THURSDAY, MARCH 19, 2015
Saxophones and Casino Royale and edenic Lake Eden oh my: Our journalists are meticulous with their corrections as long as there’s nothing at stake.
By way of contrast, if the public has been grossly misled in a major embarrassing way, this fact may perhaps disappear.
How about a few examples in support of our first observation?
In this morning’s New York Times, the newspaper offers this correction concerning a saxophone player:
A Critic’s Notebook article on Wednesday about Kendrick Lamar’s new album, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” using information from the liner notes, misspelled the surname of a saxophonist who performs on it. He is Adam Turchin, not Turchan.
Duly noted! That said, it was a big day for saxophone errors. This correction came next:
A picture caption on Tuesday about a performance at the Village Vanguard in Manhattan misstated the given name of the saxophonist who led the quartet that played. As the review of the performance and another picture caption correctly noted, he is Charles Lloyd, not Charlie.
Also today, the Times noted that it’s “the National Honor Society, not the National Honors Society.” The James Bond film was Casino Royale. It wasn’t Casino Royal!
(Have you been to North Carolina lately? Black Mountain College is near Lake Eden. It isn’t near Eden Lake!)
We don’t mean to knock the Times. It’s appropriate for the Times to make these tiny corrections.
But back in August 2014, an utterly bogus set of claims were made all over cable and network news by a trio of alleged eyewitnesses. As of last week, the Justice Department had thrown those alleged eyewitnesses, along with their claims, under a big yellow bus.
The American public was given a set of bogus ideas about a widely-debated, important event. But since no one’s name had been slightly misspelled, little effort is being made to correct the record!
This returns us to the recent correction-shaming directed at Jonathan Capehart.
In an on-line piece at the Washington Post, Capehart tried to correct the record about the shooting of Michael Brown, based on the recent factual findings of the Justice Department.
Over at the new Salon, Professor Cooper pounded Capehart for this “play,” for reasons which, we’ll have to say, are not entirely clear.
As we read the professor’s piece, it occurred to us that factual accuracy may not be her strong suit in the classroom. On three occasions, she refers to Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson, as “teenagers” or as “the two teen boys.”
No, it doesn’t exactly matter. But has the professor done the basic background reading here at all?
The late Michael Brown was a teenager on that unfortunate day. He was just 18 years old.
Johnson, his friend, was not a teen; he was 22. As he explained in his grand jury testimony (and elsewhere), he considered himself a bit of a mentor to his younger friend.
By the standards of an org like Salon, Cooper’s error is pointless enough to merit brisk correction. But once again, we’ll ask the key question:
The professor knows the narrative here; it’s clear that she knows it by heart. Has she done any background reading on the basic facts of the case? Does she know any facts at all?
In closing, let’s make the ultimate point:
For years, we've told you something about our clownish public discourse. Facts play almost no role in our discourse. It’s narrative all the way down.