Correlation is not automatically causation
Wednesday, Jul 25, 2012
* A headline in today’s Tribune…
* The story…
* From reading that headline, you’d probably assume the subpoenas were recent. Not even close. They were actually issued in August of 2009 - almost exactly three years ago. The subpoenas covered two grants Howard steered during Fiscal Year 2007 - which ended over five years ago.
And then there was the stuff about how the resignation came two weeks before seven people were busted in an FBI sting that targeted West Side corruption. Howard is a South Sider.
Too often in journalism, correlation equals causation, and the Tribune is getting a lot worse lately with this bad habit.
As I told subscribers earlier today, this does not mean there wasn’t a causation issue here. I wrote about the subpoenas in my full story on July 11th. But unless the Trib knows otherwise, directly connecting the retirement of a 69 year-old woman widely known to be in ill health to subpoenas issued three years ago about a matter that took place over five years ago is a bit much.
Not to mention that I’ve been reporting about Howard’s resignation since July 10th. No hat tip. Oh, well.
* Illinois Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady, as usual, blamed Speaker Madigan…
Subscribers know about this already. Howard submitted her resignation to Madigan, but she was supposed to submit it to the Secretary of State. I told subscribers a week ago today that the Secretary of State had received the official resignation last Tuesday. And the House does, indeed, have Howard listed as “currently inactive” on its Web page.
And here’s the other thing: The state GOP has a Capitol Fax subscription. So, if Brady is reading his copy, he knew two full weeks ago that Howard had resigned and he knew last week that Howard had belatedly submitted her resignation to Jesse White.