This just in: Plaintiffs give up in Dover

In breaking news from The Christian Post, crack reporters declare:

ACLU Abandons Lawsuit Against Intelligent Design Notice

American Civil Liberties Union abandoned its lawsuit challenging a Pennsylvania school district’s decision to notify biology students of theories other than evolution

Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2005 Posted: 4:32:27PM EST

Just kidding. This report is totally, 100%, clear-as-day false.

But this is a real live news story that just came across Google News. The “reporter” evidently misread this Thomas More Law Center press release, or read only the title (“ACLU Abandons Early Effort To Stop School District From Making Students Aware of Controversy Surrounding Evolution”). They appear to have mistakenly concluded that the ACLU et al. had given up, and then constructed an entire news story around this assumption.

It’s actually a quite extraordinary bit of self-delusion, especially considering the last sentence in the TMLC press release (“The ACLU lawsuit will continue with a trial expected in early summer.”). I think it highlights the fact that propaganda can have two messages: the official message, with technically accurate (well, sometimes) text, and the emotional message for the public, which is the message that the innocent reader gets. Put a snappy title on a press release, exude confidence, and declare victory, and, don’t you know it, people conclude that you’ve won!

This kind of thing is actually quite common in creationist/ID-land, in only slightly less extreme form. I can’t count the number of times where the Discovery Institute or another creationist group has put out a press release, the right-wing echo chamber bounces it around for a few days, and the result that emerges is the emotional message being portrayed as the actual facts on the ground. In rare cases, enough of a din gets created that someone from a respectable news outlet will repeat the message, at which point the Discovery Institute will quote it in the next press release! The peppered moth case is perhaps the most massive example of this engineered disconnect between discourse and reality.

I’ve saved the Christian Post news story in case they fix it tomorrow. Fortunately for them they’ve got it covered:

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