Monday, July 28, 2008

Modern Journalism

Apparently it's hard work. Larry King and Ted Koppel, 2000:

KING: Okay. Were you impressed with this “fuzzy [math],” top 1 percent, 1.3 trillion, 1.9 trillion bit?

KOPPEL: You know, honestly, it turns my brains to mush. I can’t pretend for a minute that I’m really able to follow the argument of the debates. Parts of it, yes. Parts of it, I haven’t a clue what they’re talking about.

Michael Scherer today:

And so we return to where we began, a war of words with few numbers to back them up. The candidates speak in platitudes and broad swipes. They claim the high road, while banishing their opponents to the low road. And the American voters, if they are interested, must sort through the literature seeking numbers that were never really meant to add up.

Or, you know, journalists can do their jobs and help the public understand these things. Scherer does do that to some extent, actually, but only after framing the entire thing as "THIS IS JUST TOO HARD FOR MERE MORTALS TO UNDERSTAAAAAAAAAAAND." Odd way to sell an article, by suggesting we shouldn't bother to try.