Friday, January 30, 2004

Why I Don't Trust the News

On Wednesday, the D.C. Circuit heard oral arguments in a case challenging a very important rule from the FCC, its so-called Triennial Review Order. (You can read all 569 pages of it here, if you are so inclined.) Here's a passage from the Washington Post's coverage:
The FCC decision is widely viewed to be in conflict with an earlier ruling by the same court that hosted yesterday's hearing. In that ruling, which was authored by Edwards, the court directed the agency to come up with tight guidelines for states to implement local competition rules.
Note the bolded words, because they are 100 percent false. The prior ruling by the same D.C. Circuit panel was authored by Stephen Williams, not by Harry Edwards. It's a ruling with which I'm intimately familiar, as I was clerking for Williams at the time.

Which leads to a broader point: Whenever newspapers write about a subject I'm deeply familiar with, they usually get things wrong. Things that aren't even debatable, and that can be easily checked. It makes you wonder how you can trust what they report about, say, the situation in Iraq, or other subjects that are much more complicated than the simple question of which judge wrote an opinion in a particular case.


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