Newspaper logo  
Local Gov’t Stories, Events


Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

10.24 Inside big pharma's fight to block recreational marijuana

10.24 We sent a vegetarian to see if meatless burgers can convert carnivores

10.23 Dear Donald Trump: I'm an OB-GYN. There are no 9-month abortions.

10.23 China’s Wind Co. Profits, share price soar by 60%: 2 Turbines an Hour being Installed

10.23 The world’s first tidal energy farm could power 175,000 homes [similar project is underway in the Bay of Fundy]

10.22 Law to cut sex-selective abortions in Armenia 'putting lives at risk'

10.22 US energy shakeup continues as solar capacity set to triple

10.22 A three-bed house with £500 energy bills? How you too can slash your costs

10.22 Highlighting Damage of Lack of Clinic Funding, CDC Says STDs at All-Time High

10.22 Three Massive Mergers—Millions for One Bank and a Disaster for Food, Water, and Climate

10.21 Hillary Clinton vs Donald Trump on science, energy, and the climate

10.21 That's 4 straight debates without a single question on climate change. Good job, everyone.

10.21 Bottled Water or Tap: How Much Does Your Choice Matter?

10.21 We are approaching the Trumpocene, a new epoch where climate change is just a big scary conspiracy

10.21 Global warming continues; 2016 will be the hottest year ever recorded

10.21 Onshore windfarms more popular than thought, UK poll finds

10.21 Europe's offshore wind industry booming as costs fall

News Media Matters

10.23 The Crackdown on Dakota Access Pipeline Reporters Shows the Vital Role of Independent Media

10.23 How media outlets from around the world are reacting to the presidential campaign

10.22 Documentary film-makers face decades in prison for taping oil pipeline protests

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

10.23 AIR TRUMP: A SHORT PLAY [parody]


10.22 The Huge Corporate Tax Cut Hillary Clinton Doesn’t Talk About [is double-taxation on foreign income normal or out of step?]

10.22 Bernie Looks Ahead

Justice Matters

10.24 Police and hired assassins are killing land rights defenders. Let's end this violence

10.24 Tunisian coalition party fights for women's rights with gender violence bill

10.22 Senators Want to Know: Who's Actually Being Held Accountable at Wells Fargo?


10.20 Mass incarceration in America, explained in 22 maps and charts

High Crimes?

10.24 Philippines senator calls for Duterte to face crimes against humanity inquiry

Economics, Crony Capitalism

10.24 How Democrats Killed Their Populist Soul

10.24 Elizabeth Warren Warns Democrats Not To Cave On Corporate Tax Reform

10.23 Super-size my superyacht: the quest for bigger boats and gadgets


10.22 We Never Voted for Corporate Rule

10.21 Capitalism Is Doomed — Without Alternatives, So Are We


10.24 The Turks want Mosul and Aleppo "back."

10.24 Diary

10.24 Young, female and determined: how millennial social entrepreneurs are changing the world

10.24 Q&A: what happens now to the Calais refugees?

10.23 America, land of opportunity? Not for young people, study says

10.20 Elon Musk says fully self-driving Tesla cars already being built

10.19 Everything You Need to Know About the Momentous Habitat III

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
This site Web
  Print view: Why We Can't Trust the WSJ's ''Opinion'' Section

Why We Can't Trust the WSJ's "Opinion" Section

The Wall Street Journal's failure to edit Karl Rove's misleading column on taxes is a case in point.

by Alice Cherbonnier
Sunday, 5 December 2010
Does the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics' first principle, that "deliberate distortion is never permissible," apply to writers, but not editors?

Where can the public turn today for accurate reporting? It used to be said that the Wall Street Journal's news reporting was impeccable because the power elite who read it would never forgive it for providing false information. Even those not among that exalted universe also once counted on the WSJ, especially during the pre-Murdoch era. This is not to say that the WSJ's editorial and opinion pages were similarly stellar back then, but since it was understood the paper had a certain viewpoint (pro-business, anti-tax, laissez-faire), one expected the articles on those pages to contain cherry-picked facts; after all, that's what such sections are for. At the least, though, one could believe the facts themselves—however they may have been twisted or misinterpreted to make a point—were solid, not squishy.

