The day Deadspin exposed journalists (5×8 – 1/17/13)

The stench from South Bend, what’s going on in the cockpit, Wisconsin judge orders man to stop having kids, the hero of the Oil Patch, and the irresistible desire to jump into a frozen lake.


1) THE SMELL FROM SOUTH BEND

Is the story here that a Notre Dame football player made up the story about having a girlfriend who died, a hoax perpetrated by someone else or the revelation that the national media doesn’t bother checking stories it elevates to legend through constant repetition?

We’re only 17 days into the year and the award for strangest sports story of the year has been clinched by the one Deadspin revealed about football star Manti Te’o, whose story about a girlfriend who died was held up as an example of the hurdles he’s had to overcome.

“Every single thing about this was real to Manti,” the Notre Dame athletic director tells CBS. “There was no suspicion. The grief was real, the affection was real, and that’s the sad nature of this cruel game.” As real, anyway, as the grief can be for someone Te’o had never met; theirs was only an online relationship.

The New York Times was one of the major journalism institutions who didn’t bother fact-checking what it repeated. In its article today, it spent one sentence acknowledging its mistake, and many paragraphs exposing other magazines and newspapers who did the same thing.

This is one of those stories where the readers are doing a better job of asking questions than the journalists.


Victim? He was a victim when this girl never existed, apparently talked with him all night and every morning, visited in Hawaii and South Bend, met her at Stanford, and visited her in the hospital (allegedly) and tweeted about meeting a new friend there?

How are you going to go on national tv proclaiming your love for this woman when you NEVER ONCE traveled to meet her in the hospital on the weekend?

Related: Then there are the journalists who do their job professionally. Ben Garvin, a photographer at the Pioneer Press is one example. In a fascinating blog post, he describes the art of shooting funerals.

Related sports: Forget Lance Armstrong, Alex Zanardi Is The Athlete That Should Be Inspiring You (Jalopnik)

2) WHAT’S GOING ON IN THE COCKPIT?

It’s been almost three years since a couple of Northwest Airlines pilots got so “distracted” that they missed Minneapolis Saint Paul and ended up over Eau Claire before realizing they weren’t paying attention to flying their plane, and now the FAA is stepping forward.

This week, the FAA proposed banning the use of personal devices — iPads, smartphones etc., — by the people in the cockpit.

At AvWeb, Mary Grady writes that it’s a ban doomed to fail, and that it’s odd that the Minnesota incident would lead to the ban.


Airline pilots often have some downtime while cruising at altitude. It was a long time ago that I used to fly jumpseat in a cargo jet, but it was pretty common then for the pilot not flying at cruise to pass the time reading a book or a magazine. I imagine that’s still true today. If they are reading on a Kindle or playing Angry Birds, I don’t see how that makes any difference. Having something engaging to do to provide a little distraction seems like a good way to stay alert.

3) JUDGE ORDERS MAN NOT TO HAVE MORE KIDS

A judge in Wisconsin has ordered a man to not have any more children because he’s not paying child support for the kids he already has, the Duluth News Tribune says. Sound familiar? We discussed a similar case here.


Judge Eugene Harrington also ordered that John J. Butler reveal within three minutes of meeting any female that he is a convicted felon and has unpaid child support. The two-year probation sentence was handed down Jan. 9 after Butler, 28, pleaded no contest in October to felony failure to pay child support for more than 120 days in 2011.

4) THE HERO OF THE OIL PATCH

There are only three living soldiers who served in Afghanistan or Iraq who are recipients of the Medal of Honor. In a few weeks, there’ll be four. Clint Romesha, a worker in North Dakota’s Oil Patch will receive the medal from President Obama next month, the Fargo Forum reports.

His unit, Black Knight Troop of the 61st Cavalry Regiment, was stationed at Combat Outpost Keating in Nuristan Province. Surrounded by mountains on four sides, it was a vulnerable place to be because the enemy could fire down from the steep mountain sides, Romesha said.

More than 300 Taliban fighters, armed with rifles, machine guns, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades, did just that starting early on the morning of Oct. 3, 2009.

Romesha said there were 53 American troops and two Latvians on site, as well as about 20 Afghan soldiers, who melted away as the attack began.

According to news reports, the Medal of Honor citation said Romesha quickly reacted to organize other soldiers despite heavy fire, then “took out an enemy machine gun team and, while engaging a second, the generator he was using for cover was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade, inflicting him with shrapnel wounds.”

Despite his wounds, he grabbed a machine gun from a corporal and yelled, “grab more ammo and follow me,” leading a team of five.

“With complete disregard for his own safety, Romesha continually exposed himself to heavy enemy fire as he moved confidently about the battlefield, engaging and destroying multiple enemy targets, including three Taliban fighters who had breached the combat outpost’s perimeter,” the citation said.

As the hours went on, he also directed air support that destroyed a pocket of 30 enemy fighters.

He led an effort to cover wounded soldiers so they could get back to an aid station and led a team 100 yards under “withering fire” to recover the bodies of some of the eight American soldiers killed that day.

5) THE IRRESISTIBLE DESIRE TO JUMP INTO A FROZEN LAKE

The category: Things I’m never going to quite understand.

Bonus I: And now this message from the flu:

Via XKCD

Bonus II: The temperature could reach near 20 below in these parts next week. Let us begin the obsession with this fact while maintaining that we are unfazed by the weather. The BBC provides this handy calculator to compare how our temperature compares to the rest of the world, including the coldest places on earth at the moment. At 8 degrees this morning (-13C), for example, it is still 34 C colder in Yakutsk, Russia. We’re more than 90 60 (F) degrees warmer than Yakutsk.

Bonus III: Jon Stewart on yesterday’s gun debate. What are the odds a US Attorney from Minnesota would become comedy fodder?

TODAY’S QUESTION

With his admission in an interview to be broadcast tonight, bicycling superstar Lance Armstrong joins a crowd of prominent athletes caught using performance-enhancing drugs. Today’s Question: Should the use of performance-enhancing drugs in sports be legalized?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: School debt, a new mortgage, an expanding family – your 20s and 30s can make a huge dent in your wallet. What questions do you have about your finances as a young adult?

Second hour: Oliver Burkeman, writer for The Guardian. His new book “The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking” explores the upsides of negativity, uncertainty, failure and imperfection.

Third hour: Ways to responsibly bring down health care spending

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer Robert Caro. His newest book is “The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson.”

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – The world recoiled after brutal attacks on women in New Delhi and Steubenville, Ohio. As those stories continue to unfold, it’s critical to step back, and figure out what we know about rape. Who carries out rapes, what happens to the victims, and why this crime so often goes uninvestigated?

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - As the Mississippi River’s mouth creeps inland, Louisiana worries about what

the drought upriver will mean for the delta’s future. River cargo traffic is threatened to the north, while saltwater is encroaching from the south. NPR reports on managing the lower Mississippi.

Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have given schools new ways to share information with parents and students. But they’ve also added complications for schools as they deal with threats of violence. Social media not only serves as a way to deliver threats, but it can also whip up a frenzy among parents and students, requiring school districts to react to rumors that have snowballed into someone serious. MPR’s Tim Post will report.