Newspaper retractions and Stephen Hawking

It’s been fairly widely reported that as part of the US healthcare debate the Investors Business Daily wrote that:-

“People such as scientist Stephen Hawking wouldn’t have a chance in the UK, where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless.”

Given the stupendously nature of this gaffe, it’s interesting to see what their retraction looks like.  If you imagine it’s a ‘hands up we mucked it up totally’ you’ll be sadly disappointed.  They said

“Editor’s Note: This version corrects the original editorial which implied that physicist Stephen Hawking, a professor at the University of Cambridge, did not live in the UK.”

Well, technically the statement is accurate in that they did imply that he didn’t live in the UK.  But that rather seems beside the point when the key point was that they stated (not implied) that he “wouldn’t have a chance in the UK”.  Where he lived wasn’t the point, his treatment was.  They may as well have said that the version had been corrected as the words didn’t lay out in a pleasing way.

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One Response to Newspaper retractions and Stephen Hawking

  1. Mark Wakeling says:

    Sadly I don’t think facts matter very much when serious dollars are spent on US campaigns to get people into line. There seems to be a lower bar than in advertising standards for a washing powder, how does that work ?

    Too much money involved in all this.

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