The Code of Ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists lays out a journalist's responsibilities. Among them: " Deliberate distortion is never permissible." Admittedly this Code of Ethics is voluntary, as there is no licensing or policing of journalists or columnists, nor is there any requirement for a particular sort of education or experience. Journalists must police themselves, and the public's job is to slam them when they don't.

Consider this column as such a slam, then. Let us take as a case in point the column by Karl Rove called "Nancy Pelosi's Unwelcome Christmas Gift," published on page A17 of the WSJ's opinion section on Thurs., Dec. 2. We've come to expect Karl Rove's writings to be unsatisfactory, but this one breaks new ground for disingenuousness. What were the WSJ's editors thinking when they published this? Did they even read it before they sent it out to millions of readers? Someone did: there's a "teaser" highlighting one of Rove's absurd assertions: "A couple earning $80,000 could lose hundreds per month if the Bush tax rates aren't extended."

Rove's beef is that Nancy Pelosi is insisting that the Obama tax cuts for those who earn under $250,000 a year should stay in place, but wants to see a rate hike on the portion of a taxpayer's taxable income that exceeds that amount. Rove leaves out the italicized information. He darkly warns us that "Congress could go home [for the holidays] without stopping the largest tax increase in the nation's history." Say what? The "increase" would be for only the top bracket, and it still would come nowhere near the top rate paid earlier in our history (up to 91%; now it's only 35%).

Rove fails to include essential facts needed to understand the U.S. Tax Code (contrary to the SPJ Code of Ethics: "[Journalists] should not oversimplify or highlight incidents out of context.") He omits the fact that every single taxpayer pays the same tax rate at every step in the Tax Code. The Tax Rate Tables at the end of the link show clearly that every other taxpayer—including Rupert Murdoch, George Soros and Karl Rove—is subject to a mere 10% tax on the first $8,350 of taxable income (if filing as a single person). We're all subject to the same rates every step of the way. We all benefited from the Obama tax cuts, and under the Pelosi plan we will all retain all of them, except for the taxable income over the highest income threshhold.

Rove also omits mention of a huge tax benefit given to all taxpayers, but which disproportionately benefits the wealthy: capital gains income is subject to a piddling 15% tax rate.

Where were the WSJ editors in all this? Surely they have access to telephones, e-mail and fax machines so that they can query Rove and other op-ed contributors about their omissions, misstatements and flat-out lies. Or are these editors (Paul A. Gigot is the WSJ editorial page editor and Daniel Henninger is deputy editor) following the trend of their peers at other U.S. newspapers—of publishing op-ed submissions and syndicated material without providing any editorial input? The reader is then left to figure out whether the information is worthy, because the editors have abdicated their responsibility. Does the Society of Professional Journalists' Code of Ethics' first principle, that "deliberate distortion is never permissible," apply to writers, but not editors?

Look at what happens when the gate-keepers and vetters of information—editors—fail to edit: opinion pieces that should never have been published are circulated world-wide, and quoted by others as if they're fact.

Rove's "Christmas Gift" column got 564 comments (as of Dec. 3) on the WSJ website, but no one can post a comment unless he or she is a WSJ subscriber. Readers of the web version of Rove's column may wade through these comments, and in so doing they may be able to ferret out the full facts from among some wild assertions—tamed somewhat by the WSJ's laudable requirement that those posting comments must use their real names.

But what about the rest of the public? Why, they get served Rove's disingenuous tripe for breakfast on the cable and radio talk shows--with much hype and derision and incivility thrown in for entertainment value.

Anyone who wonders why this country appears to be an intellectual and brutal wasteland needs to trace the "supply chain" of information to the source: the editors at the Wall Street Journal and other "mainstream" media.

Alice Cherbonnier is the Managing Editor of the Baltimore Chronicle.

Copyright © 2010 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on December 5, 2010.

Public Service Ads: