Supplemental: A bad week for examining Perfect Examples!

THURSDAY, JULY 30, 2015

A simplified story instead:
This has become a very bad week for discussing Perfect Examples.

That said, the simplification of narrative is all around us in the mainstream press. Routinely, our “journalists” transform complex stories into simpler tales which lead us to the moral judgments they like.

For an example which carries high interest but minor consequence, the New York Times is at it again, transforming the “Deflategate” conundrum into a settled matter. Your assignment, should you choose to take it:

Read this 1500-word, front-page report from yesterday’s New York Times.
See if you’re told, at any point, that a controversy exists concerning the science of the NFL’s Wells Report.

Even in a lengthy front-page report, the simplification of this story—its sanitization—is essentially total.

At one point, reporter Ken Belson does quote Don Yee, Tom Brady’s agent, saying this: “Neither Tom nor the Patriots did anything wrong.” But how odd! At no point does Belson explain the basis on which Yee is making that statement.

Does a dispute exist about the Wells Report? Not if you read the Times! Below, you see the closest Belson comes to reporting the fact that a controversy exists. As is the norm in matters like this, Belson has skillfully crafted language which is extremely murky:
BELSON (7/29/15): The investigation of and penalties against Brady and the Patriots have divided fans across the nation, generated a debate over the integrity of the nation's most-watched sport and brought scrutiny to how the N.F.L., the country's largest professional sports league, treats misconduct among players.

The controversy has also cast a pall over the Patriots, the Super Bowl champions, who will be without their starting quarterback until Oct. 18, and will raise fresh questions about Brady and his legacy on a team with a history of controversies. The accusation that he impeded the league's efforts may prompt some fans to abandon their sympathy for him, while undercutting some analysts who argued that the game balls did not have to be manipulated to lose air pressure.
Say what? Some analysts “argued that the game balls did not have to be manipulated to lose air pressure?”

Was that absurd construction crafted in good faith? If so, Belson and his editors should all be instantly fired.

In fact, every analyst agree with that statement. That includes the people who wrote the Wells Report for the NFL.

It's true! The game balls didn’t “have to be manipulated to lose air pressure!” NFL footballs lose air pressure during every cool- or cold-weather game. The Wells Report explains this fact with perfect clarity.

The actual question is different: Did the game balls have to be manipulated to lose as much air pressure as they lost by halftime?

A controversy exists on that point, though you’d never know it from reading Belson’s front-page report.

At this point, an irony appears. Did someone associated with the Patriots reduce the air pressure in the game balls? For ourselves, we don’t know, in large part because we read the New York Times.

That said, a controversy exists on that point, as one section of the Times acknowledged in mid-June. On June 14, the paper’s high-profile Sunday Review published a report on the subject by Kevin Hassett and Stan Veuger of the American Enterprise Institute.

The report ran under this headline: “Deflating Deflategate.” The writers offered this nugget concerning a study they had conducted:
HASSETT AND VEUGER (6/14/15): Deflategate is a dispute about whether the New England Patriots used deliberately underinflated footballs in their playoff victory over the Indianapolis Colts in January. (Each N.F.L. team provides its own footballs when on offense, and an underinflated football may be easier to handle in cold or wet conditions.)

The N.F.L. commissioned a study, known as the Wells report, that concluded that it was ''more probable than not'' that Patriots personnel deliberately violated the rules and that Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback, was aware of it. Following the release of the Wells report last month, the N.F.L. penalized the Patriots organization and suspended Mr. Brady for four games.

Our study, written with our colleague Joseph Sullivan, examines the evidence and methodology of the Wells report and concludes that it is deeply flawed. (We have no financial stake in the outcome of Deflategate.)
To read the full report, click this. To read the study on which it is based, you can just click here, although we don’t recommend it.

Seven weeks ago, the Sunday Review thought that piece raised a serious question about the NFL’s basic claims. Seven weeks later, Belson, in a front-page report, doesn’t even tell Times readers that such a dispute exists.

Check that! He does tell readers that “some analysts have argued that the game balls did not have to be manipulated to lose air pressure!” When the Times is simplifying a story, such bafflegab will be employed in place of the English language.

