Interlude—Deflated footballs meet Selma: In the overall sweep of things, it doesn’t hugely matter if some footballs were under-inflated during that Patriots game.
As Tom Brady has flawlessly noted, it doesn’t rise to the level of a dispute about ISIS.
That said, you aren’t supposed to cheat in sports, and the NFL is our society’s biggest purveyor of sport on the professional level. In part for that reason, our journalists sprang into action last week, pretending to discuss the affair they agreed to call “Deflategate.”
Did the New England Patriots do something wrong? So far, we can’t tell you that.
We can tell you what our “journalists” have done. Once again, in a fairly remarkable way, they have demonstrated their Complete and Total Inability to Process Information in Any Way At All.
It’s not unlike the way we liberals have responded to the recent flaps about the feature film Selma. We’ll return to that topic tomorrow, starting with the heinous way director Clint Eastwood got “snubbed” in the Oscar race.
For today, why do we say that our “journalists” have demonstrated a Complete and Total Inability to Process Information in their discussions of the NFL flap? Consider William Rhoden’s column in today’s New York Times.
Rhoden is a veteran New York Times columnist. Near the start of this morning’s column, he demonstrates the Complete and Total Inability to which we’ve twice referred:
RHODEN (1/26/15): At issue are the game balls the Patriots provided for last Sunday’s A.F.C. championship game; 11 of the 12 balls, which by rule are inspected and verified by the referee before kickoff, were later mysteriously underinflated by about 2 pounds per square inch, according to an ESPN report on the N.F.L.’s investigation.Rhoden’s presentation is technically accurate. There actually was “an ESPN report” of the sort he describes.
The report appeared last Wednesday, written by Chris Mortenson. This is the way it began:
MORTENSON (1/21/15): The NFL has found that 11 of the New England Patriots' 12 game balls were inflated significantly below the NFL's requirements, league sources involved and familiar with the investigation of Sunday's AFC Championship Game told ESPN.That report has formed the basis for the way this incident has been discussed by the nation’s legion of “journalists.” It forms the basis for Rhoden’s account of the degree of under-inflation allegedly found in the dozen balls.
The investigation found the footballs were inflated 2 pounds per square inch below what's required by NFL regulations during the Pats' 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, according to sources.
"We are not commenting at this time," said Greg Aiello, the NFL's senior vice president of communications.
That said, do you notice anything about Mortenson’s report? We’ll try to spell it out so slowly that even our “journalists” will be able to follow:
Uh-oh! The inflation data Mortenson cited came from unnamed “sources!” On the record, the NFL was offering no official account of the (alleged) facts.
According to Mortenson, the official NFL spokesman was offering no data about the degree of inflation. And that situation still obtains today, though you’d never know it from reading the work of the nation's stampeding “journalists.”
Eleven footballs “were inflated 2 pounds per square inch below what's required by NFL regulations!” Our “journalists” have taken this somewhat murky statement to mean that the footballs were inflated to 10.5 pounds per square inch, not to 12.5 pounds per square inch, the minimum level permitted by NFL rules.
Is that a factual statement about the degree of under-inflation? Has the NFL even made that claim?
So far, no! So far, the NFL has made no claim about the degree of inflation. The NFL has issued no report about the degree to which it says the footballs were inflated.
It isn’t that we don’t know the facts. At this point, we don’t even know what is being alleged! But so what? For the past five days, our “journalists” have been repeating Mortenson’s somewhat murky claim, which came from anonymous “sources.”
What’s wrong with that group behavior? Duh! If you’ve been living on this planet over the past many years, you know that such initial, anonymous claims can often turn out to be wrong!
All too plainly, Rhoden and his many colleagues have been living off-planet. It has occurred to almost none of these people that they don’t have the most elementary facts about the degree of inflation—more precisely, that they don’t even have the most basic allegations!
When the NFL finally makes its report, what inflation levels will that report describe? Like Rhoden and his many colleagues, we have no way of knowing.
It’s possible that the NFL will report that eleven of the footballs were inflated to 10.5 pounds per square inch—“2 pounds per square inch below what's required by NFL regulations,” to quote Mortenson’s somewhat imprecise language.
The NFL may say that! But it’s possible that the alleged degree of under-inflation won’t rise to that level. To cite one possibility (out of many), it may turn out that the NFL reports that the various footballs were variously measured at roughly 11.5 pounds per square inch.
For reasons many folk can discern, that would be a significantly different story that the one our “journalists” have been reciting, based on a somewhat murky account from an anonymous source.
Let's be clear. We don’t know what the NFL will end up reporting. But neither do the dozens of “journalists” who have stampeded in the past week, repeating Mortenson’s account.
We do know this:
In matters of this type, initial reports will often turn out to be wrong. We also know that ESPN isn’t a hugely reliable org in matters of this type—in matters which aren’t directly sports-related.
In the past week, our “journalists” have stampeded off with their latest Group Story. Sadly, that is precisely the way we liberals have worked as we've pretended to discuss a pair of flaps concerning the feature film Selma.
Did Selma offer an accurate portrait of Lyndon Johnson? Did Selma get snubbed, for racial reasons, in last week’s Oscar nominations?
Alas! As we have discussed these questions, we have picked and chosen our facts in the dumbest possible ways. But increasingly, that’s the way we liberals behave.
We pick and choose and disappear facts in sadly embarrassing ways. And everything must be a racial offense. We seem to know no other plays!
We don’t think this is a good way for progressives to proceed—but plainly, it’s who we currently are.
At one time, we liberals laughed at the ditto-heads. Today, the ditto-heads, and the public dissemblers, increasingly seem to be us.
Tomorrow: Clint Eastwood, snubbed
Speaking even more slowly: Did someone on the Patriots cheat?
That’s certainly possible! At this point, we don’t know one way or the other.
What were the inflation levels of the footballs in question?
We’re eager to see the NFL’s official account. So far, no one even knows what the NFL will allege!
Despite this fact, a week-long stampede has occurred. A somewhat murky anonymous claim has endlessly been repeated as fact.
Within our modern American “press corps,” it seems it will ever be thus. This system has served us very poorly over the past forty years.