Back when he was a reporter for the Washington Post, Juan Williams wrote a short piece about group perceptions for a social psychology course. At issue was the question of what dangerous people look like, and when and under what circumstances -- if ever -- people are justified in being nervous around people of other races.
Fox News Channel turned a brief investigation of a flashlight found on the Brooklyn Bridge into a potential terrorist attack by the Pakistani Taliban, and then later dismissed the whole affair as though it didn't happen.
Netflix kicked off the introduction of its streaming-entertainment service into Canada by closing off a street in downtown Toronto and holding a splashy media event. Excited people thronged the street, but journalists were unaware that many of the people were "extras," hired and paid by Netflix to act like excited consumers.
A Washington Post writer took bait thrown out by a fake Congressional candidate with a Twitter account.
On May 10, 2008, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' Boston/New England chapter conferred its prestigious "Governor's Award" upon Bill O'Reilly, host of the Fox News Channel opinion program "The O'Reilly Factor." Some felt the choice of O'Reilly was improper given his reputation for inflammatory rhetoric and bullying of people who disagree with him. One person who took exception to the award was Barry Nolan, host of another cable show produced by Comcast called "Backstage with Barry Nolan." One month before the awards ceremony, Nolan emailed the Academy's governing board and asked them to reconsider giving the award to O'Reilly. Nolan also made public his opposition to the award. He wrote to the Boston Herald to say he was appalled at the Academy's choice. Nolan said O'Reilly was "a mental case" who "inflates and constantly mangles the truth." Nolan sought and received some support for his protest from within the higher echelons of Comcast, but in the end, the academy's vote stood. Determined to take a discreet but public stand, Nolan attended the award ceremony, bringing 100 six-page fliers he had made up listing some of O'Reilly's more outrageous quotes.
The front page of USA Today August 13 was consumed with an extensive article titled "Faces of the Tea Party: Tea Party members offer ground-level view," which featured anecdotal interviews with ordinary people who agree with the movement. But the article offered no information putting the Tea Party movement in the context of the larger political picture in the U.S. For example, it points out that Tea Party candidates were victorious in primary elections in Colorado, Kentucky, Nevada and Utah, and, while it questions the ability of the candidates to win in the general election in November, it fails to mention that these candidates' victories boost the possibilities that Democrats will prevail in these states. Another significant omission is that article also fails to mention how remarkably far out of the mainstream the many Tea Party candidates' views are. Nevada's victorious Tea Party Senate candidate, Sharron Angle, seeks to dismantle Medicare and Social Security and hand their functions to the private sector. Kentucky's Tea Party Senate candidate, Rand Paul, belongs to a group of physicians who deny the link between HIV and AIDS and argue that Barack Obama controls his audiences through a covert form of hypnosis. Colorado's victorious gubernatorial Tea Party candidate, Dan Maes, told a crowd of supporters that Denver's new bicycle sharing program is really part of a hidden United Nations plot to "rein in American cities," put the environment above citizens' rights, and curtail personal freedoms.