Tuesday, November 20, 2007

SFist rewrites history

It's OK if you make a mistake - just own up to it, and note the correction. SFist wrote a post this morning, and did not acknowledge the change, and in fact, hid that the change had occurred.

And we're not talking about a simple typo - we're talking about a very misleading charge against a mayoral candidate who is currently awaiting the results of the vote.

Instead of changing the headline and noting the change, it seems 'Brock' over at SFist thought that too much of a chore. Is it a joke? Laziness? Embarrassment?

The original headline read:

Vallejo Mayor Candidate - Hic! - Arressted for DUI

Here is a screenshot of Google Blog search at about 11:50pm on the same day, Monday, November 19, 2007:

The problem with the headline was, the Mayor was not arrested for DUI. Instead, he was arrested for the much-less-serious offense of 'public intoxication'.

This misreporting is serious business. If you are out to ruin a politician's career - fine - do your thing, but don't expect people to take your history rewriting operation seriously. It's no different than Fox News hackery.

As to the seriousness of the initial errant reporting, time will tell, but ask Al Gore how one lie can propagate and potentially change the course of history. Ask the American people, or the people of the world.

The headline now reads:

Vallejo Mayor Candidate -- Hic! -- Arrested for Public Intoxication

Brock's follow-up comment to mine in the comments, is:

yes, as stated in the headline, he was busted for public intoxication.

I am unable to log-into SFist right now to reply and ask about the history rewrite, so I don't know if I've been banned or if the SFist login is just down (and it has been before).

Here is a screenshot of some other news outlets that are propagating false information. For both CBS links, the links themselves claim 'DUI', but the actual titles of the articles once you click through state 'Public Intoxication' - that's Google's cache at work:

For context, here is my comment:

not to break up the DUI party, but the article says suspicion of public intoxication, which is about an order of magnitude less serious than DUI. it is not, in fact, DUI at all.

but i guess sensational headlines are important.

Here, again, is Brock's reply from four minute later - a reply which does not acknowledge the original false headline:

yes, as stated in the headline, he was busted for public intoxication.

We report. You decide.

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