Not since the Lederer Files has the poker community been as fired up as they were following the publishing of a Newsweek feature story on online gambling that paints the industry in a very negative light.
The article, How Washington Opened the Floodgates to Online Poker, Dealing Parents a Bad Hand by Leah McGrath Goodman included one of the most tacky and fanciful pictures you’ll ever see, a sullen fair-haired boy of about 9 holding a tablet with a royal flush covering the entire screen. Fear-mongering at its finest.
The message was clear: Online poker is going to destroy families and turn little Timmy into a problem gambler; a claim the highly provocative article couldn’t even deliver on, as it never mentions pre-teens, and loosely uses the terms “kids” to describe college age and 18-25 year-olds.
The picture it would seem served only one purpose.
More problems than just the picture
The picture and headline were enough to have most people’s “Fraud Alert” sirens going off and by the time you got a few paragraphs in you were probably on Defcon 4. This was going to be an article you’d need to read more than once, and one of those instances where you’re so worked up you’ll want to wait a few minutes before you hit the send button.
Riddled with inaccuracies and misleading statements, the article would have made for a great opinion-editorial, but a feature story, or investigative journalism it is not.
Here are eight separate articles that refute Newsweek’s article in the order they appeared.
Steve Ruddock, Bluff Magazine:
Newsweek Paints Online Gambling as Threat to American Family
Haley Hintze, Flushdraw.com:
Bad Journalism: The Newsweek Online Gambling Propaganda
Parry Aftab, Founder and Director, WiredSafety in Letter to the Editor sent to Newsweek:
Letter to the Editors a response to the criticism Leah McGrath Goodman received is included after Aftab’s statement
Donnie Peters, PokerNews.com:
An Open Letter To Newsweek: There Are Questions To Be Answered
John Mehaffey, USPoker.com:
Newsweek Needs to Correct Glaring Errors in Online Poker Story
Eric Raskin, All In Magazine:
How Newsweek failed readers by running a slanted opinion article in the guise of a reported feature
Dan Cypra, PocketFives.com:
Newsweek on Ripping Online Poker: “No Bias For or Against Online Gambling”
Where are her supporters?
Comments are overwhelmingly negative
How bad was the article?
Consider the comment section under the original, which at present boasts an impressive 159 responses. Of those 159 comments I haven’t seen a single one that agree with the article, or feels the article isn’t a one-sided attack piece.
Not one. Zero. Zilch. Nada. While I may have missed a positive comment or two as I perused them, but even giving her the benefit of the doubt that there are a few, the fact that the article is being viewed overwhelmingly negatively is actually a good thing, as few people are being fooled by it.
If McGrath Goodman had done a fine job investigating the story and creating a truthful story arc of what occurred, wouldn’t many have rushed to her defense?
Twitter is just as bad
Although she did seem to have one defender, Leah McGrath Goodman’s Twitter feed lit up like a Christmas tree following the article making the social media rounds.
At first it looked like she may have some fight in her as she was responding to most of the sensible comments, but like many who have drawn the ire of the Twitter-savvy poker world, she was quick to “shut it down” for a while, and avoid the comments.
To her credit, she did come back to the fight later on (after posting a response to the criticism underneath the Letter to the Editor by Parry Aftab cited above) and responded to some more tweets.
I know this story will be widely read (it’s Newsweek after all) and my hope is that this article’s bias is so apparent that it actually helps online poker legislation.
I personally feel that pro-regulation advocates have the stronger argument and don’t need to resort to fear-mongering tactics to gain supporters. When looked at side-by-side the clear choice is FOR regulation.
In a poll several months back, Farleigh Dickinson University asked people if they were in favor of legalizing online gambling, and the response was overwhelmingly no, but a second question could help explain that answer, as only 15% knew “a lot” about the issue and 44% knew “nothing at all.”
Perhaps Newsweek’s column will help raise the awareness of this issue.