And that was the weekend's good news: Maureen Dowd made a mistake at the start of yesterday's column in the New York Times.
Uh-oh! As originally published, her column started like this:
DOWD (8/9/20): On the cusp of Joe Biden teaming up with a woman, I am casting back to my time covering the first woman who was a serious contender for veep.In fact, it's been four years since a man and a woman ran together on a Democratic Party ticket. In 2016, the Democratic ticket featured Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine—one boy and one girl.
The feminist fairy tale—which began with women crying and popping champagne on the convention floor in San Francisco in 1984—had a sad ending. Cinderella with ashes in her mouth.
It’s hard to fathom, but it has been 36 years since a man and a woman ran together on a Democratic Party ticket. To use Geraldine Ferraro's favorite expression, "Gimme a break!"
Many people noticed Dowd's mistake, not excluding Hillary Clinton. But the clown show didn't end there:
In standard fashion, the New York Times Opinion section made yet another misstatement in a tweet announcing the fact that it has corrected Dowd's initial mistake.
The Opinion section then proceeded to correct its own misstatement. As of today, all is well, at least in a factual sense, with the version of Dowd's column which appears online.
Briefly, let's be fair. Everybody makes mistakes. Also, it's easy to see what Dowd was thinking about when she made her mistake.
You could almost imagine that an editor at the Times might have spotted that original mistake. You could also imagine that the Opinion section might have been more careful in announcing its correction of the mistake—but did we mention the fact that this was the New York Times?
Dowd's mistake was the kind of mistake which doesn't actually matter. That distinguishes it from many of the three million other mistakes, misstatements, gong shows and errors fashioned by the New York Times over the past thirty years.
These various gong shows and propaganda campaigns have sometimes done terrible harm.
To cite two examples, the newspaper's gong shows and propaganda campaigns helped elect George W, Bush and Donald J. Trump. The outcomes of those gonged-up elections spread death all through Iraq and now all through our own world.
(Remember when the Times published this 4400-word pseudo-report about the way Secretary of State Clinton supposedly transferred all our uranium to the Russkies? Amazingly, the astounding Times pseudo-report had been prepared in concert with a major Republican hack.
(Playing by established rules, Chris Hayes and Michelle Goldberg failed to challenge the report that night. On the bright side, Goldberg is now a columnist for the Times. Silence really does have its rewards, as it always has!)
That gigantic, 4400-word report was a gong-show all the way down. By way of contrast, Dowd's mistake this week didn't matter. That utterly phony pseudo-report wholly and massively did.
Dowd's mistake was unimportant; everyone crowed all the same. At this site, it served as an innocent counterpoint to the onslaught of incompetence, error and propaganda which flowed from the upper-end mainstream press over the past few days.
We'll focus on that onslaught all this week, with an emphasis on the propaganda—on the slavish adherence to Storyline. This will lead us back to the larger report we want to resume—our report about the way shooting deaths at the hands of police have been reported and discussed since early 2012.
Shooting deaths at the hands of police is an important topic. In theory, it, like other important topics, should be reported and discussed with great journalistic care.
In fact, reporting of that important topic has largely been driven by Storyline. But so it has been with almost all major topics over the past thirty-plus years.
Hillary Clinton was a crook; Al Gore was the world's biggest liar. The children kept retyping these pre-approved novels. Eventually, a pair of Doomsdays arrived.
Those behaviors actually mattered; yesterday, Dowd's mistake basically didn't. Meanwhile, her mistake appeared in the midst of a wave of dim-witted mainstream propaganda in support of a raft of current approved Storylines.
As in the past, so too today. Presentation of these Storylines comes to us from the land of Dumbness, Misstatement and Error.
It comes to us from the realm of upper-end press recitation. It comes to us from a childish realm in which journalists keep revealing a basic truth about the remarkably limited capabilities of our war-inclined, floundering species.
Tomorrow, we may briefly return to David Leonhardt to start these gloomy reports.
On Friday afternoon, we mentioned Leonhardt's recent front-page report in the Times. In retrospect, the striking thing about that recent report is this:
Leonhardt was trying to tell the truth about the current state of the pandemic within these United States! But even as he tried to describe the extent of our Trump-driven national train wreck, he instinctively turned to the wrong statistic—and he's sold as one of the smart ones!
In short, even when they try to tell the truth, they lack the skill to do so. This is a problem which comes to us from the land of Misstatement and Error.
As we've tried to acknowledge, our reporting on this matter comes to us through extensive consultation with an array of top anthropologists. It's their insights on which we've drawn, much less so on our own.
The despondent scholars to whom we refer offer a very surprising analysis:
Our upper-end scribes possess almost no skills at all!
These scholars say it's just the way our floundering species was made. We've begin to believe that they may have a point.
We may start with Leonhardt tomorrow.
Tomorrow: Fashions from the Portland frontier, plus wave after wave of Pure Script
This afternoon: Long ago at The Hub