false report, Associated Press

From: Greg Fisher <greg@truthandfalsity.com>
To: [an actual named person at Yahoo]
Sent: Tuesday, January 13, 2015 2:18 PM
Subject: false report, Associated Press

A 2012 Associated Press item at http://finance.yahoo.com/news/reid-offers-plan-student-loan-131146930.html states, “’The combination of these two proposals will provide sufficient resources to fund both,’ Reid said in his letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.”

Senator McConnell was not the majority leader in 2012.


Greg Fisher
Truth and Falsity
Page A2
The Credit Scoring Site
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342


Next, came an email from a person on the Yahoo Concierge Team. There was a telephone conversation.

The email referred to the page “Report inaccuracy in Yahoo Finance news article.”

It gives instructions to contact the publisher of an article in error (if the item did not originate with Yahoo itself). The Associated Press corrections email address is published.

The same error exists on the AP website.


From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@truthandfalsity.com]
Sent: Thursday, January 29, 2015 5:30 PM
To: Associated Press corrections
Subject: ERROR, U.S. Senate, Minority Leader

A 2012 Associated Press item at http://finance.yahoo.com/news/reid-offers-plan-student-loan-131146930.html states, “’The combination of these two proposals will provide sufficient resources to fund both,’ Reid said in his letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.”

Senator McConnell was not Majority Leader then.

Greg Fisher
Truth and Falsity
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio 45409-0342


This is either very clever, or evidence of serial incompetence.

The Associated Press (a noun used for lack of a name of one person) writes, “Maria has been placed in temporary care since last week after authorities raided a Roma settlement in central Greece and later discovered that girl was not the child of the couple she was living were not her parents.”

That confounding string of words that looks like a sentence is repeated by the Christian Science Monitor (10/25), Huffington Post (10/25, 10:16 AM), Los Angeles Times (7:53 AM), Time, Yahoo and countless other new outlets.

And Youtube.

Since no author is identified, here is the name of the “Senior Vice President – Executive Editor” of the AP: Kathleen Carroll. Perhaps she signed-off on the article.

The gobledygook is also on the website of the AP, itself (10:16 AM ET). It occurs on pages in the domain hosted2.ap.org, which have newspapers’ names at the top of each.

However, an item with some identical sentences as the first item, on hosted.ap.org, states: “Maria has been placed in temporary care since last week after authorities raided a Roma settlement in central Greece and later discovered that girl was not the child of a Greek Roma couple she was living with.” (10:40 AM EDT)

Astoundingly (as it comes after the nonsense in the first article) the next word string is “The couple has been arrested, and who have been charged for allegedly abducting Maria and document fraud.”

That story contains a by-line, and its gibberish is repeated by the Washington Post, Fox News, CBS and the Times of Mumbai. There are no corrections (or “correctives“) associated with those items on the AP’s correction page.

The news agency also maintains a story, dated June, 2012, that simultaneously identifies (impossibly so) both Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as the U.S. Senate majority leader.

record of American history by the Senate indicates that only Senator Reid is Majority Leader of that body. The Onion identifies Senator McConnell as “Senate Minority Leader” (emphasis added).

Meanwhile, another inaccurate AP story, on Yahoo, falsely gives Senator McConnell the title, “Senate Majority Leader.” Unlike gibberish or a misspelled name, that is an error of fact.

Error on majority/minority 2013-07-26

Senator Mitch McConnell (D-Ky.) is U.S. Senate Minority Leader, not Majority Leader. However: In an ironic twist, yesterday, a guy micro-blogged: “You are living on Planet Romney[:] Won the Election and Mitch McConnell is Majority Leader” while the publication he writes for, indeed, states:

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said most Republicans would vote for the bill, even though it does not include riders that would cancel funding for controversial programs,


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell put the onus of compromise during next week’s lame-duck session on Democrats.


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said the legislation had underperformed.

