The Nation published a story yesterday by Ari Berman with the headline “Wisconsin’s Voter-ID Law Suppressed 200,000 Votes in 2016 (Trump Won by 22,478).” Here’s a definitive statement that 200,000 votes were in fact suppressed by Wisconsin’s Voter-ID law. And a blunt inference that, but for this suppression, Trump would not have won in Wisconsin. The problem with Mr. Berman’s headline is simple. It is not supported by the facts. It is yet another example of a media outlet misleading its readers. And an example of a failure of a published reporter to demand of himself accuracy in his reporting. Shame, shame, shame. Continue reading “Wisconsin’s Voter-ID Law Suppressed Votes? – A Misleading Account”
Today the media reports another tax cut favoring the rich. The Republicans propose an Obamacare tax repeal. According to a piece published by CNBC: “The proposed repeal of taxes that were put in place to fund Obamacare would give America’s top earners the biggest tax cut.” Wow, this “story” is just the latest example of Republicans favoring the rich, indeed the very rich, over the middle class and poor.
This little tidbit neatly fits into the old Republican tax narrative. But is this really a story at all? Let’s understand this, just a little bit. Obamacare included two primary taxes that affected individual taxpayers. It imposed a 3.8 percent tax on investment income, and the 0.9 percent increase in the Medicare payroll tax. These Obamacare taxes applied to individuals earning at least $200,000 per year, or couples earning more than $250,000. Now the Republicans propose eliminating these two taxes as part of their Obamacare “repeal.” Let’s stop right here for just a minute.
But These Obamacare Taxes Only Hit the Rich, Right?
You see, something just struck us, and struck us smack in the old kisser. We think the way these Obamacare tax increases worked was that they didn’t hit individuals making less than $200,000 or couples making less than $250,000. The middle class thankfully never paid a nickel of these taxes. Obama just snagged the wealthy and super-wealthy. And the wealthier you were, the more you paid. So, we suppose, there’s just no way for the middle class to get a tax benefit from these repeals, is there? They paid nothing extra before. So there’s nothing “extra” to get back. Did we miss something?
But we can’t let that stand in the way of a great narrative. The Republicans just always give tax cuts to the rich. Always. Yes, that’s right. And this is just another prime example of them cutting taxes on the wealthy and very wealthy. Let’s make this look real good: “The top 0.1 percent of earners, those making $3.9 million or more, would . . . see their taxes cut by 2.6 percent, or an average $207,390.” Now, how’s that sound!
The Whole Truth – Where is It?
So we need to write more headlines like this one. “Top 0.1% of earners would bet a $207,000 tax cut under GOP plan to repeal Obamacare.”
Some of us might call all of this a “half-truth.” Seems like it is a truthful statement that the tax cuts benefit the wealthy far more than the middle class. But that statement doesn’t represent the whole truth – the whole story of the imposition of the Obamacare taxes and then their potential subsequent repeal.
It’s back to our vast and continuing disappointment in the good ole media. We’ve written before about the responsibility of reporters and journalists – report the facts. Please don’t create a narrative. Let the historians narrate and moralize. So, Mr. CNBC journalist, next time please tell the “whole” story and keep your personal interpretation away from us. The whole truth about Obamacare tax repeal. If you want to express your opinion, or create an impression, then point out that’s exactly what you are doing. Otherwise, please turn in your Press badge.
Yet again our most revered news organizations let us down. We must read between, over and above their written lines to try to get to the truth. Reporters no longer take photographs of what they see, or simply record and report what they hear. Instead, they paint pictures with broad brushes, using shades and color to reveal their personal portraits. They weave a web instead of knitting a stitch. The “stories” of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and of “contacts” between persons involved with the Trump administration and Russia, are just the latest sorry watercolors. The media distortion of Michael Flynn is another sad tale of truth taking a shot to the jaw.
We take a look in this piece at the reporting of the Flynn “story.” We save for another piece the ongoing reporting addressing Russian “connections” to the Trump administration. Continue reading “The Media Distortion of Michael Flynn – Truth Suffers Another Blow”
Will the sad decline of ethics in journalism ever end? There’s no mystery why the public doesn’t trust the media. It didn’t used to be this way. Journalists focus less on reporting facts and more on drawing attention. They frequently distort or omit relevant information. Sometimes, they use more indirect means to mislead, such as applying inaccurate labels to facts, or using inappropriate words to create false inferences or connotations. Truth and accuracy are sacrificed to sensationalism. They are victims of the competitive push for eyeballs and profits.
The Decline of Ethics in Journalism – The Trump Order on Immigration
Which brings us to the Huffington Post. On January 25, 2017 they published an article entitled “Read Draft Text Of Trump’s Executive Order Limiting Muslim Entry to The U.S. (EXCLUSIVE).” Now, that headline really got our attention. For one, it sure sounds like President Trump actually went ahead and limited Muslim entry into the U.S. We’ve got to read about that! The headline also emphasizes the word “exclusive” in bold print. The article must contain unique information that we really need to read because we won’t find it elsewhere. Continue reading “The Decline of Ethics in Journalism – The Huffington Post and Trump’s Immigration Order”
The Media is Not Trusted: Beginnings
Thomas Jefferson famously wrote in 1787 that “the basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” Yet, twenty years later as President, and on the other side of vituperative journalists, he stated: “Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.” Jefferson did not trust the press in 1807. Today, the media is not trusted by the public.
Why is the media not trusted today anymore than by Jefferson during his presidency? We have an idea or two. But let’s look at the data first. Continue reading “The Media is Not Trusted: An Analysis and Critique”