Key Metric: The F/R Ratio

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As a rule, I try to avoid link war nonsense and getting into spats with other sites. But I’ll make a small exception because it illustrates a point. Yesterday, we published a post by Zack Roth noting a number of reasons to question whether the main anecdote in Bobby Jindal’s GOP response talk on Tuesday night ever really happened. And I should mention that the first people to raise the key issues were diarists at Kos, who Zack links to in the post.

Not long after the piece ran we heard from Ben Domenech, a young conservative writer, pointing to what he claimed were problems with the piece. And then this morning he followed up by sending in a post on the topic at Redstate.com, the conservative website where he’s on the board and where I believe he was also a founder. The post is by Erick Erickson, the site’s Editor-in-Chief.

Now, when I wrote the first draft of this post, Jindal had not yet admitted that the story was in fact false, which further clarifies the matter. So, as usual when I get an email from someone saying we got something wrong, I went to read the post with a tight knot in my stomach. But when I read the post it was all what lawyers would call ‘non-responsive’ — a lot of claims and facts and noise, none which addressed the points we actually made. What there was a lot of was trash talk and insults. Zack Roth as a “leftist activist pseudo-journalists” and a “leftist activist posing as a journalist” — there are many permutations, as you can see — and a lot more.

All of which is to say, as I referenced in the title, a very low ratio of facts to rage — F/R ratio. I don’t pretend that low F/R ratios are limited to the right. Far from it. And solid facts, if they undergird substantial allegations, can merit some outrage. But I do think this is one of the reasons why the second generation of web-based conservative news and politics sites have had some difficulty getting traction on key news stories, rather than the reasons they imagine.

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