense is projected to be 638.9 billion while spending for Medicare and Medicaid Services is projected to be 869.1 billion. So where was the "factual error"?

Dean N Browning said...

FY2006 should be FY2008

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