The Daily Caller overstated the number of EPA regulations being planned by over 800 percent after misreading a flawed analysis that criticizes all government regulation.
On April 29, Daily Caller reporter Michael Bastasch claimed that "EPA regulations make up 49.3 percent of all the rules currently being crafted by federal agencies." The source for the claim, the libertarian Competitive Enterprise Institute's (CEI) annual report on the cost of federal regulations, actually listed the EPA as the sixth "most active rule-producing agency," with 179 rules in the works according to the "Regulatory Plan and the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions." This is a mere five percent of the 3,305 federal regulations in the pipeline at the end of 2013 and a 57 percent decrease over the decade since 2004. By citing the 1,630 rules planned by six agencies that accounted for 49.3 percent of all planned federal regulations, rather than the 179 rules from the EPA, Bastasch was off by over 800 percent.
The CEI report has been criticized for providing a flawed analysis of government regulations. Titled "Ten Thousand Commandments," it systematically ignores any benefits of regulations, which is unsurprising in the case of EPA regulations as CEI has been extensively funded by the fossil fuel industry.
The Daily Caller's mistake fits in with a misinformation campaign against the EPA at the news site.
In 2011, the Daily Caller's Matthew Boyle flipped the results of an EPA court brief, writing that the EPA was "asking for taxpayers to shoulder the burden of up to 230,000 new bureaucrats -- at a cost of $21 billion -- to attempt to implement" new climate change regulations. But the agency was actually arguing for the exact opposite, hoping to avoid a scenario in which 230,000 new workers would be needed. The publication surprisingly stood by Boyle's demonstrably false claims, even after receiving widespread ridicule that reportedly embarrassed Daily Caller employees. Executive editor David Martosko defended the article in a comment to Politico and continued to defend it in a misleading editor's post, insisting the story was "spot-on and accurate."
Furthermore, Daily Caller has often acted as a transcription service for Sen. James Inhofe -- who has filled an entire book with claims that global warming is a "hoax" -- to repeat his baseless attacks on the EPA.
More recently, the news site attempted to enrage readers about the EPA's research on air pollution, saying that they "tested deadly pollutants on humans" without mentioning that the agency was in compliance with extremely strict regulations in order to test the pollutants.
Given the Daily Caller's history of standing by their flawed reports, will the news site correct its latest error?
UPDATE (4/30/14): The Daily Caller removed its erroneous claim that "EPA regulations make up 49.3 percent of all the rules currently being crafted by federal agencies" without issuing a correction. From the original article:
The article now states:
Currently, the federal regulatory agencies are working on 3,305 regulations. Nearly half of these regulations are from just six agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency.
The EPA has announced some of the most controversial regulations during Obama's tenure, most recently with rules aimed at redefining its authority under the Clean Water Act and carbon dioxide emissions limits for coal plants.
In the wake of the Daily Caller's widely derided effort last week to claim the emergence of a video capturing a speech Barack Obama gave in 2007 would jolt this year's presidential campaign, editor Tucker Carlson lashed out at journalists who ignored his dubious endeavor, denouncing them as "contemptible."
After suffering what Salon's Joan Walsh described as an "ethnic nervous breakdown" on Fox News last week as he breathlessly portrayed Obama as a race hustler in the 2007 video ("This guy is whipping up race hatred and fear. Period."), a "fuming" Carlson told the Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz that the media's disinterest in the old Obama clip was "disgusting."
And on Fox, Carlson railed against the "throne sniffers" in the press, the "defenders of Obama," who (wisely) dismissed the Daily Caller/Drudge Report/Fox-hyped video as old news. And not even interesting old news at that.
Carlson has used the Daily Caller flop to whine about liberal media bias. His proof? Journalists won't pay attention to the crackpot items Daily Caller posts. And specifically, journalists wouldn't pay attention to an uninteresting video Carlson hyped last week; a video of a speech that was widely covered in 2007.
Fred Barnes made a similar argument about bias in The Weekly Standard when he wrote an obligatory attack on the press last week for being in the Obama camp and for trying to re-elect the Democrat. Pointing to what he considered to be the glaring examples of obvious bias (it's "massive, palpable, and unprecedented"!), Barnes wrote the press beat up on Mitt Romney for making so-called gaffes, while giving Obama a pass [emphasis added]:
In the treatment of Romney and Obama, the double standard has become habitual. The hunt for gaffes is the defining trait of the media in regard to Romney. But the most egregious gaffe by Obama this year--"You didn't build that"--was ignored for four days and reported only after the conservative press had created a mini-firestorm over the comment.
Like Carlson, Barnes is angry the press didn't immediately take seriously a non-news story the right-wing media manufactured and pushed to attack Obama this summer. In this case, it was the false claim that Obama insulted businessmen with his "you didn't build that" comment.
These latest media attacks from Barnes and Carlson represent an odd chorus to the old liberal bias chant we've heard for decades. And the chorus sounds like this: If reporters don't embrace and report on the utter nonsense that unmoored sites within conservative media create, especially during the campaign season, then journalists are declaring their bias.