We have no idea why the New York Times has played this story this way. That said, you could watch ESPN discuss this topic for the rest of your life; you would have little chance of learning that a dispute exists.

In the case of ESPN, this may be an editorial decision, with the network’s assortment of NFL athletes-turned-analysts told to disappear all mention of the dispute.

On ESPN, the guilt of the Patriots in this matter is treated as a settled question. In passing, the network’s reporters may fleetingly note that Brady, Yee and Robert Kraft are denying that any wrongdoing occurred. They won’t explain the basis on which this claim is being made. They certainly won’t attempt to deal with the analytical issues involved.

(On ESPN, Tony Kornheiser routinely says that the Wells Report’s science is junk. But the channel’s assortment of former jocks speak with one memorized voice, apparently like Coach said.)

Back to the Times:

Over the past two days, the paper has published a front-page report, and several fiery opinion columns, which review the latest chapter in the Deflategate drama. At no point have Times readers been told that any dispute exists.

For whatever reason, the Times has been cleaning up the story, making it simpler, easy-to-follow. An enormous percentage of our national discourse is simplified and reinvented in precisely this way.

Tomorrow: Two sets of statistics

49 comments:

  1. A bad week for Bob's Perfect Example meme.

    U of Cincy Policeman indicted for murder of unarmed black man.

    Bob punts to NFL story.

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    Replies
    1. What does the "U of Cincy Policeman indicted for murder of unarmed black man" story have to do with media coverage? Please note at the top of the page Bob writes,"musings on the mainstream 'press corps' and the american discourse."

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    2. Bob simply was not provided with the type of event creating the coverage suitable for his Black People Set Bad Example media musing meme. That's what.

      Sportscenter on the West Coast Starts Now!

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    3. "Boom goes the dynamite!"

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    4. Dog Pee Will Stop SomerbyJuly 30, 2015 at 6:34 PM

      Hey Horace, did you catch the guy on MSNBC Bob maturely dismisses as "The Puppy"? He hosted the guy from the Washington Post working on the statistical survey on police killings Somerby has been touting. He was on. Yes he was. Last night. Musing. Live. In the middle of the broadcast media mainstream. About the loss of a black life.
      In Cincinnati. That apparently doesn't matter.

      In fact other shows on the "Deather" Channel covered it.

      Bob was too busy chasing flattened footballs or a fire hydrant to sniff to care.

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    5. I feel real sorry for Dr. Palmer.

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    6. Hush my darling, don't fear my darling
      The Dentist hides tonight.

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  2. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspends HRC four weeks from the campaign trail for destroying her Chappaqua personal email server.

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    1. ....And fined her $50,000 for dismissive comments made about the other team's 13th string female quarterback who is valiantly trying to make a comeback after being fired in the Corporate League and rejected in favor of someone really called Moonbeam in the California League.

      Clinton says she is "broke and in debt" but the fine will be paid by donors to special Univeristy Funds set up for this type of event.

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    2. "MRC's L. Brent Bozell III suspends cicero four weeks from the troll trail for insufferably boring and insubstantial posting."

      FTFY - $$$$

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    3. @ 6:15

      Spoken like one of the David Brock Correct The Record recruited "nerd virgins"*

      *Paul Begala term for Brock's Super PAC minions

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  3. Blogger Steve Mcintyre is a super-smart technical expert who usually writes about climate models. He has had a series of articles pointing out flaws in the study of these footballs. See his latest at http://climateaudit.org/2015/07/29/goodell-and-deflategate-science/

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    1. One hack pimping another hack:

      Stephen McIntyre has been a long-time mining industry executive, mostly working on the “stock market side” of mining exploration deals. He published a blog called Climate Audit where he attempts to analyse in sometimes long and extensive detail the work of climate change scientists where he documents “statistical mistakes” in peer-reviewed scientific literature. …

      McIntyre has been described as a “persistent amateur who had no credentials in applied science before stepping into the global warming debate in 2003” and has been a prominent critic of temperature records that suggest increasing global temperatures over the past 1000 years.

      As of 2003, McIntyre had worked in the mineral business for 30 years and he has been an officer or director of small public mineral exploration companies for over 16 years.

