Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Newsflash: Media Still Really Really Not Liberal

What with Democrats owning the White House and Congress and the media being allegedly liberal, one would expect the debate over the most important issue of the day to be slanted heavily to the left. It's not, because the media are not liberal but incompetent, offering "two sides" of any debate without any perspective on whether those two sides have anything remotely to do with the truth.

The Democrats and most economists believe that the economy requires a stimulus package. Obama, being a moderate kind of guy, chose a moderate number for the size of the stimulus, as compared to the numbers suggested by economists. The Republicans, on the other hand, staked out an insanely far-right position: a spending freeze. (A freeze? Holy crap, we dodged a bullet in the last election. What if McCain had actually followed through on the Hooverian rhetoric?)

So the media, incompetent approval-seekers that they are, dutifully accepted those two positions as representing opposite ends of the spectrum and has presented them as such. The result is a "debate" wildly skewed towards the right.

This happens on many issues. In the lead-up to the Iraq war, the right staked out the "we must invade" position, while the left took to a moderate "let's wait and see" position. So the media dutifully framed the debate that way, effectively making the new center the "we'll probably invade soon, but we'll pay a little lip service to waiting first."

Krugman:

One major sin of news coverage, especially on TV, is the way certain points of view just get excluded from consideration — even if many of the best-informed people hold those views. Most famously and disastrously, the case against invading Iraq was just not heard in the months before the war.

And still it happens. According to the invaluable Media Matters, the idea that the Obama stimulus plan might be too small — a view held by many well-known economists — basically went unreported on broadcast news during the stimulus debate. Out of 59 broadcasts addressing the plan, only 3 mentioned concerns that the plan was inadequate. And it’s actually even worse than that: one of those three involved Harry Reid talking about longer-term goals on health and education — and one of the other two was me.

Meanwhile, it’s rapidly becoming clear that yes, the plan was too small.

The future of our economy is at stake. And it's at risk because the Republicans are better at framing the debate and the media are too cowed to correct for it.

Obama should have opened with a 1.3 or 1.5 trillion dollar package, with almost no tax cuts. The Republicans would have stuck to their extreme, and the media would have framed the debate so that a $750 billion stimulus with $300 billion in tax cuts appeared to be the moderate, centrist position it is. And who knows? We might have even gotten a stimulus big enough to fix things. Now we just have to hope.

23 comments:

Apikores said...

It's often a similar situation when the media talk about science. They think they have to give equal time to both sides, even when one side is a bunch of quacks with no evidence to support them.

Although it seems even worse in this case, as they are giving much less than equal time to the economists that actually have some evidence on their side.

Scott said...

A freeze? Holy crap, we dodged a bullet in the last election. What if McCain had actually followed through on the Hooverian rhetoric?

Herbert Hoover defending his Obama-esque stimulus in 1932:

"We might have done nothing. That would have been utter ruin. Instead we met the situation with proposals to private business and to Congress of the most gigantic program of economic defense and counterattack ever evolved in the history of the Republic. We put it into action.... No government in Washington has hitherto considered that it held so broad a responsibility for leadership in such times.... For the first time in the history of depression, dividends, profits, and the cost of living, have been reduced before wages have suffered.... They were maintained until the cost of living had decreased and the profits had practically vanished. They are now the highest real wages in the world.

Creating new jobs and giving to the whole system a new breath of life; nothing has ever been devised in our history which has done more for ... "the common run of men and women." Some of the reactionary economists urged that we should allow the liquidation to take its course until we had found bottom.... We determined that we would not follow the advice of the bitter-end liquidationists and see the whole body of debtors of the United States brought to bankruptcy and the savings of our people brought to destruction."

Oh for the Hoover that progressives would have us believe existed.

Scott said...

Also, I love this talk of how we might need a second stimulus because the first was too small. Uh, Obama's was the THIRD stimulus.

Not that the State can actually "stimulate" an economy. What a silly notion.

daganev said...

"Not that the State can actually "stimulate" an economy. What a silly notion."

I disagree, the State can "stimulate" an economy. But only by creating real jobs, that serve a function. If the government decided to open up a new business and hire employees for that business they could do so, and stimulate the economy.

However, as anybody at Kos knows.. Liberal != Democrat. The media has a liberal bias, it does not have a Democrat bias. Obama is being blasted by the media right now, for talking more liberal than he actually is.

Jewish Atheist said...

The media has a liberal bias, it does not have a Democrat bias. Obama is being blasted by the media right now, for talking more liberal than he actually is.

BS! If that were true, you'd see the fact that many economists think his plan is too conservative all the time. But it's almost never mentioned! How do you explain that?

Scott said...

I disagree, the State can "stimulate" an economy. But only by creating real jobs, that serve a function. If the government decided to open up a new business and hire employees for that business they could do so, and stimulate the economy.

Well if it were "real" jobs that the State were creating wouldn't those jobs have already been created by the people without the State?

Orthoprax said...

Are private companies going to hire people to fix public roads and bridges? I've been hearing there's an infrastructure problem in our country, that's a perfect place to partially mutilate a couple of birds with one stone.

avian30 said...

A problem I've found with most media organizations is that that they tend to be reluctant to state a claim is wrong even if the facts show that it is.

That is why I find the websites FactCheck.org and PolitiFact so invaluable: If a claim is wrong, they will say so.

Anonymous said...

"According to the invaluable Media Matters, . . . "

Oh come on. The Ted Turner, Dan Rather, Katie Couric, People Magazine, Ron Burkle, MSNBC, NPR, ABC, etc. media is so far to the left it's ridiculous. Look at how they never bothered to investigate anything about Obama's Chicago connections but sent dozens of reporters to Alaska to check on every detail of Sarah Palin's life.

And Media Matters invaluable? Media Matters is completely worthless. They're funded by Soros, and are as far left as he is. And Obama a "moderate?" Then who do you think is a leftist?
Bush was a moderate. I'm missing him more and more each day.

Ichabod Chrain

Random said...

"It's not, because the media are not liberal but incompetent,"

You say that like they're alternatives. It's perfectly possible to be liberal *and* incompetent you know.

"offering "two sides" of any debate without any perspective on whether those two sides have anything remotely to do with the truth."

Because of course everybody knows that the best way to run a society is with only a self-selected elite being allowed any voice in the public sphere and with all other voices being silenced:-/ In a healthy society, the media should stick to reporting the debate, not take a position on which side is right or wrong, and then prevent us from hearing the "wrong" side.

"The Democrats and most economists believe that the economy requires a stimulus package."

I doubt the Democrats have ever seen a problem that couldn't be solved by more government spending. As for "most" economists - define most please, preferably with sources. There are certainly plenty of people, including some educated ones, who do not think it is an obvious truth that a problem caused by excessive borrowing and uncontrolled debt is best solved with even more borrowing and debt.

"Obama, being a moderate kind of guy, chose a moderate number for the size of the stimulus,"

$750bn is not moderate, it is scarily huge. It will double the federal government's deficit this year, and is equivalent to something like 5% of GDP. If it was an economy it would be the 17th largest in the world, about the size of Turkey. It's not obvious that even an economy the size of the USA's can absorb sums of this magnitude in the sort of timescale necessary to have any impact on the recession without negative consequences.

"The Republicans, on the other hand, staked out an insanely far-right position: a spending freeze."

Source? Opposing this mess doesn't equal opposing doing anything. And in any case, if you think that merely holding government spending at current historically high levels is an "insanely far right position", then I suspect you probably think the insane right starts somewhere around Bill Clinton and carries on from there...

"Obama should have opened with a 1.3 or 1.5 trillion dollar package,"

He pretty much did, and he pretty much got it. Don't forget that as well as the $750bn stimulus package there's also been a $400bn "supplemental" spending bill, which puts the total figure into your ballpark (and boosts the total size of the package way out of Turkey's league and into the territory of Australia or Mexico and catching up fast on India).

"with almost no tax cuts."

Oh, come on. Nobody in the Obama administration is paying their taxes so it's only fair they cut everybody else a bit of slack. In any case, I would have thought it obvious that in a time of increasing unemployment anything that cuts the cost to employers of retaining staff should be welcomed, but apparently not.

Still, look on the bright side - while the incompetent media are allowing the Republicans to dominate the debate at least it means they're not reporting the way the Obama administration is going about repairing relations with the rest of the world following the damage caused by the Bush years -

http://www.thedailyshow.com/video/index.jhtml?videoId=220289&title=brown-in-the-usa

(Incidentally, and I don't know if this aspect has been reported in the American press, but Obama's gift to Brown was especially classy in that Brown is blind in one eye and his sight in the other is reportedly failing. I doubt he is able to do much relaxing with DVDs. As one commentator put it, this sort of thing doesn't happen accidentally - you have to actively work at being this offensive.)

Scott said...

