If you are not familiar with the satiric newspaper, The Onion … well, I just don’t know what to do with you. How have you managed to get on for so long without reading the Onion?
It is beyond my capacity to understand.
The Onion’s headlines are where the comedic magic happens: Nation’s Snowmen March Against Global Warming; Coddled Potted Plant Could Never Make It On Outside; Kevin Bacon Talking About His Band Approved As Prescriptive Sedative … and my all-time favorite Onion headline: Standard Deviation Not Enough for Perverted Statistician.
Onion articles have no substance. The headline is the whole of the joke.
More and more I observe the same phenomenon in the mainstream press. The headline is the whole of the story. The article has no substance … or it’s misleading … or its content is just plain wrong.
Damian Paletta’s recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Six Changes Social Security Is Making to Its Disability Program, listed six changes Social Security is not necessarily making to its disability program. His article, Government Pulls in Reins on Disability Judges, is similarly overblown.
OMG! The Wall Street Journal is journalistically on par with the Onion?!?!
The headlines make the point, but the articles are … insubstantial, poorly researched afterthoughts. Journalists are not writing to contextualize factual information, edify and explain; they are writing to advance a political agenda. Headlines alone are sufficient to the task of advancing a political agenda, just like they are sufficient as punch lines to jokes where the facts don’t really matter.
Sad to see these venerable old newspapers jumping the shark. Sobering that so many consumers are misinformed and led astray.
Folks knowledgeable about Social Security are not led astray. For example, Charles Hall, in Social Security News wrote of Mr. Palleta’s piece, “[o]ne could argue about which of these [proposed changes] may actually come to pass or mean anything but one cannot argue about the fact that Palleta is confused.” Indeed.
Confusion was delivered to National Public Radio’s listeners through the error-riddled, Trends With Benefits. Confusion was delivered to 60 Minutes’ viewers through the one-sided, Disability, USA. These pieces were full of falsities, cherry-picked facts … even lies straightaway. But the cumulative effect is something more than mere confusion.
The cumulative effect is that recipients of erroneous information do not understand themselves to be confused. They believe themselves to be well-informed. The falsehoods were delivered to them by trusted news sources – the Wall Street Journal … National Public Radio … 60 Minutes after all! Can you think of more trusted sources?
Yes, yes! The Daily Show … the Onion. Very funny. I should have seen that coming.
When people believe themselves to be well-informed about problems that … may or may not exist – they will demand solutions. And the already overworked Social Security Administration, its staff and judges will scramble to slay these fictions.
I am buoyed that the headlines coming ’round these days are that there are now fitting imaginary solutions to Social Security’s imaginary problems.