LA Times’ uncorrected errors and bad reporting

Here is a trail of woe; a massive mess of misidentification and misinformation by mainstream media muckety-mucks.

Following a complaint about several errors to the managing editor of the Deseret News, the newspaper with the second-highest gain in audience in the country, made one correction.

But the other four errors remain.  One, a syndicated error by the New York Times, appears in another Times story, as well.

Another of the Deseret News errors originated with the Los Angeles Times.  The false American history is even uncorrected on the LA newspaper’s website.  Some guy at da Times named McManus writes, “Who’s the hero? Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), for opposing a proposed constitutional amendment to allow limits on campaign spending — and potentially put the American Future Fund out of business.”

The Republican party is not the majority party, so Senator McConnell is not Majority Leader.  In fact, he has never been the majority leader.

Linking (unbelieveably) to Wikipedia, Johanna Neuman writes, “’Tackling fraud and abuse is one of the issues that can and should form the basis of a bipartisan, step-by-step approach to healthcare reform,’ Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor Wednesday, ‘not as a hook to drag this monstrous bill over the finish line.'”

Seriously: Wiki. Flipping. Pedia.

Another doozy, by ace scribe and Letters to the Editor editor Paul Thornton:  “They have vilified the president ever since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to make Barack Obama a one-termer.”

As if the senator has the power to set the agenda.

Rookie Kim Geiger writes, “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) excused himself early, and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) waved the issue away after reporters trailed him in pursuit of a response.”

In April, LA Times’ keyboard finger-flapper Robin Abcarian led with, “What is wrong with the New York Post?”

Abcarian has a problem with attribution.  The LA Times and the New York Times have a problem with the Associated Press (and math).

What is “wrong” with the Los Angeles Times?

The McConnell Bind

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 27, 2013 2:38 PM
To: Greg Brock, senior editor, Standards, New York Times
Subject: Error: American history, credit scores

Thank you for replying.  See today’s message and your response at http://blog.creditscoring.com/?p=5142 (“The McConnell Bind”).

Recently, I have been looking into media accuracy, errors and corrections and their consequences.  Here are two more errors that exist on your website.

In “Obama Presses Israel to Make ‘Hard Choices,’” dated May 23, 2011, you published, “’The U.S. ought not to be trying to push Israel into a deal that’s not good for Israel,’ the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said on ‘Fox News Sunday.’”

And, in “Framing the Debate” (February 25, 2010), you state, “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.”

Of course, Mitch McConnell is not (and has never been) Senate Majority Leader.  Will you make a correction today?

Having received no response about an issue I raised—after your publisher’s office acknowledged my message over two months ago—I am binding your American history errors to those about employers and credit scores and credit score statistical distribution.


Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
creditscoring.com
Page A2
pagea2.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

The Guardian accuracy, standards, errors, corrections and clarifications

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Friday, June 21, 2013 2:49 PM
To: Liz Forgan, Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, and chairwoman, Scott Trust [Guardian]; Corrections, The Guardian; Paul Mason, economics editor, Newsnight, BBC; Paul Mason, economics editor, Newsnight, BBC (address 2); Alan Rusbridger, editor, Guardian (media@guardian.co.uk)
Cc: Stephen Herzenberg, executive director, Keystone Research Center; Mark Price, labor economist, Keystone Research Center; Christopher Lilienthal, communications director, Keystone Research Center and Pennsylvania Budget and Policy Center; Robin Greene, chair and president, Keystone Research Center (via C. Lilienthal); Associated Press (info@ap.org); Eileen AJ Connelly, Associated Press; Gary Pruitt, president & CEO, Associated Press (via P. Colford); Mary Junck, Davenport, Iowa, chairman, Associated Press; Kathleen Carroll, senior vice president – executive editor, Associated Press; Kathleen Carroll, senior vice president – executive editor, Associated Press (2); Kathleen Carroll, senior vice president – executive editor, Associated Press (3); Laurie Kellman, reporter, Associated Press
Subject: RE: credit score, employers, Guardian, conflation II

Carelessly and irresponsibly, you published a story indicating that U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is the majority leader of his legislative body, but you are mistaken.  Since his party is not the majority (and was not in 2012, the date of the story), it is impossible for him to be Majority Leader.  In fact, Senator McConnell has never been the majority leader.  The majority leader is (and was, in 2012) Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

So, apparently, you do not know what you are doing (but I do not expect that from a Briton’s vantage point).  The inaccurate article 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.”

