As I noted yesterday, thin-skinned Jamison Foser of Media Matters wrote Oct. 16 that "some conservative activists induced a statistically insignificant number of the organization's low-level employees to behave badly." [emphasis added]
So far ACORN employees in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York City, San Bernardino, San Diego, and Philadelphia have been shown on video behaving badly. On all the videos, ACORN personnel have been cooperative and helpful to the make-believe pimp and prostitute.
So far ACORN personnel in six offices have acted badly. That's six out of six, or 100%.
What are the chances of that happening?
This is -obviously- not statistically insignificant.
Actually, in statistics when a phenomenon keeps repeating itself over and over again and you're batting 1000, it's called a "trend."
Ok. First of all, it isn't "batting 1000," it's "batting 1.000." See, when you divide a number by itself, you don't get 1000 -- you get 1.
Now: I referred to "a statistically insignificant number of the organization's low-level employees" -- not "a statistically-insignificant number of the organization's offices." Vadum knows this; he quoted it. He even took the time to bold part of it. He just didn't take a moment to comprehend it.
So this whole business of "six out of six" is completely irrelevant to anything. If you have six offices, each of which contain 10,000 employees, and each of which employs one person who robs a bank, is it accurate to say a statistically-significant number of your employees robs banks? Of course not. It's utter nonsense.
Now, this next part is awesome:
With the release of the Philadelphia video Wednesday, let's add up the total number of ACORN employees behaving badly.
Unless I'm leaving somebody out:
Baltimore (2): Shera Williams and Tonja Thompson
Washington, D.C. (3): Sherona Boone, Lavernia Boone, unidentified woman
New York City (2): Volda Albert and Milagros Rivera
San Bernardino (1): Tresa Kaelke
San Diego (1): Juan Carlos Vera
Philadelphia (1): Katherine Conway Russell
That's a total of 10 ACORN employees. Of the 10 ACORN employees videotaped, all 10 have acted badly. That's 100% too.
Uh, Matt? Why would you assume that tapes have been released of every employee they talked to? That's utter nonsense. If I videotape 100 people who know Matt Vadum, and 10 of them say he's an idiot, and I release videotape of only those 10 people, then say "See? That's 10 of 10 people videotaped! 100%" ... Well, if I did that, I'd be a dishonest hack. And if you just assumed that I released videotape of everyone I talked to, you'd be a sucker.
Eventually, Vadum seems to realize he's going to have to actually address the total number of ACORN employees:
ACORN chief organizer Bertha Lewis told "Democracy Now!" Sept. 17 that ACORN has 700 employees.
Assuming Lewis is telling the truth (which is a very risky assumption to make given her proven mendacity) then 1.4% of ACORN's workforce has been shown on video behaving badly.
Of course 1.4% is not as impressive a sample as 8.4% but it is certainly not small.
He's asking people to believe that the 100% of the 10 ACORN employees (representing 1.4% of ACORN's total workforce) shown in videos behaving badly is a statistically insignificant fluke.
Oooh, ooh! Let me try ... OK, I'll take a sample of the Senate Republican caucus ... Let's go with David Vitter. White guy, from the South, conservative -- he's pretty representative. And he constitutes a whopping 2.5% of the caucus. Oh, wow -- I just realized that 100% of the Senate Republicans chosen (representing 2.5% of all Senate Republicans) has been caught using the services of a prostitute! Surely this cannot be a statistically insignificant fluke!
Isn't it fun to do math the Matthew Vadum way?
Fun -- and utterly stupid.
For somebody who still worships Ronald Reagan and is always lecturing Democrats about how they need to project a more sunny view of the world, Noonan this week latches onto a disturbingly dark view of America in 2009:
It's His Rubble Now: And the American people want him to fix it.
You can just feel the disdain seeping through the WSJ headline. And here's the nut graph from her column [emphasis added]:
President Obama, in office a month longer than Bush was when 9/11 hit, now owns his presidency. Does he know it? He too stands on rubble, figuratively speaking—a collapsed economy, high and growing unemployment, two wars. Everyone knows what he's standing on. You can almost see the smoke rising around him.
