(UPDATE 26 HOURS LATER: Oh my word you people are AWESOME! You met this match, essentially doubling your giving power, in just over one day. This exercise alone brought in more money than each of our first six webathons. BUT WE'RE NOT DONE YET. Keep refreshing the main page for exciting new info about matching grants that, shall we say, were inspired by this one! And thank you so very much.)
In a moment, we're going to talk about some excellent, media-debunking reasons to DONATE RIGHT THE HELL NOW to Reason's annual webathon, in which we ask readers, viewers, and listeners of our various editorial offerings to make a tax-deductible donation to help support the nonprofit that makes all our work possible…but first!
A generous, anonymous, scrumpilicious donor has just this moment offered to match the next $100,000 you people give us. Here is what that means: If you give us $50,000 over the next several days, the donor will also kick in $50,000, and we will get $100,000. If you give us the full $100,000, we then get $200,000. It is the multiplier effect, is what I am saying.
Please don't leave all that juicy potential money on the table. Won't you please click on this button and make our $100,000 bar come to life?
OK, Reason Editor in Chief Katherine Mangu-Ward already explained the various giving levels (though I would stress the option of making a slow-and-steady monthly contribution, which you can set and then forget!). And Editor at Large Nick Gillespie introduced you to our history-making Reason Roundtable NFT auction. I'm going to talk about a thing Reason has been doing well for a half-century, including in the 12 months since we last convened this fun annual exercise: media correctives.
Yes, most of us recall Senior Editor Robby Soave's epic debunking of the Covington Catholic School fracas in Washington, D.C., back in January 2019. Senior Editor Elizabeth Nolan Brown has been a one-woman dismantler of sex-trafficking-related junk stats for years. Older hands may even recall our beloved 1981 cover story exploding the media narrative about the Love Canal.
But folks, we provide this valuable corrective service on the regular. A small sampling of our debunkery over the past 365 days:
This article, published two days after Joe Biden's presidential inauguration, was our third-most popular piece of the year, with 415,000 page views. After the hubbub, The Washington Post restored the old wording, telling Boehm, "We should have kept both versions of the story on the Post's site (the original and updated one), rather than redirecting to the updated version."
* "CDC Took Mistaken Data on Delta Variant Transmissibility From a New York Times Infographic," by Elizabeth Nolan Brown.
In a classic example of bad journalism merging with bad public-health bureaucracy, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had asserted, falsely, that the delta variant of COVID-19 is "as transmissible as" chickenpox, which it concluded not from Following the Science, but by…cribbing from an illustration in the Paper of Record. Concluded Brown: "Apparently, the federal agency charged with disseminating COVID-19 data and setting public health policy is taking its cues from a newspaper infographic. Oh my."
(Such disinformation more commonly travels in the other direction—from an administration distorting science for political reasons to a media eagerly lapping the claims up like truth. Senior Editor Jacob Sullum in particular has deconstructed these dangerous untruths, in pieces such as "The Evidence Cited by the CDC Does Not Show That Vaccinated and Unvaccinated COVID-19 Carriers Are Equally Likely To Transmit the Virus," and "The Biden Administration Continues to Exaggerate the Risk Posed by COVID-19 Breakthrough Infections While Slamming the Press for Doing the Same Thing.")
Sometimes it's the media's role in egging on some of the worst modern pathologies, such as is documented in Robby Soave's piece, "The New York Times Helped a Vindictive Teen Destroy a Classmate Who Uttered a Racial Slur When She Was 15." It's the story of a kid who for three years held onto a video of a girl using a racial slur and then only unleashed it in a successful effort to get her bounced from college.
"This story is a powerful example of several social phenomena: the militant streak in social justice activism, the naivety of today's teens and their not-actually-disappearing Snapchat messages, social media's hunger for mob justice, and even the capacity for elaborate cruelty that has always existed among high schoolers," Soave wrote. "But the wildest thing about this incident is that most people will learn about it by reading The New York Times…. Nowhere does [the] article reckon with a very basic fact: The New York Times has opted to assist a teenager's desperate quest to ruin the life of a young woman who said something stupid when she was 15."
Do you find work like this useful? Then please consider donating to Reason approximately right now. If you act now, your dollars (or crypto!) will be effectively doubled, all the way up to our next $100,000. Do it today! You'll be glad you did.