      - Greg Layden, Scienceblogs, 9/13/14.

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    2. So is this comment about a bit of hackery, or is it really about pimping? If it is the latter you missed today's Maddow post.

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    3. Can't be both?

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    4. Suppose so. Absent moderation I also seem to think it might sound like it could be a fit for this comment box thread. Anybody see the disclaimer gal around? I think she is reading HuffPo headlines or looking at the pictures of the HRC coiffure.

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  4. Sad that a gun toting killer like George Zimmerman has more fans around here than the handsomest quarterback in the whole USA. Guess its has something to do with the quality of the gruel served up to humiliate the tribe.

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    1. Zimmerman's attorney Mark O'Mara is now representing the family of Sam DuBose who was killed by rent a cop. How will libs reconcile their reflexive simultaneous outrage and delight?

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    2. Spoken like one of the David Brock Correct The Record recruited "nerd virgins"*

      *Paul Begala term for Brock's Super PAC minions

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    3. I don't think any of the commenters who jump into the all too frequently revisitation of the Martin/Zimmerman debate are Zimmerman fans.

      I see them in four categories.

      Poor Innocent Teenager Shot fans
      Bad Guy With a Gun haters
      Black Teen Was a Thug Who Had It Coming haters
      Poor Man Who Used A Gun fans

      The people you call Zimmerman fans loved the hunk of steel he was tugging around with him for protection against roaming bands of black bandits the incompetent police always let get away. They didn't, and don't give a damn
      about the man himself.

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    4. Who has a problem with someone toting a gun in a neighborhood plagued by thug home invasions? Who has a problem with killing in self defense? Certainly no normal people.

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  5. Is there any controversy about whether Brady destroyed his cell phone?

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    1. Only if his iPod and Blackberry contained classified information regarding Benghazi or about Gisele B√ľndchen's secret plastic surgery in Paris.

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    2. Spoken like one of the David Brock Correct The Record recruited "nerd virgins"*

      *Paul Begala term for Brock's Super PAC minions

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    3. anon 7:03, yes there is. Brady issued a response explaining his side of the story, which maybe you haven't seen.

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    4. And of course, Brady's "side of the story" must be true.

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    5. Yeah. Brady's side was he needed to replace the Samsung he bought in Novermber with an iPhone 6 in March.

      And only and idiot would think that "explained" anything.

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    6. @ 1:56

      HRC's explanation for having a private email server in her Chappaqua basement for the sake of "convenience" was satisfactory to the Clintonistsas.

      Delete
  6. "NFL footballs lose air pressure during every cool- or cold-weather game."

    Very true Bob. But it is also quite unusual for cool-weather (the temperature was in the 40s, let's stop pretending it was cold) to deflate the footballs of just one of the two teams.

    And inconvenient truth our blogger doesn't his sheep to know.

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    1. Nope, if the Patriots started near the low end of the permissible pressure, and the Colts started out near the high end, you might get the results you saw in the actual game.

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    2. And "if" you had four legs and a tail, you "might" be a German shepherd.

      And you know what? As I read Somerby's definitive statement that EVERY football loses air pressure during cool weather games, I see no evidence to support that.

      Nor do I see any evidence that the Colts footballs lost pressure under the same conditions.

      All I see is a blogger and one of his gullible sheep concocting excuses and inventing "science."

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    3. If this gullible sheep might respond, anon 11:05, how do you explain that according to the Wells report, if the assumption is that the ref used the device he said he thought he did before the game (which for reasons not explained the Wells report disregarded), the Pats footballs, as measured at halftime, would have been within the range expected in the given weather conditions according to the report itself.

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    4. Hey, AC/MA. You can go ahead and pick and choose the parts of the Wells Report you like. You can also knock yourself out and discuss Deflategate, the Trayvon Martin shooting, the Michael Brown shooting, campus rape surveys, the 77 wage gap, and Rachel Maddow all you like.

      After all, you are one of the few, the proud, the Bobfans apparently with nothing better to do that to spend hours every day picking nits.

      Oh, and don't forget the War on Gore. Methinks Bob, like his book, is still not finished.

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    5. Anon 1:53, I think TDH has an interesting and intelligent take on things. Apparently to you, it is inadmissible to do what he does. You are something else to claim I spend hours every day picking nits. He you are, someone who apparently loathes the site, every day with you moronic and obnoxious snark. It's kind of sick. By the way, the nit picking flaw I pointed out undermines the whole Wells report.

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  7. I prefer football stories where the wives and girlfriends get beaten up. Cheating on the field is just a time honored part of sportsmanship in professional athletics. All those people are just career obsessed. Like journalists.

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  8. Bob is right once again. I'm not a Pats fan, but I have to agree they are getting a royal screwing here.

    This is just another example of how the news media is incapable of giving a clear and coherent explanation of the facts.

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    1. Wow. "mm" thinks "Bob is right once again."

      What a shock!

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    2. I have good reason to. The story Bob is critiquing was on the front page of the NY Times. There's 3 strikes right there, sight unread.

      Delete
    3. When have you ever thought Bob wrong, or rushed to his defense like a good lapdog?

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    4. Multiple times. I disagreed with TDH on the Trayvon Martin murder for example - got into heated arguments with deadrat. I disagreed with TDH on the Bridgegate/Chris Christy matter. That's just the first two off the top of my head. I still read him every day, I enjoy his take on the idiocy of our national media.

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    5. After once again proving why he earned the Rain Main Redundancy Ribbon, mm snarls at being called a lap dog.

      mm reminds everyone in the dog pound that a couple of times he has nipped Bob's very rough thumbs.

      Then mm crawls back in Bob's lap, and leaves another wet spot on Bob's pants in a place where most would find such a spot embarrassing.

      Delete
    6. If mm is a "lapdog" what are you anon 5:13? Something other than an obnoxious moron? If so, I haven't seen the evidence.

      Delete
    7. Anonymous July 31, 2015 at 5:13 PM,

      There is something seriously wrong with you. Bob Somerby is good people.

      What's your problem, you want a refund?

      Delete
  9. [Too Many Trolls; Didn't Read Comments]:

    Somerby's damning thesis, stated clearly, demonstrated, unrefuted:

    "That said, the simplification of narrative is all around us in the mainstream press. Routinely, our “journalists” transform complex stories into simpler tales which lead us to the moral judgments they like."

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    Replies
    1. TThat said, the simplification of narrative is all around us in The Daily Howler. Routinely, our blogger transforms complex stories into simpler tales which lead us to the moral judgments he likes."

      Fixed it for ya!

      Delete
    2. Inaudible Troll WhisteJuly 31, 2015 at 3:06 PM

      Twas always thus:

      For our trolls, journalists aren't guilty of these problems (no evidence required!) -- the big problem, always, is the little blogger who said they were!

      Delete
    3. Wow. And did you know, for longer than the Howler has been around, scribes used to fit stories of our complex universe into a simple tale of a God rising each morning, travelling across the sky, then disappearing mysteriously every night.

      Ain't Bob amazing!

      Delete
  10. Sadly, our progressives are missing another opportunity on the national political stage. The more civilized amongst us may roll their eyes at the dirty ball-game players, but it is a massive entertainment juggernaut, and many people are quite well informed about its proceedings. The hidden-in-plain-sight ethical issue is the team punishment. Specifically, the forfeiture of high draft picks.

    The Draft. The Drafts. All four major sports in this country have them every year. Using games of chance, the leagues determine which team in their league has exclusive use of the player's services. These are individuals who have put in tremendously disciplined long hours of work to achieve the precision of craft that is greatly appreciated by the paying customer. Why do they not get the respect of other professions?

    The sports leagues have specific exemptions written into the US federal law that allow this collusion. These laws can easily be repealed.

    This is obvious restraint of trade. What label these days do you have to be to be for fair labor practices? Tea Party, Fiscal Conservative, Moderate, Independent, Liberal, Progressive, ... ?

    How about we replace the symbolic gesture of the taking down of the Confederate flag, with an actual act of abolishing an activity that has to be the closest metaphor to an auction block than is humanly possible.

    Shouldn't everybody start out a free agent?

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