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The Newark Star-Ledger's tenuous relationship with facts

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If the Star-Ledger wants to claim that it's an honest broker that only cares about reporting fair and accurate coverage, then it is going to have an awful lot of trouble getting past this one. When fans already think the media is out to get them, the last thing said media should want to do is hire a stringer with no familiarity, whatsoever, with Rutgers football, who then proceeds to conjure up complete fictions out of the ether. This is nothing new, not for a publication that pressured Bob Mulcahy out of his job as athletic director based on similar lies. Can someone explain how the same publication can shower praise on Penn State, and then turn around and publish this?

Can there be any doubt whatsoever that the paper's editorial board wanted to take another shot at Rutgers football, and found the first desperate journalism school graduate willing to accept a $10 Sizzler gift card in exchange for 500 words? (Hey, writers need to eat too.) One thing is for sure: Tim Pernetti is in luck if he runs out of Kleenex with all of the stores closed this weekend.

Let's demolish this garbage without any delay or hesitation.

Even when Rutgers football boasts a winning record, the stadium's half-empty.

Official Rutgers Stadium capacity: 52,454.

2011 Rutgers attendance per game, according to their very paper: 43,761.

43,761 is half of 52,454? Well, I'll be. There are some things you just cannot learn in Rutgers University math classes.

Because unlike the dunderheads at other state schools, Rutgers students are not so shallow as to abandon their books for the frivolity of fist-pumping football.

Has the author of this bile ever attended a Rutgers football game, ever? Has the author ever seen a game on TV? Do they even know that football is the one where the players are allowed to hold the ball?

Look, clearly there are issues. There were a lot of season ticket cancellations the past two years. No one showed up this year against WVU due to a blizzard, and then they all stayed home the following week due to the furor over that collapse. The one thing that's unequivocally going right by every conceivable metric is student support. Jesus Christ. Once again, the Star-Ledger is contradicting its own archives.

One of the more surprising findings shows that an increasingly smaller percentage of fans at home games now pay for tickets, because to offset declining attendance, the university hands out fistfuls of complimentary passes to fill seats. While the stadium may look more filled, there is still less revenue for the cash-strapped program.

As the Rutgers athletic department is very quick to point out, the above paragraph is a snide, roundabout way of stating that student attendance is still extremely strong. If this piece's author wasn't strung out on a chronic methadone habit, they could have, you know, actually gone to a game this fall and saw that for themselves. The bandwagon fans stayed home this year. The student section is still packed to the gills. If anything, it's possible (incorrect, but possible) to make a a William Dowling-style argument that Rutgers is turning into a football factory, it's obsessed with athletics, and the like. Which the Newark Star-Ledger, of course, frequently does. How then, is it even possible to posit a completely contradictory point such as this?

Good writers; scratch that; good thinkers survey all available evidence before drawing conclusions. In stark contrast, the creator of this claptrap decided first on a premise, and then worked his or her way backwards, with no regardat all for what actually happened. It's like if I suddenly decided to write a column about how great it was that Rutgers won the National Championship in 2001. Sure, I could theoretically think those thoughts or pound my fingers into a keyboard. The ideas contained within however would be complete fiction, utterly divorced from reality in all aspects. Such a post would be grounds for being committed to Bellevue, if not one of those weird Victorian asylums for the criminally insane.

The media certainly has a right to ask questions, (even if the Ledger's sister papers cede that when given the opportunity to cover their local teams.) This isn't about being critical. It's about outright making stuff up out of thin air. Here's an open proposal for the Star-Ledger: why not stick to your strengths? From now on, if they only have their sports desk write about Rutgers football, there will never be one word of criticism towards the publication uttered again on this site. You have a great sports desk. If you want a sports op-ed, I'm sure they would be happy to help. Time and again, this once-proud publication has gotten in hot water by violating journalistic ethics and basic factual standards, all driven by a crazed editorial staff, and a quick succession of interlopers spelunking in unfamiliar territory.

When everyone is tucked away in their beds on Saturday night, one can only hope that Santa has time to drop off a clue or two at Star Ledger Plaza on his worldwide jaunt.