Last week an article came out claiming that the big brother tactics of the Patriot Act were abused to go after a poor little old college student just trying to do a paper on Chairman Mao. Apparently he had requested "The Little Red Book" and the next thing you know agents "dressed in black suits with thin black ties, 'just like the guys in Men in Black'" showed up to harass him and deliver a brow beating signed by President Bush. The gullible college jumped in on the act:
"My instinct is that there is a lot more monitoring than we think," he said. Dr. Williams said he had been planning to offer a course on terrorism next semester, but is reconsidering, because it might put his students at risk. "I shudder to think of all the students I've had monitoring al-Qaeda Web sites, what the government must think of that," he said. "Mao Tse-Tung is completely harmless."
After reading the article, I started to compose a "this is total b---s----" article for Newsbusters, but I didn't have proof so I let it go. Guess what? It's total b---s---. Completely made up. Who would have guessed?
Here's a big problem I have with both stories from The Standard Times. For starters, they protected the name of the liar: "Although The Standard-Times knows the name of the student, he is not coming forward because he fears repercussions should his name become public." In the second article admitting the hoax, they still did not name him. Are they worried Bush's "Men In Black" will really go after him now for lying? I think he has defaulted on his right to privacy (forget for the moment that that isn't an actual right.)
The other problem I have with the article is the matter-of-factness of the second story. The first article wasn't the least bit believable from the start. Any idiot at any high school newspaper should have been able to do the REPORTING, the JOURNALISM of determining that the fable was completely fabricated. Real journalism is not reporting on double hearsay as undeniable fact. There is no apology, no formal correction, no promise to do better next time, and no editor's note as to how this could have possibly happened.
Update: DailyKos blames the professors for this story, "they should have never gone to the media about this without more thorough questioning." That's absurd. Professors don't have editors. It wouldn't be a far stretch to believe that average professor by and large is a moonbat indoctrinating kids to hate conservatism. We should expect more from a fourth estate that is supposed to verify (if your mother says she loves you check it out?) and be skeptical, non-partisan observers.
The first draft of history is not supposed to be freeform.