Earlier this week, the Orange County Register's Pat Brennan, the California paper's science editor, broke from the editorial board's established (and dismissive) opinion regarding the effects of global warming. In a news article discussing the massive wildfires in the West and the heat wave scorching the Midwest and the East Coast, Brennan looked at the two events and asked, "Are we feeling the effects of global warming?" The article cited scientific evidence supporting the existence of global warming and the dangers carbon dioxide emissions pose to the environment.
Brennan provided a look at the global warming reality that has been consistently denied or ignored on the paper's editorial page. For example, the editorial board of the Register claimed that global warming is a non-threat and that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a "highly questionable, perhaps meaningless, goal." The editorial page has been filled with columns attacking efforts to reduce carbon dioxide in our atmosphere instead of acknowledging what the vast majority of scientists concur upon -- that man-made climate change is real.
The Register's editorial section has also provided a place for writer Mark Landsbaum to attack global warming. He called greenhouse gases "harmless" and claimed that those who believe humans have contributed to increased global temperatures are committing a logical fallacy.
Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court struck down three of the four contested provisions of Arizona's anti-immigrant law, SB 1070. In the wake of the decision, the Washington Post, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times all allowed anti-immigrant voices to peddle misinformation about the ruling's impact. The LA Times quoted an Americans for Legal Immigration (ALIPAC) statement while the Washington Post quoted both Dan Stein of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) -- a Southern Poverty Law Center labeled- hate group -- and Roy Beck of NumbersUSA, a group associated with white supremacists and the notorious anti-immigrant activist John Tanton. However, while both the LA Times and the Post gave limited space to these voices, the New York Times provided an extensive section to Mr. Stein and FAIR:
Both sides claimed on Monday that they had achieved important gains. Dan Stein, the president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, a group that supported Arizona, called the ruling "an important victory."
"Even if the Obama administration refuses to enforce most immigration laws, states have the power to deter and discourage illegal aliens from settling or remaining within their jurisdictions," Mr. Stein said.
He said the ruling, coupled with a Supreme Court decision last year that affirmed an Arizona law requiring employers to verify the legal immigration status of employees, gives states "broad latitude to carry out a policy of attrition through enforcement."
Mr. Stein's organization supported a small but determined corps of lawyers who created legal blueprints for Arizona's and other state laws that were intended to drive out illegal immigrants by making daily life impossible for them in this country.
As a Media Matters study previously found, the top five newspapers in America cited anti-immigrant groups hundreds of times since the introduction of SB1070 in January 2010. In addition, as was the case with FAIR's description here, the New York Times often whitewashed the group's ugly past, including its strong ties to Tanton and the fact that it has received over $1.2 million from the white supremacist Pioneer Fund. The Times had previously published two articles detailing the group's affiliations to Tanton and white nationalist organizations and acknowledging FAIR's effort to scrub Tanton's name from their website following the initial report.
Unfortunately, the Washington Post and the New York Times weren't the only ones to provide a platform for Stein to air his anti-immigrant views. Immediately following the ruling, CNN hosted Stein for an interview to air his reaction to the ruling. Unsurprisingly, CNN's John King also failed to note Stein's unsavory ties, instead calling FAIR "the country's largest immigration reform group."
The Orange County Register's stance on climate change and efforts to contain greenhouse gases that contribute to the current warming trends isn't exactly in line with widely accepted scientific data. This is due in part to the presence of climate change contrarian Mark Landsbaum on its editorial board. Landsbaum, who had a previous stint at the Los Angeles Times before joining the Register, has penned numerous columns for the Register attacking climate science and cap-and-trade initiatives going as far back as 2008.
Landsbaum seems to deny basic physics in his columns. He calls carbon dioxide a "so-called greenhouse gas" and claims that it is a "harmless" gas that "every human being creates with every exhale." In 2008, Landsbaum wrote:
Follow this logic: "The sun rises every morning. We wake up every morning. Therefore, our waking up causes the sun to rise." Baloney, right?
Then why do so many people believe this: "Temperatures have increased. Man-made greenhouse gases have too. Therefore, global warming is caused by man." Sadly, most of the media and public have jumped to the conclusions that man is causing dangerous global warming, and unless we "do something," we'll all be toast.
Yes, Landsbaum apparently believes that the vast majority of climate scientists are basing an entire body of science on a logical fallacy. In fact, scientists established the greenhouse effect over a century ago: greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide trap more of the heat from the sun, raising temperatures on Earth. And contrary to Landsbaum's assertions, the National Research Council has stated:
There is a strong, credible body of evidence, based on multiple lines of research, documenting that climate is changing and that these changes are in large part caused by human activities.
As for Landsbaum's claim that every human breathes CO2 and therefore it can't be a pollutant, he fails to take into account what scientists are saying -- that excess discharges of CO2 are what harm the environment, not people breathing.
In addition to attacking the scientific evidence of global warming, Landsbaum has also attacked measures -- such as California's greenhouse gas reducing AB 32 -- which decrease pollution in the atmosphere and seek to reduce the harm to our environment. However, it's no surprise that his anti-science viewpoints echo those of his editorial board. Landsbaum, like the board, continually misinform their readers about the 'consequences' of the AB 32. In fact, AB 32, and the cap-and-trade program specifically, are extremely cost effective and successful ways of reducing harmful greenhouse gas levels.
