February 15, 2017

WaPo stoops to atrocious clickbait.

Look at this headline, and notice the sidebar "Most read" list:



The photo is captioned "E.coli bacteria." Screwworms are insects. The report is of a lawsuit:
A woman in south-central Texas is suing Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen, claiming the restaurant’s red beans and rice contained flesh-eating New World screwworms that have ravaged her body over the past two years.

Karen Goode of San Antonio argued in a 10-page lawsuit filed last week that Popeyes and its franchisee Z&H Foods are responsible for feeding her food infested with the parasite in 2015. She said the bugs entered her digestive tract and laid eggs, which embedded into the interior lining of her small intestine, then hatched and started eating Goode “from the inside out.”
The article — which you can see is the #2 most-read thing at WaPo — goes on to explain how the claim cannot possibly be true, but ends with the brief notation: "This story has been updated." The oldest comment over there is:
I'm calling buncombe.

1) How did she know she got it from Popeye's? It's not like the effect happens before her next meal.

2) Screwwroms are only known to enter the bodies of animals through open wounds. Did she rub the red beans and rice on a cut?

3) She ALSO "was infected with E.coli and Helicobacter pylori"? From the same meal? What a fantastic coincidence.

Please apply critical thinking before publishing.
Here's an older version of the article, via The Wayback Machine, which I think is what the commenters saw. The newer version of the article does a good job of showing the scientific reason why the lawsuit must fail, but that demonstrates why the article ought never to have been published in the first place. Notice that the older headline has the name of the smeared business glaring in the headline: "Woman claims Popeyes meal gave her flesh-eating screwworms that ate her 'from the inside out.'"

31 comments:

mockturtle said...

Just like standing in the supermarket checkout line and looking at the old National Inquirer headlines. Amazing.

TML said...

I'm adding a letter to the alphabet. The "quadruple-U"

TML said...

This one might've benefitted from some critical thinking as well.

http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/LAUSD-Racial-Undertones-Math-Homework-Black-History-Month-413533943.html

Big Mike said...

@mockturtle, more like the Weekly World News I'd say. I guess the days when you could expect reporters and editors to have a basic grasp of 8th grade science are long past.

CJ said...

"buncombe"

Jesus these people can be such pretentious shitheads.

Bob Boyd said...

I've never seen "buncombe" before.

Before I looked it up I thought it rhymed with Harambe.

Fernandinande said...

Maybe she'll be honored as the First Black Woman™ to convert screwworms into bacteria or vice-versa. They’ll be talking about her empowering, dazzling, beautifying, defiantly fecund performance for years – and rightly so.

Ann Althouse said...

OED:

"buncombe | bunkum, n.... Etymology: < Buncombe, name of a county in N. Carolina, U.S. The use of the word originated near the close of the debate on the ‘Missouri Question’ in the 16th congress, when the member from this district rose to speak, while the house was impatiently calling for the ‘Question’. Several members gathered round him, begging him to desist; he persevered, however, for a while, declaring that the people of his district expected it, and that he was bound to make a speech for Buncombe. (See Bartlett, Dict. Americanisms)."

Big Mike said...

This sort of crap lawsuit is why we need "loser pays."

Ignorance is Bliss said...

I would assume screwworms were chosen because they sound really scary, and Popeye's was chosen because their customer base sounds scientifically illiterate, so lets see if the threat of a lawsuit will get them to settle to avoid bad PR.

Good for Popeye's for not settling. If there was a Popeye's around here I'd head there for lunch today.

Rob McLean said...

Can we impeach Trump for this?

Bob Boyd said...

Harambe
They said they had to shoot him
Buncombe!

Balfegor said...

I don't understand why someone would want to do this to Popeye's. They're the best fried chicken chain! Also, isn't KFC richer? I don't know anymore . . . I guess there's been a bit of consolidation in the fried chicken fast food market. Popeye's and Church's are owned by the same company, right?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Big Mike said...

This sort of crap lawsuit is why we need "loser pays."

I don't support a mandatory "loser pays", as there are plenty of valid lawsuits that fail for a variety of reasons. I do think the jury should always have the option of making the loser pay, and this would be a case where they should.

richlb said...

Journalism 101 - just use the word "claims" and you are in the clear!

Dr Weevil said...

Am I the only one here who knows that the county seat of Buncombe County, North Carolina is . . . Asheville, last mentioned four posts back? How appropriate is that?

richlb said...

Popeyes > KFC. That is true. However, people in the MD, VA, DE area know the REAL place to get your fix is Royal Farms convenience stores.

chuck said...

WaPo: Fast food must die!

Bob Boyd said...

"Popeyes > KFC"

You lose a lot of flavor when you eliminate the screw worm eggs.

Balfegor said...

Re: Bob Boyd:

You lose a lot of flavor when you eliminate the screw worm eggs.

It's the crispiness, you know. I guess they pop in the oil, like putting alcohol in your batter.

Greg said...

The difference between WAPO, NYT and some Romanian teenager churning out fakenews clickbait from his mothers basement continues to shrink

CJ said...

@Althouse

I know, but it's just pretentious. Like when people (esp. non-journalists) use "lede" instead of lead. Or when the New Yorker spells it "fillet of beef" instead of filet.

Technically correct but needlessly archaic, intended as a signal to the reader of status.

Luke Lea said...

There is fake news and then there is tabloid news. My favorite tabloid headline (from the National Enquirer years ago): "World War II bombers found on the moon."

Pettifogger said...

Did she not chew the screw worm eggs? Assuming not, perhaps they hatched and worked some mischief. But they could not have laid more eggs. The larvae turn into flies, and the flies lay eggs. Does she have flies in her intestinal tract.

And screw flies are a BIG deal in the cattle business. Why have we not heard of infected cattle, which are the usual host?

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

Next up in the WaPo: "Woman Claims Abducted From McDonald's Drive-thru, Sexually Molested On Pluto Before Being Returned."

DanTheMan said...

Mrs. DtM had a case where a little old lady claimed some undercooked ribs from a local BBQ place gave her diabetes.

There's no shortage of people looking to be the next Hot Coffee millionaire.

DanTheMan said...

>> "Woman Claims Abducted From McDonald's Drive-thru, Sexually Molested On Pluto Before Being Returned."

By Elvis, one assumes...

madAsHell said...

She never called me a screw worm, but the rest is true.

Jupiter said...

Althouse, I can understand you wanting us to spend money at Amazon, using your "portal". But at least Amazon delivers something useful once in a while. Bezos' latest hobby should be allowed to die a painful but natural death. There is no need to call attention to the ghastly spectacle.

Jupiter said...

Meanwhile, in the Real World, Is Paris Burning?

Why yes, Paris is burning. Hitler tried to set the City of Light alight, but the Nazi commandant was too civilized to follow his orders. Muzzies aren't so fussy.

http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/767867/PARIS-riots-latest-fighting-barbes-metro-eurostar-gare-du-Nord

Doubt you'll be seeing much about that in The World According to Jeff.

openidname said...

Awesome bait. The combination of "flesh," "screw," "eat," and "inside out" is irresistible. Would click.