An article in Politico uncritically repeated Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump's claim that he would raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans as president, but also reported that Trump's plan would actually reduce the top marginal income tax rate from 39.6 to 25 percent and lower the corporate income tax rate to 15 percent.
During a September 27 appearance on CBS News' 60 Minutes, Trump claimed that his tax policy would raise taxes on the "very wealthy." This claim apparently inspired Politico to use the headline, "Trump plans to hike taxes on the wealthy" for a September 28 article describing his tax plan that said publicly-available information about Trump's tax plan -- set to be released in full on September 28 -- indicated that the wealthiest Americans would actually receive a tax cut:
Under a President Donald Trump, some Americans will pay no income tax and the corporate income tax will fall to 15 percent, while the Treasury Department will maintain or even increase current revenue.
According to The Wall Street Journal, which obtained more details ahead of the plan's formal release, individuals making less than $25,000 and married couples making less than $50,000 will not have to pay taxes. The current highest income-tax rate--39.6 percent--would drop to 25 percent. Overall, the number of rates would decrease from the current seven to four, at 0, 10, 20 and 25 percent. While 36 percent of American households do not pay income tax currently, that share would jump to 50 percent.
The gulf between Politico's headline and its reporting on the publicly-available details of Trump's tax plan doesn't stand up to even modest scrutiny, and its failure to get the math right was rightly mocked by conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin on Twitter.
Despite what Trump told 60 Minutes, the numbers don't add up. According to a detailed summary of the billionaire businessman's plan in The Wall Street Journal, Trump also says he would reduce the top capital gains rate from 23.8 to 20 percent, and claims his proposed 15 percent corporate income rate is "among the lowest that have been proposed so far" by any candidate from either party. According to The Journal, Trump's tax plan would eliminate or cap some tax deductions that cater to the wealthy but with major reductions in baseline rates it is unclear how limiting deductions would amount to a tax "hike."
UPDATE: Following a September 28 speech in which Trump revealed his full tax reform plan, Politico updated its article with a new headline and additional reporting, including praise of the plan from Americans for Tax Reform, which opposes any increases of marginal tax rates for any individual or business. The new headline still takes Trump at his word that his tax proposals are "going to cost [him] a fortune," despite the underlying article reaffirming Trump's proposed rate reductions for corporations and high income earners. Politico also confirmed Trump's plan to eliminate the estate tax, which the publication referred to as the "death tax." Eliminating the estate tax would be a major tax policy victory for the wealthiest 0.2 percent of Americans, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).
A new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that, contrary to right-wing media assertions, the overwhelming majority of employers have not responded to health insurance mandates in the Affordable Care Act by slashing jobs, converting full-time positions to part-time, or putting off hiring new workers. Fox News and The Wall Street Journal spent years claiming health care reform would threaten American jobs.
Conservative media figures rallied to the defense of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, speculating that the attendee who posed a racially charged question at a New Hampshire campaign event was a plant, not an actual supporter.
Mainstream media outlets are ignoring the falsehoods and fabrications underpinning Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush's recently-debuted tax reform proposal in favor of endlessly harping on the perceived and imagined flaws of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. George W. Bush benefited from the same kind of free ride in 2000, when media overlooked the impossible economic promises at the core of his fiscal policies.
In a September 14 article, Vox Executive Editor Matt Yglesias took mainstream media outlets to task for glossing over glaring flaws in the tax reform proposals and economic promises offered by Jeb Bush's presidential campaign, recalling the lax vetting received by Bush's older brother during the 2000 presidential election when the press directed incessant, vapid critiques at then-Vice President Al Gore:
According to the conventions prevailing at the time, to offer a view on the merits of a policy controversy would violate the dictates of objective journalism. Harping on the fact that Bush was lying about the consequences of his tax plan was shrill and partisan. Commenting on style cues was okay, though, so the press could lean into various critiques of Gore's outfit.
Today it's clear that Jeb Bush is very much his brother's successor, both in terms of a love of regressive tax cuts and in terms of a passion for making the case for them in a dishonest way. And reading mainstream political reporters characterize the Jeb tax plan as "populist" or some kind of break with conservative orthodoxy paired with endless front-page coverage of every new micro-development in the Hillary Clinton email inquiry is giving me a very uncomfortable sense of déjà vu.
