The New York Times' David Carr looks at the Wall Street Journal under Rupert Murdoch's ownership, complete with complaints from the paper's reporters that the Journal has lurched rightward. One example of that shift caught my eye:
Mr. Baker, a neoconservative columnist of acute political views, has been especially active in managing coverage in Washington, creating significant grumbling, if not resistance, from the staff there. Reporters say the coverage of the Obama administration is reflexively critical, the health care debate is generally framed in terms of costs rather than benefits - "health care reform" is a generally forbidden phrase - and global warming skeptics have gotten a steady ride. (Of course, objectivity is in the eyes of the reader.)
That's the kind of fairly subtle that often goes unnoticed by reporters, but it's actually quite common. During the 2007/2008 presidential primary debates, for example, it was common for the Democratic candidates to be asked only one question about health care reform: How you gonna pay for it? (The Republicans, meanwhile, were not typically asked how they would pay for their tax cuts. In one debate, MSNBC's Chris Matthews even encouraged the GOPers to propose more tax cuts, rather challenging them to explain how they'd pay for any of it.)
And this kind of thing isn't limited to health care coverage. Last March, President Obama unveiled a budget outline that cut taxes for the vast majority of Americans, while raising them on those who make more than $200,000 a year. And, as I explained at the time, much of the media focused like a laser on the tax increases, all but ignoring the cuts:
The [Washington Post] article was chock-full of details about the tax hikes, referring to "nearly $1 trillion in new taxes over the next decade on the nation's highest earners ... $318 billion in new taxes on families in the highest income brackets, who would see new limits on the value of the tax breaks from itemized deductions. ... That proposal is a fraction of the new taxes Obama proposes to heap on the nation's highest earners. ... Hedge fund managers would take an even bigger hit. ... Oil and gas companies would be asked to pay an extra $31 billion over the next 10 years ... Corporations that operate overseas could expect to pay $210 billion more over the next 10 years."
By my count, at least 484 of the article's 1,284 words were about the tax increases in Obama's proposal. Among those 484 words was this quote from House GOP leader John Boehner: "The era of big government is back, and Democrats are asking you to pay for it." That simply isn't true, unless you make more than $200,000 a year -- though the Post simply presented Boehner's claim without rebuttal.
And how did the Post address the tax cuts in Obama's plan? The article devoted just 39 words to them. Among other omissions, the Post completely ignored the fact that the plan makes permanent the Bush tax cuts for the vast majority of Americans.
And by the following Monday, tax cuts had disappeared entirely from the Post's reporting. Under the headline "Aides Defend President's Budget; White House and Fiscal Conservatives Set for Showdown," the Post reported Obama's budget would be "raising taxes on top income earners and oil and gas companies" and again quoted a Republican criticizing the tax increases. But there wasn't so much as a hint that most Americans would see their tax bills go down.
The New York Times' coverage of Obama's proposal was little better -- and cable news was often even worse.
Here's one indication of how hysterical the media went over potential tax increases for very few Americans: both The New York Times and ABC News rushed to produce reports about wealthy taxpayers purportedly seeking to reduce their incomes to avoid paying the higher tax rates. The ABC article in particular was deeply flawed, prompting widespread condemnation that led to an editor's note and re-write that improved things -- if only a little.
The conservative framing reporters are detecting in Wall Street Journal articles lately is certainly not limited to news outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch. It's quite common across the board, and is a key piece of evidence that the "liberal media" is no such thing.
P.S.: Look back at those examples of complaints from WSJ reporters: "global warming skeptics have gotten a steady ride." That's pretty clearly true of the Washington Post (among others), too.
From Bret Stephens' December 8 Wall Street Journal column:
[T]he really interesting question is less about the facts than it is about the psychology. Last week, I suggested that funding flows had much to do with climate alarmism. But deeper things are at work as well.
One of those things, I suspect, is what I would call the totalitarian impulse. This is not to say that global warming true believers are closet Stalinists. But their intellectual methods are instructively similar. Consider:
[...]• Monocausalism: For the anti-Semite, the problems of the world can invariably be ascribed to the Jews; for the Communist, to the capitalists. And as the list above suggests, global warming has become the fill-in-the-blank explanation for whatever happens to be the problem.
Huffington Post's Danny Shea writes:
The Wall Street Journal has scrubbed an article from its website after learning that it was plagiarized from several sources.
"A Nov. 10 "New Global Indian" online column by New York City freelance writer Mona Sarika has been found to contain information that was plagiarized from several publications, including the Washington Post, Little India, India Today and San Francisco magazine," a notice to readers now reads where the column once lived.
"In the column, 'Homeward Bound,' about H-1B visa holders returning to India, Ms. Sarika also re-used direct quotes from other publications, without attribution, and changed the original speakers' names to individuals who appear to be fabricated," the notice continued. "The column is the only work by Ms. Sarika to be published by the Journal, and it has been removed from the Journal's Web sites."
