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Why Oh Why Doesn't the New Yorker Have Fact-Checkers?

The New Yorker has a nice Talk of the Town piece by Rick Hertzberg about the battle for ownership of the Washington Nationals, and the shameless attempt by congressional Republicans to villainize one ownership group, which includes George Soros as a minor partner, in order to boost one that includes GOP fixer Fred Malek. Malek's resume includes helping George W. Bush acquire the appearance of a real job in his late 40s as a part owner of the Texas Rangers, but he will always be best known as the functionary who, when President Nixon became convinced that Jews in the Bureau of Labor Statistics were manipulating the unemployment figures, dutifully carried out a presidential order to go count the Jews.

Hertzberg gives a little history of the cellar-dwelling Washington Senators of old, and notes that in 1971, the Senators moved to the hyphen in Dallas-Fort Worth and became the Texas Rangers. But there's a significant error of omission, unusual in a magazine famous for its fact-checking: that wasn't the original Senators, but an expansion team created in 1961 that played in Washington for just ten years. The "real" Washington Senators had moved to Minnesota in 1960 and become the Twins.

[UPDATE: I originally said the team moved to Houston, which was an error. Where are my fact-checkers?]

There's a reason that's relevant: In 1978, Twins' owner Calvin Griffith told a Minnesota group why he moved the team there: "It was when we found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. ...We came here because you?ve got good, hardworking white people here."

So perhaps it is Malek, with his people-counting skills, who actually fits best in the ownership tradition of Washington baseball teams.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on July 6, 2005 | Permalink

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Comments

The ersatz Senators did not move to the Houston area, but rather to the Dallas area. They currently play in Arlington, a suburb between Dallas and Fort Worth, in a stadium that enriched George W. Bush through the magic of eminent domain. Somehow conservative critics of the Kelo decision never seem to mention this fact.

Posted by: Vadranor | Jul 6, 2005 1:22:59 PM

Not to exonerate Griffith, but the ellipsis in your quote removes an important piece. The whole quote is:

“I’ll tell you why we came to Minnesota. It was when we found out you only had 15,000 blacks here. Black people don’t go to ballgames, but they’ll fill up a rassling ring and put up such a chant it’ll scare you to death...We came here because you’ve got good, hardworking white people here."

Its still an offensive quote, but his point wasn't that black people are inferior or should be feared; it was that they didn't go to baseball games. Maybe this quote illustrates one of the reasons blacks didn't go to baseball games, Griffith's ignorance, but Griffith left because he felt one of the most populous races in the District didn't like baseball. The relocation of next franchise a mere 11 years later shows that the DC market wasn't the best for baseball even if Griffith's perceived reason is a little ignorant.

Posted by: Zach | Jul 6, 2005 5:19:33 PM

Hertzberg also neglects to mention that Soros is Jewish and has been the target of barely disguised anti-Semitic attacks. So the Repubs are threatening reprisals against MLB if a Jew is allowed to beat out an anti-Semite for ownership of the Nats.

And you wonder why Jews keep on voting Democratic--

Posted by: JR | Jul 8, 2005 1:06:30 AM

Anyhow, the New Yorker does have fact checkers. All Conde Nast magazines do -- you can't even imagien what the magazine would look like with out them!

Don't diss the fact checkers for letting one slip, diss the reporter.

Posted by: a | Jul 13, 2005 2:13:29 PM