Fine work by the New Yorker’s factesque checkers

The newest issue of the New Yorker has a long piece by Jeffrey Goldberg about the future of the Republican party. At one point Goldberg goes to the White House to interview Karl Rove, who appears surprisingly optimistic:

“There are two or three societal trends that are driving us in an increasingly deep center-right posture,” [Rove] said. “One of them is the power of the computer chip. Do you know how many people’s principal source of income is eBay? Seven hundred thousand.” He went on, “So the power of the computer has made it possible for people to gain greater control over their lives. It’s given people a greater chance to run their own business, become a sole proprietor or an entrepreneur. As a result, it has made us more market-oriented, and that equals making you more center-right in your politics.”

Ebay is the primary source of income for seven hundred thousand people? That sounds implausible. And it is:

Entrepreneurs in record numbers are setting up shop on eBay, according to a new survey conducted for eBay by ACNielsen International Research, a leading research firm. More than 724,000 Americans report that eBay is their primary or secondary source of income.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess far more of these 724,000 Americans use eBay as a secondary source of income rather than a primary one. If the ratio’s 75/25, that makes 175,000 people whose primary source of income is eBay. Hard to spin that into a tale of impending Republican ascendancy.

This kind of thing drives me nigh unto madness. Journalists theoretically should be skeptical of what anyone says. They certainly should be skeptical of things that sound implausible. They certainly absolutely should be skeptical of implausible things political operatives say. They certainly absolutely definitely should be skeptical of implausible things political operatives use as a basis for an entire narrative that’s flattering to the operative. They certainly absolutely definitely always always always should be skeptical of implausible things political operatives say when those political operatives have a history of STARTING GIGANTIC WARS BASED ON LIES.

Not Jeffrey Goldberg and the New Yorker, though. If Karl Rove tells them something, they rush it into print without asking a single question.