But, the publication–somewhat to its credit–appears to be engaged with its readers, having reacted to related comments (one of which gets the writer’s name wrong (twice) while correcting the writer) to another story with this thing you could call the Itty Bitty Majority Ditty.  For sure, a correction was made, but, more accurately speaking, the error just disappeared. Adding to the digital mush, yet another publication republished one of the errant stories (complete with goof).  And, yet another journal (while also mangling the writer’s name) quoted some of the one that was corrected, obviously before the correction.


Back to the point:  A historically and completely false doozy from the Washington Post states, “Some Republicans, particularly Issa and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), have argued that the administration was essentially bullying Obama’s opponents.”

That one is the winner in The McConnell Bind (a test with control and experimental groups) for this round, because da Post did da deed: It still states that employers use credit scores, and of course they do not.

The truth about what is not the truth is stranger than fiction.

On the trail (take the 101) of a Gannett syndicated error

This is like program trading on stock exchanges, only nobody’s equity position loses–just truth.

There is a syndicated error–Senate Majority Leader–in which publications misstate Senator Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) position in his assembly of the U.S. national legislature.  While, at Gannett HQ in Washington, USA Today has it right, its property on the left coast–The Californian–has it wrong.

USA Today: “‘I really believe that the American people deserve better than what the Republicans in this building believe is the right thing,’ said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.”

The Californian:  “‘I really believe that the American people deserve better than what the Republicans in this building believe is the right thing,’ said Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.”

Despite total control within its walled garden, Gannett repeats its own error.

The same thing, over and over

Senator Mitch McConnell is the minority leader of the U.S. Senate.

Some claim something else.

“In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, provided to The Daily Beast, Cruz writes… ” – National Journal, June 26

“Harvard geochemist Daniel Schrag, an adviser to Obama on climate change, told The New York Times that despite political reluctance, ‘a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.’ Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., tweeted that this is ‘tantamount to declaring a ‘War on Jobs.”” – National Journal, June 25, 2013 (and Yahoo! fell for it)

“‘There is really no sitting Democrat that I can think of right now that has the firepower, monetarily, or has enough gravitas to take him on significantly. I’d be surprised if anybody can run against him who thinks they have a further career in politics.’ –Bruce Lunsford, who ran against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., in 2008 (ABC News)” – National Journal, June 24

“The sequester plan that Nabors outlined at the Capitol was refined, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Joe Biden both weighing in.” – National Journal, May 30

“No one can accuse Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of not preparing for his 2014 campaign — or of failing to take the potential for a tea party primary challenge seriously.” – National Journal, September 13

“Looking to Capitol Hill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sens. Mark Warner, D-Va., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., will be on Face the Nation, while Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, will be on State of the Union, all discussing the gridlock that has brought that chamber to a near stand-still, what the Senate plans to and can accomplish before the election, as well as each party’s chance of being in the majority after the election.”

(And, on the same page, there is a two-for-one bonus)

“Face the Nation hosts Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., and Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.” – National Journal, May 18, 2012

“In a speech in his home state of Kentucky on Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that Obama’s comments were ‘intolerable’ and an attempt to intimidate the Court into ruling the way he wanted.” – National Journal, April 6, 2012

And, then ladies and gentlemen, there is this one, the Big Kahuna.  The biggest, the baddest, the New-Yorkiest: Da Times.

“Republicans, including the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and the House leader, Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, have called on Mr. Obama to discard the plan unveiled on Monday, as well as the bills adopted by the House and Senate late last year, and to start over.” – New York Times, February 25, 2010

They didn’t make a correction, but the guy who wrote that is in Russia, now.

New York Times’ syndicated error about credit scores


From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Tuesday, July 02, 2013 1:51 PM
To: Tom Troy, reporter, Toledo Blade (Block Communications)
Cc: Tim Grant, reporter, personal finance, housing and banking, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Block Communications); Ignazio Messina, reporter, Toledo Blade (Block Communications); John Robinson Block, publisher and editor-in-chief, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Block Communications); Allan Block, chairman, Block Communications (via S. Smith)
Subject: RE: credit score, math, Block Communications, election, 0.86 factor II

Please reply.

Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
Page A2
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

From: Ignazio Messina [Toledo Blade reporter]
Sent: Wednesday, July 03, 2013 10:13 AM
To: Greg Fisher
Subject: Re: credit score, math, Block Communications, election, 0.86 factor II

Sorry for the late reply as I have gotten a larger volume of emails this week than most. As we said, the conversion is not perfect, and provides a rough estimate so people can have an “apples to apples.” The most recent article just put out the scores with out conversion. If you have an insight, please share.


From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@pagea2.com]
Sent: Monday, July 08, 2013 12:48 PM
To: Allan Block, chairman, Block Communications (via K. Franck); Allan Block, chairman, Block Communications (via S. Smith)
Cc: Ignazio Messina, reporter, Toledo Blade (Block Communications); Mary-Beth McLaughlin, reporter, assistant city editor, Toledo Blade (Block Communications); Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., publisher, New York Times
Subject: RE: credit score, math, Block Communications, election, 0.86 factor II, lack of sources

You compare apples, oranges and passenger rail: A FICO score, the VantageScore and the Equifax Credit Score.  But thank you for eventually replying and saving me a 5 a.m. wakeup call.

I have no formula to equate one credit score with another.  And, even though VantageScore recently announced that it would reconfigure its scale to 300 to 850, that does not mean that the curves of a FICO score model with the same endpoints has the same shape, or that the probability for default at 700 is same for both brands of credit scores.

Regarding your conversion formula, an error of 24 percent (131 on a 551-point scale) is, indeed, rough.  Lest I attribute that inaccurate conversion method to you, I asked for your source.  What is the name of your source?  As you can see, in a story from two years ago, your reporter did not provide a name (even after I asked for the source), either—and it’s not like these are matters of national security.

The blithe notion that such a formula can be so simple does not appear to be an original thought.  Providing the name of your source so that I can ask them about the calculation may help another unwitting reporter from being duped.

Your casual translation notwithstanding, the point is moot because you confused one score with another.  You indicate that one candidate for mayor of Toledo had a credit score of 635 “according to Equifax credit-reporting companies, using the FICO model that runs from 300 to 850.”

However, the scale of that candidate’s credit score that you published starts at 280, not 300 (and that fact is not hard to find; it is notated on the next line of the credit report, directly below the score that you cited).  It was the Equifax Credit Score, not a FICO, and that means that the range is 571, as opposed to the range of the FICO, 551.  So, the candidate’s place on the continuum is not 335 points from the lowest score (as you reported), it is 355 points from the lowest.

At this point, I am not as concerned with credit score comprehension, interpretation, bad math logic and an unusual local election tradition as I am with a shadow that I have chased for 5 years.  In 2005, with no substantiation, you reported, “Increasingly, though, such scores are used by landlords, potential employers, and insurance companies to determine someone’s financial health.”

That typical fear-mongering word-series setup (the lions-tigers-and-bears line of this pathetic chapter in journalism), leads many articles about credit scores in order to shock the reader and win attention.  But it isn’t the truth.

As you can see in this email thread, I originally contacted you two years ago—enough time for you to name a source or make a correction.  Subsequently, you even republished a New York Times item from late last year that also makes the inaccurate claim that employers use credit scores.  The downside of syndication is the syndicated error.

Belief of this myth has had serious consequences in other parts of the country, and I want to end that nonsense before it comes to our statehouse again.  Employers do not use credit scores.  I looked into it.

Not many seemed to care about credit scores when I registered the creditscoring.com domain 14 years ago.  Similarly, today, few seem to care about corrections on Page A2 of the nation’s newspapers.  That is why I registered pagea2.com—to again address a commonplace problem.  The website at that address deals with the antithesis of the burden of proof, standards of evidence and naming sources: Proving what is not true.  It is disproving the conventional wisdom when affirmative statements are a lot of balderdash.  Credit scores are a convenient vehicle.

