Doing Journalism Wrong: New York Post Cites Single, Unnamed Source For Schwarzenegger 2016 POTUS Bid

Single, Unnamed Source Claims Arnold Schwarzenegger To Seek 2016 POTUS Bid

The New York Post reported that Arnold Schwarzenegger has been lobbying for support to change federal law to make a 2016 presidential bid. Image: Gage Skidmore @ Flickr

Fact or fiction: Schwarzenegger POTUS bid?

The New York Post reported today that action star alum and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has reportedly been lobbying for support to change federal law in order to pursue a 2016 presidential bid. If you paid any attention in civics class, you’ll recall that only natural-born American citizens above the age of thirty-five are eligible to run for president. While Arnie certainly has the latter down in spades (did you see that beard?), as an Austrian-born immigrant, the former requirement places the Oval Office far out of his reach. Per the Post:

“Action star and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has been lobbying for support to change the law to allow him to run for president in 2016, Page Six has exclusively learned.

We’re told Ahnold has been openly talking about his political ambitions while in New York to promote his new movie with Sylvester Stallone, “Escape Plan.”

One source said: “Schwarzenegger has been talking openly about working on getting the constitutional rules changed so he can run for president in 2016. He is ready to file legal paperwork to challenge the rules.”

Not to burst anyone’s bubble one way or another about the prospect of a possible Terminator-In-Chief, but in typical tabloid fashion, the Post only cites a single, unnamed source to back up their claim. This renders Schwarzenegger’s political maneuvers highly suspect. But that didn’t stop multiple media outlets from stenographing reporting the allegations as gospel truth, nor did it give most readers pause to think, either. Arnold stepped forward to refute the claims this afternoon via Twitter:

Unsurprisingly, Arnold’s denial of legal manipulation didn’t spread nearly as far and wide as the initial report did. This is likely due to the fact that the actor-turned-governor is on record saying in 2010 that he would “without any doubt” run for President, were he allowed to. That being said, why wouldn’t he be taking steps to do so now? Correlation does not equal causation of course, but in today’s post-fact society, that particular principle of information gathering has been rendered almost completely irrelevant. After all, you can’t let actual facts get in the way of a good story, am I right?

When media outlets and/or journalists cite single, unnamed sources as a means to support their claims, they almost invariably have an agenda to push, and are quite possibly making things up out of whole cloth. They’re also relying on the presumption of their authority as a means to discourage people from reading between the lines. All the better to shape reality to their ends via public perception. The moral of the story is, to quote the late, great Dr. Timothy Leary:

“Throughout human history…it has been the authorities — the political, the religious, the educational authorities — who attempted to comfort us by giving us order, rules, regulations, informing — forming in our minds — their view of reality. To think for yourself you must question authority, and learn how to put yourself in a state of vulnerable open-mindedness, chaotic, confused vulnerability to inform yourself.”

Since when has the New York Post been an authority on anything other than the Kardashians?