Ethics Dunce: The Traverse City Record-Eagle

Fake Front Page

Bias and incompetence is a terrible combination…especially for a newspaper.

You may have read about the car  that sped through a crowded intersection during Oklahoma State University’s homecoming parade, killing fours and injuring dozens. The driver was charged with four counts of second-degree murder. [ NOTE: The post here originally said that the driver was drunk;her lawyer now says she was not, but is mentally ill.]  According to the Record Eagle, however, that was a shooting, and the car was a gun. That’s the paper’s front page above. How could this happen?

It happens because journalists are so obsessed with convincing the public that the United States is in the grasp of unprecedented gun violence that the desperately want to see as many shooting as possible. It happens because the news media is so used to warping facts to assist progressive indoctrination that they increasingly don’t pay attention to facts. It happens because journalism is no longer a profession, because it has no standards, just agendas. It happens because bias is not only not discouraged, it’s celebrated.

How many news organizations highlighted the recent Pew study showing that U.S. gun deaths had declined 30% since 1993? Were you aware of it? The media largely ignored that news item, because it does not support the predominant, media-driven hysteria aimed at eventual gun confiscation.

The editors explained the fantasy headline with a correction that said…

Because of a page designer’s error, a misleading headline appeared on page 3A in Sunday’s Record-Eagle accompanying a story about a driver who struck and killed four people at the Oklahoma State University homecoming parade on Saturday.

You can now add dishonesty and lack of accountability to bias and incompetence. That excuse might be credible if the editors and all sighted staff were found drugged and bound to their office chairs. How does a completely factually-false headline get onto the streets without being caught in a professional news room?

Incompetence, bias, lack of accountability and dishonesty. I know that it’s only one newspaper, but this makes “Dewey Defeats Truman!” look worthy of a Pulitzer. This  would never happen anywhere, even once, if journalism ethics were not at death’s door.


Pointer: Irvine Alpert


19 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: The Traverse City Record-Eagle

  1. Speaking of journalistic ethics, if Chelsea Clinton was an employee of the NBC News Department when Hillary sent her the Benghazi e-mail, wouldn’t Chelsea be under some journalistic obligation to come forth when the video lie was being promulgated? Looks like Chelsea is a chip off the old blockhead.

  2. To make it worse, the actual substance of the article looks to be correct. It’s not even like this was early on when few facts were known.

  3. Jack,
    It seems like you’ve made a lot of assumptions about their motives with absolutely no evidence to back it up. I’ve read the story and, other than the headline, nothing in it sounded like coded wording to bias people against guns, nor did their apology offer any rationalization.

    Stupid mistakes happen all the time, despite dozens of otherwise smart people trying to prevent them. Especially when headlines and page-layout are handled by a completely different department from the newsroom.

    Calling this unethical owing to incompetence I could see, but this is a complete stretch; you’re assigning motives based on a personal impression. What’s sad is that, even if you’re right, you’re still wrong because it would only be by accident.


    • Wrong, to be blunt. Confirmation bias doesn’t require a motive. It requires a bias. There is a mountain of evidence of such bias. Do I believe that the NRA newsletter wouldn’t make this mistake? You bet. Don’t you? This was a huge local event. The story was written correctly. Why did nobody blink at the headline? The paper wasn’t published in secret. You really find the “It was the computer’s fault” lie credible? Yes, typos and botched Headlines happen all the time. But find me an equivalent, on the front page, of any professional paper. Not a typo, an equivalent. Like calling Barack Obama Grover Cleveland, or referring to Mexican immigrants as sea sponges, of Israel Oz. Nothing in the post suggested the headline was intentional. It was mistake that could not occur without pure bias.

      • I used to work at a newspaper, first in the pressroom (printing press), and later in the layout/pre-press department (making the printing plates for the press). EVERYONE was told to check the first copies off the press for accuracy, typos, blown-out fonts, incorrect dates, jump errors, etc,, and if anything considered obvious ever got out, WE ALL were chewed-out. A couple of times a year, a page editor bought me lunch, or sent pizza to our entire department if I/we caught a serious error. You ought to see how badly the poop hits the blower when a newspaper runs a State Senator’s photo with a murderer’s name and article under it by mistake.

        Even having seen some pretty bad errors in those 10+ years, the level of bias and obliviousness that this would require to get out to the public is just….breathtaking.

    • No, this is even worse than a college newspaper writing that the PR head was the “Chief Boot Licker and Ass Kisser” of the University because that at least is somewhat true. It is like a conservative-leaning blog writing “Hillary Clinton Shoots Libyan Ambassador in the Head, Blames it On YouTube Video”, then claiming it is a page-designer error. Suuuuuure it is. You can’t prove they INTENDED to mislead everyone into thinking that Hillary Clinton is a murderer. Mistakes happen all the time.

  4. Woman decides to commit suicide and take out as many people as she can. It does sound a lot like most of the mass shootings of the last couple of decades. If she was driving a Taurus, a Colt, a Daewoo, or a Cobra, it might have been a misunderstanding. She was driving a Hyundai, however.

    • What, you don’t know about the Hyundai .75 caliber sniper rifle with automatic sights and innocence-targeting? You need the latest issue of GUN DIGEST.

  5. As I recall (vaguely) this isn’t the first case of the Traverse City newspaper making an “error” of this sort. Be damned if I can remember the details, though.

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