I am obliged to my regular commenter and fellow blogger, A. K. Haart, for nudging me into this contemporary tale of journalistic incompetence. Incidentally, I recommend AK's blog. He manages to say in a brief but elegant paragraph what would take me several pages to express. This is because he thinks before he writes, unlike, er, well, moving on . . .
I expect, like me, you picked up from the MSM out of the corner of your eyes or ears the 'news' that incidents of asthma in 'likkle-kiddie-winkies' had dropped in the UK since the imposition of the smoking ban. Since, by definition, all my readers are wise I expect that like me you muttered the word 'crap' under your breath and forgot about it. Well, if you stopped and actually thought, let alone investigated all the crap stories in the MSM you wouldn't have time to read my, and 'AK's, excellent blogs, would you?! And again, you know that you can rely on us - er, well, him, actually - to seek out one of those many and tremendous brain-boxes who inhabit Blogdom and who seem to have the necessary qualifications to investigate all the crap in the MSM; that is, they possess brains, time and diligence. Thus it was for this story and 'AK', in just one sentence (unlike the two paragraphs it's taking me!), pointed me towards Velvet Glove, Iron Fist, whose owner, Mr. Christopher Snowdon, has pure, unadulterated scepticism flowing through his veins.
I will not attempt to summarise his analysis because I want you all to take the time - oh, go on! - to read it for yourself. However, I will add, in view of my recent post concerning the less than imperial standard science emanating from Prof. Joanna Haigh of Imperial College, that as this insitution has associated itself with the unscrupulous agit-prop activists who wrote this garbage, I fear for their reputation. Perhaps my other regular reader and commenter, 'DM', a university science swot, himself, might have something to add to that particular aspect. Well, there's nothing like an academic punch-up, beats a WWE bout any day of the week! Where was I . . .?
Oh yes, the main point of this particular post - which has now only taken three paragraphs to reach! - is the perennial problem that is the MSM. Actually, the problem may be diminished somewhat because the printed version of it, as opposed to the broadcasters, is dying on its feet and deservedly so. The myth, perpetrated by Hollywood and bolstered by sundry 'novels', of the truth-seeking journalist battling against the odds to 'tell it the way it is' simply reduces one to giggles these days. The fact is that most journalists, most of the time, simply suck off the teat of ersatz crap like this non-story concerning asthma cases in children. They swallow it whole and then regurgitate it onto us and, as I indicated above, we mutter 'crap' under our breath and move on - so is it any wonder that the prints are dying?
I realise that time is money and that the newspapers blame the denizens of Blogdom for their falling circulation but why have none of them spotted the bleedin' obvious? If, in fact, it is the likes of Mr. Snowdon who have the time and brains to produce the facts about a story then why not pay them for their trouble - or better still, just steal it, like I do from time to time (although I do always try to give acknowledgments)! If, perhaps for near tragic reasons, you are interested in the subject of asthma in children then you would find Mr. Snowdon's report much more interesting than the obvious bilge provided by those anti-smoking fanatics which the prints repeated without comment. Perhaps it is that "old common arbitrator, Time" which is the problem and perhaps that is an explanation of why the weekly Spectator actually flourishes and makes a profit for its owners. 'The Speccie' has the time over seven days to consider its articles and, whilst it leans towards the libertarian Right, it is prepared to publish articles from Right, Left and Centre provided they are thoughtful. If I were an editor of a daily newspaper I would have at least one page reserved for follow-up stories taken from the internet to correct or expand on original reports. This might actually make them worth reading again.
In the meantime, get over to Mr. Snowdon, via 'AK', of course, and thereby edge a little closer to that damnedly tricky essence - The Truth!