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Posted by on Sep 25, 2012 in Media, Politics | 22 comments

Report: Romney Was Only Truly Joking About Airplane Windows

New York Magazine’s Dan Amira reports that it turns out that Republican Presidential candidate MItt Romney was only truly joking in his comment about airplane windows. Here’s his intro:

The Internet was tickled silly yesterday when it learned that Mitt Romney lacks an even basic understanding of the airplanes he has flown on probably thousands of times at this point in his 65-year life. It seemed almost unthinkable that a guy as obviously intelligent as Romney would fail to grasp that, because the cabin is pressurized, opening a window..

And the real situation:

The Los Angeles Times story that relayed Romney’s airplane remark to the world was based off a pool report written by the New York Times’s Ashley Parker. When we asked Parker this morning whether it seemed as if Romney made the mark in jest, she left no doubt. “Romney was joking,” she e-mailed. Parker told us that while the pool report didn’t explicitly indicate that Romney was joking, it was self-evident that he was. “The pool report provided the full transcript of his comments on Ann’s plane scare,” she said, “and it was clear from the context that he was not being serious.”

I’ve added italics. There is more so go to the link and read it all.

This site and others, talk show hosts, cable channels, etc. all reported on this story with the original assumption. This isn’t the first time this has happened.

The reason is that it underscores a key to modern media, not only new media. Many websites, shows, etc that report and comment on the news go on the assumption that a report they’re reading is accurate. In this case, the original report probably needed a sentence to stress that Romney was joking.

GO HERE and you’ll see that on Google News the original story still stands.

One reason why it had such credibility: there was George H.B. Bush looking in seeming amazement at a supermarket scanner. Stranger things have happened=. And I’ve heard there is a whole new custom order of two crates of shoes being shipped from Bangladesh to Vice President Joe Biden because his mouth saliva wears out his shoes so quickly.

But the larger truth about stories that appear and take on a life of their own even if they prove to be incorrect is this:

Websites don’t re-report articles they quote. Bloggers don’t re-report articles they quote or the veracity of the stories they link to, or the veracity of each assertion or statistic used by someone in an article or post. In the war on terror there had been many stories, for instance, of bigname terrorists being killed and they turned out to be false (but accurate in some notable cases, to be sure).

Many talk shows and cable shows get their news tips by looking at their favorite blogs, or going to one of our favorite news aggregators If you go to you’d be hard pressed to find any of the blogs or websites that link to those articles getting on the phone and re-reporting them, or asking a reporter: “Now, are you sure X, Y, or Z meant that?”

Today when they quote newspapers, cable news — people don’t re-report each report they see or use. They assume it’s true. Or, in this case, they may also assume something is there that isn’t there or if they read closer was not there. Or there.

What your Aunt Fanny told you is correct: “Assume makes an ‘ass’ or ‘u’ and ‘me'” but reporting on reports and not re-reporting every assertion made is the way our media works.

Amira did the checking on this one and, yes, it happened.

And will likely happen again.

(Stay tuned…..)

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