Is it me, or does Noonan almost seem to be hoping for more bad news? Like other conservative commentators, Noonan seems to relish the idea of higher unemployment numbers so she can blame the White House.
Thankfully, not all Americans share Noonan's dour and defeatist right-wing view of the world under Obama.
MSNBC headline today:
Home sales rise 9.4 percent in September: 'There's a mini-boom going on in the housing market,' pollster says
From The Atlantic:
Existing Home Sales Soared In September
From Washington Post:
Home sales jump 9.4 percent to highest level in two years
I just hope these good-news headlines don't ruin Noonan's day.
This morning, Media Matters President Eric Burns was a guest Joe Scarborough's syndicated radio show. The discussion focused on Fox News, with Eric providing ample evidence detailing the network's transition into a pure political organization, as well as explaining the difference between Fox News and stations like Scarborough's own MSNBC. Take a listen below:
Yesterday, Eric authored an op-ed piece for the Huffington Post outlining the numerous political activities Fox engages in, as well as analyzing the threat it represents to both the progressive agenda and the field of journalism itself.
For more information on The Joe Scarborough Show, click here.
It really gets to be pretty pathetic sometimes, watching the conservatives grasp at every straw they can in order to attack and discredit a president they don't like.
If you listened to Rush Limbaugh today or visited Fox Nation, then you might have heard about President Obama's supposed college thesis in which the college-aged commander in chief allegedly wrote: "The so-called Founders did not allow for economic freedom. While political freedom is supposedly a cornerstone of the document, the distribution of wealth is not even mentioned. While many believed that the new Constitution gave them liberty, it instead fitted them with the shackles of hypocrisy."
Now, you might be thinking: "Wait a minute, I thought conservatives didn't like Obama's elusive thesis because it was on nuclear disarmament." Well, this is a different thesis, it would seem, and blogger Michael Ledeen wrote about it two days ago:
I missed this first time around. Brian Lancaster at Jumping in Pools reported on Obama's college thesis, written when he was at Columbia. The paper was called "Aristocracy Reborn," and in the first ten pages (which were all that reporter Joe Klein -- who wrote about it for Time -- was permitted to see).
So Ledeen sources this bombshell to another, more obscure conservative blogger, who wrote -- back on August 25, mind you -- that Time's Joe Klein had seen Obama's damning thesis and was going to report on it for "an upcoming special edition about the President." No indication was given as to how this obscure blogger came to know that one of America's premiere journalists had obtained this information. There was no indication as to how this blogger was able to quote material only Klein had had access to. Oh, and let's not forget that this very same blogger was busted by PolitiFact.com for fabricating stories about President Obama.
But hey, why speculate on whether it's true or not? Let's go to the source. Mr. Klein? "A report is circulating among the wingnuts that I had a peek at Barack Obama's senior thesis. It is completely false. I've never seen Obama's thesis. I have no idea where this report comes from -- but I can assure you that it's complete nonsense."
This story is fake and falls apart under the slightest scrutiny. Corrections and apologies are due from Ledeen, Limbaugh, and Fox Nation, but if you believe you'll get an apology from pathological liars of that sort, then you're more gullible than they are.
UPDATE: Very well-hidden at the bottom of the Jumping in Pools blog post that started all this stupidity is a "satire" tag:
LATER UPDATE: It gets even better -- according to the PolitiFact article that called out the Jumping in Pools blogger, Matthew Avitabile, for making up outlandish Obama stories:
Avitabile, a Republican who had previously poked fun at Obama with a tongue-in-cheek article that said scientists had determined that he was "genetically superior," is thankful for all the traffic it generated for his blog Jumping in Pools. In the past he was lucky to get 1,000 hits on a story, but this one got more than 50,000. Yet he's disappointed that so many people published his work without verifying it.