As California's cap-and-trade program nears implementation in January 2013, AB 32 is sure to return to the editorial pages of the Register. However, don't expect the editorial board or its resident climate change denier Mark Landsbaum to discuss the harmful impacts of global warming or the successes other cap-and-trade programs have had in improving our environment.
To read our full report on the Orange County Register Editorial Board's attacks on AB 32 click HERE.
Over the last year, the Orange County Register has published numerous editorials that falsely portray California's pollution reduction program as costly, ineffective and arbitrarily imposed by state regulators. In fact, the program -- which incorporates a cap-and-trade program -- is part of a bipartisan law expected to benefit the state's economy.
Local TV station WALB 10 in Georgia recently ran a story which advised its viewers to shred voter registration forms that they did not receive from the state or local government. However, instead of explaining that many of these forms are specifically sanctioned by the Secretary of State's office and that these types of voter registration drives have laws which protect them, WALB struck a foreboding tone about the practices of third party registration organizations. From WALB:
With elections only a month a way [sic], election officials in Georgia are keeping an eye out for fraudulent registration information.
And some Georgians are getting voter forms in the mail that are not from the state.
This is what the Georgia voter registration form looks like, but a form very similar is being sent to some voters and it is not from the state.
Officials say if you get a form not from the state, they recommend you shred it immediately.
Officials say there is more voter registration fraud in presidential election years.
The company sending the registration forms is not violating any law, but if you fill out that form, it is going somewhere besides the state.
Unfortunately, WALB is not providing a true picture of the voter registration laws in Georgia. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, Georgia has a system which allows "anyone to circulate state voter registration forms without being certified" and that even those who aren't registered with the state can distribute and collect registration forms. In fact, the Secretary of State's office has an entire section of their website devoted to third party registration organizations, including a "Rules & Procedures" manual and rules sheet. Included on the site are the specific laws which govern third party voter registration initiatives and explain that the state should not "prevent private entities from conducting organized voter registration programs."
Indeed, as Page Gardner, Founder and CEO of The Voter Participation Center, explained, these forms were approved by the Georgia Secretary of States Office and even use the Georgia voter registration form. Despite the way in which WALB framed it, these applications are legitimate and attempts to diminish the role of third party voter registration drives only hurt the ability of qualified voters to become registered.
UPDATE: WALB later clarified their story.
In April 2011, the New York Times detailed the connections between John Tanton, the notorious kingpin of the current anti-immigrant movement in America, and two anti-immigrant organizations -- the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) -- famous for their powerful influence over immigration-related legislation at the state and federal levels. Despite finding that Tanton "nurtured" FAIR and CIS into power and documenting Tanton's extensive connections to white supremacists, the Times continued to look to these groups for contributions to the immigration debate.
A recent Media Matters study found that anti-immigrant groups with strong ties to white supremacist organizations, FAIR and CIS among others, were cited by the nation's top five newspapers, as well as the Associated Press and Reuters, over 250 times as sources for immigration-related stories.
The New York Times in particular cited these groups 46 times as sources for their news stories since the introduction of Arizona's controversial immigration law, SB 1070, in January 2010. However, in April 2011, the Times changed course and published two exposés detailing the extensive ties between many of these groups and the aforementioned Tanton. From The New York Times:
One group that Dr. Tanton nurtured, Numbers USA, doomed President George W. Bush's legalization plan four years ago by overwhelming Congress with protest calls. Another, the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, helped draft the Arizona law last year to give the police new power to identify and detain illegal immigrants.
A third organization, the Center for Immigration Studies, joined the others in December in defeating the Dream Act, which sought to legalize some people brought to the United States illegally as children.
"One of my prime concerns," he wrote to a large donor, "is about the decline of folks who look like you and me." He warned a friend that "for European-American society and culture to persist requires a European-American majority, and a clear one at that."
Dr. Tanton acknowledged the shift from his earlier, colorblind arguments, but the "uncomfortable truth," he wrote, was that those arguments had failed. With a million or more immigrants coming each year -- perhaps a third illegally -- he warned, "The end may be nearer than we think."
He corresponded with Sam G. Dickson, a Georgia lawyer for the Ku Klux Klan, who sits on the board of The Barnes Review, a magazine that, among other things, questions "the so-called Holocaust." Dr. Tanton promoted the work of Jared Taylor, whose magazine, American Renaissance, warned: "America is an increasingly dangerous and disagreeable place because of growing numbers of blacks and Hispanics." (To Mr. Taylor, Dr. Tanton wrote, "You are saying a lot of things that need to be said.")
Despite publishing this article on April 17, 2011, and another on April 30, 2011 (explaining that soon after its first piece, Tanton's name was scrubbed from FAIR's list of board members), the Times did not stop citing these organizations -- and the paper's subsequent references to the groups fail to note the organizations' affiliations to Tanton and the pro-white movement, according to a Media Matters analysis of coverage between January 13, 2010, and May 25, 2012.
In fact, after publishing these exposés, the Times cited FAIR and CIS more than 15 times during the next year. Instead of explaining these groups' unsavory connections, the Times opted for more generic characterizations such as "a conservative group" and "a group that seeks reduced immigration," essentially whitewashing the groups' troubling records which the Times had dedicated two articles to exposing.
It's unlikely the Times would cite white nationalist organizations as credible sources for their news stories on immigration policy, so why are they allowing FAIR and CIS a pass?
For details on the methodology and other information in the Media Matters report, click here.
Arizona's controversial immigration law, SB 1070, was introduced in January 2010. Since then, in their coverage of immigration issues America's top five newspapers and the Associated Press and Reuters newswires have cited anti-immigrant organizations with ties to white supremacists and racists -- including one that has been designated a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center -- over 250 times.
The right-wing website Breitbart.com is promising to "shine a light" on the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) in the coming days, a campaign that comes as corporate sponsors and lawmakers flee the right-wing American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). Media should be cautioned that any efforts to compare the two organizations is without validity, given their contrasting missions, standards of transparency, degrees of corporate influence, and ideologies.
Earlier this week, the New York Post published an article hyping an online application by the Tax Foundation that allows the user to see how many people entered or exited a state over a given time period and where they went.
The Post used the Tax Foundation's program to assert that New York's tax burden is the driving force behind the state's net decrease in migration last year (Fox News favorite Art Laffer also jumped on this information to push for lower taxes). But these interpretations of the Tax Foundation application are rebutted by evidence from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities and the Tax Foundation itself.
From the Post's Erik Kriss and Nicole Danna:
New York state tops the nation in one key export -- people fleeing high taxes.
More than 3.4 million New Yorkers -- with combined annual earnings of $119 billion -- pulled up stakes and left for other states from 2000 through 2009, according to the Tax Foundation.
The top destination: Florida, where 600,000 New Yorkers landed after leaving the high-taxes of the Empire State in the last decade -- taking nearly $20 billion in income with them, new data shows.
New York was top of the heap for out-migration, outpacing California in second place, the conservative think-tank reported based on federal tax-return data.
This isn't the first time Kriss has written a story using data from the Tax Foundation to essentially advocate for lower taxes. Last year, Kriss wrote a nearly identical piece, at the time stating:
Taxed-out New Yorkers are voting with their feet, with a staggering 1.6 million residents fleeing the state over the last decade, a new report found.
For the second consecutive decade, New York led the nation in the percentage of residents leaving for other states, according to the report by the Empire Center for State Policy.
The population loss is "the ultimate barometer of New York's attractiveness as a place to work, live and do business," said the report's co-author, E.J. McMahon. "It's the ultimate indication that we've been doing things wrong."
Most analysts blamed New York's high taxes and skyrocketing cost of living for the mass exodus.
The Tax Foundation ranked New York highest in the nation in the combined state and local tax burden in 2008.
Danna, Kriss, and the Post ignore problems with this analysis. First, the Tax Foundation specifically explains that this type of interpretation of their data is insufficient to explain the migration. In the Tax Foundations FAQ about the Tax Foundation Migration Tool, they note they aren't trying to imply that taxes are why people move:
Since you are the Tax Foundation, aren't you trying to imply that taxes are why people move between states?
No. Taxes are one of hundreds of factors that go into a person's decision to move. Others include age, technology, job prospects and the quality/quantity of government services provided. If one looks anecdotally at the data, he/she will see that people move from high-tax states to low-tax states and vice versa. A true study that sought to quantify the importance of taxes for locational decisions would need to account for as many other factors as possible, in addition to possible serial correlation issues between variables, especially taxes.
As, Tax Foundation analyst Nick Kaspark points out in Danna and Kriss's own piece, one of the reasons people move to Florida is due to "Florida's popularity as a retirement destination noting 'lower density, sunny, beaches."
Second, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), while higher taxes may play some part in people's decision to move, "the effects of tax increases on migration are, at most, small." From the CBPP:
Attacks on sorely-needed increases in state tax revenues often include the unproven claim that tax hikes will drive large numbers of households -- particularly the most affluent -- to other states. The same claim also is used to justify new tax cuts. Compelling evidence shows that this claim is false. The effects of tax increases on migration are, at most, small -- so small that states that raise income taxes on the most affluent households can be assured of a substantial net gain in revenue.
It would not be credible to argue that no one ever moves to a new state because of the desire to live someplace where taxes are lower. But neither is it credible to say that taxes are a primary motivation, nor that migration has a large impact on the revenue impact of tax measures.
As CBPP nicely sums up, "Finding a correlation -- two things happening at the same time -- is not the same as proving one of those things caused the other."
Georgia media have been silent as members of ALEC in Georgia's legislature have successfully pushed through a version of ALEC's Charter Schools Act, which would create a state-controlled board with the power to establish and fund charter schools over local opposition. A Media Matters analysis found that while Georgia media have frequently written about the bills, they have completely overlooked ALEC's influence in the debate.