The only response I expect from you—and I expect it today—is correction of your errors.  In the case I brought to your attention in 2011, two years is enough time to allow you to do something about it.  Given the demonstration of the fallibility of the New York Times, their three-word name is now only a cliché.  Don’t allow that organization’s error to remain on your website and misinform another person.

Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
Page A2
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

Second time around – Rupert Murdoch’s error and correction

In 2012, Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal MarketWatch website reported, inaccurately, “Increasingly, your score can help you land, or lose out on, a job, an apartment or utilities.”

Of course, as you can see (by using the link in that quote), Murdoch made an honorable correction.

But now, under the same author’s byline, the News Corporation brand gets it wrong again, saying (in the first two sentences, and in boldface, no less): “We’d all like to land lower-interest mortgages, higher-paying jobs and nicer apartments. And we know that getting and maintaining a good credit score is essential to attaining those goals.

The writer’s social media handle is included.  Here is what happened next.

Definition of insanity onus

In 2011, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, inaccurately, “The definition of insanity, Albert Einstein once famously put it, is to do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result.”

There is no evidence that Einstein ever said that, and Senator McConnell offered no source for his misattribution.  He bears the burden of proof; the onus is on him.  Besides, Einstein was a physicist, not a psychiatrist.

Leaving the whole, nasty, majority/minority thing out of it, and replacing the subordinating adjective with his party name, this video of that statement is on the “official YouTube channel of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.”

When New York Magazine tried to explain the screw-up, it screwed up in the process, calling McConnell, inaccurately (in its first sentence, no less), the majority leader.

American history aside, the mere notion of the claim about insanity, is nonsense, itself.  It is akin to saying, “Happiness is… ” take your pick: A no-hitter, retail therapy, grandchildren.  But those are just people who–and things that–make you happy, not happiness itself.

It is heresy to attribute the silly pop definition of insanity to a great person like Albert Einstein.  Unfortunately, he is not around to defend himself.  He never said it, and Mitch McConnell is not Majority Leader.

Ladies and gentlemen, as you disect the news, first, do no harm.

County extension

If you’re lookng for one source of the urban legend that employers use credit scores, check with your county extension agent.

“Creditors, employers, landlords and others use your credit report and score to determine the interest rate you pay and whether or not you are offered a job, lease or credit.” – University of Missouri Extension

Inquiries about your credit score by employers or lenders without your knowledge or by yourself are not taken into account in the scoring process.” – University of Minnesota Extension

“Maintaining a high credit score will earn you the respect of bankers, mortgage lenders, landlords, and potential employers.” – Geary County, Kansas State University Research and Extension

“Lending agencies, insurance and utility companies, landlords, and prospective employers are just a few of the reasons that everyone needs to build and maintain a good credit score throughout their lifetime. Each of these groups uses credit scores to determine everything from the interest rate charged for a mortgage or car loan to whether someone will be able to live in a particular apartment.” – eXtension, Cooperative Extension System

“Your credit score can also affect how much money you pay for car or homeowners insurance, where you can rent an apartment or open a bank account, and could also affect your ability to be hired for some types of jobs.” – Hillsborough County Extension, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida

“Credit scores can also be used by:… Employers to determine eligibility for some jobs.” – Family and Consumer Sciences Department University of Florida – Sarasota County Extension (cites Hillsborough (see above) as source)

“Why does your credit score matter?  It affects SO many things:… Whether you will get hired for certain jobs.” – Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

“A FICO (Fair Isaac Corporation) score is used nowadays to approve everything from auto and home loans to insurance policies and rental applications.  Employers even use them in the hiring process. And between you and me, rumor has it that scores are even being used at the pearly gates, as we speak! But I wouldn’t believe it, because I’m the one spreading the rumor.” – University of Idaho Extension