Rapid Progress Towards Real Reporting at the New York Times
At 12:07 Eastern standard time 9/10/2015 Alan Rappaport wrote an article on Jeb Bush’s tax proposal whose headline seemed to me to be the title of a Bush campaign press release — it stressed the proposal to close the carried interest loophole and not the huge cuts to top tax rates. About 4 hours later Rappaport and Matt Flegenheimer wrote a Ballanced article whith a headline which noted both.
Then after 2 more hours Josh Barro wrote a serious analysis of the proposal noting that it, like all Republican tax proposals, would amount a to huge gigantic tax cut for the rich (and small piddling tax cuts for the non rich).
I think this shows the huge gap between beat reporters who aim to please sources and blogging related journalistic activities which are based on looking up the facts and analysing them. The problem is that the Barro article in the upshot will get much less attention than the Rappaport and Flegenheimer article on the web front page.
To me the key question is whether the new blogger influenced fact based journalism of the Upshot, Vox, Wonkblog, TPM etc will prevent Republicans from tricking voters about their plans to serve the rich as George Bush did in 2000.
Do opinions on shape of planet still differ ?
This has become very strange. The front page includes a link to Barro’s article but the headline on the Rappaport and Flegenheimer article has regressed describing huge tax cuts for the rich as “populism”. The NYTimes headline writer is debating with himself or herself. I guess the insane new main headline was needed to Ballance Barro.
I wonder if part of the issue is innumeracy. Vastly more dollars are involved in the rate cuts than the carried interest loophole but rate cuts consist of replacing a number with another number while “the carried interest loophole” is a phrase. I don’t see how anyone with any sense for numbers can present both in parallel in the same abstract as if they were remotely similar in scale.
update:Well the blogosphere sure is on it. The NY Times and especially the un-named Times person who wrote “populism” in the headline is being denounced vigorously
ed Kilgore links to
Jonathan Chait who covers the coverage much better than I do. Chait has an anti-blogger past (really he wasn’t always a blogger) so he contrasts narrative based journalism and data driven journalism. He admits he doesn’t know how it will turn out (data journalism is still relatively obscure — will the front page journalists be willing to learn from the nerds on the back pages ?). But the point is just read Chait — he’s done more research than I have (a low bar to clear) and writes better (a lower bar).
Objective journalism is a 50 year experiment that has, thankfully, just about run its course.
Reporters should endeavor to sell newspapers. The public benefit of a free press comes not by the deliberate effort of journalists trying to provide a public service, but rather when reporters serve their own selfish ends.
The damage done by the post war media is immense mostly because people came to believe that the news was true. When the public understands that they are reading and watching the product of parasites, they are less easily bamboozled.
The hero of Watergate: a govt lawyer named Mark Felt. Also, lawyers Sam Dash and John Dean.
The investigative journalist who exposed the Pentagon Papers: a govt contractor.
The institution that took down McCarthy: The U.S. Army.
The institution that first revealed the Mi Lai Massacre: the U.S. Army in a press release about the murder conviction of Lt. Calley.
The story the press tells itself is one big lie.
So I do a little digging, and I see this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/10/us/politics/jeb-bush-tax-plan.html?_r=0
In it, I find this nugget:
“At the same time, conservative anti-tax activists were worried by his suggestion that ‘carried interest’ — the profits fund managers receive from investing other people’s money — should be taxed at a higher rate, like ordinary income.
“‘No Republican should be for higher taxes on capital gains,’ said Ryan Ellis, the tax policy director at Americans for Tax Reform, which opposes all tax increases. ‘This tax hike idea is supported by Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. The Democratic left deeply wishes to tax all capital gains as ordinary income.’”
(Oxford comma is mine.)
“WAIT A MINUTE,” says I, “He’s gone from carried interest to ALL captial gains. Different subject.”
So I figure he’s just being quoted out of context. No-one could be that stupid. I was wrong. I found this gem: http://www.forbes.com/sites/ryanellis/2015/09/04/taxing-carried-interest-capital-gains-as-ordinary-income-is-a-very-bad-idea/
“The capital gain carried interest realized by the expert investor–the twenty percent of all gains he gets to keep–is taxed as a capital gain. It’s subject to the federal capital gains tax, which is now 23.8 percent (which includes the Obamacare surtax on investment income). State income taxes also apply.
“The limited partners face taxation according to their own situations. Most of them are not taxpaying entities (being charities or pension plans), but those that do pay taxes would see the same capital gains tax treatment that the expert investor does. After all, it’s the very same capital gain.”
Uh, not quite. ALL of it is the PARTNERS’ capital gain. As such, they should pay ALL the capital gains taxes. Then the expense of the manager (the 2% flat fee and the 20% of the capital gains) should be paid to the fund manager, to whom they are ordinary income.
To such an extent as those fees exceed 2% of one’s AGI, they are deductible from the partners’ income taxes.
Grrrrr. That kind of bull$h!t really pisses me off.
I confused the facts on My Lai a bit, but Sy Hersh did just follow up on a press release.
“I confused the facts”
Well yes. And it totally undercut your argument. There was a huge gap in time between the events of My Lai and Calley’s conviction and the implication that the Army was policing its own “Sy Hersh did just follow up on a press release” is no less fabulous.
The lesson of My Lai to those of us who lived through it at the time is that every day was My Lai during that time and the Army brass just encouraged it all via the official process of reporting “body counts”.
