One of the things I’ve been seeing in the news media, particularly stoked by various conservatives, is that the problems with the Healthcare.gov website means that the Affordable Care Act is bad. Obviously, one is the same as the other, or at least they’d like you to think so. One is a website, the other is a law. But since it’s tough – you know, to report real facts – to grasp, particularly when your level of understanding of technology amounts to “press button, get a cookie!”, they’d rather just keep going with that. In an effort to be helpful, I thought I’d give them some more examples they can use for their “total failure” conflation.
Let’s see, yesterday Fox News had a website problem.
According to several sources, hackers were able to access the site and change portions of the homepage to reflect fake articles which included a banner warning that read “World Zombie Day to Bring Out the Living Dead”, as well as a rather terse article title that simply read “WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE – Stuff Yo”. Clearly there are some very bored, technologically-adept teenagers out there who decided to have a little post-Halloween fun.
Obviously, this is a major failure on the part of Fox News, and I’m sure the rest of the news media will be running stories about how Fox News is a total failure and should be shut down, because after all, it’s obvious that since the web site and the organization are one and the same, that embarrassing glitch is sufficient reason. OK, I’ll admit that Fox is a total failure and should be shut down, but that’s not because of their web site. Still, since we’re applying the same reasoning conservatives and the media are to the ACA and Healthcare.gov, I think it should be obvious.
That’s not the only example. Just today this came across the wire:
Shoppers looking for a bargain got some big ones, if only temporarily, at Walmart.com Wednesday morning.
A technical glitch on the Wal-Mart Stores Inc U.S. website offered some items at a fraction of their actual retail price.
Treadmills, which normally cost hundreds of dollars, were priced at $33.16. LCD computer monitors were offered for $9.
Ravi Jariwala, a spokesman for Walmart.com, said in the late afternoon that the problem had been fixed and that the mistakenly priced orders would not be honored.
Well, that’s it for Wal-Mart! Obviously, anyone holding stock in it should get out now, because it’s obviously going to be a complete failure as a company and it’s better off being shut down than allowed to continue. Maybe another company will come along that will do better, but that’s the free market for you.
Snark aside, these two stories (and there are a lot more in the recent past) are examples of why it’s completely asinine for the news media to have bought into the “web site equals the law.” They’re different entities entirely. Yes, the website is flawed, but you know what? It can be fixed. All websites have glitches. It’s a function of the underlying complexity that makes them run. While many people wish Fox News would go away, very few are calling for it to be shut down because its website got hacked. Wal-Mart is still a huge business and going to keep being one despite its website having a glitch. One does not equal the other. Unfortunately, conservatives and the media can’t understand that, and in the process, the media is failing in its responsibility.