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Will Will’s deceptions ever be fact-checked by WashPost?

May 7th, 2009 · 4 Comments

The Washington Post opinion page editor, Fred Hiatt, has made strong statements about the strength and quality of fact-checking for the columnists within his pages.

told by editorial page editor Fred Hiatt — that multiple editors had checked Will’s sources,

we don’t have lax standards for accuracy … in general, we do careful fact checking.

Despite these statements, when it comes to energy and climate discussions, fossil-foolish commentators seem able to perpetuate truthiness and deception with abandon. These deceptions and falsehoods, have led to criticisms and corrections from across the web and even traditional media outlets, Washington Post staff, and the numerous Balancing letters (including today)  and OPEDs responding to the the Faux pieces. (E.g, running a Faux and Balanced opinion page). The most egregious examples, this year, have come from George Will, who seems incapable of publishing a column without deceptiveness and, almost without exception, factual errors and falsehoods. Today’s Will yet again peddles truthiness, truthiness with issues open to fact-checking and challenge.

In Sunbeams from Cucumbers, Will writes:

Its chief executive  says: “If the Japanese can design [an] affordable, well-designed hybrid, then, doggone it, the American people should be able to do the same.” Yes they can — if the American manufacturer can do what Toyota does with the Prius: Sell its hybrid without significant, if any, profit

The latest information from the Japanese business news (information available in English as early as 28 April) is that Toyota will make a profit in the range of ten percent on the sale of every Prius (down from about 15 percent due to competition from Honda’s Insight).  In 2008,

Toyota appears to have earned gross profits of around Yen100 billion (US $1 billion) on its sales of second-generation Prius hybrids last year. Toyota’s margin on the sales fo the next-generation 2010 Prius are projected to be in the single digits in the first year.

What do those diligent Washington Post fact-checkers do with their time when it comes to George Will opinion pieces, play checkers? After all, they can’t seem to figure out when Will makes the simplest of mistakes.

Hmmm … perhaps the issue is “significant”.  $2000 or so in profit from each car sold (and a $billion or so  in profits per year)  is, evidently, not a “significant … profit”.   If that is the case, really would like to know how the “fact checkers” define “significant”.


As well, note the rarity of Post (and other newspapers) running corrections of George Will’s errors. Perhaps they are concerned that running corrections would take more print space than the columns themselves?

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Tags: Congress · Energy · hybrid · politics · transportation

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