Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local News & Opinion

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Travel
Books, Films, Arts & Education

10.30 When a Community College Transforms a City

10.30 The Female Pioneers Who Changed STEM Forever

10.29 Teacher spends two days as a student and is shocked at what she learns

10.27 The American Dream Is Leaving America

Letters
Open Letters:

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

10.31 Chocolate compound restores age-related memory loss [Another business opportunity is born!]

10.31 Stanford engineers develop tiny, sound-powered chip to serve as medical device

10.31 Fighting Ebola in Sierra Leone: ‘The world is not safe’ [video]

10.30 The New Heroin Epidemic

10.30 As Infrastructure Crumbles, Trillions Of Gallons Of Water Lost [audio clip]

10.30 Will a Breakthrough Solar Technology See the Light of Day?

10.30 Two genes linked with violent crime

10.28 Japan edges back towards nuclear power with vote to restart reactors

10.28 Living with anxiety: Britain's silent epidemic

News Media

Daily FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

Justice Matters

10.29 SEC Commissioner Kara Stein Fighting for Tougher Bank Sanctions, Stymies Bank of America Settlement

US Politics, Policy & Culture

10.31 Why the U.S. Has Fallen Behind in Internet Speed and Affordability

10.30 Republican politicians aren't climate scientists or responsible leaders

10.30 Election 2014: Women's Rights in the Balance

10.30 Will a Republican Congress Be a Hot Mess?

10.29 More tea party conservatives expected to win House seats, challenge Boehner

10.29 The Great Kansas Tea Party Disaster

10.29 Charles Barkley and the Plague of 'Unintelligent' Blacks

10.29 Chris Hedges and Sheldon Wolin on Inverted Totalitarianism as a Threat to Democracy [26:47 video, transcript]

10.28 Detroit: The Dispersal of Urban Black America Begins [depressing]

10.28 The Secrets of New Jersey [must read]

10.28 Drilling Deeper: New Report Casts Doubt on Fracking Production Numbers [investor risk heightened from bad data]

High Crimes?

10.27 In Cold War, U.S. Spy Agencies Used 1,000 Nazis

Economics, Crony Capitalism

10.31 Why Taxation Must Go Global

10.30 Oxfam warns wealth gap is spiralling out of control

10.29 On Superstorm Sandy Anniversary, Red Cross Under Scrutiny

10.29 Lobbyists, Bearing Gifts, Pursue Attorneys General

10.28 7 things the middle class can't afford anymore [depressing]

10.28 Exploding Wealth Inequality in the United States

10.28 Why Do Banks Want Our Deposits? Hint: It’s Not to Make Loans.

10.27 The Stark Facts of Global Greed, a Disease as Challenging as Climate Change

International

10.31 Crisis in Mexico: Could Forty-Three Missing Students Spark a Revolution?

10.31 Government, Not the Private Sector, Leads Innovation

10.31 Bound for Syria: German Kurds Join Fight against Islamic State

10.31 New Alignments: The Kurds' Lonely Fight against Islamic State Terror

10.30 Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel: Get Used to Endless War

10.30 Tunisia election results: Nida Tunis wins most seats, sidelining Islamists

10.30 UAE's leading role against Isis reveals its wider ambitions

10.29 The Rise of ISIS [53:41 video]

10.29 Pope Francis: evolution and creation both right

10.29 The Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations Is Officially Here

10.29 Binyamin Netanyahu 'chickenshit', say US officials in explosive interview

10.28 Child poverty up in more than half of developed world since 2008

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: