Read Escapable Logic on a TV reporter’s insidious attempt to play the blame game by the old rules — which are now the wrong rules. It’s powerful stuff, with quotes from and links to many other worthies, notably David Weinberger’s facts as cudgels, which was probably the place I first saw this incident dissected.
Can it really be that sometimes a truth is greater than the facts on which it was said to rest? It’s very rare, but yes — so long as there are other relevant and supportive facts.
Ordinarily, of course, we rely on the facts to set us free from the chains of falsehood. For example, that hype about anarchy rape and murder in the Superdome? Dead bodies everywhere? Not.
Well, that’s a complicated way of saying (1) the story was wrong, right down to the last detail, (2) many of the stories about the Superdome were also wrong (including some you referenced or repeated here), but there are regrets about only the second, and they’re not personal regrets.
This story needed to be corrected. The erroneous dates were central to the story. It’s the same basic sitation as the original, false, Pat Tilman story. Had this story been about the criminal failure of the nursing home company to evacuate their charges, the difference in dates would have been trivial. But this story was, from the beginning, about the failure of FEMA to respond so the dates are critical to it’s relevance. Her death occured on the day of the storm, before any federal response could reasonably have affected her situation. There are undoubtedly people who died in New Orleans as a result of FEMA’s slow response, but substituting a false story for their’s, simply because it’s more compelling and interesting, would be unethical and wouldn’t serve the public.