Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A classic example of mainstream media error

In its latest edition, TIME magazine prints an article by Richard Stengel titled 'One Document, Under Siege'. It purports to examine the US constitution . . . but it's so full of errors that I can't help but think Mr. Stengel has set out to deliberately deceive his readers. I just don't see how he can possibly make so many mistakes, and put forward such egregious errors of fact, if he didn't mean to mislead.

Patterico has done a superb job of highlighting Mr. Stengel's errors. He summarizes them as follows:

13 Objectively false statements in Stengel’s Article on the Constitution.

  1. The Constitution does not limit the Federal Government.
  2. The Constitution is not law.
  3. The Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment emancipated the slaves.
  4. The Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment granted the right to vote to African Americans.
  5. The original Constitution declared that black people were to be counted as three-fifths of a person.
  6. That the original, unamended Constitution prohibited women from voting.
  7. Inter arma enim silent leges translates as “in time of war, the Constitution is silent.”
  8. The War Powers Act allows the president to unilaterally wage war for sixty days.
  9. We have only declared war five times.
  10. Alexander Hamilton wanted a king for America.
  11. Social Security is a debt within the meaning of Section Four of the Fourteenth Amendment.
  12. Naturalization depends on your birth.
  13. The Obamacare mandate is a tax.

There's much more at the link. Patterico comprehensively refutes each of these errors by reference to the Constitution itself and to relevant jurisprudence. He goes on to make this appeal:

I consider it no less than a scandal that so many clear, egregious errors was allowed in a cover story. It is all the more shocking because very often the falsity of the claims could have been verified by simply reading the Constitution. This is inexcusable for a publication of Time’s stature.

So if you agree with me, that this is scandalously bad, let me suggest that you guys try to help me raise awareness of the issue.

. . .

Positively spam them until they have to pay attention. Or you could even go to where I left a substantially similar comment and “like” that comment, raising its prominence. If a comment is liked enough times they might be more likely to pay attention. Or you can email the “editor,” (not sure which editor we are talking about) here.

In all communications, be polite, and stick to the facts, so they cannot dismiss you as a kook.

And you might spread this message to other sites. I am deliberately trying to create enough of an outcry so that they at least have to issue the mother of all corrections. Indeed, I believe that someone should be fired over this. They are entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts.

So please, pretty please, will you help me with this?

I fully agree with him. It's scandalous that TIME should have published so factually flawed an article in the first place. It'll be even more so if they refuse to correct such blatant misstatements of fact.

May I ask all my readers to read in full what Patterico has to say, then follow his example and make your concerns known to TIME? I think it's important that we do so. Thanks in advance; and thanks to Patterico for taking the time and trouble to respond to these errors in the first place. He's rendered all of us an important service by doing so . . . not least by illustrating that allegedly scholarly articles in even our most respected news sources aren't necessarily very scholarly. TIME should be ashamed of itself.


EDITED TO ADD: The Other McCain has picked up on this article as well, and published an excellent article (fully as good as Patterico's) debunking the errors involved. Go read.

1 comment:

Carteach0 said...

"not least by illustrating that allegedly scholarly articles in even our most respected news sources aren't necessarily very scholarly. TIME should be ashamed of itself"

The outcry stems from expectations. Some would expect better of 'Time Magazine'.

I am not the least outraged by their actions, because I expect nothing better of them. They passed that point with me many years ago.

TIME will not be ashamed, because they have no shame, just as they have no integrity. Nor will they lose respect, for they gather little or no respect any longer.

I don't blame a skunk for stinking, nor do I blame the people of TIME magazine for being what they are. They hold no surprises for me, because I expect absolutely nothing from them.