Bush was a moderate.

HAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa ha ha hahahaha!

lol.

And of course Obama is an extremist. What do you expect after 8 years of extremist rule? The reaction to an extremist is not a moderate.

avian30 said...

random wrote:

"In a healthy society, the media should stick to reporting the debate, not take a position on which side is right or wrong, and then prevent us from hearing the 'wrong' side."

I agree, but only when there is a legitimate debate. There are times when one side of the debate simply has the facts wrong. The media should step in and say: these claims are factually incorrect.

Theresa said...

I think the problem is that since you agree with Obama and the people in your circle agree with Obama and you think you are a pretty reasonable moderate guy and you think the people in your circle are reasonable moderate people, you think Obama is a moderate and centrist. But really, he isn't. But being around liberals, you see liberal as the center.

Ezzie said...

What Random and Theresa said.

Peter L. Winkler said...

There is a mistaken assumpion that the wealthy recipients who recieve tax cuts are typically business owners with a payroll.

The second mistaken assumption is that a well to do indiviual recieving a personal income tax reducion will automatically hire more employees. That's ridiculous. Business owners hire more workers to respond to incrased demand.

Shalmo said...

One has to get away from the labels of republican and liberal

Whether republican or liberal, when was the last time you heard any serious criticism of Israel. Its interesting how you can talk about anythin from gay rights, to evolution, to abortion, but when criticism of Israel is concerned both liberals and republicans remain silent. I'm so sick of the word "retaliate" because that's exactly what they say everytime Israel launches another bloodbath against the Palestiniansl; that Israel is simply "retaliating" for supposed attacks against them.

The Moshiach can't get here fast enough for that shit to end I'd say.

Shalmo said...

"Obama should have opened with a 1.3 or 1.5 trillion dollar package, with almost no tax cuts."

Interesting JA, so you are pro-taxes huh?

Being a Jew, you clearly are from the upper end of the american financial spectrum hence such talk is easy for you. But not everyone is so lucky. Those on the lower end of that same spectrum would say differentlty don't you agree.

I am intrigued by your love of all things liberal. I'm Canadian, and aside from the Scandanavian countries, there really aren't populations any more liberal than us. And we have the highest taxes on this planet. I lose like 20-30% of my hard earned labour for economic policies that I don't even agree with. With over a 1,000,000 children who are homeless, I often wonder what my country is doing spending tax money sponsoring Arts programs rather than aiding the poverty stricken.

That's the problem with uber taxes. When the government has suprlus money to spend, they spend it on all sorts of nonsense. The republican idea of lower taxes thus is more appealing to my taste, thus empowering communities to look after their own affairs.

Sadly modern republicanism has become all about making the rich richer, where as back in the day these guys were the ones who fought for slave emancipation.

Jewish Atheist said...

Shalmo:

Whether republican or liberal, when was the last time you heard any serious criticism of Israel. Its interesting how you can talk about anythin from gay rights, to evolution, to abortion, but when criticism of Israel is concerned both liberals and republicans remain silent.

This is true, even though you wrote it. ;-) Glenn Greenwald has been all over this issue. Also, Freeman was just torpedoed because of it. It's the one thing that you're only allowed to take a right-wing view of in public.

Did you ever notice how Sean Hannity and even Rush Limbaugh get t.v. shows but Noam Chomsky can't even get a guest appearance? It's that "liberal" media at work again.

Interesting JA, so you are pro-taxes huh?

Being a Jew, you clearly are from the upper end of the american financial spectrum hence such talk is easy for you. But not everyone is so lucky. Those on the lower end of that same spectrum would say differentlty don't you agree.


Um, I'm for progressive taxation, which means that we tax more those who can afford more. Those on the lower end of that same spectrum agree.

That's the problem with uber taxes. When the government has suprlus money to spend, they spend it on all sorts of nonsense. The republican idea of lower taxes thus is more appealing to my taste, thus empowering communities to look after their own affairs.

The idea that spending cuts follow tax cuts has been repeatedly disproven by Republican administrations. If they're serious about cutting spending, they should do that first, not cut taxes while doing nothing about spending.

I'm so sick of the word "retaliate" because that's exactly what they say everytime Israel launches another bloodbath against the Palestiniansl; that Israel is simply "retaliating" for supposed attacks against them.

Look, Israel overreacted, but there were thousands of actual attacks against them, not "supposed" attacks. Firing rockets into civilian areas counts as "attacks."

