Curmudgeon Notes 09.18.2013

Media musings from Cincinnati and beyond

Sep 19, 2013 at 11:15 am
click to enlarge More exclusives, less editing
More exclusives, less editing

  • It was that rare 9/11 photo that was so clear, so sharp and so disturbing that it seemed to vanish from the Internet: a man clearly diving or falling head first from a burning World Trade Center tower. He almost seems relaxed. Last week reproduced the image . . . next to a teaser for an unrelated feature:

"Make Your Morning Commute More Stylish: Look good on your way to work" 

• Another oops. Less appalling in its way, but scarier. On Sept. 7, the London Daily Mail’s wildly popular website carried an article by David Rose, saying that Earth

“is heading for a period of cooling that will not end until the middle of this century — a process that would expose computer forecasts of imminent catastrophic warming as dangerously misleading . . . A chilly Arctic summer has left nearly a million more square miles of ocean covered with ice than at the same time last year — an increase of 60 percent.”

Not to be outdone, competitor The Telegraph repeated the guts of Rose’s article, as did an MSN blog, according to, the journalism watchdog site. Rose apparently was wrong, but editors are conscious of the appeal of any seemingly scientific claim so long as it seemed to debunk global warming.

As Phil Plait writes in Slate, the ice claim is “technically true, but extremely misleading.”

In the summer of 2012 Arctic sea ice hit a record low. Given just how extreme it was, it’s not too surprising that it would not be as extreme this year. 

• mistakenly tweeted that the new Yahoo boss and her husband bought the most expensive mansion in San Francisco history. But Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer tweeted HuffPost godmother, Ariana Huffington, “

I did not buy this house. Again, don't believe everything you read on the Internet.” HuffPost took down the tweet. says Glenn Faircloth, the superintendent of a Lorain County, Ohio, vocational school, posted a greeting on the school’s website that “

was actually written by another superintendent in New York

.” WJW-TV’s Brittany Harris says Faircloth’s posting “was pretty much the same as the original message posted on the other website. The only thing he changed were the names and accomplishments.” Faircloth said he didn’t copy it for any type of personal gain but “I should have acknowledged the colleague’s remarks.”

Poynter added that although the school year is young, “it’s seen quite a few incidents of plagiarism by schools officials. A schools superintendent in Montana

lifted portions of anti-Obama letters he wrote to newspapers

from other writers. A Boston middle school principal

resigned after she ripped off a Forbes column in a welcome note to staff

and apparently plagiarized in her job application and a California school-board member apologized (

kind of

) for making liberal and uncredited use of another person’s words in a graduation speech. In January, a Georgia schools administrator

resigned after plagiarizing in a report

, and a school board official in Toronto

stepped down after numerous accusations of plagiarism


• There seems to be an aversion to hearing unmediated views from foes and foreign leaders with whom we disagree. The latest is Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, who used the New York Times op-ed page to advise Americans on the Syrian chemical weapons crisis.

I’ll generalize, saying that critics of his appearance on that coveted spot consider Putin and the Times “un-American.”

Americans were even angrier when then-lively Osama bin Laden’s speeches on AlJazeera were made available to Americans.

It’s the same hostile reaction to unwanted information or views that characterize much American reactions to Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden’s revelations about unseemly or, god help us, un-American behaviors.

We need more of this and it would be tragic for our sense of self-government if the White House or commercial pressures made our news media timid about such revelations.

• An example of timidity and waning confidence comes from the Shreveport Times, whose 9/11 page one story examined how local Muslims were coping since the terrorist attacks 12 years ago. The publisher responded to complaints by apologizing and saying the story, if it ran at all that day, should not have been so visible.


CONTACT BEN L. KAUFMAN: [email protected]