Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The End is (Not) Nigh

Since the media in general has decided to not give the facts about what is happening with the Mayan calendar in a couple days, I figured I better take care of it for them. I'll start with this: there is no evidence of either a Planet Nibiru or Planet X on a collision course with Earth. These are purely fictional and I will not even mention them again.

Second, there is no prophecy concerning December 21, 2012. December 21 is simply, based on a common interpretation, the end of an "era" on the Mayan long count calendar. This is the date which is the end of the last "bak'tun" (a measure of 144,000 days) which was recorded by the Mayans. This means about the same thing as New Years Day. Which is to say, practically nothing. What's more, the end of this bak'tun may signify even less since bak'tuns are likely not the highest unit of time the Mayans used. Just like a millennium is a large unit of time, but not the largest by far. The idea that this lack of recorded dates in the future could signify the end of time is like saying that because my computer won't show me dates past December 31, 2037 that must be when the world will end.

The fact that so many people have latched onto this hoax and almost nobody is reporting on it responsibly is disturbing. The very concept that any calamity could be linked to a calendar with an arbitrary start date is mind-numbingly simple to discard, and yet so many people believe it could be the case. If you plan to use it for an excuse to have a great party, that's fine. Just don't spend all your money on hookers and blow. You will need it for your January rent.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Oliver Stone's Untold History of the United States: Episodes 1-3

Let's make one thing clear first: I applaud Mr. Stone and his team for taking on the task of telling history from a viewpoint rarely seen in text books or any other form of media. This is something that should be done as often as possible from as many views as possible, because the truth is that no single viewpoint can tell us everything about history. For instance, I knew next to nothing about Vice President Henry Wallace before watching the first three episodes of this series. Now I do.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Seal Team Six: A Fiction Presented as Fact


The following is an expanded re-edit of an article coming out on RR.com/politics tomorrow. But, it also fits on this site, so I'll put it here. "Fact Checking" is a slippery term when dealing with widely classified information. However, given that I have the same information available to me as did the filmmakers, I think it is fair to hold them to the facts as they are understood at this point.


In the early hours of May 1, 2011, a small group of American soldiers raided a compound in Abbotabad, Pakistan. The raid ended the life of Al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden. The movie that recently aired on the National Geographic network, Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden, is an excellent example of good movie making. It's an intense piece of film, but it is also an excellent example of ignoring the facts in order to create drama.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Episode 10: The Greater Fool


Just as the final News Night we will see this season began, so shall I, with Dorothy Cooper. Dorothy Cooper is a real person who resides in Chattanooga, Tennessee. And, that was her real picture, and she was written about in the Chattanooga Times Free Press (note the date of the article, October 5th, the timing is explained away by the nurse being the source) when she was unable to obtain the free voter I.D. that Tennessee provides. Yes, I said free. She tried to get the free I.D. in early October of last year, but because of having a different last name than what is on her birth certificate she initially ran into a bit of a glitch. She still could have voted absentee with no issues. However, after returning with her marriage certificate later that month, she received her voter I.D., well in advance of Tennessee's March 6th, 2012 primary, and was able to vote without issue. I'm pretty sure they picked the wrong example. Plus, in my research, I didn't find a single state whose voter I.D. law did not allow for either a free voter I.D., the ability to simply sign an affidavit to attest to your identity, or to have access to an absentee ballot.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Working...

The season finale fact check is taking a little longer because of the sheer amount of stuff said on the show that needs checking. It will be done when the fact check is worthy of the show it is checking (by Wednesday).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Episode 9: The Blackout Part II: Mock Debate

I watch this show differently than, I suspect, any of you reading this blog. I do something strange while the characters are gesticulating and pontificating. I take notes. Not detailed notes, normally just a subject that comes up that deserves more scrutiny. Sometimes it's a name, a date, an event. This episode I sat down with every intention of filling up three-quarters of a notepad with one word reminders. It never happened. My notepad reads exactly as follows:

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ambition Got the Better of Me

I have been toying with what to do with this blog during the 42 weeks of the year that The Newsroom is not on the air since about when episode 2 aired, and one idea has stuck since I first tossed it around about the time of episode 3. So, I'm going to dive in. Take the plunge. Take on a project that is probably too ambitious and intense for one person to handle alone. But hey, I won't know whether it can be done unless I try.

I'm going to take on real news. One story per week will be broken down with all of the facts laid out clearly and concisely. I'll tell you what media outlets got it wrong or told half truths, which ones had it right, and which ones could have gone a little bit further. I haven't decided how old the stories will be, but that may vary. Things tend to be more interesting to do this with when you have all of the information rather than when you only have pieces.

When Season 2 comes around look for this site to go back to the current format, but every week in between will be a slightly different situation. It will still stay out of the opinion game. Since it will still be a fact checking site, it will not take sides, and the slogan will remain, "Just the Facts. No Drama."

Thank you all for reading,

Brian Waddell
The Newsroom Fact Check

Monday, August 6, 2012

Episode 7: 5/1


There are some events that happen that don’t require any research to find the facts. Even if you were sleeping, the world gets you up to speed the next morning without having to ask for the information. What The Newsroom covers in this episode was one of those moments that didn’t require any effort on your part to know what had happened.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Episode 6: Bullies


Episode 6, once again, contains a whole lot more opinion than fact, but it’s not my job to debate those opinions. So, here are the facts.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Waiting...

I finally was able to watch the latest episode last night. I reached out to Rick Santorum for comment and am giving him at least 24 hours to respond before I go live with the fact check.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Slight Delay...

Due to moving into a new apartment this weekend, I will not have an Internet connection at home until Tuesday. What does this mean to you? No Fact Check of Episode 6 until mid-week. I refuse to write a whole blog with my phone, I don't want to watch the show on the tiny screen, and I don't drink coffee so Starbucks isn't likely. See you in a few days.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Episode 5: Amen


This episode is probably the best I’ve seen as far as the basic facts go, unless you consider accurate dates when events happened to be a part of the facts.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Episode 4: I'll Try to Fix You


Episode four is a little more fact driven and a little less political than the last episode. That being said, they still didn’t get it all right.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Episode 3: The 112th Congress

I would like to open by saying that this is not a political blog. This blog will not take sides on anything political. It will analyze what is said on the show and give you the truth surrounding the fictional piece. That being said, when clear political bias is shown by the show or the show within the show I may, at times, point it out. This is not to show favor to or to malign the view, just to show the likely reasons behind any half-truths or fallacies.

Episode 3 of The Newsroom begins with a clip of Richard Clarke's (spelled "Clark" on the graphic on screen) 2004 apology, before the 9-11 Commission, to the American people. In it, Clarke basically states that the government, himself included, failed the citizens of the United States. Will McAvoy then states that he was the former anti-terrorism chief under President George W. Bush. That's not quite all of the information. He was also in the same position under President Bill Clinton. He spent nearly a decade in that post before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 occurred.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Episode 2: Newsroom 2.0


While the pilot episode was fairly on point factually, even if the timing was unreal, episode two slips more into fiction when trying to portray a horribly botched newscast.  And, their forays into what really happened at the time were inconsistent in their political bent.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

The Pilot

Having never worked in a newsroom of any sort, I won't comment on the veracity of the newsroom atmosphere in the new HBO series The Newsroom. It is an interpretation anyway, and shouldn't be taken for an accurate depiction of a newsroom just like Aaron Sorkin's other shows The West Wing, Sports Night and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip shouldn't be for their respective locales. The reality is that Sorkin is a genius with witty banter and other veins of fast-paced dialogue. And that, in and of itself, has made me a fan of all his previous works. So far, this show is no different. But, this blog isn't about my opinion. It's about the facts as they are portrayed in the show and how much they relate to the real facts.

WARNING: SPOILERS... Don't read on if you haven't seen the show, unless you want it partially ruined.