Another example of the sort of charming stories spun by our new cable news Overlords. I just watched former Arkansas Guv (and current FOX show host) Mike Huckabee tells some version of the following on his show:

In the 1880's, a renowned member of the British Parliament was in his carriage when it got stuck in the mud. A young farm boy saw his predicament, and helped get the carriage out of the mire. As a reward, the blueblood paid for the farm's boy education, and the latter grew up to be Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of penicillin. The blueblood? Sir Randolph Churchill, father of Winston Churchill, whose life was saved by Fleming's discovery when he lay dying from pneumonia during the middle of the Battle of Britain....

Wotta yarn, but here's the problem: the whole 'Fleming Saves Churchill' yarn is just another one of the charming but inaccurate myths associated with Sir Winston. Read the skinny here.

Now, I've made mistakes like this. For several years I've repeated the urban legend that Dr. Charles Drew perished due to racism at a Boston hospital. People make mistakes. But people who are public figures, who have public affairs programs seen by millions on a major cable news network, they or their staffs should 'fact-check' their content and not just recycle hoaxes, Internet legends or the talking points of the people they agree with. This is a symptom of a greater problem, which is the increasing dearth of proper 'fact-checking' in the journalistic enterprise.

By the way, this is not a partisan dig at Huckabee or FOX News. This is the wry observation that all too often these days, it is the amateurs and their blogs who are asking the tough questions and doing the research in order to hold the so-called 'mainstream media' to a certain standard of probity. What's wrong with this picture?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Shows like this have researchers don't they? In this case, even the most basic Google search would have made it clear that the Flemming/Churchill story is a myth. Quite a blunder really, and pretty embarrassing for Mr Huckabee.