Monday, March 07, 2011

More On White House Homebrewed Beer...

Major media outlets mis-report that President Obama *himself* is brewing beer...& claim that he'll be doing it again for St. Patrick's Day; the White House responds...
Last week, the Obama Foodorama story about homebrewed beer at the White House created international headlines, from TV news to print and digital media. But National Public Radio, Fox News, and The Hill each managed to misreport a central fact, and claimed that President Obama himself brewed the beer. While the idea of the Commander in Chief hand-crafting beer for guests is fun, he's a bit too busy winning the future to be elbowing his Chefs out of the way in the White House kitchen--because that's who actually brewed the White House Honey Ale, not President Obama. (Inset is a bottle of the WH homebrew)

Each of the stories linked to or referenced the original story here at ObFo--but apparently the writers didn't manage to actually *read* it.

"Barack Obama will go down in history as, among other things, the first president to brew his own beer in the White House," was the opener for the story in The Hill.

"During this year's Super Bowl, President Obama created a stir by offering guests at the White House beer that he'd brewed himself," was the opener on NPR's news blog, The two-way.

NPR then built its story on The Hill's mis-reporting of the subject, and thus mirrored The Hill's mistake. Fox News put the mis-info right in the headline:

And then Fox stole The Hill's mis-reporting verbatim, opening their story with The Hill's lede: "Barack Obama will go down in history as, among other things, the first president to brew his own beer in the White House." (Above: Obviously, the Fox headline)

It's a big ol' case of media entities playing that kids' game, "telephone," or "grapevine," where you whisper things in each others' ears and laugh hilariously at the garbled outcome.

This isn't so hilarious, though, because at least two of these media entities are supposed to be dedicated to that age-old journalistic practice of fact checking. Sure, it's a story about beer--but it's also a story about the President of the United States. And if you can't get the facts straight about the President and beer...what else are you misreporting? For Fox, that's an easy answer: Opinion. But for the other two theoretically more responsible media outlets, it's annoying at best and very troubling at worst.

Irish media fabricates White House beer details; NPR reports that, too
A large Irish digital media entity also fell down on the job of fact checking, but did swell with publishing pure fiction. President Obama will be serving homebrew for his annual St. Patrick's Day reception, reported Irish Central and its affiliated entities. The websites even claimed that the White House announced this (no, it did not, for the record).

"President Obama has officially declared March 2011 Irish American Heritage Month. More importantly the White House also announced that the president would be brewing his own beer called White House Honey Ale for St. Patrick’ Day," Irish Central noted.

NPR re-published the fabrication, and thus gets an A+ for lack of fact checking:

"According to the Irish Central website, when Obama announced that this March is Irish American Heritage Month, he also pledged to serve his own White House Honey Ale," NPR noted in its beer story.

However, the NPR writer did have the sense to add:

"One word of warning: I haven't been able to independently confirm that the Obamas will serve the beer at St. Patrick's Day (!)."

Well, ObFo *was* able to independently confirm the facts.

"There are no actual plans for homebrew to be made for St. Patrick's Day," an East Wing spokesman told ObFo.

The President, it should be noted, actually did issue a proclamation for Irish American Heritage Month. Sláinte!

*Photo at top via AP; photo of White House Honey Ale by Pete Souza/White House