The Wall Street Journal published an editorial Monday night accusing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of being "mute" on the State Department's role in securing the U.S. consulate that was attacked in Benghazi, Libya. But in an interview with the paper last Wednesday she said "I take responsibility" for the security concerns.
As The Wall Street Journal landed a major interview with vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, the newspaper aided his hyping of the deficit as an important issue in the election, despite the fact that the paper's own polling contradicts that idea.
The Journal published an interview today with Ryan, his first since debating Vice President Joe Biden last week. The article says that "Mr. Ryan amplified in the interview some of the thinking he had laid out on deficits, tax changes, and entitlements" during the debate.
In turn, the Journal exaggerated the import voters place on deficit reduction in this election: "The White House race is turning in large measure on competing visions of how to rein in the deficit and bolster economic growth."
But the Journal's own polling shows this is not true. According to a survey released this month by NBC News and the Journal, the economy is by far the top issue in the election, while the deficit is much lower on the list:
Karl Rove, whose pro-Republican political groups have been repeatedly called out for spreading falsehoods, used his latest Wall Street Journal column to claim that President Obama will damage his campaign by pointing out the many falsehoods that Mitt Romney tells.
In the Journal, Rove claimed that "alleging that Mr. Romney is a serial deceiver -- as the president and top advisers are doing -- is a hard sell. Mr. Romney came across last week as practical and thoughtful, authentic and a straight shooter."
It's not a surprise that Rove would join his colleagues in the right-wing media in trying to deflect attention from the many falsehoods Romney uttered in the debate and elsewhere. After all, conservative political figures have fully embraced a post-truth political landscape
But it takes particular nerve for Rove to suggest that Democrats should ignore falsehoods lobbed at them by Republicans.
One of the groups Rove co-founded, Crossroads GPS, has put out 10 ads that the independent fact-checker PolitiFact has rated false, mostly false, or pants-on-fire false. By contrast, PolitiFact has rated only three of the Crossroads GPS ads it has rated as true or mostly true.
Among Crossroads GPS' false charges: a claim that under the Affordable Care Act, "millions could lose their health care coverage and be forced into a government pool"; a claim that the health care law raised "18 different taxes" on people making less than $250,000; and a claim that unions don't have to comply with the Affordable Care Act, a claim that PolitiFact rated "pants on fire" false.
Fox News regular Stephen Moore, a Wall Street Journal editorial board member, today argued in favor of Mitt Romney's stated plan to end federal funding for PBS, by claiming that Sesame Street character Big Bird "has made more money than a lot of Wall Street firms." In fact, records show that the show's production company loses money annually.
As a Slate article explained in January, "Sesame Street and its production company the Sesame Workshop do make a lot of money from product licensing, but not nearly enough to cover expenses." Indeed, according to the company's most recent available federal tax returns, Sesame Workshop lost $6 million in 2010: Total revenue that year was about $133 million, but expenses added up to more than $139 million.
Though that may seem like a significant figure for a children's program, Sesame Street is a "relative bargain" compared to other TV shows. As Slate noted, "The production budget for Sesame Street domestically is about $16 or $17 million per year, which produces about 26 episodes." This works out to less than a million dollars per episode, whereas "a cable show like The Walking Dead can cost $3 million per episode," reported Slate.
According to a recent audit of the program, the remaining revenue Sesame Workshop gains is spent on expenses such as "education, research and outreach," "Sesame Street in schools," and content distribution.
The New York Times reported that to make up for the losses, PBS hopes prime-time hits like Downton Abbey and Sherlock, which attract significantly more donations, will in turn help "finance other programs like 'Sesame Street.'"
But on Fox News' Your World, Moore cheered Romney's decision to end PBS' federal funding, saying that "Big Bird is big enterprise in fact." He went on to argue that "people who listen to it, and watch it, and like the programming, they should pay for it," adding:
MOORE: My feeling is look, if people like Warren Buffet and people like, you know, people like Ted Turner feel that this is such an important programing, why shouldn't they pay for it?
In fact, people who think the programming is important and want to keep it on-air already do pay for it.
Media outlets praised Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's speech on foreign policy, calling it "tremendous" and "a fabulous speech that exuded leadership." But the speech relied on numerous falsehoods, including many that have already been debunked.
The Wall Street Journal's failure to disclose that 10 of its op-ed writers are Mitt Romney advisers has drawn criticism from veteran editorial page editors at some of the nation's top newspapers.
In a total of 23 pieces, the op-ed writers attacked President Obama or praised Romney without the paper acknowledging their Romney connections.
Media Matters reached out to several veteran opinion editors who either criticized the Journal directly or noted that their papers handle such disclosures more openly.
"Not disclosing is inexcusable," declared Stephen Henderson, editorial page editor of the Detroit Free Press since 2009. "If you don't know, that is one thing, but if you are hiding it or purposely not disclosing it I am not sure what the rationale would be. We are pretty careful here to disclose any affiliation. There are times we have declined pieces because someone is too close to it. I am pretty shocked by that."
He added that it's the newspaper's responsibility to discover and report conflicts: "The Journal is publishing this stuff, so the responsibility falls on them. I expect my op ed editor to ask anyone who is writing about a campaign or a ballot issue, 'are you involved with the campaign? Are you being paid by someone to write this?' That is our job."
Nicholas Goldberg, Los Angeles Times editorial page editor since 2009, said that providing transparency for the relationships of op-ed writers is "absolutely essential."
"Op-ed writers aren't supposed to be objective or to have no stake in the subjects they're writing about," he explained. "But when a writer does have a particular relationship to his subject that is not immediately apparent to the reader, it is important to disclose that so that the reader can evaluate the argument intelligently."
But such information is not always provided to readers of the Journal.
This is not the first time the Journal's editorial page has come under fire for lack of transparency. Several of the editorial page editors who spoke with Media Matters had previously criticized the Journal for failing to disclose that weekly columnist Karl Rove is the co-founder of a super PAC, American Crossroads, which raises funds to oppose Democrats. The Journal apparently changed that practice, disclosing Rove's super PAC connection in his latest column published Thursday.
Journal Editorial Page Editor Paul Gigot and a Journal spokesperson did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the paper's failure to disclose the op-ed writers' Romney ties. Media Matters sought comment both before and after the Journal's apparent change in policy to disclose Rove's role with Crossroads.
The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by former Bush Attorney General Michael Mukasey pushing the bogus rumor that President Obama may release convicted terrorist Omar Abdel-Rahman, the so called "Blind Sheikh."
The Journal did not disclose Mukasey's position as a Romney campaign adviser. This fits with the Journal's practice of repeatedly publishing columns by Karl Rove without disclosure of his role as head of pro-Republican groups dedicated to defeating President Obama. The paper has also published op-eds by nine Romney campaign advisers without disclosure of their roles.
In his Journal op-ed, Mukasey acknowledged that he had no direct evidence that Obama is considering a release or transfer of the Blind Sheikh, who masterminded the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Instead, Mukasey purported to present circumstantial evidence to make his case.
For instance, Mukasey suggested that statements made by U.S. government officials regarding the Blind Sheikh were not clear enough:
Then there are the statements of U.S. officials on the subject, which all have sounded excruciatingly lawyered. Asked before Congress in July whether there is an intention "at any time to release the Blind Sheikh," Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano responded: "Well, let me just say this. I know of no such intention."
The State Department's spokesperson last week, after the ceremonial "let me be clear," said that there had been no approach on this topic "recently" from any "senior" official of the Egyptian government -- an elucidation laden with ambiguity and certain to send chills up the spine of anyone familiar with Abdel Rahman's record and President Morsi's inclinations.
Mukasey hid the fact that the State Department spokesperson he quoted, Victoria Nuland, also said "there is no plan to release the blind sheikh, there is no plan."
And Nuland isn't the only Obama administration official to make such a clear statement. Department of Justice spokesperson Dean Boyd told the Glenn Beck's the Blaze that the rumor that the Blind Sheikh may be transferred to Egypt is "utter garbage":
The assertion that the Blind Sheikh may be transferred to Egypt is utter garbage. The Blind Sheikh is not being transferred to Egypt nor is he being released. He is serving life sentence in federal prison. Suggestions that there are discussions to transfer or release him are absolute garbage and completely false.
From the September 19 edition of Current's Viewpoint with Eliot Spitzer:
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The Wall Street Journal claimed the Federal Reserve's recent actions are a tacit admission that Obama's economic policies have failed. In fact, the Fed's own analysis of the economy found that the economy is growing, and experts credit Obama's policies with creating growth.
The top lawyer for John McCain's presidential campaigns is the latest to criticize Karl Rove for failing to disclose his ties to political organizations raising hundreds of millions of dollars to defeat President Obama and other Democratic candidates in his Wall Street Journal columns about the election.
Trevor Potter, who served as general counsel to McCain's 2000 and 2008 presidential campaigns, is also a former chairman of the Federal Election Commission and the founding president and general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, a non-profit focused on campaign finance issues.
Media Matters caught up with Potter at an event Wednesday night in New York City where he was among four panelists who debated the need for regulation of super PACs, which can raise and spend unlimited sums of money to influence elections. Potter has recently garnered public attention for his regular appearances to discuss super PAC issues on The Colbert Report.
Asked about Rove's failure to disclose his connection to American Crossroads -- a super PAC Rove helped found and for which he raises money -- in his columns for The Wall Street Journal on the presidential campaign, Potter stated: "It seems to me if you're writing about politics and you're head of a major political organization that has a side in the election, you would expect that to be disclosed."
Even as he writes regular columns on the 2012 election for the Journal, Rove serves as what Vanity Fair calls "the defacto leader of the Republican Party." As the co-founder of American Crossroads and its related organization Crossroads GPS, Rove has helped to assemble a massive war chest to run attack ads against Democrats this fall -- an obvious conflict of interest.
While Rove occasionally (but not consistently) discloses his connection to the political organizations in his columns, the description of Rove on the WSJ.com website and with each print column states only that "Mr. Rove is the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush." The ties are also absent from the 171-word bio of Rove that is occasionally appended to his columns on the Wall Street Journal website.
Wall Street Journal columnist Karl Rove rewrote history to distort President Obama's record on the economy. Furthermore, the Journal again published an anti-Obama Rove column while failing to disclose Rove's ties to a conservative SuperPAC that is airing anti-Obama ads.
In publishing Rove's column, The Wall Street Journal continued to ignore its ethics problem regarding Rove. Rove continues to use his Journal column to push the same message as his SuperPAC American Crossroads and its related group Crossroads GPS. But the Journal has repeatedly failed to disclose Rove's conflict of interest.
Rove used his latest Journal column to criticize Obama's acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention. Rove attacked Obama for saying in his convention speech that he's not pretending that the economic "path I'm offering is quick or easy." Rove purported to contrast this statement with the prediction by the president's economic advisers that unemployed would have declines "to roughly 5.6% by today" if the stimulus bill was passed.
But this prediction, which was made early January 2009, came well before the depths of the recession were known. Furthermore, while Rove's political group Crossroads GPS has repeatedly pushed the myth that the stimulus failed, the reality is that unemployment has been lower every year than it would have been if the stimulus had not passed.
Rove also attacked the president for criticizing the Republican advocacy of more tax cuts and less regulation no matter what the economic situation. Rove wrote:
In his acceptance speech, Mr. Obama also renewed attacks on opponents for advocating "tax cuts" and "rolling back regulations on Wall Street." But his familiar, repetitive assaults on the policies that "drove our economy into the ditch," as he put it in a September 2010 speech in Wisconsin, raise questions about the president's lethargy.
If the Bush tax cuts drove the economy into the ditch, shouldn't Mr. Obama have asked Congress to cancel them as soon as he took office in 2009? Instead, he endorsed a two-year extension of the rates in 2010.
And what financial deregulation is Mr. Obama hinting at? The Bush years saw the passage of Sarbanes-Oxley and an attempt to regulate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Mr. Obama presumably favored the former and opposed the latter.
In fact, Obama did ask Congress not to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans almost immediately after coming into office. In the budget Obama proposed on February 26, 2009 -- 36 days after being sworn in -- Obama asked Congress not to extend the tax cuts for families earning more than $250,000.
Furthermore, Republicans held aid to millions of unemployed Americans hostage to get the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy extended at the end of 2010.
A Media Matters analysis reveals that The Wall Street Journal's editorials on acid rain mirrored misleading talking points featured in coal industry advertisements running elsewhere in the paper in the 1980s. The Journal also heavily promoted the claims of one particular industry consultant that was on the wrong side of science on acid rain, secondhand smoke and climate change. Years later, as industry groups orchestrate efforts to cast doubt on the science demonstrating health and climate impacts of fossil fuel use, the Journal continues to aid their efforts.
In the winter of 1981, the Coalition for Environmental-Energy Balance, a front group for the coal industry, ran several advertisements in The Wall Street Journal defending the industry's emissions of sulfur dioxide, which were contributing to acid rain. The ads cast doubt on the threat of acid rain, warned about the cost of regulation, and claimed that calls for action to address sulfur dioxide emissions were politically motivated. The Wall Street Journal's editorial board used these same rhetorical tactics to forestall action on acid rain, as a previous Media Matters analysis found.
1) 'We Don't Know Enough': An ad by the Coalition for Environmental-Energy Balance that ran in The Wall Street Journal and other papers in November 1981 claimed that the primary causes of acid rain "cannot be stated with certainty." Shortly after, in 1982, a Wall Street Journal editorial stated: "Scientific study, as opposed to political rhetoric, points more and more toward the theory that nature, not industry, is the primary source of acid rain." Casting doubt on the science behind acid rain was an industry-wide strategy: an ad by Ingersoll-Rand Mining Machinery that ran in the Journal in 1985 claimed that acid rain is "mostly natural rather than industrial in origin" and said it is "probably wrong" that acid rain "threatens forest in the Eastern U.S."
2) 'It Will Cost Too Much': The coalition ads claimed that addressing acid rain could cause electric bills for Midwest consumers to increase by "as much as 50%," and Ingersoll-Rand claimed that legislation would be "prohibitively expensive," costing "billions." In 1990, the Journal cited the Edison Electric Institute -- an industry group -- to say that electric utility costs would "surely" be "staggering."
3) 'It's All Politics': A coalition ad attempted to obscure the science on acid rain by saying, "Some of the information [you hear about acid rain] is scientific, much of it is opinion." In 1983, the Journal stated "politics, not science, clearly is driving the acid-rain campaign."
But the industry's claims about the state of the science on acid rain were out of step with the knowledge at the time. A report by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development had connected acid rain to fossil fuel use years earlier:
And the Journal's claims that addressing acid rain would be too costly did not stand the test of time: the acid rain program is widely seen today as a measure that successfully mitigated the problem at a cost much lower than industry and government estimates.
In the Wall Street Journal, John Bolton parroted a clear Romney campaign falsehood that the U.S. Navy under President Obama is as weak as it was in World War I. Furthermore, in publishing the op-ed, the Journal did not disclose Bolton's position as an adviser to Mitt Romney.
The Journal's failure to disclose Bolton's interest fits with the paper's pattern of printing columns by Karl Rove attacking President Obama without acknowledging that Rove co-founded and runs a super PAC devoted to defeating Obama.
In a September 10, Wall Street Journal op-ed, Bolton claimed that China is becoming increasingly aggressive towards its neighbors in the Pacific Ocean because of Obama administration policies. He claimed that the United States should reverse Obama's policies, in part, by "rapidly rebuild America's Navy." Bolton went on to claim: "Today we have about 285 warships at sea, a scarcity of vessels not seen since World War I."
The suggestion that the Navy is as weak as it was in World War I echoes untrue arguments advanced by Romney himself. During a Republican presidential debate, Romney claimed, "Our Navy is smaller than it's been since 1917" and suggested that Obama was to blame.
However, Politifact declared that claim false, reporting that a University of Georgia historian said such a claim "doesn't pass 'the giggle test' " because our Navy is clearly stronger than it was in World War I. Moreover, the number of Navy ships declined in every year of President George W. Bush's second term, but has increased under Obama.
Two recent falsehoods from the Mitt Romney campaign have received media attention: the false claim that President Obama removed the work requirement from welfare, and the false claim that the health care reform bill "cuts" $716 billion from Medicare. While many mainstream media outlets debunked the false claims in much of their coverage, several -- particularly Fox News and The Wall Street Journal -- repeatedly failed to debunk the falsehoods.
The Wall Street Journal hid Rep. Paul Ryan's (R-WI) past support for measures that resulted in exploding deficits, even while explaining Ryan's "rocky trail" as a GOP "budget wonk."
In an August 27 article laying out Ryan's ascent in the GOP, The Journal noted that Ryan was first elected to Congress in 1998, then jumped ahead to 2006, when Ryan is said to have begun working on plans to shrink the federal deficit and create a "smaller 21st century government":
[Ryan's Roadmap for America's Future] was born in the twilight of George W. Bush's presidency. After Republicans lost their majority in 2006, Mr. Ryan huddled with a small band of conservatives including House allies and Sens. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) and Jim DeMint (R., S.C.). The group dubbed themselves "Reagan 21," taking the name of the 40th president and crafting a conservative vision for smaller 21st century government.
Left out of this narrative is Ryan's history of voting for measures that significantly added to the deficit and it fails to offer any critical assessment of the "Wisconsin budget wonk's" harmful budgets.
In 2001 and 2003, Ryan voted for the Bush tax cuts. As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has said, those tax cuts did "lasting harm to the deficit." In 2003, Ryan also voted for Medicare Part D, a program that Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman said created a $9.4 trillion hole in the federal government's books. In 2005 Ryan attempted to privatize Social Security, a plan that reportedly "would require $2.4 trillion in additional costs over the first 10 years."
According to an August 6 The New Yorker profile, Ryan is "embarrassed by the Bush years." But there's nothing to be embarrassed about if the media erases those years from the biography.