It’s Easy to Create Fake Stories

Nothing is easier than to find some individuals — in any group — who share a given writer’s opinion, and to quote such individuals as if their views were typical. This approach became common in media coverage of ghetto riots. Newsweek magazine, for example, quoted various black youths, including one described as “a child of Detroit’s ravaged ghetto,” even though the poverty rate among Detroit’s black population before the riots was only half of that of blacks nationwide, the homeownership rate among blacks in Detroit was the highest in the nation, and the unemployment rate of blacks in Detroit was 3.4 percent — lower than that among whites nationwide. It was after the riots that Detroit became a ravaged community, and remained so for decades thereafter, as businesses withdrew, taking jobs and taxes with them. But here, as elsewhere, an idea that fit the vision did not have to meet the additional requirement of fitting the facts.

Thomas Sowell, Intellectuals and Race, Pos. 1818