Video of the day

So, my great friend JDW keeps sending me links for a series that an Athens, GA movie theater runs called “Bad Movie Night.”  It is truly, truly astounding that people ever decided to make or participate in these awful movies.   The previews put together for Bad Movie Night are hilarious.  Given that the latest has a collegiate theme, I thought I’d share it here.

There’s plenty more hilariously awful movies where this one came from.  You can have fun with more on the youtube channel.

Photo of the day

From an In Focus set who’s theme is massive crowds (I see shots like this and I cannot help but think how do they logitically deal with everyone’s bathroom needs?).  Here’s the crowds for the Pope in Rio. Also some great shots of protests in Egypt last month:

Millions attend as Pope Francis celebrates mass at Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro, on July 28, 2013. (Reuters/Stefano Rellandini)

The “real” IRS scandal

I was going to link to this Tomasky post a while back that basically explains that we now know there is absolutely no IRS scandal at all.  The scandal, is how the media covered it and how Republicans ginned it up (and continue to) out of no there there.   Read it.  Or just trust me on that point.   His final point is on the role of the media:

And what about the mainstream media that swallowed whole from the Republican-conservative spoon, running huge headlines and ominous editorials, all those breathy stories that got nearly half the American public believing, on the basis of zero hard evidence, that the White House was involved here? It’s not in the nature of the beast to run huge headlines saying “No Scandal Here.” But it should be in the beast’s nature to take a much harder look at Issa, George, and the other perpetuators of this non-story.

Yeah, so that’s not exactly happening.  Anyway, since I waited, I can tie it together with this nice Drum post summarizing Brendan Nyhan on the media coverage:

This probably won’t come as any surprise, but it turns out that media outlets pay a lot of attention when a shiny new scandal erupts, but a whole lot less attention when the scandal turns out to be a nothingburger. As an example, Brendan Nyhan presents this chart showing coverage of the IRS scandal:

As Nyhan says, this is sort of a subset of the general tendency of the media to pay lots of attention to a new event when it first erupts, and then less as time goes by. This is perfectly normal: public interest in something like the Sandy Hook massacre or the Boston bombings only lasts so long, after all. Eventually there’s nothing new to report and we all move on.

But in the case of an event like the IRS scandal, this can leave the public with a serious misimpression. Everyone heard about it when it first happened, but a month later hardly anyone heard about the new revelations that turned it into a non-scandal. This means that an awful lot of people are left thinking it was a big scandal even though it wasn’t.

Sadly, this is just the way the media (doesn’t) work.  And, its a great example of how what drives the media is not ideological bias in any meaningful sense, but overwhelmingly instead, by what makes the best story.  A scandal-ridden president using his executive powers to abuse the IRS against his political opponents.  Now that’s a good story.  Finding out months later that they got the whole thing wrong and there was basically no wrong-doing by the President or the IRS.  Now that’s far less interesting.  Though I would argue definitely more interesting that the amount of coverage suggests.

Of course, I think that also reflects a universal human pathology– nobody likes to admit they are wrong.  And, actually, one of the ways I have matured the most as a person is being able to admit when I’ve been wrong.   Just not about any of my blog posts.

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