Charles Lane | Media Matters for America

Charles Lane

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  • STUDY: How Broadcast Networks Covered Climate Change In 2015


    ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox collectively spent five percent less time covering climate change in 2015, even though there were more newsworthy climate-related events than ever before, including the EPA finalizing the Clean Power Plan, Pope Francis issuing a climate change encyclical, President Obama rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline, and 195 countries around the world reaching a historic climate agreement in Paris. The decline was primarily driven by ABC, whose climate coverage dropped by 59 percent; the only network to dramatically increase its climate coverage was Fox, but that increase largely consisted of criticism of efforts to address climate change. When the networks did discuss climate change, they rarely addressed its impacts on national security, the economy, or public health, yet most still found time to provide a forum for climate science denial. On a more positive note, CBS and NBC -- and PBS, which was assessed separately -- aired many segments that explored the state of scientific research or detailed how climate change is affecting extreme weather, plants, and wildlife.

  • WaPo Columnist Channels Fox's O'Reilly On TRUST Act, Mistakes And All

    Blog ››› ››› SERGIO MUNOZ

    Washington Post columnist Charles Lane recycled erroneous Fox News claims about California's new TRUST Act, which details how state officials can constitutionally participate in federal immigration policy.

    On October 21, Lane provided misleading talking points to right-wing media on the topic of an appellate judge's recent admission that strict voter ID has proven to be voter suppression. A week later, the exchange was reversed, with Lane repeating debunked misinformation on the TRUST Act previously broadcast by Fox News host Bill O'Reilly.

    In his most recent column, Lane falsely claimed that the TRUST Act was "in tension" with the Supreme Court's decision in Arizona v. United States, which reaffirmed long-standing Supremacy Clause precedent that forbids state law from conflicting with federal immigration law. Like O'Reilly's confused analysis before him, this is a conflation of the unconstitutional attempts of Arizona to usurp federal immigration powers with the separate - and unchallenged - constitutional justification behind the TRUST Act. From the October 29 edition of the Post:

    California's new law limits cooperation with the federal Secure Communities program, under which the fingerprints of arrestees that local police routinely send to the FBI also get routed to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

    When ICE registers a "hit" against its database, it tells the state or local jail to hold the individual for up to 48 hours so that federal officials can pursue deportation if appropriate. Between March 2008 and September 2011, Secure Communities led to more than 142,000 deportations.


    California's new law forbids police to detain anyone under Secure Communities unless the individual has been convicted of or formally charged with certain serious crimes such as murder or bribery -- but not, say, misdemeanor drunk driving.

    It's the mirror image of a provision of Arizona's immigration law that essentially required Arizona police officers to check with ICE about everyone they arrested. The Obama administration opposed that as unwanted and unnecessary meddling in federal decision making -- but it was the only aspect of Arizona's crackdown that the Supreme Court upheld.

    So: If the Supreme Court says that one state (Arizona) may pester federal immigration authorities with more information about detainees than they asked for, can another state (California) deny the feds information they might seek?

    But the surviving provision in Arizona's troubled immigration law (SB 1070) mentioned by Lane involved communication between state and federal officials, whereas the TRUST Act delineates immigration detention powers. These are two entirely separate areas of enforcement underpinned by separate legal justifications.

    Contrary to Lane's argument, that is not a "mirror image."

  • Myths & Facts Behind The Campaign To Attack Disability Benefits


    Media outlets including NPR and Fox News are targeting federal disability benefits programs through a campaign deceptively portraying these programs as wasteful and unsustainable. In reality, these programs have low fraud rates and help the rising number of Americans with severe disabilities survive when they are unable to work.

  • Fox News Attacks Obama's Defense Of Susan Rice

    ››› ››› THOMAS BISHOP

    Fox News figures attacked President Obama's defense of Ambassador Susan Rice during a press conference, claiming his statement that critics of Rice "should go after me" was "absurd and chauvinistic." Fox has a history of attacking Obama and Rice, most recently by invoking Libya smears in order to derail Rice's potential nomination as secretary of state.

  • WaPo's Charles Lane undermines his own pro-Lieberman rant

    Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

    The Washington Post's Charles Lane is having a heck of a day.

    First, the Post published his column calling for a reduction in the minimum wage, a phenomenally bad idea just about any time, but one that could have catastrophic consequences in difficult economic times.

    Now Lane has posted an ill-considered screed attacking his Post colleague Ezra Klein.

    Earlier today, Klein wrote that, since a lack of health insurance contributed to the deaths of and estimated 137,000 people between 2000 and 2006, and since Joe Lieberman's stated objections to health care reform don't make a whit of sense, "Lieberman seems primarily motivated by torturing liberals. That is to say, he seems willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score."

    That set Lane off, denouncing Klein's "venomous smear" and accusing him of having lost his mind. Here's Lane:

    How else to explain the outrageous smear of Lieberman, posted earlier today by youthful policy wonk Ezra Klein on The Post's Web site?

    Let's stop there: What does Klein's age have to do with anything? He isn't twelve. He's in his twenties, and is pretty widely acknowledged to have some level of health care expertise. But apparently Lane would rather debate Klein's age than his ideas, which tells you something about Lane and the strength of his case.

