Is H.L. Mencken Alive and Well at the NYT?
My previous post pointed to a modern equivalent. The NYT (and, I think, the AP, but not Reuters, which got it right) misread a GAO report in a way that drastically altered its meaning, converting it from a plausible but boring result (a substantial majority of corporations reported no taxable income in at least one year out of an eight year period) to a wildly implausible result that nicely fitted what a lot of people wanted to believe (two-thirds of corporations reported no taxable income over that eight year period). They simultaneously made another mistake almost as bad, calculating what the corporations "should" have owed on the basis of their revenue, not their profit. The Times discovered the latter mistake and corrected it; so far as I can tell, they have not yet noticed the former mistake.
Googling around, I found an enormous numbers of online references to the story. So far, I have not found a single one, other than my piece on this blog, that spotted the mistake. I've posted the actual facts on a fair number of them, but it's like a teacup in a tempest. I have no doubt that, years from now, millions of people will still remember the scandalous, and wholly imaginary, fact from the Times article.