The Smithsonian meets the press pool: Last Saturday morning, the Washington Post reported a horrible set of groaners.
The groaners appear in a $50 picture book about Donald J. Trump. At the time, the book was on sale at the Museum of Natural History, a branch of the Smithsonian.
Oops. According to the Post's Ian Shapira, the photograph-laden book contains a supply of "false assertions," or howlers:
SHAPIRA (1/21/17): The Trump book, which is heavy on photos and pullout memorabilia and bears the words "Make America Great Again" on its cover, contains a series of false assertions:In an update to his report, Shapira says the book has been removed from sale.
On Trump's years of challenging of President Obama's birthplace and citizenship: "Donald Trump took the fall for what should have been the fault of Hillary Clinton, whose campaign first propagated the misinformation about President Obama."
On the Russian hacking of the Democratic National Committee's computers: No proof it was the Russians, the book maintains, despite the intelligence community's assessment that the evidence against the Russians is overwhelming. "The Clinton campaign desperately claimed that Russia hacked the DNC and that Putin was trying to influence the American election. This was a strange maneuver on their part. ... Outside her most loyal supporters, the tactic flopped and most Americans were able to see through this blatant manipulation to distract them from the ugly truth."
On Trump's surprise victory on Nov. 8: "Sweeping" and "decisive." Clinton only won the popular vote by 200,000 ballots, the book says—although her edge was actually almost 3 million.
On Trump's history of charitable giving: The new president "is a kind-hearted philanthropist and humanitarian," according to the book, although he went years without contributing any money to his own charitable foundation.
Who managed to write this ridiculous book? According to Shapira, the author is Brandon Christopher Hall, "a 25-year-old from Atlanta." In an interview with Shapira, Hall said "he voted for the Green Party's Jill Stein and described himself as a former supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders." (That makes him one of ours.)
Everybody makes mistakes. Needless to say, this includes people of various ages.
Still, when we read Shapira's report, we couldn't help thinking of Time magazine's Zeke Miller, who made a now-famous mistake on Inauguration Day.
Miller's now-famous groaning mistake involved the bust of Dr. King—the now-famous bust of Dr. King which didn't get removed from the Oval Office. Last Friday, Miller reported that the bust had been removed. He made this claim in a press pool report he authored from the White House.
Everybody makes mistakes, Miller included. That said, his groaner served as the latest pretext for the claim that the Washington press corps is out to get Donald J. Trump.
Everybody makes mistakes; Miller's became an instant classic. In this morning's New York Times, Jim Rutenberg helps place this groaner in context. He spoke with Ari Fleischer, the former Bush press secretary:
RUTENBERG (1/23/17): The Trump team’s emotions were raw over the weekend, Mr. Fleischer noted, after a mistaken pool report was sent to the rest of the White House press corps, claiming that Mr. Trump had removed a bust of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office. Zeke Miller, the Time magazine journalist who had written the report, quickly corrected it and apologized when the White House alerted him to the error.Indeed. For ourselves, we'll take a wild guess. The fact that Miller's mistaken perception painted Trump as a racist helps explain why Miller made this mistake in the first place. It also explains why Miller should have been especially careful before he sent his mistaken claim to the rest of the press.
“It rightly leaves the people inside feeling that ‘reporters were opposed to us all along for being racist and the first thing they did was imply we were,’” Mr. Fleischer said.
Everybody makes mistakes. That said, who is Zeke Miller?
It turns out that Miller is in his sixth year out of Yale. Presumably, his relative youth is saving Time some money in labor costs. His relative youth may also explain why he was foolish enough to make this foolish mistake, which served the crackpot partisan ends of Donald J. Trump and them.
Everybody makes mistakes, including people who recently went to Yale and may turn out to be fantastic journalists. That said, we're often amazed by the youth of the modern press corps.
On the bright side, youth comes relatively cheap. Still, we've often wondered about the possible down side to this smart money move.
A 25-year-old wrote that groaner-laden book. Subsequently, a kid from Yale made a now-famous mistake which painted Trump in a familiar way.
In fairness, everyone makes mistakes. But people upset by the rise of Donald J. Trump need to start getting angry about the various practices which have helped fuel his rise.
These recent mistakes were made by players Over Here, by players on Our Own team. Miller's groaner is the type of mistake our self-impressed team very much enjoys. Hall's mistakes may have come from one of our tribe's brainwashed legion of Hillary haters.
Fleischer explained why Miller's mistake made people mad. Miller's mistake was very dumb, and groaningly predictable to boot.
Did his mistake make people mad? We can't exactly say we blame them. Will the day ever come when Our Team starts getting mad about these gong shows too?