MONDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2020
These White People Today: It was an unvarnished howler—even, perhaps, a groaner. That said, the error in question strikes us as highly instructive.
We've mentioned this item twice before. The error belongs to the Washington Post's Michele Norris—and yes, everyone makes them.
At any rate, in a recent column about vaccine aversion, Norris penned this highly instructive misstatement:
NORRIS (9/10/20): We are not just tussling with historical wrongs. A recent study of White medical students found that half believed that Black patients had a higher tolerance for pain [than white patients] and were more likely to prescribe inadequate medical treatment as a result.
These White People Today!
In the past, we've learned that you can't necessarily believe the things you read in major newspapers. When we clicked Norris' link, then clicked again, we found that the recent study in question didn't say any such thing at all.
Everybody makes mistakes! This mistake involved a highly invidious racial claim. And it isn't just that Norris' statement was wrong. Depending on how you want to score it, her statement was wrong by a factor of fifty or possibly more.
These "Racial" Misstatements Today! In this case, there's a lot to learn from the chain of slippery behaviors which led to Norris' groaning misstatement. Tomorrow, we'll start with the original study itself—with two structural components of the study which strike us as perhaps a bit strange.
Do These Liberal Researchers Today sometimes place their thumbs on the scales in search of more pleasing outcomes? Down through the years, we've occasionally received that impression. For the record, we have no way of knowing if any such motive was involved in the study whose findings Norris misstated.
At any rate, tomorrow we'll start with the study itself. After that, we'll move on to the way the study was reported, in the body of its text and then again in synopsis.
The final error belonged to Norris—and to her unnamed editors, who certainly should have checked her claim before they put it in print.
These Upper-End Journalists Today—how cavalier they can be! Meanwhile, over at Slate, a different breed of journalist is working hard, around the clock, to keep us well-informed.
As a bit of comic relief, here are some of the journal's recent hard-hitting headlines or headline pairs or front-page teaser links:
December 11: Colonel Sanders was very horny
December 14: Help! My Wife Needs to Stop Treating This Toy Like It’s Our Baby.
December 15: How To Get Your Dog to Stop Eating Your Daughters’ Underwear With Jenny Slate / My dog—and my kids—are both to blame for this embarrassing habit.
December 15: My Boyfriend’s Job Makes It Impossible for Him to Do My Favorite Sex Act
December 19: Help! My Son Keeps Stealing My Flavored Condoms / He thinks they’re candy and trades them for his friends’ lunches at school.
December 20: Jenny Slate’s Dog Ate Five Used Tampons / It could happen to you too.
December 21: Grading Jon Ossoff’s Old-Guy Attempts to Use TikTok to Win Over the Youngest Georgia Voters / *He’s 33.
But seriously though, folks! So it goes in various realms at Slate.
Meanwhile, for people who clicked the teaser to today's contribution, congratulations! You went in search of political news. As it turned out, you'd been Schwedeled!
Delicious instant update: After publishing this post, we returned one email, then turned to New York magazine's Intelligencer site. We found this hard-hitting report by Irina Carmon:
The Story Behind the Story of Martin Shkreli’s Romance With a Reporter
It takes a lot to get everyone on the Internet to read the same thing—especially in Trump and plague times—but on Sunday night, “The Journalist and the Pharma Bro” did it. Published in Elle magazine, it’s a reported account of Bloomberg News reporter Christie Smythe giving up her career and her marriage for a now-scuttled relationship with reviled hedge-funder Martin Shkreli, who is serving a seven-year sentence in federal prison for fraud. The story includes a kiss in a room redolent of chicken wings. The reaction came as something of a surprise to its author, Stephanie Clifford, who said she is now fielding requests from Hollywood for adaptations. Smythe, who had already sold the film rights to her book proposal about her relationship with Shkreli, has been gamely tweeting through the chatter. On Monday morning, Clifford got on the phone with Intelligencer to discuss how the story came to be published, whether she believes Smythe is delusional, and what was up with that fashion shoot.
To peruse the interview, you can just click here. Meanwhile, "it takes a lot"—or maybe a little—to get everyone to read the same thing!
In this case, it took a kiss involving some chicken wings. Tinseltown, here it (allegedly) comes!