Journal: News & Comment

Monday, May 27, 2002
# 9:57:00 AM:

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Why believe the news?

Slate reports:

In the last week, Time, USA Today, and CNN all reported that accused terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui asked his Minnesota flight instructors to teach him how to steer a 747 but not take off or land. [But] the facts are just the opposite: Moussaoui told his Eagan, Minn., instructors he wanted to learn only how to take off and land.

Like folk etymology, sometimes news reports spread in absence of, or even in direct opposition to, the facts, because they better fit what we want to believe. That supposedly respectable news organizations would spread such "folk news" is disappointing and sad, though.

P.S. And yet traditional news sources can still do remarkable things. Register for free with the New York Times and then read these accounts from inside the World Trade Center from those who did not make it out (via Jason Kottke).


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