The good news is that new policy-focused verticals like the Upshot and Wonkblog at the New York Times and the Washington Post are doing a much better job of covering this round of Bush tax cuts. The bad news is that policy-focused coverage of presidential campaigns remains a specific and at times marginalized silo. There is not yet any sense that Bush's economic plans -- and his sales job of those plans -- should speak in a central way to how we understand his character, his judgment, his ethics, and his overall quest for the presidency.
The Associated Press recently criticized Republican candidates for claiming that policies "overwhelmingly benefit[ting] the wealthiest" are "populist," but many mainstream outlets have already published stories riddled with such pro-Republican spin.
At Vox, Yglesias argued that news consumers, and voters, deserve to know that the tax-cutting proposals at the heart of the Bush campaign's economic program were proven failures during his brother's administration, overwhelmingly favorws the ultra-rich, and were "a disaster" in his home state of Florida. Bush has already been credited as a "populist" in uncritical coverage of his budget-busting tax plan, gotten away with demanding that Americans "work longer hours" to boost economic growth, and set a 4 percent annual growth target for the economy that actual economists called "nonsense" and "impossible."
Numerous mainstream outlets are reporting on Jeb Bush's proposal to lower income tax rates and reduce exemptions as being "populist" and anti-Wall Street, ignoring that his proposal offers no means of making up for lost revenue and is essentially a retread of mainstream Republican tax policy, including George W. Bush's disastrous tax cuts from 2001 and 2003.
During an appearance on MSNBC's Morning Joe, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius thoroughly debunked arguments that Hillary Clinton should be charged with a crime as a result of her use of a private email system while serving as secretary of state. When MSNBC re-aired the first hour of its program later in the morning, the bulk of Ignatius' debunking had been edited out.
On the September 4 edition of Morning Joe, co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski continued their efforts to stoke controversy around Hillary Clinton's email practices while serving as secretary of state. Both Scarborough and Brzezinski suggested that guest David Ignatius was simply "getting tired" of the wall-to-wall media coverage directed at Clinton after the columnist authored an August 28 op-ed in The Washington Post arguing that "this 'scandal' is overstated." Ignatius responded by explaining that experts he spoke with dismissed as far-fetched claims Clinton committed a criminal offense.
But during the rebroadcast of the segment, Morning Joe cut away from Ignatius' explanation mid-sentence. During the initial broadcast, Ignatius said (emphasis added), "As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do nothing but this kind of work, they said they couldn't remember a case like this, where people informally and inadvertently draw classified information into their phone conversations or their unclassified server conversations, where there had been a prosecution."
When the segment re-aired, Ignatius is heard saying, "As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do nothing but this kind of work, they said they couldn't remember a case like this," before the show skipped forward to a remark by co-host Mika Brzezinski about Clinton aide Cheryl Mills.
Significantly, the rebroadcast failed to include the conclusion of Ignatius' thought, which is that Clinton's email practices do not amount to a prosecutable offense, according to several expert attorneys he talked to. Here are Ignatius' unedited remarks (emphasis added):
JOE SCARBOROUGH: David, so you have over the past week or two turned a bit in some of your editorial, in some of your op-eds, you've said you would rather hear Hillary's policy positions than more talk about the servers, you said you don't think she faces any criminal prosecution. You haven't exactly said nothing is here, move along, move along, but you've certainly --
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Getting tired of it, which is what they're hoping.
SCARBOROUGH: -- Yeah, I mean aren't you playing into what the Clinton sort of scandal response team wants, which is so much stuff comes at you that at some point you just say, "Come on, let's just move on."
DAVID IGNATIUS: Joe, I've tried to respond as a journalist but in particular I've tried to look at what is a real prosecutable offense here. There are violations clearly both of administrative procedure and probably technically of law and how classified information was handled. As I talked to a half dozen of lawyers who do nothing but this kind of work, they said they couldn't remember a case like this, where people informally and inadvertently draw classified information into their phone conversations or their unclassified server conversations, where there had been a prosecution.
