Layers and Layers of Fact Checkers and Editors

wapo_gets_strat_and_gibson_confused_2-24-14 Click to turn size up to 11.

Take a good look at the headline of the above page of yesterday's Washington Post music section, and in the caption underneath the photo. Now take a look at the name on headstock of the guitar pictured. (Click to enlarge photo if necessary.) Note that they don't match. While he might get blamed for it, the error very likely isn't the author's fault. Presumably, he turned in his article, an editor or his assistant went through the Post's photo morgue to find photos of one of the superstar guitarists mentioned, recognized Jeff Beck's name, and pasted in a recent image.

Glenn Reynolds emailed me the above photo, which was sent to him by one of his readers, who noted in his email to Glenn:

I'm sure they rushed to correct this online, but Today's Washington Post print edition remains forever.

Seriously, if your gonna run an article on the Fender Stratocaster Jeff Beck is about as grand a Strat playing guitar god to showcase in a photo as you could find. And of course, that would be pretty easy to do. If you couldn't, it would be nice if they at least had him playing a Fender.

But a Gibson hollow body ?!?!?!?

Hey, don't knock 'em -- those Gibson hollow body Stratocasters are awesome guitars, and they fit very easily into the limited trunk space of a Chevrolet Mustang. And who can forget Eric Hendrix playing the Star-Spangled 'Tis of Thee on one at Woodmont?

More seriously, the late Michael Crichton coined the phrase “the Gell-Mann Amnesia Effect” to describe what the MSM seems to instill into just about all of us:

Media carries with it a credibility that is totally undeserved. You have all experienced this, in what I call the Murray Gell-Mann Amnesia effect. (I call it by this name because I once discussed it with Murray Gell-Mann, and by dropping a famous name I imply greater importance to myself, and to the effect, than it would otherwise have.)

Briefly stated, the Gell-Mann Amnesia effect is as follows. You open the newspaper to an article on some subject you know well. In Murray’s case, physics. In mine, show business. You read the article and see the journalist has absolutely no understanding of either the facts or the issues. Often, the article is so wrong it actually presents the story backward—reversing cause and effect. I call these the “wet streets cause rain” stories. Paper’s full of them.

In any case, you read with exasperation or amusement the multiple errors in a story, and then turn the page to national or international affairs, and read as if the rest of the newspaper was somehow more accurate about Palestine than the baloney you just read. You turn the page, and forget what you know.

Admittedly, as someone who -- humblebrag alert! -- has interviewed the late Les Paul and written for Vintage Guitar and Guitar World magazine, I'm more sensitive than many readers to when the MSM gets music facts wrong, but the above error is simply basic incompetence, which judging by the number of Chyron errors popping up on the news in recent years, appears to increasing exponentially. But that's also on top of the MSM getting caught outright lying (and increasingly journalists are admitting publicly that they're OK with that, too), and looking down with disdain upon their audiences.

And yet, they pretend to wonder why nobody trusts them: