A two-part Media Matters examinantion of the largest newspapers in CO, NH, NV, OH, PA and VA from July 1-August 15 and from August 16-October 31, 2012 revealed a variety of shortcomings in the way clean energy and regulatory issues are covered by those publications.
Pennsylvania's five largest newspapers have generally failed to cover the mounting defections of lawmakers and corporations from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a right-wing advocacy group whose membership and model legislation have had significant influence on Pennsylvania government.
An October Gallup poll on gun violence prevention that media outlets used to falsely claim that "support for gun control" had plummeted is still in use, with Patrick Kerkstra's op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer serving as the latest example.
Kerstra acknowledges that to him, "guns represent a plague, not protection," and says he admires the efforts of the gun violence prevention group Mayors Against Illegal Guns and its chairman, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. But Kerstra concludes that "new gun-control legislation is, for now at least, a nonstarter, saying that the arguments of gun lobby advocates "are winning." He cites as evidence the Gallup poll, writing of Bloomberg:
In the short term, though, his agenda has no shot. According to an October Gallup poll, only 26 percent of Americans favor a handgun ban. More stunning is the finding that only 43 percent favored outlawing "assault rifles." Good luck, Mayor Bloomberg.
A couple of decades ago, those polling numbers were altogether different. In 1991, 60 percent of respondents told Gallup that handguns ought to be banned, and 78 percent favored more stringent controls.
As we've noted, using the percent of American who favor a handgun ban as a proxy for whether they support gun violence prevention measures is inaccurate. The same poll found that 87 percent of respondents want the laws covering the sales of firearms either kept as they are now or made stricter, demonstrating broad national support for gun control. Moreover, Mayors Against Illegal Guns itself doesn't support a handgun ban, which is in any case is not an active issue after handgun bans were found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
It's also worth pointing out that other polls conducted last year showed strong support for banning assault weapons, as well as for an array of other measures to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals.
It is not public opinion but the efforts of the gun lobby, in particular the National Rifle Association, to intimidate lawmakers that has prevented the passage of sensible gun violence prevention legislation. But as new research from the American Prospect's Paul Waldman shows, "the NRA has virtually no impact on congressional elections" and "the power of the NRA's endorsement is largely a myth."
University of California law professor John Yoo -- who is most famous for drafting the so-called "torture memos" -- used his May 2 Philadelphia Inquirer column to urge a filibuster of Elena Kagan, Merrick Garland, or Diane Wood should President Obama nominate one of them to be a Supreme Court justice. What does Yoo think is so radical about these three people, all of whom are widely reported to be on Obama's short list, that a filibuster is in order? Apparently not much. Yoo writes that a filibuster "would have little to do with these three distinguished lawyers, and everything to do with President Obama and his Senate allies."
From Yoo's column, headlined "Supreme Court sanity calls for filibusters":
Should senators filibuster Elena Kagan, Merrick Garland, or Diane Wood for the Supreme Court? Yes, if there is any hope of fixing the broken appointment process and restoring limited constitutional government.
The three are the most-often-mentioned nominees for the seat of Justice John Paul Stevens, 90, who last month announced his retirement after 35 years on the high court. A filibuster to prevent a confirmation vote on his replacement would have little to do with these three distinguished lawyers, and everything to do with President Obama and his Senate allies.
Over the years, Senate Democrats have destroyed the confirmation process by turning it away from qualifications to a guessing game over how court nominees might vote on hot-button issues such as abortion, the death penalty, and racial quotas. They began the degradation of the advise and consent role with the 1987 rejection of Judge Robert Bork, who would have been one of the most qualified justices in the history of the Supreme Court, and the outrageous effort in 1991 to smear Clarence Thomas (for whom I served as a law clerk). They continued the descent with the filibuster of a slate of excellent picks for the lower courts by George W. Bush, and they reached a new low with their votes against John G. Roberts Jr. and an attempted filibuster against Samuel A. Alito Jr.
The lack of sober analysis of these nominees' records is not surprising. Conservative media figures and Republicans have already made it clear that they will oppose whoever Obama nominates. And recall that the legal analysis Yoo used in the torture memos was so shoddy the Bush administration was forced to withdraw them after they became public.
In a May 2004 op-ed, John Yoo made assertions that were later revealed to be highly misleading or at odds with legal memos he had written during the Bush administration.
In his May 10 column, reportedly the first in which he was identified as an Inquirer columnist, John Yoo denounced President Obama for citing empathy as a qualification he will seek in a Supreme Court nominee -- after Yoo lavished praise on Justice Clarence Thomas for displaying that very quality.
Several media outlets falsely suggested that only Democrats denied Republican claims that Speaker Nancy Pelosi's speech on the floor of the House of Representatives before a September 29 vote on the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 "cost some GOP votes." In fact, several House Republicans also have denied the allegation.
Numerous media outlets have reported all or part of Sen. John McCain's statement rebuking Sen. Barack Obama for his decision to forgo public financing in the general election without mentioning that during the primary, McCain signed a loan that could have forced him to remain in the race -- even if he had no chance of winning -- in order to be eligible for public matching funds to repay the loan.
Numerous print publications -- including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times -- continued a longstanding practice of referring to Sen. John McCain as a "maverick" in their coverage of the February 5 presidential primaries and caucuses.
Newspaper editorial boards have responded with a variety of opinions to the Mark Foley scandal, from calling for -- or opposing -- House Speaker Dennis Hastert's resignation to noting the "rank hypocrisy" of Republican leaders to referring to the Republicans' attempt to use a "gay scapegoat."
A Philadelphia Inquirer article characterized an admitted affair between Rep. Don Sherwood and a "woman in her 20s" as "Clintonian," even though the affair was reportedly exposed as a result of allegations that Sherwood had "repeatedly chok[ed]" and "attempt[ed] to strangle" his former mistress. An item in ABC News' political newsletter, The Note, and a report on Fox News Sunday by Mara Liasson ignored the abuse allegations altogether.