Given how inaccurate initial police accounts of officer-involved incidents keep turning out to be, it might perhaps be a good time to rethink the practice of running police blotter stories as though they are statements of fact. But then again, it might not be. Maybe we should do it for more things. It would have been a lot easier to just handle other horrific stories this way instead. Such as:
Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle"
Everyone who works in the meatpacking industry here in Chicago just loves it! No one has ever been hurt working in this safe, lovely, family-style industry, where everyone from children to grandmothers gets to lend a hand in the making of sausage! One of my sources disappeared during the course of this investigation, but the official statement they issued after his demise said he died of natural causes doing what he loved most: operating meatpacking machinery in total safety. In all the time that I have been here, there has only been a single incident: A man's hand chose to detach itself just at the very moment a cleaver came down on top of it, in accordance with all standard procedures.
Ida Tarbell's profile of John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil
John D. Rockefeller insists that he does not have a monopoly, and I believe him. People are always coming up to him and saying, "John, I am doing a small-scale oil business, and I think you would do better at it than I would; please buy it and take it off my hands," and, out of the goodness of his heart, that is just what John D. Rockefeller does. When he comes to town, railroads start charging fees to his competitors, for reasons totally unrelated to him. The fact that all his competitors spontaneously go bankrupt whenever he arrives in town is just a coincidence. They had underlying problems that must have caught up with them exactly at that time.
Reporting on the Vietnam War
Everything here is going just great from a military standpoint, and probably more justly than any war has ever been conducted. My Lai was liberated after a fierce firefight with lots of Viet Cong soldiers, all of military age, and none of them civilians. That was certainly a relief to hear! I had no follow-ups. Very sad that the people there all had a lot of health problems that caught up with them suddenly at the wrong time, but there is no reason to draw a line from that to the presence of American troops. As far as I know, things couldn't be going better here.
The Watergate investigation
An interesting burglary appears to have occurred at the Democratic National Committee offices, but it seems unlikely that President Richard M. Nixon was involved in any way. President Nixon is very mad about those burglars! He's a great president. He has a little dog named Checkers.
Nellie Bly's exposé of Bellevue Hospital
Hospital administrators say everyone here is having a wonderful time! I bet I would enjoy spending some time here as an inmate; they assure me the turndown service is just incredible, the staff welcoming and responsive, and the conditions spa-like. I bet if I ever checked in, I would find it difficult to bring myself to leave. I'm glad I could bring the wonder of this place to the attention of more people! They deserve more credit for all the good work they're doing.
Dispatch from the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory
Several workers at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory spontaneously combusted after locking themselves into the building for no reason. Nobody could be more let down about this than management, management reported. No further questions
The "Spotlight" investigation
The Catholic Church assures us that it has nothing to hide. Great!
Alexandra Petri is a Washington Post columnist offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day. She is the author of the new essay collection "Nothing Is Wrong And Here Is Why." Follow Alexandra Petri on Twitter, @petridishes.