In his Wall Street Journal column, Karl Rove ignored the Bush administration's responsibility for the 2009 budget to attack the Obama administration over deficits. Rove also ignored several economic analyses that estimated relative employment increases under the stimulus in order to claim that the stimulus failed.
Here's the Wall Street Journal's headline on an op-ed by a trio of conservative activists:
Health Care Is Hurting Democrats
New polling data show that voters know exactly where candidates stand.
And here's their explanation:
How do we know that it's the health-reform bill that's to blame for the low poll numbers for Democratic Senate candidates and not just that these are more conservative states?
First, we asked voters how their incumbent senator voted on the health-care bill that passed on Christmas Eve. About two-thirds answered correctly. Even now, long before Senate campaigns have intensified, voters know where the candidates stand on health care.
Wow. That's totally not what "voters know exactly where candidates stand" means. The three found that "about two-thirds" of votes know whether their Senator voted for or against the health care bill -- but that's far, far different from knowing what is and is not in that bill. Voters don't "know exactly where the candidates stand" simply because they know how the candidates vote; they also need to know what that vote means.
Put another way: A voter who thinks the health care reform bill contains Death Panels and would outlaw private insurance but knows that Harry voted for the bill is, under this construct, a voter who "knows exactly where the candidates stand" -- even though he is, in fact, completely wrong about where the candidate stands.
That's obvious nonsense.
In the January 17 Wall Street Journal, James Taranto -- a member of the paper's conservative editorial board and fellow News Corp. employee with a history of advancing conservative misinformation -- penned a profile of Glenn Beck, which, among other things, completely ignored Beck's history of misinformation and inflammatory rhetoric. Additionally, Taranto wrote that Beck "reported on major news stories" like Van Jones without noting that Beck smeared Jones with the false claim that he was a convicted felon and repeated Beck's denial that he is a "crazy showman that's doing anything for money," while ignoring Beck's frequent promotion of gold to his viewers, without disclosing his financial interest in gold investment firms.
The Wall Street Journal falsely suggested that the Obama administration is misleading the public on its rationale for proposing a fee on financial institutions, reporting that while the "stated reason" for the fee is "to recoup the cost of the financial sector bailout," Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) "c[ame] clean on what this bank fee is all about" when he "essentially said the fee was a tax simply designed to raise revenue for the government spending." In fact, Frank stated that he supported the tax because the financial institutions "benefitted in a lot of ways" from various federal programs, and later added that the tax would go into the federal treasury, which collects funds for a variety of uses.
The Wall Street Journal published a January 14 op-ed by pollsters and Fox News contributors Pat Caddell and Doug Schoen which falsely claimed that pollster Scott Rasmussen "has never worked for any political party" or "consulted with any candidates seeking elective office," and defended Fox News from alleged White House "attempt[s] to silence" it. In fact, according to the Center for Public Integrity, the Republican National Committee and President Bush's re-election campaign were clients of Scott Rasmussen Inc. in 2003 and 2004; moreover, The Wall Street Journal failed to identify Caddell and Schoen as Fox News contributors, despite their defense of the network.
From Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA)'s January 13 letter to The Wall Street Journal's John Fund:
I was puzzled during the last couple of weeks to be asked why I was supporting something called "universal voter registration," which supposedly would allow all sorts of undesirable people to register to vote. I was puzzled because I have had absolutely no involvement in such a proposal.
I asked my staff to check the source of the rumor, and we discovered that it is you. Apparently last fall, you invented a story that Senator Schumer and I planned to introduce such legislation. I've since learned that Senator Schumer is working on legislation regarding voting, but I am told that it does not remotely resemble your version of it. But more importantly to me is that I have had no involvement with this whatsoever, with Senator Schumer or anybody else.
You simply made this up with regard to me. I must tell you that I was not surprised, because this sort of fictionalized attack on political opponenets has sadly become characteristic of many of the right. And once you lied about me in this regard, several of your right-wing colleagues in the media, including Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and the Washington Times, repeated it.
I should note that, again not surprisingly, you made no effort to check with me or anybody who works with me to find out if what you said was true. You made your assertion with no factual basis and without any effort to verify it. To me, that qualifies as a lie.
So I now write not simply to tell you that you are entirely wrong in your assertion about me but, in the absense of your being able to show any basis on which you made such a statement, to ask that you acknowledge that fact.
A January 11 Wall Street Journal editorial on the upcoming special Senate election in Massachusetts repeated Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown's attacks on his Democratic opponent, Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, reporting that Brown "hit [her] on taxes, including, Ms. Coakley's comments in November that 'We need to get taxes up.' " In fact, the context of Coakley's remarks indicates that she was referring to increasing tax revenues by getting people back to work; indeed, Coakley later clarified that she was referring to tax revenues in her remarks, not increasing taxes, which the Journal ignored.
Today the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Gilbert Ross, who asserts that "[a]s a threat to our nation's security, allowing imported drugs into our pharmacies ranks just below terrorism" because drug reimportation "is a sure path to destroying our drug industry." The Journal identified "Dr. Ross" as "medical director of the American Council on Science and Health," which certainly sounds like a credible authority on reform of our health care system.
But what the Journal didn't share with readers is that Ross previously served time in a federal prison after defrauding New York's Medicaid program by turning society's most vulnerable into drug dealers. In a 2005 Mother Jones expose, Bill Hogan reported that Dr. Ross worked with clinics that "raked in indigent patients-most of them homeless, alcoholic, or drug-addicted men-by offering them prescriptions for expensive drugs that they could resell on the street for cash," in return for bodies on which to perform "medically unnecessary examinations, procedures, and tests." You remember the doctors' oath: First, do no harm ... unless you've got an opportunity to steal millions from taxpayers, then do that first.
From Hogan's Mother Jones piece:
But Ross may not be ACSH's most prudent choice to question the credibility of other doctors, scientists, and researchers. Although the biography posted on the organization's website doesn't mention it, Ross actually had to abandon medicine on July 24, 1995, when his license to practice as a physician in New York was revoked by the unanimous vote of a state administrative review board for professional misconduct.
Instead of tending to patients, Ross spent all of 1996 at a federal prison camp in Schuylkill, Pennsylvania, having being sentenced to 46 months in prison for his participation in a scheme that ultimately defrauded New York's Medicaid program of approximately $8 million. During a three-and-a-half-week jury trial, federal prosecutors laid bare Ross' participation in an enterprise, headed by one Mohammed Sohail Khan, to operate four sham medical clinics in New York City. For his scam to work, Khan needed doctors who could qualify as Medicaid providers, and Ross responded to an ad in the New York Times promising "Very, very good $$."
The scheme was brazenly larcenous: The clinics, which were later described as "very dirty and unsanitary," raked in indigent patients-most of them homeless, alcoholic, or drug-addicted men-by offering them prescriptions for expensive drugs that they could resell on the street for cash. Word spread fast, and in streamed patients who, in exchange for the valuable scrip, would provide their Medicaid recipient numbers, give blood samples, and undergo medically unnecessary examinations, procedures, and tests. All of this brought Ross and the other doctors in the scheme money from the state's Medicaid system, a percentage of which was kicked back to Khan.
Ross testified at his trial that he had no knowledge of the ongoing fraud at the clinic where he worked. This defense only added to his troubles when, following his conviction, the judge ruled that Ross had obstructed justice by committing perjury. In addition to his prison sentence, Ross was ordered to forfeit $40,000 and, for his role in the fraud, to pay restitution of $612,855-an amount that was later reduced to $85,137 on the grounds that he didn't have the assets to pay more. In 1997 a judge sustained a decision by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to bar Ross for 10 years from participating in either the Medicare or Medicaid programs, holding that he was "a highly untrustworthy individual" who had, at Khan's clinics, engaged in "medically indefensible" practices.
If his appallingly unethical past isn't enough to establish that Ross is uniquely unqualified to comment on drug reimportation, it's also the case that his organization, the American Council for Science and Health, has been funded by the drug industry. Although ACSH no longer provides the names of its funders, in 1985 ACSH revealed that drug companies contributed to its budget. Whether ACSH continues to receive funds from the drug industry is one piece of information that would benefit Journal readers presented with an op-ed claiming a policy that hurts drug companies also threatens the country almost as much as terrorists do. But we probably shouldn't get ahead of ourselves with regard to whom the Journal's opinion page is supposed to benefit.
In his January 5 Wall Street Journal column, Pete du Pont used data from the U.K.'s Met Office Hadley Centre, which he misidentified as the "Hadley Climatic Research Unit," to suggest that climate change is not human-caused. In fact, according to the Met Office, "human activities like burning coal, oil and gas, have led to an increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, causing an enhanced greenhouse effect and extra warming," and as a result, "over the past century there has been an underlying increase in average temperatures which is continuing" and "[g]lobally, the ten hottest years on record have all been since 1997."
From a January 5, 2010 Wall Street Journal column by Pete du Pont:
Al Gore said the other week that climate change is "a principle in physics. It's like gravity. It exists." Sarah Palin agreed that "climate change is like gravity," but added a better conclusion: Each is "a naturally occurring phenomenon that existed long before, and will exist long after, any governmental attempts to affect it."
Over time climates do change. As author Howard Bloom wrote in The Wall Street Journal last month, in the past two million years there have been 60 ice ages, and in the 120,000 years since the development of modern man, "we've lived through 20 sudden global warmings," and of course this was before--long before--"smokestacks and tail pipes."
In our earth's history there has been both global warming and global cooling. In Roman times, from 200 B.C. to A.D. 600, it was warm; from 600 to 900 came the cold Dark Ages; more warming from 900 to 1300; and another ice age from 1300 to 1850. Within the past century, the earth has warmed by 0.6 degree Celsius, but within this period we can see marked shifts: cooling (1900-10), warming (1910-40), cooling again (1940 to nearly 1980), and since then a little warming. The Hadley Climatic Research Unit global temperature record shows that from 1980 to 2009, the world warmed by 0.16 degree Celsius per decade.
Wall Street Journal Travel Editor Scott McCartney writes:
Congress needs to confirm Erroll Southers as TSA chief. The agency has no leader because Congress has dragged its feet on his nomination. Mr. Southers, who has worked for the FBI and handled airport security for Los Angeles World Airports, gets high marks from colleagues and seems well-qualified. Someone needs to be in charge at TSA.
While it's true that "Congress" hasn't confirmed Southers, McCartney's formulation obscures rather than clarifies who is responsible for TSA lacking a leader. Souther's nomination is being blocked by Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina:
Two Senate committees have given their bipartisan blessing to Erroll Southers, a former FBI special agent and a counterterrorism expert who is Obama's nominee. But DeMint has objected to a full Senate vote, saying he wants additional testimony to clarify Southers's stand on unionizing the TSA, a shift Democrats support.
That's why TSA lacks a chief: Not because "Congress has dragged its feet," but because a Republican Senator is blocking a nominee who has won bipartisan support, simply because the Senator doesn't want TSA to be unionized. And because the rules and customs of the U.S. Senate give one Senator the power to do such a thing.
One of the primary reasons why individual Senators are able to block nominees to important posts like this is that few people know it is happening, so there is little if any public pressure on the Senator to allow the nomination to proceed, or on the Senate to change its rules to prevent situations in which a single Senator is able to keep the President from filling key jobs. And one of the primary reasons why few people know it is happening is that journalists don't make it clear. McCartney's phrasing may appeal to people who like to rail against Congress as a bunch of pinheads who can't get anything done, but it doesn't actually do anything to actually illuminate why this thing isn't getting done -- and, therefore, doesn't actually do much to get it done.
Later, McCartney writes:
Body scanning technology needs to be stepped up and widely deployed. Terrorists carry bombs on their bodies, not their bags. We need to get past privacy concerns and spend the money to get machines in wide use.
But McCartney doesn't explain what the privacy concerns with the machines are, or why he thinks they are outweighed by their benefits. He simply announces that "We need to get past privacy concerns." Call me crazy, but I like to hear a reason or two before I get on board with dismissing "privacy concerns."
From the December 22 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:
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Conservative media have cited a study by insurance company WellPoint to claim that under health care reform, younger people would face premium increases of up to 178 percent. However, that study did not take into account subsidies provided by legislation to assist those buying insurance, which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated would substantially lower premium costs for many individuals purchasing coverage on their own through the exchanges.
From the December 16 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:
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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.