Reuters is running the headline: "More US coal plants to retire due to green rules-study." But the group that authored the study says the additional expected retirements are "Due To Low Natural Gas Prices," not Environmental Protection Agency rules.
Economists at the Brattle Group project in a new report that "59 GW to 77 GW (for lenient versus strict [regulatory] scenarios, respectively) of coal plant capacity are likely to retire" by 2016 -- more than previously forecast. But as David Roberts at Grist first noted, the report attributed this change primarily to "changing market conditions, not environmental rule revisions, which have trended toward more lenient requirements and schedules."
The Chicago Tribune and Scientific American are running the Reuters report with versions of its inaccurate headline. And Roberts noted that another mainstream media outlet is making this mistake: a Christian Science Monitor guest blog titled "Study: EPA regulations squelch US coal industry." (UPDATE 10/10/12: The Christian Science Monitor has removed this post, redirecting readers to an article from September that noted "some experts" say coal plant closures are "coming less from the Obama administration than from natural gas.")
These inaccurate reports feed into the conservative myth that long overdue clean air and water regulations constitute a "war on coal," even though many experts say that the primary reason for declining coal generation is the low price of natural gas.
This afternoon, Mother Jones' David Corn reported on a video of Mitt Romney taken surreptitiously at a campaign fundraiser in which the Republican presidential candidate tells donors that "there are 47 percent who are with [President Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims," and that "my job is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives." Romney explained that he has to "convince the five to ten percent in the center that are independents" to vote for him to get him just over the electoral hump.
The immediate reaction among some members of the press has been to draw parallels to the campaign 2008 foofaraw over candidate Obama's "bitter clinger" tape. Aside from the obvious similarity that both secret recordings captured a presidential candidate speaking unguardedly to donors, the comparison is inapt. In 2008, Obama was explaining to donors the challenge of winning over voters who had lost faith in the government. Romney was writing off a huge swath of the electorate as hopeless.
Nonetheless, it was the first comparison journalists reached for. The Chicago Tribune's Eric Zorn headlined his post on the Romney video "Romney's 'cling to their guns' moment." This is from The Washington Post's initial write-up:
Candidates tend to talk more freely at closed-door fundraisers than they do publicly, and when those remarks leak out to the media, they can create trouble. In 2008, President Obama told a San Francisco fundraiser that small-town Pennsylvania voters "get bitter, they cling to guns or religion" -- a quote that is still being used against him.
That moment has, somewhat ironically, become a totem of grievance to which conservatives cling quite bitterly to this day. But, again, the comparison doesn't wash. Here's what Obama said at that fundraiser as he explained the challenge of winning over voters to his campaign:
But the truth is, is that our challenge is to get people persuaded that we can make progress when there's no evidence of that in their daily lives. You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, a lot -- like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing's replaced them. And they've gone through the Clinton administration and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are going to regenerate, and they have not. It's not surprising, then, that they get bitter, and they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations. At least in some communities, anyway.
That's a completely different message, delivered with a completely different tone, than Romney's.
But that's not to say the Romney video is not without comparative value. For example, an enterprising reporter might want to ask Romney about what the videotaped remarks say about these comments Romney made last month:
Romney accused Obama of pushing Republicans and Democrats "as far apart as they can go" and he accused Obama of waging an even more divisive campaign by "dividing us all in groups."
"He demonizes some. He panders to others. His campaign strategy is to smash America apart and then cobble together 51 percent of the pieces. If an American president wins that way, we all lose," Romney said. "So, Mr. President, take your campaign of division and anger and hate back to Chicago, and let us get about rebuilding and reuniting America."
Natural gas can help the U.S. transition away from reliance on coal in the near-term if it is produced responsibly. But conservative media have dismissed the risks involved with the rapid spread of natural gas extraction to push for deregulation, attack the Obama administration, and ignore the need for a comprehensive energy policy to transition to renewable energy.
"Economic growth is a good thing, even when it's lubricated by graft."
So argued Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman, dismissing concerns about corporate bribery raised amid reports that Wal-Mart officials have covered up evidence tying the company to bribery in Mexico. Chapman's Sunday column defended Wal-Mart, whose largest subsidiary (Wal-Mart de Mexico), is under investigation by the Justice Department (DOJ). The New York Times reported:
In September 2005, a senior Wal-Mart lawyer received an alarming e-mail from a former executive at the company's largest foreign subsidiary, Wal-Mart de Mexico. In the e-mail and follow-up conversations, the former executive described how Wal-Mart de Mexico had orchestrated a campaign of bribery to win market dominance. In its rush to build stores, he said, the company had paid bribes to obtain permits in virtually every corner of the country.
The allegations of illicit payments put Wal-Mart under the jurisdiction of DOJ, which is investigating potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, a law that has been described as an "anti-bribery, anti-corruption measure enacted...to prohibit American companies from paying off foreign officials and to create an international example for ethical business practices."
The law has been in effect for 35 years, but Chapman questioned the wisdom of using U.S. law to govern corporate behavior overseas:
The question is why it's the duty of the U.S. government to dictate business practices in nations with very different business climates. You would think the Justice Department has plenty to do enforcing American laws on American soil without trying to sanitize the rest of the world.
