Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Gov’t Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Travel
Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

07.30 Why Lead Paint Still Haunts Industrial Cities in the U.S.

07.30 Dear corporate Canada: it's time to pay for your part in climate change

07.30 England's plastic bag usage drops 85% since 5p charge introduced

07.29 Breakthrough solar cell captures carbon dioxide and sunlight, produces burnable fuel

07.29 The Africans buying sunshine with their phones

07.29 Where are the world’s most water-stressed cities?

07.28 The quest for clean water

07.28 HOW A NEW SOURCE OF WATER IS HELPING REDUCE CONFLICT IN THE MIDDLE EAST

07.28 Insecticide Can Cut Bee Sperm by Nearly 40 Percent, Study Finds

07.28 ExxonMobil Top Sponsor at ALEC's Upcoming Annual Meeting

07.28 Blasting "McCarthy-Like Overreach," State AGs, Climate Groups Won't Comply With GOP Subpoenas

News Media Matters

07.29 Greenwald Explains What Out-of-Touch Media Doesn't Get About Trump, Russia, and US Electorate

07.28 Is the French Press Right to stop Printing Pictures, Names of Terrorists?

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

07.30 Hillary Clinton and Her Hawks

07.30 Donald Trump says he's 'taking the gloves off' as party conventions wrap

07.30 10 reasons why #DemExit is serious: Getting rid of Debbie Wasserman Schultz is not enough [DLC/Corporate Democrat dominance must end!]

07.29 5 REASONS WHY TRUMP WILL WIN

07.29 Hillary Clinton's Democratic convention speech: what she said and what she meant [Hillary Clinton accepts nomination with 'boundless confidence in America's promise']

07.29 New York’s Most Dangerous Neighborhood is Safer than Baltimore

07.28 Bloomberg's Case Against Trump

07.28 The Next President Will Likely Appoint 4 Supreme Court Justices: Which President Do You Want Picking Them?

07.28 Campaigns End on Election Day. Revolutions Don't.

Justice Matters

07.30 Republican-authored voting laws in Wisconsin and Kansas overturned

07.30 Ex-Fox News employee says Roger Ailes sexually exploited her for 20 years

07.30 Six More Charged in Flint Water Crisis, but Still No Accountability for Snyder

07.30 Court Rules NC Voter ID Law 'Intentionally Discriminatory'

High Crimes?

07.30 Possible War Crime: Syrian Maternity Hospital Bombed

Economics, Crony Capitalism

07.29 1MDB: The inside story of the world’s biggest financial scandal

07.29 IMF admits disastrous love affair with the euro and apologises for the immolation of Greece

07.28 Ohio taking a reckless gamble with pension funds

07.28 Hillary’s Choice: Why Tim Kaine Isn’t a ‘Safe’ Pick

International

07.30 Russia’s Flirtation With Fascism

07.30 HOW ROUSSEAU PREDICTED TRUMP

07.29 A tribute to female flâneurs: the women who reclaimed our city streets

07.29 A musical tour of Europe’s great cities: Venice

07.29 'I begged them to kill me instead': women in South Sudan raped under nose of UN

07.28 The only way to defeat Islamic State is to give young Arabs hope

07.27 Welcome to the new age of uncertainty

07.27 Japan to unveil huge $266bn economic stimulus, say reports

07.27 MPs predict surge in immigration amid Brexit uncertainty

07.27 Catalonia tells Spain it will push for secession with or without assent

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
Google
This site Web
  Print view: Why We Can't Trust the WSJ's ''Opinion'' Section
MEDIA CRITICISM:

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: