WSJ Still Hasn't Corrected Its Bogus Internet Revisionist Story, As Vint Cerf & Xerox Both Claim The Story Is Wrong

from the how-do-you-correct-a-story-that's-almost-entirely-wrong? dept

We recently discussed a Wall Street Journal opinion piece by its former publishers, L. Gordon Crovitz, in which he made some fantastically false claims about the origins of the internet. What was noteworthy was that while the WSJ got the story so totally wrong, lots of others, including bloggers, leapt into the fray to explain why Crovitz was wrong. Almost everyone he sourced or credited to support his argument that the internet was invented entirely privately at Xerox PARC and when Vint Cerf helped create TCP/IP, has spoken out to say he's wrong. And that list includes both Vint Cerf, himself, and Xerox. Other sources, including Robert Taylor (who was there when the internet was invented) and Michael Hiltzik, have rejected Crovitz's spinning of their own stories.

Basically, anyone and everyone is telling the WSJ that it got this story totally and completely wrong. You might think the WSJ would start making some corrections. Instead, it's made one single correction:
That was a pretty minor correction, involving Crovitz being confused about how to understand how blockquotes work in HTML. But what about all of the other factual errors, including whoppers like saying that Tim Berners-Lee invented hyperlinks? Of course, considering the very premise of the article and nearly all of its supporting factoids were in error, it raises questions about how you do such a correction, other than crossing out the whole thing and posting a note admitting to the error (none of which has yet been done). Given the widespread discussion online about these errors -- both in blogs and in traditional media, it seems like the company's silence about the whole thing is just making the problem worse. Why won't the WSJ step up and issue a real correction on all of the errors?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 12:23pm

    I see...

    So you're saying the WSJ doesn't report facts?

    What else is new?

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 12:27pm

    Aren't they owned by News Corp who is known for faux news?

     

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  3.  
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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 12:27pm

    It's right there in the name

    They are the Wall Street journal, afterall. Does anyone really expect anything from them that's not strictly spun to fit Wall Street's agenda, no matter how many facts are ignored or stretched beyond recognition in the process?

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 12:33pm

    Re: I see...

    At least they didn't hack Vint Cerf's phone. God knows what they would find...

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 12:34pm

    Why won't the WSJ step up and issue a real correction on all of the errors?

    Simple, any traffic/advertising is good traffic/advertising.

     

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  6.  
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    James T, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 12:44pm

    WSJ is a bad publication

    WSJ may have once held esteem but I have read quite a number of articles lately that to me make the WSJ not only out of touch but also entirely opinion based not in reality. It's completely useless today. I only wish that other people especially Wall Street would realize this.

     

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  7.  
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    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 12:51pm

    Interesting. A Reverse Streisand Effect.

    Ah well. Stupidity is its own cure. Think of it as evolution in action.

     

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  8.  
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    Justin (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 12:53pm

    Checking out Blogs

    Maybe they found a blog they really like reading and had to catch up on everything they missed

     

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  9.  
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    weneedhelp (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 12:54pm

    Sad and funny

    When the lamestream media brings you info planted by the gov (lets say yellow cake as one) all you hear is crickets. But when they get it wrong about the interwebs the uproar is deafening. Gotta love humans.

     

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  10.  
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    Berenerd (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 1:03pm

    WSJ is taking a page out of Wallstreet. Wall Street makes its money by guessing whats gonna happen to things because some other things might happen...WSJ guesses on how things are/were so they should be making a major profit!

     

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  11.  
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    Showing Once again..., Jul 26th, 2012 @ 1:45pm

    .. that Wikipedia is more reliable than mainstream sources.

     

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  12.  
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    Drew, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 1:47pm

    Opinion column vs. news story

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems atypical for newspapers to publish corrections in opinion pieces. What should happen is the author clues in and either posts a follow-up column (which would appear on Sunday) or I suppose he might request for the piece to be retracted entirely.

     

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  13.  
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    Brent (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 1:54pm

    i have to agree with some other posters here, the WSJ has really lost touch with what constitutes a newspaper and has started operating as a very slanted blog with the goal of electing a new President. I was a subscriber up until last month and i chose not to renew b/c there was no point in paying for what i get for free elsewhere more quickly and more accurately. Its a 'conservative' blog (with a print edition). Though the term 'conservative' confuses me since they are a news organization, which traditionally present unbiased facts to inform their readers. WSJ presents biased falsehoods to sway their readers while posing as a traditional and reliable news organization, that seems pretty 'radical' to me.

     

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  14.  
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    Mason Wheeler (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 2:08pm

    Re:

    they are a news organization, which traditionally present unbiased facts to inform their readers.


    Traditionally, yeah, up until about the 1970s. Then the news organizations' owners started to realize how they could make more money by pandering to viewers instead of informing them. It got a lot worse in the 90s, but it's been going on for a long time.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 26th, 2012 @ 3:28pm

    Re: Re:

    “In the infancy of mass communication, the Columbus and Magellan of broadcast journalism, William Paley and David Sarnoff, went down to Washington to cut a deal with Congress. Congress would allow the fledgling networks free use of taxpayer-owned airwaves in exchange for one public service. That public service would be one hour of airtime set aside every night for informational broadcasting, or what we now call the evening news.
    Congress, unable to anticipate the enormous capacity television would have to deliver consumers to advertisers, failed to include in its deal the one requirement that would have changed our national discourse immeasurably for the better – Congress forgot to add that under no circumstances could there be paid advertising during informational broadcasting. They forgot to say the taxpayers will give you the airwaves for free and for 23 hours a day, you should make a profit, but for one hour a night, you work for us.

    And now those network newscasts, anchored through history by honest-to-God newsmen with names like Murrow and Reasoner and Huntley and Brinkley and Buckley and Cronkite and Rather and Russert…now, they have to compete with the likes of me, a cable anchor who’s in the exact same business as the producers of “Jersey Shore.””
    — Will McAvoy

     

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  16.  
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    sgt_doom (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 3:47pm

    News in America????

    I long ago gave up on the American media; the last time I bothered with the NY Times back in the late 1990s, they were running whackjob stories about all software creation becoming free, etc.??? (And their Sunday Book Review section, from 2000 to at least 2008, contained an infinitely improbable number of reviews by the members and signatories to PNAC (Project for a New American Century, since updated and now called Foundation in Defense of Democracies [sic])!

    As most well informed people know, the Kennedy administration appointed JCR Licklider, a real technical type who wisely directed funds to the creators of the Internet, Cerf, Kahn, Postel, Baran, etc., etc., et al. (sorry to not recall all their names...).

    As they Kennedy administration also established NASA and the moon project, out of which came developments and discoveries which paved the way, together with the Internet, for the creation (with a wee bit of help from Berners-Lee and company) of the World Wide Web.

    Recommended reading for those who truly wish to understand reality, not the matrix, we now exist in:

    Battling Wall Street: The Kennedy presidency, by Donald Gibson

    Thy Will Be Done, by Gerard Colby with Charlotte Dennett

     

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  17.  
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    sgt_doom (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 3:58pm

    Re: News in America????

    And Van Jacobson (sorry, I'm always forgetting the stack guy, Van Jacobson).

     

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  18.  
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    DanMitchell (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 4:58pm

    The problem, as I noted at Fortune.com about this abomination, is that the Wall Street Journal and the Wall Street Journal opinion pages are very different things. The news pages, for now anyway, are still mostly very good. But the news pages are stained by the opinion pages because, as you see in the comments here, everyone just refers to "the WSJ," which of course isn't the fault of the people doing it.

    http://tech.fortune.cnn.com/2012/07/24/untruths-at-the-origins-of-the-internet/

     

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  19.  
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    Dave (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 5:02pm

    Is Everyone Blind?

    Don't you folks read the page or are you so wound up about the "errors" you didn't notice?
    Crovitz' column is an OPINION piece, so atated, and on the Opinion page. Who cares WHAT this clown says? IT"S HIS OPINION! Nowhere does that page state that WSJ backs it or has researched it. Pay attention, people. Sheesh!

     

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  20.  
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    DanMitchell (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 5:31pm

    Re: Is Everyone Blind?

    Well, but being in the opinion section doesn't make it OK to spew a bunch of egregious lies or errors. By publishing it, the WSJ DOES in fact back it, your high dudgeon notwithstanding. Respectable newspapers try not to publish false claims, and run corrections when they do, no matter which section it's published in.

     

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  21.  
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    lucidrenegade (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 6:00pm

    Re:

    Yes

     

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  22.  
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    Dave (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 6:17pm

    Re: Re: Is Everyone Blind?

    Sorry, Sir, but you're dead wrong, and trampling on the First Amendment. The WSJ is NOT responsible for the veracity of columns on the Opinion page, even when they are grossly incorrect and/or misinformed. It's still his opinion, and is not presented as a news story. The paper has the option of not publishing if they disagree with it.

    In fact, I wouldn't put it past the Editor to have published that piece for exactly the result he got, lots of ink and pixels for an organ that is slowly fading into the editorial sunset like most other dead-tree outlets.

     

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  23.  
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    DanMitchell (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 7:51pm

    You're contradicting yourself, and you apparently don't know what you're talking about. I've been in journalism for 25 years -- responsible opinion pages are as careful about facts as news sections are. A lie or an error isn't an "opinion" -- it's a lie or an error. The WSJ's opinion section isn't particularly responsible, but the fact remains - you can't just lie about discoverable facts and then say, as cover, "well, it's just an opinion, and so it's above criticism."

    As for the First Amendment, the only possible response is, what the fuck are you talking about?

    You also don't know what you're talking about re: the WSJ. It's actually doing fine. Pretty much everything you just wrote is addled and insensible.

     

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  24.  
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    Dave (profile), Jul 26th, 2012 @ 9:03pm

    Mea Culpa

    Sir:
    You are, as far as I can determine, exactly correct, if a little harsh. With one notable exception, all of the papers I have been able to research require the same standard of accuracy in their opinion pages as they do in their op-ed or news pages. My apologies to you and the other readers. I was apparently shooting from the hip, and not checking MY facts.

    Which leads to the next question: WHY was this "opinion" allowed to be published when it was so extensively and obviously wrong? Was it just for the controversy or the attantion? I'd like to know.

     

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  25.  
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    Tobias Harms (profile), Jul 27th, 2012 @ 1:14am

    Re: Mea Culpa

    You made me happy. Being wrong is easy but to admit it is a token of good character :)

     

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  26.  
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    Josef Anvil (profile), Jul 27th, 2012 @ 1:17am

    but but but....

    The WSJ employs REAL journalists who don't make mistakes of this magnitude. So it's simple. ALL of the bloggers and sources who are saying the WSJ is wrong have got THEIR facts wrong.

    WSJ is the sole authority and does not need to retract anything unless another credible REAL journalist presents a different story.

     

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  27.  
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    abc gum, Jul 27th, 2012 @ 5:16am

    Re: Sad and funny

    "When the lamestream media brings you info planted by the gov ... all you hear is crickets. But when they get it wrong about the interwebs the uproar is deafening."


    Perhaps your depth and breadth of reading material needs expansion.

     

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  28.  
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    abc gum, Jul 27th, 2012 @ 5:20am

    Re: Re: Re: Is Everyone Blind?

    "The WSJ is NOT responsible for the veracity of columns on the Opinion page, even when they are grossly incorrect and/or misinformed. It's still his opinion, and is not presented as a news story."


    And Fox News is entertainment, it is not news.

     

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  29.  
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    Brent (profile), Jul 27th, 2012 @ 6:46am

    Re: Re: Re:

    lol, not sure how well the show will do overall but they have had a few GREAT speeches that make it worth watching.

     

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  30.  
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    Brent (profile), Jul 27th, 2012 @ 6:47am

    Re: Re: Re:

    lol, not sure how well the show will do overall but they have had a few GREAT speeches that make it worth watching.

     

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  31.  
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    Gerald Robinson (profile), Jul 27th, 2012 @ 11:50am

    WSJs screw up

    "Why won't the WSJ step up and issue a real correction on all of the errors?"
    Because its become another lamestream media just like Pravda on the Potomic (OOPS the Washington Post. At least so far the WSJ hasn't started running batboy and Elvis sightings;but a lot of their material has been erroneous. That is why I subscribe to the "Financial Times" rather than the WSJ.

     

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  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 27th, 2012 @ 12:56pm

    Re: Re: I see...

    Walk that back a bit. There is yet to be evidence that they hacked Vint Cerf's phone. They may have done it but there is yet to be evidence to the effect.

    Just remember Rupert's listening.

     

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  33.  
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    Rocco, Jul 30th, 2012 @ 5:35am

    Public and Private research lead to the Internet

    I find it disturbing that there is such strong objection to the claim that the Internet was privately invented, but there was very little objection to the claim that the government created the Internet. It is very often claimed that the Internet was government created. Obama even used this as a basis for his claim that "you did not create your business" to business owners. It is no more false that private business created the Internet than the government created the Internet. Netscape, Yahoo, Compuserve, AOL, BBN, PSINet where companies that helped create the Internet we use today. Most of the content for what we call the internet was privately developed. If you object so strongly to the claim that Internet was developed by private industry, why do you not object to the claim that the Internet was government developed. Neither is the full truth.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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