SCARBOROUGH: But this isn't happenstance. This is a very calculated move to say if you want to communicate with the Secretary of State, as Edwards Snowden said, whether you are a foreign diplomat or a spy chief from another country or a leader of another country, which they all did, you've got to come to this unsecured server, whether it is in Colorado or wherever it is, and there is a standard in the U.S. Code under prosecutions for this sort of thing which is gross negligence. It's not a know or should have known -
IGNATIUS: This issue comes up surprisingly often because there is an administrative problem where people do these things and their security officers summon them and warn them and issue reprimands and it goes in their file and it's a serious personnel administrative problem. My only point is I couldn't find a case where this kind of activity had been prosecuted and that's just worth noting as we assemble our Clinton e-mail - and more thing, Joe, legally there is no difference between her using her private server and if she'd used State.gov, which is also not a classified system. The idea that, oh this would have been fine if she used State.gov, not legally, no difference.
Here is how Morning Joe re-aired the segment:
Scarborough, a former Republican member of the House of Representatives, has a long history of hyping the supposed Clinton email "scandal" despite all evidence to the contrary. He recently claimed that Clinton intentionally timed a press conference to coincide with a mass-shooting in Virginia and falsely claimed that Clinton whitewashed a foreign country's ties to international terrorism in exchange for a charitable donation to her family foundation.
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Numerous conservative media outlets are parroting the misleading conclusions of a September 2015 report by an anti-immigrant nativist group, the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), which claims that "immigrant households use welfare at significantly higher rates than native households." Like previous flawed CIS studies, these findings have been called into question by immigration experts for failing to account for the economic hardship of some immigrant families, lumping American-born beneficiaries into "immigrant household" categorizations, and conflating numerous anti-poverty programs with so-called "welfare."
Fox News broadcast misleading reports about a Washington, D.C. initiative to transition homeless families from emergency shelters to year-round housing, hyping the supposed cost to "taxpayers" and mocking the city for "indefinitely" housing homeless families in "hotels."
Cable and network TV news devoted more segments to coverage of economic issues during the first half of 2015 compared to the last six months of 2014, an increase driven by heightened public interest in the debate over economic inequality and a flurry of economic policy proposals from nearly two dozen 2016 presidential candidates.
Fox News host and resident media critic Howard Kurtz questioned Jorge Ramos' journalistic integrity in the wake of the Univision anchor's contentious press conference questioning of Republican frontrunner Donald Trump, concluding that Ramos was little more than "a heckler."
During an August 25 press conference in Dubuque, Iowa, Ramos pressed Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on his promise to forcibly remove millions of undocumented immigrants, and presumably in some cases their American-born children, from the United States as part of a sweeping and expensive redesign of the American immigration system. Trump's initial reaction was to have his security team escort Ramos from the room, before eventually engaging in a minutes-long argument with the journalist over the feasibility and legality of his plan.
Ramos' actions during the press conference have been widely criticized at Fox News. On August 26, Fox contributor and Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson claimed that Ramos is "not a reporter," but rather "an editorialist" and "an activist" whose questioning of Trump was not protected by the First Amendment. Fox host Bill O'Reilly complained that media were not "report[ing] this story honestly" before proceeding to lecture Ramos on journalistic etiquette and concluding that the Univision anchor was not "an objective purveyor" of the news. During an interview with Ramos, Fox host Megyn Kelly asked if he could "understand Trump's side" of the dispute, citing a seemingly unrelated legal battle between Univision and Trump's Miss USA beauty pageant.
On the August 30 edition of Fox News' Media Buzz, host Howard Kurtz used his program as a platform to continue Fox's campaign against Ramos as well as its defense of the Republican frontrunner. Kurtz allowed conservative columnist Mercedes Schlapp to forward the unsubstantiated claim that conservative and mainstream media "both agree that Jorge Ramos was out of line." Washington Examiner correspondent Susan Ferrechio accused Ramos of interrupting other reporters to get his point across, before Kurtz concluded that Ramos was acting like more like "a heckler" than a journalist:
KURTZ: Jorge Ramos is the chief anchor of Univision, chief news anchor, which is the largest Spanish-language network in the country. And so, he clearly has opinions on this issue, but he's not paid to go and disrupt events. I mean, I thought at times he seemed like a heckler -- like a heckler.
The ejection of Ramos from Trump's August 25 press conference garnered national headlines and was roundly condemned by Spanish-language media, but the reaction among right-wing media personalities has been to instead attack Ramos for speaking out of turn. Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh denigrated Ramos as a "shill" and "activist" who was merely attempting to elevate the profile of his network, and Erick Erickson called Ramos a "thug" and dismissed him as "a self-absorbed, self-righteous leftwing activist."