Sadly modern republicanism has become all about making the rich richer, where as back in the day these guys were the ones who fought for slave emancipation.

Yeah, they basically switched sides after they swallowed up the Dixiecrats. The unholy alliance of the lunatic Christian right with the uberrich (and deluded Joe the Plumbers who think they're going to be uberrich) has been awful for the country.

Clinton basically completed the transition of the fiscally responsible to the Democratic party, but too many Republicans haven't noticed yet, because it's not their "team." (And those who think Obama's being irresponsible just don't get the magnitude of the trouble we're in and how we can get out of it. Spending freeze indeed.)

Shalmo said...

"Um, I'm for progressive taxation, which means that we tax more those who can afford more. Those on the lower end of that same spectrum agree."

They do that in Canada.

Problem is it fucks up the middle-class. Being a Jew, you probably don't know what that's like. Its sucks big time.

If you are poor you pay really low taxes. If you are rich you have lawyers who can fight for your taxes, thus allowing you to pay much less than you actually should. So what does that do to the middle-class? They still have to pay high taxes, but at the same time they can't afford lawyers to do tax battles for them

See what I mean

"The idea that spending cuts follow tax cuts has been repeatedly disproven by Republican administrations. If they're serious about cutting spending, they should do that first, not cut taxes while doing nothing about spending."

base-rate fallacy!

I was discussing the pros and cons of high vs low taxes. High taxes equates money spent on useless shit like Arts program and donations to terrorist organization like the JNF who use that money to cover Israel's displacement of the arabs.

I'm all for the encouragement of Arts and multiculturalism, but I certainly can't stand my tax dollars being used for that, when we have a million homeless children in this country. And this is exactly what happens when you have more taxes, the government starts spending it on useless crap.

I believe the government should simply provide the basics, after which individual communites should pull their resources into need-specific areas, rather than them losing that money to the federal government,where it then gets used for useless shit.

"Look, Israel overreacted, but there were thousands of actual attacks against them, not "supposed" attacks. Firing rockets into civilian areas counts as "attacks.""

Nonsense. Israel existing at all, is upfront to any humanitarian out there. People fight back their oppressors. You can't steal land, repeating the already bad history of British colonialism on arabs, and then expect them not to do anything about it. Everything has been a REACTION since Israel was created. That's what you don't get.

They should have stuck with the original Uganda plan, coz I can assure you the rest of the world is only gonna stomach so much before we say enough is enough.

Holy Hyrax said...

HEY, look who's back. It's Shalmo, our favorite cartoon character.

Random said...

Sheesh - and here was I thinking this was a post about the depression and what to do about it.

JA, I've got a challenge for you. Write a blogpost about something completely innocuous - origami say, or flower arranging - and see how long it takes Shalmo to make it about Israel...

Jewish Atheist said...

They do that in Canada.

Problem is it fucks up the middle-class. Being a Jew, you probably don't know what that's like. Its sucks big time.


That's just factually incorrect. Go look at the numbers under Clinton. Middle-income people did very well. Under Republicans they do a lot worse.

If you are poor you pay really low taxes. If you are rich you have lawyers who can fight for your taxes, thus allowing you to pay much less than you actually should. So what does that do to the middle-class? They still have to pay high taxes, but at the same time they can't afford lawyers to do tax battles for them

So let's close the loopholes on the rich.

I was discussing the pros and cons of high vs low taxes. High taxes equates money spent on useless shit like Arts program and donations to terrorist organization like the JNF who use that money to cover Israel's displacement of the arabs.

And my point is that government never, ever cuts spending. Cutting taxes just increases debt. And the Palestinians get aid too.

Nonsense. Israel existing at all, is upfront to any humanitarian out there. People fight back their oppressors. You can't steal land, repeating the already bad history of British colonialism on arabs, and then expect them not to do anything about it. Everything has been a REACTION since Israel was created. That's what you don't get.

So would you support Native Americans bombing random American civilians? Until when? The end of time? And way to change the subject. You called the attacks on Israel "supposed" attacks when they were very real.

They should have stuck with the original Uganda plan, coz I can assure you the rest of the world is only gonna stomach so much before we say enough is enough.

Meaning what? You're going to go on a murdering spree?

Theresa said...

I didn't research this thoroughly, but Tax Foundation is a pretty good site and this link references them.

http://soundmoneytips.com/article/67787-comparing-clinton-and-bush-on-income-taxes

How do you get that middle income did worse under Bush? Looks like they were paying less taxes.