Making Truth a Debate, Making that Debate a Joke

Remember the end of WarGames, when Matthew Broderick’s character makes the computer play tic-tac-toe against itself to distract it from creating a thermo-nuclear war?

Well, advocacy groups can do the same thing with news outlets by creating a debate where none exists. It’s hard for a newspaper to assess the validity of a claim without seeming biased. And in giving credence to something false, like creationism, newspapers get distracted from reporting the truth, like that creationists want to suppress scientific advancement.

Charles V. Bagli may have figured out a way to beat himself in tic-tac-toe so to speak, using humor to cover Joseph Sitt’s revised plans for Coney Island. The fact is, Sitt’s new plan isn’t that much of a change from the original. Whether he builds a hotel or a condo, Sitt’s high-rises will still loom above the Parachute Jump, and what’s the difference between a “shopping complex” and a mall anyway? Reporting all this, Bagli’s tongue is so firmly against his cheek, he seems to be miming an act unprintable in the New York Times.

I think Joseph Sitt’s plan to build-up Coney Island is wrongheaded—no matter how nice the condos or hotels are, Coney Island will still be over an hour away from midtown—and destructive to the area. Bagli’s approach was entertaining and well intentioned, but I think such sarcasm is inappropriate for the Metro section.