The original article — near 1,200 words — described Sarika as "a graduate student and freelance writer who hails from India and currently lives in New York City."
Now if News Corps could just get a handle on Fox News' penchant for doctoring of video, we'd have some real progress.
The Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib has a piece about Sen. Joe Lieberman's opposition to the public option that serves as a clear reminder of why politicians lie: they know they won't get called on it.
Mr. Lieberman also notes that the public option wasn't a big feature of past health-overhaul plans or the campaign debate of 2008.
Well, no. Mr. Lieberman doesn't "note" that. Mr. Lieberman lies about that.
Lieberman claims that "if you look at the campaign last year, presidential, you can't find a mention of public option...It was added after the election." In fact, the Obama-Biden campaign health care plan included a public option, and the New York Times reported as far back as May 2007 that "Mr. Obama would create a public plan for individuals who cannot obtain group coverage through their employers or the existing government programs." And when it is pointed out to Lieberman that his claims are incorrect, he reiterates them.
Seib, continuing directly:
So he says he finds it odd that it now has become a central demand -- which it has, he suspects, because some Democrats wanted a full-bore, single-payer, government-run health plan, and were offered a public option as a consolation.
But it isn't "odd" at all -- because Lieberman is lying when he says the public option wasn't part of the discussion until post-election. Seib completely gives him a free pass on those lies. Worse, he presents Lieberman's lies as the truth.
What happens when reporters present politicians' lies as truth? They encourage politicians to lie. That's pretty obvious, isn't it? Gerald Seib and the Wall Street Journal are encouraging Joe Lieberman to lie about health care.
Seib also quotes Lieberman's claims that he opposes a public option for fear of increasing the debt -- and, no, Seib does not bother pointing out that CBO says health care reform containing a public option will reduce the deficit.
It's important to keep in mind that Seib's entire piece is about Lieberman's opposition to health care reform. This isn't a case in which a reporter inserts a quick paragraph about Lieberman into a larger health care article without fact-checking his statements. That would be bad enough. But this is so much worse: an entire piece dedicated to Lieberman's opposition that presents Lieberman's false claims as truth, and neglects to mention that the CBO contradicts his claims.
In a November 24 Wall Street Journal column, News Corp. vice president William McGurn wrote of the Senate health care reform bill: "Conservatives and Republicans rattle off any number of objections to the bill: It would bust the budget; it would force many families to replace private coverage with government; it would subsidize abortion; it would ration care, etc. These are all variations on the major argument: It's not going to work."
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, former Bush official Karl Rove criticized the "degree" to which the Obama administration has released "news on contentious issues late on Friday," adding that "such tactics ... can look disingenuous if they undercut public debate on substantive policy changes"; later on Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade cited Rove's column and asserted that the administration's use of this tactic means it did not have to "confront the questioners." In fact, the Bush administration made numerous substantial and often controversial announcements on Fridays, including news about the Abu Ghraib scandal and a report related to the Pentagon's military analyst program.
In a November 19 editorial, The Wall Street Journal falsely claimed that recent task force recommendations for breast cancer screenings advises doctors to "cut off all screening in woman over 75" in order to fearmonger that the recommendations are a form of government rationing of care to the elderly -- that "grandma is probably going to die anyway, so why waste the money?" In fact, the task force made no recommendation related to women older than 75, stating that "the current evidence is insufficient to assess the additional benefits and harms of screening mammography in women 75 years or older."
A November 13 Wall Street Journal op-ed claimed that loans made "under the pressure of" the Community Reinvestment Act helped to "fuel the greatest housing bubble our nation has ever seen." The claim that affordable housing initiatives were responsible for the housing crisis is a widely discredited myth.
In arguing against the pursuit of global warming policies, Bjorn Lomborg wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that "[c]utting carbon emissions will likely increase water scarcity, because global warming is expected to increase average rainfall levels around the world." In fact, Lomborg's argument ignores that while scientists predict that climate change may increase precipitation globally, they believe some areas will experience more flooding because of the rainfall, whereas others will be disproportionately affected by drought.
He failed miserably with MySpace.
He launched the right-wing TheFoxNation.com claiming it was "time to say 'no' to biased media and 'yes' to fair play and free speech." Quit laughing.
He may be interested in buying Twitter.com.
He paid big bucks to settle hacking lawsuits.
Now, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp the parent company of Fox News, is apparently readying himself for war with Google.
The Guardian reports:
Rupert Murdoch says he will remove stories from Google's search index as a way to encourage people to pay for content online.
In recent months, Murdoch his lieutenants have stepped up their war of words with Google, accusing it of "kleptomania" and acting as a "parasite" for including News Corp content in its Google News pages. But asked why News Corp executives had not chosen to simply remove their websites entirely from Google's search indexes – a simple technical operation – Murdoch said just such a move was on the cards.
"I think we will, but that's when we start charging," he said. "We have it already with the Wall Street Journal. We have a wall, but it's not right to the ceiling. You can get, usually, the first paragraph from any story - but if you're not a paying subscriber to WSJ.com all you get is a paragraph and a subscription form."
The 78-year-old mogul's assertion, however, is not actually correct: users who click through to screened WSJ.com articles from Google searches are usually offered the full text of the story without any subscription block. It is only users who find their way to the story through the Wall Street Journal's website who are told they must subscribe before they can read further.
Murdoch's attitude towards the internet - which appeared to have thawed when he bought social networking site MySpace for $580m in 2005 - has stiffened more recently.
Additionally, it emerged that MySpace, which has struggled in the face of competition from Facebook in recent years, was due to fall short of its targets in a lucrative search deal with Google – a slip that could cost the site more than $100m in payments from the internet advertising giant.
Actually, it might not be that bad if Murdoch pulls News Corp content off of Google. Think of the millions of people that would be inoculated from his... ummm "fair and balance" approach to journalism.
UPDATE: Google has responded. This Telegraph headline says it all: "Google: Rupert Murdoch Can Block Us If He Wants To."
In a November 7 Wall Street Journal op-ed, serial health care misinformer Betsy McCaughey purported to provide "details you need to know" about the current version of health care reform legislation slated for a vote that same day in the House of Representatives. As with her previous descriptions of reform legislation, many of her claims are falsehoods or distortions, such as McCaughey's claim that illegal immigrants are exempted from a fine imposed by the bill.
An op-ed in The Wall Street Journal falsely claimed that a poll conducted by conservative pollster Kellyanne Conway for the right-wing Independent Women's Forum (IWF) found that two-thirds of women are "less likely to back candidates who support government care." In fact, the poll asked whether respondents would be "more likely or less likely to support a candidate for Congress knowing he or she favored moving people from their private healthcare plans to government-run healthcare plans" [emphasis added].
From the November 3 edition of MSNBC's Countdown with Keith Olbermann:
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Last night if you went to this link, you would have seen this Wall Street Journal story headlined "GOP Health Bill Gives Insurers More Leeway":
This morning, however, if you attempted using the very same link, you'd find an entirely different story, by an entirely different reporter, under an entirely different headline.
Why did the Journal replace an article that simply pointed out that the yet to be released House GOP health care plan would benefit insurers with a piece about how House Democrats were working to deal with the issues of "abortion" and "illegal immigrants" in their reform plan?
If you run a search for the headline of the original Journal article, you'll get a bunch of links directing you to it, though none of them actually send you to the original story. The links are either broken, to different stories or direct you to the new Journal piece focusing on House Democrats.
In the third sentence of his 1,220-word innuendo-filled column warning of voter fraud in the New Jersey gubernatorial election, The Wall Street Journal's John Fund writes that "if serious allegations of fraud emerge, you can also expect less-than-vigorous investigation by the Obama Justice Department."
The key word there is "if." Fund was obviously unable to come up with any actual "serious allegations" of voter fraud, so Fund -- as he does almost every cycle -- makes a series unserious fraud insinuations that are unconstrained by actual facts. In one passage, Fund writes:
Authorities in nearby Philadelphia know about such scams. In one infamous case, a key 1993 race that determined which party would control the Pennsylvania state senate was thrown out by a federal judge after massive evidence that hundreds of voters had been pressured into casting improper absentee ballots. Voters were told by "bearers" that it was all part of "la nueva forma de votar" -- the new way to vote. Local politicos tell me Philly operatives associated in the past with Acorn may now be advising their Jersey cousins on how to perform such vote harvesting.
That last sentence is a bit hard to follow. Let's break it down into more manageable pieces to fully appreciate what Fund is doing here.
"Local politicos tell me": Fund claims to have spoken to anonymous people who live in New Jersey and who apparently have some involvement in politics.
"Philly operatives associated in the past with Acorn": Fund's anonymous sources are purportedly telling him that unnamed people from Philadelphia who are apparently also involved in politics have -- at some point in the past -- had some undefined connection to ACORN, which by implication makes them inherently corrupt.
"may now be advising their Jersey cousins": Fund's anonymous sources purportedly tell him that the unnamed, allegedly once-ACORN-associated "operatives" from Philadelphia might be advising people apparently involved in New Jersey politics, but really, who can say for sure?
"on how to perform such vote harvesting": The advice that the unnamed allegedly once-ACORN-associated "operatives" from Philadelphia might be giving to the politically involved New Jerseyans centers around encouraging voters to vote by mail -- an activity that appears to be perfectly legal in New Jersey.
So just to recap: In a single sentence, Fund claims to have spoken to anonymous New Jerseyans somehow involved in politics who purportedly told him that unnamed Philadelphians, who are also involved in politics and who once had unspecified ties to ACORN, "may" (or may not) be giving New Jersey political operatives advice on how to do something that is apparently legal in New Jersey.
No wonder Fund apparently was so unconvinced by his own column that he felt the need to lie to Glenn Beck about is contents.