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 []
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 []
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 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—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