The worst chart ever? Jesse Singal tells the story of a Mississippi newspaper publisher, this wildly inaccurate chart, and right-wing intellectual dishonesty in the digital age.
According to [the chart’s] findings, a one-parent family with two children making $14,500 a year has more disposable income than an identical family making $60,000 a year; a family making just $3,625 a year doesn’t quite do as well as the one making $60,000, but it comes close. Those who publish the chart claim it shows that it pays to be poor in America because of government largesse, courtesy of Obama and the Democrats, that the middle class doesn’t have access to.
Problem is, the chart is full of errors. I traced it back to the man who made it, a newspaper publisher in Mississippi, and found that the math, methodology, and logic he used to generate the chart, as well as an op-ed he wrote to accompany it, are wholly unsound. To make matter worse, despite the chart’s cringe-worthy flaws, very few outlets on the Internet, from small-scope blogs to a handful of forums hosted by major national publications, bothered to fact-check it. The story of the chart is a distressing new Exhibit A for those who argue that, practically speaking, there’s no longer any such thing as objective reality in the digital age.