Our idea of appropriate business practices ought to prevail in America, but less developed countries are entitled to do things their own way. If Mexico doesn't police bribery and can't change its economic culture, why should Uncle Sam take on the job? [...]
By deterring American companies from investing in such places, we deprive their citizens of goods and jobs that would improve their lives.
When extortionate officials block Wal-Mart from opening stores in Mexico, ordinary Mexicans suffer. Economic growth is a good thing, even when it's lubricated by graft.
As automakers are starting to bring electric vehicle (EV) technology into the mainstream, conservative media outlets have repeatedly misled consumers about electric cars by trying to paint them as environmentally harmful and unsafe, among other false claims.
With the Justice Department's motion to block the AT&T/T-Mobile merger a few days behind us, politicians and media types are slowly declaring their allegiances in what is promising to be the biggest antitrust fight we've seen in a good long while. Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman inked an editorial this weekend denouncing Justice for moving to stop the merger, and took a stab at debunking DOJ's primary reason for blocking the deal: its anticompetitive effects.
According to Chapman, the situation facing the wireless communications market is no different than that of the burger-slinging set:
The lawsuit argues that losing T-Mobile would be a devastating blow to competition. But there are plenty of other, lesser-known cellphone companies, including U.S. Cellular, MetroPCS and Leap. In fact, 90 percent of Americans can choose from five or more cellphone companies.
The Justice Department scoffs at the importance of these smaller operators because they don't compete nationally as the larger carriers do. It's a strange position that misunderstands the nature of the wireless marketplace.
Joe's Burger Shack doesn't compete with McDonald's nationally, but McDonald's still has to compete with it and thousands of other single-site restaurants across the country. If prices go up under the Golden Arches, patrons have plenty of options besides Burger King.
AT&T faces a similar landscape of small and large rivals. If it loses customers who resent being gouged, it's cold comfort to see them sign up with rivals that don't buy Super Bowl ads.
The similarities between the competitive landscapes facing AT&T and McDonald's are actually quite few.
The print edition of the Chicago Tribune included a poster of Philaelphia Flyers player Chris Pronger with the skirt and legs of a female ice skater. Pronger and the Flyers are playing the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL's Stanley Cup Finals. The poster refers to Pronger as "Chrissy Pronger" and says, "Looks like Tarzan, skates like Jane."
From the Tribune's website:
While addressing both Arizona's controversial new immigration law and national immigration reform, media outlets have reported that polls found widespread support for Arizona's law. But these reports ignored recent national polls finding that large majorities also support providing a path to legal status for undocumented immigrants in the United States.
On Wednesday, Chicago Tribune reporter Heidi Stevens wrote a story critical of President Obama for purportedly calling Solicitor General Elena Kagan a "trailblazing lady" in announcing her nomination to the Supreme Court:
In announcing his Supreme Court pick Monday, President Barack Obama called Kagan a "trailblazing lady." Come again?
"I don't think it was a good choice of words," says Midge Wilson, a DePaul professor who teaches psychology of women courses. " 'Lady' has a very restricted meaning — someone who conforms to certain societal expectations. It puts a woman on a pedestal and restricts her behavior to be polite and nonthreatening. An adult 'good girl.' "
In the late '60s and early '70s, Wilson says, feminists worked to effectively replace the word with "woman."
" 'Woman' is a word of empowerment. 'Lady' is a sissified word — like a ladies' tea club."
It could have been worse, of course. He could have called her "sweetie." Still, it raised eyebrows.
There was one major problem with Stevens' article however. The entire premise -- that Obama called Kagan a "trailblazing lady" -- was false.
In fact, yesterday the Tribune was forced to add an editor's note to the piece noting that the "premise of the original story was wrong."
Editor's note: The premise of the original story was wrong. Here is the correction: A Talk story in some Wednesday editions incorrectly reported that President Barack Obama characterized Elena Kagan, his nominee for Supreme Court, as a "trailblazing lady." In fact, Obama called her a "trailblazing leader."
Additionally, the Tribune also posted the following editor's note independent of Stevens' story:
Editor's note: A story published online and in some Wednesday editions incorrectly reported that President Barack Obama had characterized Elena Kagan, his nominee for Supreme Court, as a "trailblazing lady." In fact, Obama called her a "trailblazing leader." The premise of the story --that some critics objected to his use of the word "lady" -- was incorrect.
Reporting on the Democrats' possible use of the reconciliation budget process to pass health care reform, media outlets have advanced the Republican criticism that reconciliation is "an end-run around the normal legislative process." However, the procedure has been used repeatedly by Republicans, and, as NPR has pointed out, reconciliation has been used to pass major changes to health care laws.
University of Chicago political science professor Charles Lipson and The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto, each of whom has previously pushed conservative talking points, have recently suggested that Attorney General Eric Holder should appoint an independent special prosecutor to investigate ACORN in the wake of the recently released videos exposing improper behavior at several ACORN offices. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, meanwhile, have suggested that an investigation of ACORN by the Justice Department will not be valid because of the group's ties to Democrats and the Obama administration.
In a September 20 op-ed in the Chicago Tribune, University of Chicago political science professor Charles Lipson called for an independent prosecutor to investigate ACORN by baselessly arguing that Attorney General Eric Holder was incapable of conducting a "fair-minded, independent" investigation into the organization, and that Holder "compounded these concerns" because cases against Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) and the New Black Panther Party were dropped. But Lipson cited no evidence to support the claim that Holder influenced either decision.
In his forthcoming book, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge reportedly claims that politics may have played a role in the question of whether to raise the terror threat levels on the eve of the November 2004 presidential election -- echoing contemporaneous allegations made by several progressives. Media Matters for America presents a sampling -- by no means exhaustive -- of media personalities who at the time portrayed those progressives as suffering from "cynicism" and "paranoia" and obsessed with a "conspiracy theory," despite credible evidence that the Bush administration was using the War on Terror for political gain, particularly in the months before the 2004 election.
In the days leading up to Sonia Sotomayor's confirmation hearings, which began July 13, several media figures and outlets have repeated or uncritically reported Republican distortions of Sotomayor's "wise Latina" comments without providing the context for her remarks.
In my column this week I looked at the terrain of the media landscape faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans noting, in part:
...despite increased public acceptance and the passage of some basic legal protections, not only is sexual orientation still a taboo for many in the media, all too often it serves as a focal point for hate, ridicule, and misinformation.
Looking back now, I should have also noted that, in addition to the "taboo," "hate, ridicule, and misinformation," LGBT Americans regularly face something far more insidious in the media: silence.
This weekend marks the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall riots which are largely credited with sparking the modern LGBT civil rights movement. For those unfamiliar with this seminal moment in gay history (I don't blame you, so little attention has been paid to the event by the media) here's the gist of it from the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights:
[In 1969], there were not many places where people could be openly gay. New York had laws prohibiting homosexuality in public, and private businesses and gay establishments were regularly raided and shut down.
In the early hours of June 28, 1969, a group of gay customers at a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village called the Stonewall Inn, who had grown angry at the harassment by police, took a stand and a riot broke out. As word spread throughout the city about the demonstration, the customers of the inn were soon joined by other gay men and women who started throwing objects at the policemen, shouting "gay power."
Police reinforcements arrived and beat the crowd away, but the next night, the crowd returned, even larger than the night before, with numbers reaching over 1000. For hours, protesters rioted outside the Stonewall Inn until the police sent a riot-control squad to disperse the crowd. For days following, demonstrations of varying intensity took place throughout the city.
In the wake of the riots, intense discussions about civil rights were held among New York's LGBT people, which led to the formation of various advocacy groups such as the short-lived Gay Liberation Front, which was the first group to use the word "gay" in its name, and a city-wide newspaper called Gay. On the 1st anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, the first gay pride parades in U.S. history took place in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and near the Stonewall Inn in New York.
The Stonewall riots inspired LGBT people throughout the country to organize in support of gay rights, and within two years after the riots, gay rights groups had been started in nearly every major city in the United States.
Well, according to a search of TVeyes.com and Nexis, scant attention this week has been paid by the media to this historic civil rights anniversary.
CABLE NEWS: Since Monday, TVeyes.com turns up exactly four mentions of Stonewall on CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, Fox Business News, MSNBC and CNBC. All four mentions occurred on the June 23 broadcast of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. Double checked on Nexis – same results.
NETWORK NEWS (Morning Shows/Nightly News): Since Monday, TVeyes.com hasn't turned up a single mention of Stonewall on ABC's Good Morning America or World News, CBS' Early Show or Evening News, or NBC's Today Show or Nightly News. Double checked on Nexis – same results.
MAJOR NEWSPAPERS: Since Monday, a search of Nexis turns up 2 stories discussing Stonewall in any substantive way printed in America's top ten daily newspapers – USA Today, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Houston Chronicle and Arizona Republic. A search of these newspapers' websites confirm the results. What exactly did these publications print about the anniversary?
USA Today: Nothing
Wall Street Journal: Nothing
New York Times: Passing reference to Stonewall in story about the lack of a national leader in the gay right's movement.
Los Angeles Times: Nothing
New York Daily News: Two good stories about the Stonewall anniversary.
Washington Post: Printed an AP story titled "Today in History" that lists Stonewall as one of 13 events and 18 birthdays worth noting this week.
Chicago Tribune: Passing reference to Stonewall in story about a senior center for gay seniors.
Houston Chronicle: Printed an AP story titled "Today in History" that lists Stonewall as one of 13 events and 18 birthdays worth noting this week.
Arizona Republic: Nothing
Of America's top ten daily newspapers, only the New York Daily News spent much time at all discussing the Stonewall anniversary this week – the rest either make passing reference with little context or, worse yet, print nothing at all.
So, the 40th anniversary of Stonewall has been granted one cable news segment and 2 print stories this week. Surely such an historic milestone merits more serious attention, not just from cable and network news outlets but from newspapers as well.
UPDATE: It's nice to see the AARP doing so much with its various media arms to commemorate Stonewall.
UPDATE 2: Newsweek.com has a good package up on Stonewall. Hopefully they'll follow suit with something equally substantive in the print edition.