"Out of the 50,000 who looked at it, only three had the good sense to contact me and see if it was true," he told us (PolitiFact was one of the three).
Avitabile described himself as a moderate Republican - "I'm pro-gay rights, pro-wind energy" - but said he was surprised that so many in his party had such negative feelings about Obama.
"People wanted to believe this about the president so bad, that he would really go toward a dictatorship so much that they would go with it without checking it," he said.
Yesterday, we detailed how WorldNetDaily has repeatedly made the false claim that Obama administration appointee Kevin Jennings "counseled a 15-year-old student to keep quiet about being seduced by an older man." The student was 16 at the time, and there's no evidence that Jennings told the student to "keep quiet."
So asks Salon's Glenn Greenwald. (I'm going with the former.)
Not only does he effectively eviscerate Carlon's Daily Beast column, but Greenwald also speaks the necessary truth regarding the WH/Fox News dispute and the nearly uniform response from The Village:
There has been a horde of media figures rushing to condemn the Obama administration merely for criticizing Fox's "reporting." Many of these same media figures -- probably most -- were silent in the face not only of identical Bush White House attacks on reporters they disliked, but far more serious and actual threats to press freedom over the last eight years.
Time reporter Jay Newton-Small insists it isn't her job to tell you which of two contradictory factual claims is true and which is false, claiming "I presented both sides of the story. I'll leave it to columnists and readers to draw their own conclusions on who had the best case."
Time reporter Michael Scherer fact-checks a DNC fundraising email and tells readers it contains a falsehood: "Biden got one big fact wrong. It is not true that 'powerful insurance companies' have been 'spending seven million bucks a week on lobbyists.'"
Maybe someone could explain to me when it's ok to fact-check statements and when that would be "slanted."
(For the record: I prefer Scherer's approach...)
As in, "Some would say that Fox News hosts encouraged the so-called tea party movement."
Really, just "some would say that"? That seems odd because the notion that Fox News hosts have encouraged the so-called tea party movement isn't even in question. I mean, the hosts have been doing that for months, like, while cameras are rolling. The hosts have been doing it all year. Unapologetically and relentless on live national television.
Yet NPR seems unsure whether it wants to acknowledge that fact, so it poses the question as something of riddle. i.e. "Some would say" that, but not everybody.
The truth is that the Fox News team, not just the opinion hosts, have been promoting and have "encouraged" the tea party movement this year. But if NPR isn't even comfortable suggesting the hosts have done that, there's no way they're going to report that the entire Fox News team has been doing the same. That might seem controversial because, of course, news teams aren't supposed to be in the business or promoting partisan political rallies, so NPR begs off that fact.
This is one reason it's proving impossible to have a factual discussion about Fox News' new role in the media landscape. It's impossible because so many journalists seem to have no idea what Fox News is doing day in and day out.
Fact: Fox News hosts have encouraged the tea party movement.
Fact: The entire Fox News team has encouraged the tea party movement.
Why is that so difficult for NPR to acknowledge?
Here's Politico's Mike Allen, in his article about Fox boss Roger Ailes supposedly weighing a presidential campaign:
It was Ailes who recently held a private meeting with top White House adviser David Axelrod to ease tensions. The meeting was not a success.
Shortly after, the White House stepped up its attack on Fox - and Fox has proudly fired back.
Fox executives are relishing the public spat - so much so that virtually every on-air personality talks about it, and Sean Hannity has made it a central part of his show's promo.
The biggest reason: ratings at Fox are through the roof.
Allen doesn't provide any evidence that ratings are, in fact, "through the roof." And as Eric noted this morning, it isn't actually true.
This is something you see often -- a reporter wants to justify the media's behavior, or suggest that politicians' criticism is backfiring, so they claim ratings are up. But they don't actually provide the numbers. They just assert it. It's weird -- it's as if reporters think ratings are a matter of opinion, and you can just assert what you think must be happening.