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Stengel-gate Premieres on Fox and Friends (And Other Updates on This Journalistic Scandal)


On Wednesday, I introduced you to a scandal I have taken to calling “Stengel-gate” in a piece called “Fourteen Clear Factual Errors in Richard Stengel’s Essay on the Constitution (And I Am Looking for Your Help).” In it, I showed that Time‘s cover story …

… contained so many egregious errors as to constitute a journalistic scandal. If you are new to this story, that may sound like hyperbole, but consider this line, from Mr. Stengel’s piece:

If the Constitution was intended to limit the federal government, it sure doesn’t say so.

I have counted thirteen other errors that are nearly as egregious as this one in that piece, by a man who helps other journalists learn about the Constitution. Yes, really.

So I have been pushing this story for over a week, seeking at the very least a major (and embarrassing) correction, and I was very gratified Thursday when I woke up to see this on Fox and Friends:

I think it is safe to assume that they were using my work, given the similarity in the phrasing of the three errors they named. And I want to say preemptively that Fox might have been genuinely ignorant about where the list of errors came from. I asked many of you and the readers of Patterico’s Pontifications to positively spam their site with a list of the errors, without a link back to the original. So it is quite possible that reporters at Fox saw the list that way and verified its veracity, without learning who generated the list. And honestly, I feel more glad to get my story on their network than anything else.

At the same time, I want to thank everyone here at Big Journalism and at Patterico’s Pontifications for helping to raise awareness of the issue. I asked you to cut and paste that list of errors and I can’t even count how many have done so. Now, you can’t spam their comments any more, because they have shut their comments down, but you can continue to “like” a comment I left there outlining the errors in the piece and linking back to Big Journalism, to raise its prominence.

And, by the way, as of this writing we are up to 460 likes for that comment! Way to go!

Also, you can write to the editor, here. You can see my letter to the editor, here.

And allow me to provide this advice if you choose to write to the editor. You should put your concerns in your own words–please don’t just copy my letter or anyone else’s. They are less likely to take your letter seriously if you do. You should be polite and respectful. And while I think Stengel’s philosophy is atrocious, don’t denounce his living constitution theories in the letter. They will ignore that and the danger is that then they might ignore your entire letter, too. Instead, stick to the facts. As our second president will tell you:

Facts are stubborn things, and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictums of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.

It is those stubborn facts we must force them to confront.


Two notes: First, I would like to thank Stephen Gutowski, who posted that video at MRC TV at my request. Second, this piece was adapted from this piece at Patterico’s Pontifications.


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