    Lane continues:

    This is disgusting, and pretty illogical, too. Klein brandishes a study by the Urban Institute showing that the lack of health insurance contributed to the deaths of 137,000 people between 2000 and 2006. But last time I checked, Joe Lieberman does not oppose insuring everyone. Indeed, he is on record favoring "legislation that expands access to the millions who do not have coverage, improves quality and lowers costs while not impeding our economic recovery or increasing the debt." He simply opposes the public option, as well as Harry Reid's last-minute improvisation on Medicare. Klein's outburst only makes sense if you assume that there is one conceivable way to expand health insurance coverage, and that Harry Reid has discovered it.

    Talk about illogical! Lane's argument boils down to this: Forget about what Joe Lieberman does and focus instead on what he says. Lieberman doesn't "simply" oppose the public option -- he has yet to propose an alternative that would provide health care to the millions he says should have it.

    Actually, strike that: Lieberman is on record as saying he doesn't want to help them get it, regardless of the mechanism. Here's Lieberman in August:

    LIEBERMAN: Here's the tough one. We morally, every one of us, would like to cover every American with health insurance. But that's where you spend most of the $1 trillion plus, a little less that is estimated, the estimate said this health care plan will cost. And I'm afraid we've got to think about putting a lot of that off until the economy's out of recession. There's no reason we have to do it all now, but we do have to get started. And I think the place to start is cost health delivery reform and insurance market reforms.

    Note that Lieberman didn't say "we should cover people who don't have insurance, but not through the public option," which is what Lane suggests Lieberman's position is. No, Lieberman said we have to put off covering those people -- regardless of the mechanism -- until the economy is better.

    But Charles Lane still wants to give Lieberman credit of being in favor of covering those who currently lack insurance -- even after Lieberman has said we shouldn't do that, and even after Lieberman has opposed efforts to do so, and even after Lieberman has declined to come forward with his own plan for doing so.

    Then Lane acknowledges that Lieberman may not be acting from the purest of motives:

    Joe Lieberman is an odd political duck, to put it mildly. I understand that he seems to bear a grudge against the Democratic liberals who tried to unseat him in 2006 because of his vote for the war in Iraq, and that he might be engaged in a little pay back right now. Perhaps he's shilling for his home state insurance interests, as if no other senator would ever do such a thing.

    Wait a second: Charles Lane acknowledges that Joe Lieberman may be opposing health care reform out of a desire for "a little pay back," or to shill for insurance interests. And Charles Lane acknowledges the reality that without health insurance, people die. But if you combine those two things -- each of which Lane acknowledges -- he'll denounce you for making a "venomous slam" and an "outrageous smear."

    Incredibly, Lane was doing better when he was focusing on Klein's age.

    UPDATE: Lane defends Lieberman by saying he "simply opposes the public option, as well as Harry Reid's last-minute improvisation on Medicare." But Lieberman was for a Medicare buy-in as recently as September, suggesting that his current opposition to it is something less than sincere. Did Lane bother to learn anything about Lieberman's history of words and deeds on this topic before leaping to his defense and trashing a colleague in the process?

    UPDATE 2: Greg Sargent, whose Plum Line blog is owned by the Washington Post, digs up video of Lieberman endorsing a Medicare buy-in in September. Maybe Lane should have talked to his colleagues before defending Lieberman on this one ...

    UPDATE 3: Ezra Klein responds to Lane, noting that "Lane, well, agrees with my venomous smear."

  • Is Charles Lane (and Fox News) advocating a wage cut for millions of Americans?

    Blog ››› ››› TERRY KREPEL

    Conservatives who bash The Washington Post as liberal tend to overlook the streak of conservatism that runs through the Post's editorial pages -- indeed, we've detailed how some Post editorial positions dovetail nicely with those of the unambiguously conservative Wall Street Journal.

    Given that history, it's no surprise that Post editorial page staff member Charles Lane would pen a column that advocates, as one way to boost job growth, reducing the minimum wage. No, really.

    In support of this claim, Lane cites the increase in unemployment as the minimum wage increased in increments over the past three years, adding: "I am not saying that the minimum wage increase caused this; far from it. But study after study has shown that this supposed benefit to the poor prices low-skilled workers out of entry-level jobs. It was unwise to keep raising the cost of hiring them in a recession." But Lane ignores that there are studies showing that raising the minimum wage has no significant effect on unemployment -- this one, for instance, and this one.

    It's probably not surprising that Lane goes on to cite a Journal op-ed to make his case.

    Missing from Lane's article, on top of the lack of data that conflicts with his suggestion, is any acknowledgement of the impact of cutting wages of people who aren't making that much in the first place. As the Economic Policy Institute points out, 4.5 million Americans saw a wage increase with the most recent incremental hike. Is cutting those wages really a smart thing to do in a recession?

    Lane's other suggestions are equally dubious. It's unclear how ending federal protection of the domestic sugar industry will create jobs, nor does he explain how repealing the Davis-Bacon Act (which mandates that federally funded projects pay the prevailing local wage) will do anything other than lower wages.

    But never mind. Lane's minimum wage suggestion got attention at the one place you'd expect it to (outside the Journal, anyway): Fox News.

    James Rosen's report on the December 14 edition of America's Newsroom prominently features Lane's column, as well as similar claims by the author of the Journal op-ed Lane cited, David Neumark. Like Lane, Rosen ignored studies that show the minimum wage does not impact unemployment, though he conceded that a rollback is unlikely.

    Rosen went on to misconstrue the debate on the issue, portraying it as between Democrats citing "social justice" and Republicans speaking "in macroeconomic terms" -- ignoring there's an macroeconomic argument for raising the minimum wage in terms of increased consumer spending.

    If The Washington Post is supposed to be so unapologetically liberal, why is it manufacturing catnip for Fox News?