Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local News & Opinion

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Travel
Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters
Open Letters:

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

04.20 Turning Ethiopia's desert green

04.20 There's a Place That's Nearly Perfect for Growing Food. It's Not California. [map graphics]

04.20 Carbon reserves held by top fossil fuel companies soar

04.20 Revealed: government knew of farm poisoning risk but failed to act

04.19 How America Reduced Its Healthcare Spending by $2 Trillion

04.19 Seven things you need to know about sustainable smart technology

04.19 'Mysterious' disease kills 18 in Nigeria

04.18 Litigation Instead Of Leadership

04.18 4 surprising reasons why clean energy is gaining on fossil fuels

04.18 Sustainable development must prioritise women's sexual health

04.18 Price on carbon key to Canada tackling global warming, say researchers

04.18 Circular economy could bring 70 percent cut in carbon emissions by 2030

News Media

Daily FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & Culture

04.20 Former Lehman Bros executive Kasich eyes 2016 and knocks Wall Street 'greed'

04.19 The Dangerous Myth of Appomattox

04.18 “The Ron Paul of the left”: Why Bernie Sanders is the cranky socialist 2016 needs

04.18 Texas lawmakers poised to allow the open carrying of handguns

04.17 Martin O'Malley takes shot at Clinton over gay marriage and immigration

Justice Matters

04.20 CSI Is a Lie

04.20 Ex-IMF president Rodrigo Rato arrested on criminal charges

04.17 Republicans show support for criminal justice reform in rare bipartisan push

High Crimes?
Economics, Crony Capitalism

04.20 Iceland looks at ending boom and bust with radical money plan

04.18 Supply-Side Doom in Kansas

04.17 Elizabeth Warren Throws Down Gauntlet, Calls for Genuine Financial Reform [36:48 video, she begins @ 2:51]

04.17 Chris Christie: New Jersey Pension Launches Probe Of Fees to Wall Street

04.17 World Water Forum needs to be more than just a trade show for privatisation

04.16 Nasa-funded study: industrial civilisation headed for 'irreversible collapse'?

International

04.20 Faith vs. Facts

04.20 700 Dead: Is Europe’s Neglect of Mediterranean Migrants a form of Genocide?

04.20 Democratic Differences

04.19 Nice Downtowns: How Did They Get That Way?

04.19 Refugees don’t need our tears. They need us to stop making them refugees

04.19 700 migrants feared dead in Mediterranean shipwreck

04.18 Seven Must-Read Stories (Week Ending April 18, 2015)

04.18 We need a new Jubilee campaign to achieve equality and sustainability

04.18 The truth about property developers: how they are exploiting planning authorities and ruining our cities

04.18 Rotterdam plans a wind turbine you can live in

04.18 Here’s a bold plan, Ed Miliband – it worked for Roosevelt

04.18 Cuba has shown us that sanctions don’t work – so why keep using them?

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: