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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

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  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Highlights “Sinister” Effect Of Super PAC Ads On Voter Turnout

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial board stressed the negative impact super PAC ads have on voter turnout as outside money targeting the presidential and Senate races begins coming into play across the country. Research highlighted by the Post-Gazette showed that the negative ads run by super PACs can discourage voter turnout, a result the board called “sinister and profoundly anti-democratic.”

    The May 30 editorial cited research from the Ohio Media Project -- “a consortium of radio and television stations and the largest newspapers in the state” --  which found that negative campaign ads like the ones often funded by super PACs “are designed to suppress voter turnout as much as they are to persuade voters to support one candidate over another.”

    The Post-Gazette underscored that while super PAC spending occurs in support of both Democratic and Republican candidates, the 2012 presidential election saw “$424.4 million [spent] supporting Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and $145 million supporting Democratic President Barack Obama.” The editorial named the billionaire Koch brothers -- who have committed at least $30 million for ads aimed at influencing Senate races in the 2016 --  as a major supporters of super PACs behind negative ads. From the Post-Gazette:

    Researchers found that only about 1 percent of voters, primarily independents, are moved from one camp to another because of negative ads, but in swing states, like Ohio, sometimes elections are decided by 1 percent or less. But the researchers also found that, “especially with moderate voters, you get a demobilization effect, where they just kind of turn off, ‘This is a nasty campaign, I just want to stay home.’ ”

    That is truly sinister and profoundly anti-democratic.

    Equally disturbing as the attack ads and their intent is the answer to this question. Who is paying for this garbage? In the 2012 presidential election, independent spending — by groups not connected with either political party — came to $424.4 million supporting Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and $145 million supporting Democratic President Barack Obama.

    The sources of that money, often called “dark money,” are being kept secret, and that is wrong.


    The super PAC Americans for Prosperity is a good example. Look up its 2012 expenditures in opensecrets.org and the only line that comes up is: $33,542,051 spent against President Obama’s re-election.

    The Center for Responsive Politics identified AFP’s biggest contributor as Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce, which is controlled by billionaire industrialists David and Charles Koch. But the FEC did not require this disclosure.

  • Right-Wing Media Can't Believe Hillary Clinton Has Hot Sauce In Her Bag

    ››› ››› BRENNAN SUEN

    Right-wing media figures attacked Hillary Clinton for saying that she always carries hot sauce with her during an interview with a New York hip-hop radio show, attacking her for “pandering” and “casual racism.” But Salon reports that Clinton “has been talking about carrying hot sauce since 2008,” and various outlets over the years have reported that Clinton “packed pepper sauce” in her bag and had “a collection of more than 100 hot sauces” when she was first lady.

  • What Media Left Out Of EPA Fracking Stories: "Insufficient" Data, Lack Of "Any Certainty"

    ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS

    Many major media outlets reported that a new Environmental Protection Agency study found no evidence that hydraulic fracturing (aka "fracking") has had "widespread" impacts on Americans' drinking water, but did not mention the EPA's explanation for why the study doesn't necessarily indicate "a rarity of effects on drinking water resources." The EPA study identified several "limiting factors," including insufficient data, the lack of long-term studies, and inaccessible information, which it said "preclude a determination of the frequency of [drinking water] impacts with any certainty."

  • STUDY: Media Largely Ignored Climate Change in Coverage Of Winter Snowstorms


    Most of the largest newspapers in the Northeast corridor did not publish a single piece covering this winter's major snowstorms in the context of global warming, despite strong scientific evidence that climate change creates the conditions for heavier snowstorms. The major broadcast networks and cable news channels also provided scant mention of climate change in their discussions of the snowstorms, with the notable exception of MSNBC, which provided extensive coverage of the topic. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Fox News, the Boston Herald and the Providence Journal featured content that used the snowstorms to deny climate science.

  • Study: Top Fracking States Ignore Findings That Their Drinking Water Is At Risk

    ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS

    A recent national report from the Government Accountability Office found that a higher regulatory standard is needed to ensure that drinking water sources are protected from fracking wastewater practices. But the largest circulating newspapers of the states with the highest levels of fracking production -- therefore among the most vulnerable to its risks -- have ignored this study.

  • Top PA Papers Ignore Fracking Law That "Shreds" Private Property Rights

    Blog ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS

    via Flickr User Daniel Foster

    A gas company is attempting to use a half-century old Pennsylvania law to frack underneath the land of property owners who refuse to allow the controversial practice on their land, yet a majority of Pennsylvanians may be unaware as two of the state's top three newspapers have failed to mention the contentious issue.

    Hilcorp Energy, a Texas-based oil and gas company, is pushing legal action in Pennsylvania to be able to drill underneath the property of landowners that have refused to sign a lease if enough of their neighbors have already signed, a practice known as "forced pooling." The "unused and outdated" law, which is "pitting neighbor against neighbor" as reported by the Associated Press, would "shred private property rights" according to the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, the only of the three highest circulating papers in Pennsylvania to cover the story. The other two, The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, have completely overlooked the issue which has received national attention.

    The "forced pooling" law would force landowners to allow the use of hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," to extract natural gas reserves underneath their property without their consent, creating concerns about the impact on property values and the threat of water pollution. A leaked document from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated that natural gas extraction has caused methane to leak into domestic water wells, causing "significant damage" to the drinking water supply of the town.

    Pennsylvania isn't the only state dealing with the "forced pooling" issue. Energy companies have been exploiting similar laws in many states including in Illinois and Ohio to the outrage of unsuspecting landowners. In Ohio, citizens are "furious" about the ruling that one citizen fears will "make him legally responsible for spills and other damage" according to the Associated Press. Some residents have "resigned to losing future income," while dozens of others are pushing forward lawsuits in an attempt to stop the forcible drilling. 

    There is a similar sentiment in Pennsylvania even among those who support natural gas drilling and fracking. For example, Pennsylvania's Republican Governor Tom Corbett -- a strong proponent of natural gas extraction in Pennsylvania -- opposes the law, likening it to "private eminent domain." And Marcellus Drilling News, a pro-fracking news site, has expressed disapproval of Hilcorp's use of the law, calling it "the low road." 

  • Will Local Media Correct The Record In Light Of CBS' Benghazi Collapse?


    Several local media outlets published editorials and opinion pieces highlighting and praising CBS' faulty 60 Minutes Benghazi report. Now that CBS has apologized and withdrawn its report, will local media follow suit?

    On October 27, CBS' 60 Minutes aired a report highlighting comments from security officer Dylan Davies, who went by the pseudonym "Morgan Jones" and said that he was an eyewitness to the September 12, 2012, attack on the U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. After several inconsistencies surfaced in Davies' statements about the evening, CBS pulled its report, apologized to viewers, and said it would "correct the record" on the next edition of 60 Minutes.  

    Immediately following the 60 Minutes report, various local media outlets across the country published editorial and opinion pieces hyping the report and heralding it as evidence that President Obama and his administration were lying about the attacks. At least six local media outlets, including The Columbus Dispatch, The New Hampshire Union Leader, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Washington Times, The Charleston Post and Courier, and The Boston Herald, all hyped the CBS report with one outlet calling it a "damning report" while another said the administration's "coverup [is] being exposed." Pittsburgh Press writer Jack Kelly published a piece in the Post-Gazette claiming the report was "noteworthy for the new information provided -- in particular the interviews with 'Morgan Jones' and [Lt.] Col. [Andrew] Wood."

    The 60 Minutes report reinvigorated the widely debunked myth that there are "lingering questions" about the Benghazi attack and continued to push a right-wing media narrative that the Obama administration has engaged in a cover-up in response to the attacks. The pervasiveness of the myth even hit Congress as Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) threatened to hold up presidential nominations until questions surrounding Benghazi were answered.

    Now that CBS has retracted its report, will local media outlets who also injected this misleading myth into their opinion pages do the same, or will they continue to rely on debunked information that misleads their readers?

  • PA's Largest Newspapers Ignore Support For Green Energy


    First Solar via TreehuggerDespite the prevalence of green energy in Pennsylvania, a Media Matters study found that both the Philadelphia Inquirer and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette generally ignore clean energy in their reporting and neither paper has ever mentioned the overwhelming public support for green energy.

    According to the Media Matters study, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette collectively wrote 62 articles on energy and the environment from July 1, 2012 through August 15, 2012. In that time period, neither paper reported on public support of green technology, and both papers failed to discuss green energy in all but 9 articles. These papers did, however, cover stories about natural gas, coal, and oil frequently -- rarely mentioning green energy as an alternative source of energy.

    Although nearly impossible to discern from the pages of the Inquirer or the Post-Gazette, Pennsylvania is actually one of the top green energy producing states in the country. As of 2010, Pennsylvania made the Solar Energy Industries Association's top 10 list for cumulative installed solar capacity. In addition, both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia have been designated Solar America Cities by the Department of Energy.  Through the solar energy initiative championed by former Governor Ed Rendell, consumers could expect to see savings of $10 billion by 2017.

    Pennsylvania also ranks 16th nationally in total wind capacity installed, according to the American Wind Energy Association, with 751 megawatts (MW) currently online and another 3,391 MW in queue. Last year, PECO Energy Co. announced it was dropping the extra fee for purchasing renewable power -- which mostly comes from wind energy -- and would be keeping prices the same for customers or potentially even lowering their bill.

    Green energy is also very popular among Pennsylvania residents. According to an October 2010 poll by Susquehanna Polling and Research, 85 percent of Pennsylvania voters surveyed thought it was important to support continued expansion of wind energy farms. In addition, a majority of voters would still support clean energy technology even if it cost $2 extra per month.  Another poll conducted in April 2012 by the Small Business Majority found that 73 percent of Pennsylvania small business owners surveyed thought that government investment in clean energy has an important role in boosting our national economy. Pennsylvania's largest newspaper, however, have entirely failed to report this dynamic. 

    For more information on our analysis of clean energy coverage in state media click HERE

  • PA Newspapers Miss Story On ALEC Defections


    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.

  • Ignoring contrary evidence, NY Times, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette uncritically repeated McCain accusation that Obama is "delay[ing] the World Series"

    ››› ››› TOM ALLISON

    The New York Times and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette uncritically reported Sen. John McCain's suggestion that Sen. Barack Obama is "delay[ing] the World Series" with his purchase of 30 minutes of network airtime to be broadcast October 29. Neither article noted that, according to the Fox executive who reportedly negotiated the ad buy, Obama's purchase of the airtime would not delay the start of the game.

  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ignored Obama statement undermining McCain accusation on U.S. envoy to Northern Ireland

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ

    The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette uncritically reported that Sen. John McCain "asserted that Mr. [Barack] Obama doesn't seem interested in keeping" a special U.S. envoy to aid the peacekeeping process in Northern Ireland. In fact, the Obama campaign has stated that, if elected president, Obama "will appoint a senior envoy to Ireland who will build on the groundbreaking achievements of the Clinton Administration and help bring the historic process to final fruition."