That is idiotic:  If what you maintain were true, it would mean that Senator Reid misattributed his own title—indeed, to his counterpart in the opposition party.  Correct that false report today, or produce the letter to which you refer.

The errant piece is titled, “Reid offers new plan on student loan deadlock,” is dated  June 7, 2012, and was written by Laurie Kellman.  The dateline is “Associated Press= WASHINGTON (AP)“ and the address is http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/feedarticle/10278519.

Also, with equal wanton disregard for the truth, you published inaccurate information about credit scores.  Employers do not use them.  I looked into it.  If you know of a case in which the Keystone Cracker Corporation queried the credit companies to cull job applicants with credit scores under 600, then let me know; you have failed to name even one company engaged in the practice you claim.

I don’t care if the uninformed columnist is an economist (or a pessimist, optimist, botanist, cyclist, meteorologist or a cellist)—he does not know what he is talking about and is flat-out wrong.  It told you about this 3 months ago, and I don’t like having to repeat myself—particularly when it comes to incompetent, irresponsible foreigners with hokey designations.  We threw you out 200 years ago; your digital attempt to get back in to make money is pathetic.

You and the Associated Press are out of control.  Wake up, and have your boy make a correction today, Lizzie.


Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
creditscoring.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

[PREVIOUS CORRESPONDENCE]

Senior Vice President

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Friday, April 19, 2013 9:52 AM
To: Jerry Healey, owner and publisher, Colorado Community Media
Cc: Todd Hauer, senior vice president, wealth advisor, Morgan Stanley
Subject: credit score, credit utilization definition

You published this about one of the five categories of data in the FICO credit score formula:

Credit utilization. Credit utilization is defined as the total debt you have divided by the total available credit that is available to you. High credit utilization can be a warning sign of credit risk.

Fair Isaac does not title the second category with those words.  It uses “Amounts owed,” and that category contains factors that have nothing to do with the proportion of balances to credit limits.

I noticed your article in a news search.  It is in the top ten results, alongside articles from Yahoo! News and Fox Business.

Who “defined” credit utilization?

What is your correction policy?


Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
creditscoring.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

Editorial distribution

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 11, 2013 8:33 AM
To: Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., publisher, New York Times
Subject: credit score, distribution, New York Times

See this message and your response at http://blog.creditscoring.com/?p=4723.

In an editorial, you published, “But the proportion of people with poor ratings — credit scores under 600 — has grown from about 15 percent in the years before the recession to about 25 percent in 2011.”

According to Fair Isaac, in its FICO 8 credit score model, from 2005 to 2011, the percentage of those under 600 [alternate link, added 2014-02-13] was never lower than 23.

What is the name of the person who wrote that editorial?


Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
creditscoring.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

Discover Bank Discover Card

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 12:38 PM
To: David W. Nelms, chairman & CEO, Discover Bank
Subject: Your Credit Score and the Price You Pay for Credit disclosure, Discover Bank, distribution

See this message and your response at http://blog.creditscoring.com/?p=4587.

Your disclosure titled, “Your Credit Score and the Price You Pay for Credit” states, “Scores range from a low of 300 to a high of 850.”

However, the next section of the document indicates that the scale is 341 to 850 (the bar graph of the distribution is captioned “FICO® Credit Score Range”).

That is illogical, but begs an illogical question.  What percentage of the credit scores in the population range from 300 to 340?


Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
creditscoring.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

Not almost 30 percent

“Keeping revolving credit low can have a positive impact on an individual’s credit score, since this accounts for almost 30 percent of a typical score.”  – A Fair Isaac press release, December, 2012

Let’s say we have 100 loaves of bread. There are two categories: Baked, and not yet baked (still dough).

There are 30 loaves in the baked category, and there are 6 types of loaves within that 30:

1   white
1   wheat
1   sourdough
1   French
25  rye
1   multigrain
------------
30  TOTAL

If we add the 70 loaves that are not yet baked, the total is 100.

1   white
1   wheat
1   sourdough
1   French
25  rye
1   multigrain
70  not yet baked
----------
100 TOTAL

Is it honest to say that almost 30 percent of the loaves are rye?

CFPB on checking your credit score at least once a year

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 11:03 AM
To: Michelle Person, spokesperson, U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Cc: Richard Cordray, director, U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (via press office); Mallory McLean, press assistant, U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau; Moira Vahey, spokesperson, U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Subject: RE: Who changed the name of our Consumer Financial Protection Bureau?, checking your credit score

One of your “STEPS TO GET AND KEEP A GOOD CREDIT SCORE” is “GET YOUR FREE CREDIT REPORT EVERY YEAR.”  In it, you state, “Tip: You don’t have to buy your credit score. The information you receive from the agencies is adequate.”

However, the document title of another of your public documents is,“Consumer Advisory: Check your credit score at least once a year.”  You can find that title in the properties of the document by opening it and using Ctrl+D, by performing a right click and choosing Document Properties, or by using File then Properties in the menu of a PDF reader.

Even the internet address of the document (http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201207_cfpb_consumer-advisory_check-your-credit-score-every-year.pdf) contains the same message.  But the word score does not even exist in the document content itself.  Despite the file name, document title and internet web address, if you perform a word search for “scor” within the document that is displayed, there are no matches.

On July 16, somebody in your organization wrote, “Read our consumer advisory on checking your credit score at least once a year.”  That message is signed “CFPB Web Team.”  What is the name of the person who is the head of that team?

If your advice is to check our credit scores once a year, then which one should we check?  And, how much does it cost citizens to do so?

And, answer last month’s questions today.  You are falling behind.


Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
creditscoring.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

 

Canada Day: Reuters falls for math myth, moth-to-flame

In this bicentennial year, with apologies to a gracious nation of people of warm hospitality, here is the belated Canada Day update.  Try the wines of Niagara-on-the-Lake, and the mussels and ice cream found there, originating at P.E.I.

And, now, on with the show.  It’s a doozy.

On his little Reuters website, a real media baron published this quote from a Fair Isaac spokesman, “‘Credit utilization (amounts owed as a percentage of available credit) counts for 30 percent of a person’s credit score.'”

It must have been given in writing (unless the dude can inflect parentheses).

The Fair Isaac statement is false because it is mathematically impossible.  Here’s the doozy part– a mind-blower:  The credit score company’s spokesman in the Reuters item even replied, “I understand well that ‘amounts owed’ is driven by half a dozen factors not just utilization.”

Yikes.

Credit score expert John Ulzheimer calls this nonsense a myth.

Win column:

Losers column:

and more.

But, consider the source– not the one in the journalistic sense, but the source of the reach of the repeated rumor: Reuters.  For another eyeful, see Canada Day, 2011: Reuters on employers and credit scores.

This monkey business about the so-called “credit utilization” is all Dr. Veghead‘s fault. A Kat Malone he is not.

A message to the really wrong Reuters rumor repeating rookie writer: Let me know when you have completed Poynter’s Math for Journalists: Help With Numbers.

Talk back to your screen

From: Greg Fisher [mailto:greg@creditscoring.com]
Sent: Thursday, April 12, 2012 12:28 PM
To: Brian L. Roberts, chairman and CEO, Comcast Corporation (via Adam Miller, EVP, Corporate Affairs, NBCUniversal, Comcast)
Cc: Allen Wastler, managing editor, CNBC.com; Daniel Bukszpan, staff writer, CNBC.com, Comcast; Daniel Bukszpan, staff writer, CNBC.com, Comcast (2); Jennifer Dauble, director, public relations, CNBC; Bernard T. Gugar, Harpo Productions; Steve J. Bernas, president/CEO, Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois, Inc.; MSNBC.com; MSNBC.com (2)
Subject: RE: US national average credit score, “States with the best credit scores” II

Do you mean to tell me that you actually believe that the national average credit score could have decreased by 22 points in 11 days?

No way.  Really?

Chicago Union Station, TO ALL TRAINS
Chicago Union Station, TO ALL TRAINS

On a recent whistle stop trip to New York (via Chicago), I was able to make a small dent in the misinformation about credit scores.  However, these things have a life of their own, and I am not sure that Oprah Winfrey got my message (sent directly to her lawyer, however!).  The inaccuracy on her website still exists.  She even published this: “That history is digested by a company called Fair Isaac and converted into your credit score, which ranges from 350 to 800.”

Ha, ha!

That’s not true, of course, and it’s an old story.  But, even the New York Times fell for Experian’s campaign, so don’t feel bad.  Like the Times (until enlightened), you’re just in a Funk.


Greg Fisher
The Credit Scoring Site
creditscoring.com
PO Box 342
Dayton, Ohio  45409-0342

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