10 September 2008

That girl, errata

Correction on Palin rumors via FactCheck.org. First, I'd like to quibble about their statement that these rumors come from dubious Internet postings and mass e-mail messages. Yes, they most likely do come from there, but if I look back to my post from 4 Sept, I see that one of those assertions comes from an article on CBS. And oddly, if I look further, that article has been removed by CBS. [ updated ] Apparently, it's from a set of articles that periodically get removed. I just copied it from Google's cache and put it here.

I understand that FactCheck.org may have just been pointing out a fact of sourcing, but people could-and-are-likely-to infer that this scurrilous internet has once again led them wrong with invective and hearsay. Currently, the most blamed entity for all of the ills in the world is the media, second in line is the internet. Instead of rumor-mongering, we could look at the example of blogs and see that (1) 99% keep their content and run updates and corrections (this is probably the first rule of blogging), (2) mine in fact leads a trail back to one of the sources, and (3) the MSM, in contrast, will rewrite history and unperson articles they don't want to be remembered for. Make that: will try to rewrite history.

Getting that out of the way, here are the corrections with my comments:

  • Palin did not cut funding for special needs education. - The Alaska government PDF files pointed to by the original CBS article did not represent the actual budget.
  • She did not demand that books be banned from the Wasilla library. - From the clarifications, she still appeared quite ban-hungry to me. And the fact that some of the books weren't even in print at the time is a canard: I own many books no longer in print, and I suspect that libraries are no different. [ updated 11 Sept 2008 ] ABC News story exposing the book ban issue and addressing the falsehoods being reported. Go librarians! I'm reminded of the CT librarians that got the NSL and fought it. We don't need more of this type of suppression of information.
  • She was never a member of the Alaskan Independence Party. - Her husband was. Not all that interesting, but notable. And this rumor was started because The party's chair originally told reporters that Palin had been a member. No malicious fabrications here, move along.
  • Palin never endorsed or supported Pat Buchanan for president. - Meh. Not that interesting a rumor and it was perpetuated by Buchanan.
  • Palin has not pushed for teaching creationism in Alaska's schools. - Another "she was for it before she was against it." Her original statement contained the monumentally boor-headed statement Teach both. ... don't be afraid of information and let kids debate both sides. Bzzt. There's only one side to this science discussion. There are many shades to the sociological issue of what people believe in, but that wasn't the question at hand. As I've said elsewhere: Teach holocaust denialism and let the kids sort it out; teach YEC and let the kids sort it out; teach Chariots of the Gods and let the kids sort it out. No. Teach what we know and point out the limits of what we know, then let the kids grow up wanting to discover those missing answers and push human knowledge forward. Don't sideline their potential curiosity with lies.

As far as clarifications go, I appreciate what FactCheck.org has done; the clear presentation of facts is invaluable. That being said, the content of some of those clarifications is still not-quite-non-damning for Palin. My primary concern is that the spread of inaccuracies--all of them originating in MSM reporting--will be used to unfairly target other information on the internet. I see too often a quick dismissal of data found online, as if the existence of some bad data taints all. Next to every Seymour Hersch there's a Bill O'Reilly. Check your sources.

[ posted by sstrader on 10 September 2008 at 3:30:31 PM in Politics ]