Dumbest News Story of the Day [Updated]

I know, the competition is stiff. But I think we have a winner.

At the University of Southern California, activists have pointed out that the horse that the school’s Trojan mascot rides around the football stadium on has almost the same name as Robert E. Lee’s horse! The Los Angeles Times reports:

When Richard Saukko galloped his chalk-white Arabian horse named Traveler around the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum almost 56 years ago, it was supposed to be a one-time stunt.

Instead, the brief performance before USC kicked off its season against Georgia Tech turned into one of college football’s iconic traditions. A succession of white horses named Traveler have followed — Traveler IX debuts this fall — trotting out of the tunnel as “Conquest” plays and the costumed Trojan warrior atop the horse waves a sword. But during a rally earlier this week to show solidarity in the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville, Va., a USC campus group linked the name to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, whose favorite horse was Traveller.

A USC spokesman was asked for comment:

A USC spokesman pointed to a history of Traveler on USC’s website when asked about the name’s origin.

“USC’s mascot horse is a symbol of ancient Troy. Its rider, with costume and sword, is a symbol of a Trojan warrior,” the final paragraph said. “The name Traveler, spelled with one ‘l,’ is a common name among horses. . . . USC’s Traveler is and has always been a proud symbol of Troy. There is no truth to any other claims or rumors about its name.”

But the intrepid Times reporter investigated and found that Traveler is not a very common name among horses:

But the name isn’t that common. According to Equibase, a leading source of horse racing statistics, there have been only three registered thoroughbreds named Traveler in the U.S. since 1945. Only two quarter horses have been registered with the name. Another site, which tracks pet names, doesn’t rank Traveler in the top 100 most popular names for horses.

There is more, but you get the drift. Mr. Saukko’s widow brings a voice of sanity:

“The problem is this: maybe three weeks ago it was fine,” Pat Saukko DeBernardi said. “So now the flavor of the day is . . . we all have to be in hysteria. . . . It’s more of a political issue. The horse isn’t political and neither am I.”

Do you have to be crazy to be a liberal? I am starting to wonder.

UPDATE: Ed Driscoll notes another strong contender, although I think the Travel exposé still takes the prize. In the Atlantic, Alice Ristroph laments the path of the total solar eclipse:

On August 21, 2017, a total solar eclipse will arrive mid-morning on the coast of Oregon. The moon’s shadow will be about 70 miles wide, and it will race across the country faster than the speed of sound, exiting the eastern seaboard shortly before 3 p.m. local time. It has been dubbed the Great American Eclipse, and along most of its path, there live almost no black people.

Presumably, this is not explained by the implicit bias of the solar system.

Whew! You had me wondering for a minute there, Alice.

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