TalkingPointsMemo on the undiebomber’s “one way ticket”:
In a remarkable example of how bad information can travel far and wide, dozens of media outlets around the world have said Umar Abdulmutallab was traveling on a one-way ticket to Detroit when he allegedly tried to blow up Flight 253, even though that has never been substantiated and appears to be flat wrong.
Abdulmutallab’s “one-way ticket” has been cited in recent days by the AP, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, even though the Nigerian government said Dec. 28 that Abdulmutallab had a round-trip ticket, and provided details to back it up.[…..]
It has been referenced repeatedly by commentators attacking the U.S. government for missing red flags about Abdulmutallab. See for example this Michael Gerson column in the Jan. 6 Post (“Airline attack shows Obama’s listless approach to terrorism”) and this Michael Mukasey Wall Street Journal effort (“The president’s job is not detecting bombs at the airport but neutralizing terrorists before they get there.”)
Krugman on Yurp:
Europe has its economic troubles; who doesn’t? But the story you hear all the time — of a stagnant economy in which high taxes and generous social benefits have undermined incentives, stalling growth and innovation — bears little resemblance to the surprisingly positive facts. The real lesson from Europe is actually the opposite of what conservatives claim: Europe is an economic success, and that success shows that social democracy works.[….]
Since 1980, per capita real G.D.P. — which is what matters for living standards — has risen at about the same rate in America and in the E.U. 15: 1.95 percent a year here; 1.83 percent there.
Why do so many apocryphal stories get so much traction, even within the so-called respectable media? I can’t help but think this has something to do with it:
Bob Steele, a journalism ethics scholar at the Poynter Institute, said that one of the pitfalls in this type of book is that “both accuracy and fairness can be in jeopardy when anonymous sources are overused and misused.” Also, those who supplied such insider information, Steele noted, “cannot be held easily accountable.
But all press, they say is good press. So regardless of whether members of the chattering class are pro, con, or have no fixed opinion, HarperCollins, the book’s publisher, is counting on a bestseller, or it wouldn’t have reportedly signed the authors to a six-figure contract. HBO executives will also follow the buzz closely, having already optioned the book before publication.
It’s Mark Halperin’s world, we’re just living in it.