And the rest of your list is historical crap as well. There is a huge difference between the role of a lawyer representing the Army and the Army. It is not like Welch was some JAG. And crediting Watergate to Deep Throat Felt who didn’t reveal his role for decades is pretty tone-deaf as well.
I am not one to endorse the self-agrandizement of the Washington Press corps but you are going way to far in implying that any of this is just establishment self-policing “govt lawyer” “lawyers” “govt contractor” “U.S. Army” “U.S. Army in a press release” .
Damn it man were you even alive during this time period? Or if so sentient? Because I am not seeing it. In particular I am totally offended at the idea that the Army was self-policing anything. Every atrocity revealed was dragged out of the brass against their will. And there will thousands of atrocities that were never so revealed. Just talk to any Vietnam combat vet who will talk. And most won’t. Until you have known them for a few years and drank with them. Because even if they didn’t commit atrocities themselves they knew people who did. And the upper echelons either didn’t care or approved.
Wow! As George Santayana said. Trouble is remembering BS.
Thornton Hall incomplete impression of Vietnam prevails. The rewrite is well underway. See Cheney on Iran. Trump looking for a Mac Arthur!
Official Army was lying from the get go!
However, Ridgeway, a rare career soldier who bailed the UN out in Korea, told Ike the truth in 1954 and US did not go in for “500000 to a million troops”.
When you have a real war you need truth, something worrisome for the “common defense”.
It seems you get your press history from the press. Again and again, heroic whistleblowers find a platform in the press and the platform takes all the credit. But in every case there is no reasonable argument that the platform (the WaPo, the NYT, the AP) had some particular quality that allowed the truth to come out. In every case, any platform would do, as long as it was consumed by enough of the public. This has been borne out by BlackLivesMatter. Tweeted videos have none of the “credibility” of the NYT, but managed to make news out of facts that had been revealed in open court for the last 50 years while investigative journalists were going deep into the dangerous world of nail salons.
Ron Ridenhower, U.S. Army is the hero of My Lai:
What does the timing of Deep Throat’s reveal have to do with anything? The subsequent years have revealed Bob Woodward to be a rank moron. Any dumb crime beat writer would have worked for Felt’s purpose and the public interest. (This is awesome: http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2013/03/bob_woodward_and_gene_sperling_what_woodward_s_john_belushi_book_can_tell.html)
I recently heard David Remnick (whom I generally like) on Alec Baldwin’s podcast (which is awesome) attribute the Pentagon Papers to “investigative journalism,” writing the actual hero right out of history.
If Pulitzer had beaten Ochs and “objective journalism” not become the cult that every J School draft dodger was inducted into, would Judith Miller have been possible? Pulitzer’s biased journalism could easily have printed all my historical examples and might have also prevented the senseless death of 100,000 Americans and Iraqis.
You should add Tom Glen and Ron Kovic. Kovic spent quite a bit of his time while in a wheel chair confronting Collin Powell on his cover up of My Lai. Tom Glen wrote a letter to Powell about it.
By the by, the quality of the post war press should be easily understandable by economists b/c it was exactly what you would expect from monopolies. TV news destroyed newspaper competition, leaving a monopoly in each city. But TV news is more or less incapable of serving the public interest.
Nellie Bly existed because the working stiffs who bought the paper were willing to pay money to read her writing. Imagine a business succeeding by selling Judy Miller’s Iraq work and Elisabeth Bullimer’s campaign coverage?
It seems to me that predatory or deceptive journalism has become more the standard, not the exception. Some in the media have become scoundrels as in any line of work. It has become about being relevant and prescient but not so much truthful or accurate. This is why we are taught in school to be careful about what you say, hear, read follow because we all have built in biases. The winners of the war use to write the history but not so much today where the objectivity, fairness, accuracy and deception have all become common fair game journalistic territory…One note is that all wars have had atrocities that is why war is so terrible but todays we get to see the atrocities played out on life TV and social media like never before. What breaks the human heart and spirit and boggles the human ity mind is the unjust-unnecessary killing that wars often have. Is there really such a thing as a just war or a necessary war unnecessary killing? Back to Bush will use any deceptive means necessary to win the election for his constituents so they can keep and maintain their status quo of power and dominance. Don’t be fooled by the propaganda as no real changes will be made only to strengthen the position of the 1% ers.
Re: McCarthy’s downfall
The media role was limited to televising the Army-McCarthy Hearings. But those hearings, investigating McCarthy, happened because of the able legal strategizing of the U.S. Army, who outflanked McCarthy by finding an angle that wasn’t about Communism:
“The Army accused chief committee counsel Roy Cohn of pressuring the Army to give preferential treatment to G. David Schine, a former McCarthy aide and a friend of Cohn’s.”
Thornton you make another fatal confusion here:
“Ron Ridenhower, U.S. Army is the hero of My Lai:”
with “U.S. Army”.
That Ridenhower got a check from the Army or Feldt a check from the FBI does not and did not make the respective institutions the heros.
And I don’t think the downfall of the McCarthy hearings was the reveal that closeted gay Roy Cohn was trying to protect G. David Schine but related more to civilian lawyer Welch deploying his “At long last have you no shame” attack, rather ironically in protection of his own younger protege.
You have confused payroll office check issuances with principled self-enforcement. Granted some General somewhere made the right decision in hiring the lawyer they did.
On June 9, 1954, the 30th day of the Army–McCarthy hearings, McCarthy accused Fred Fisher, a junior attorney at Welch’s law firm, of associating with the National Lawyers Guild (NLG) while in law school. The NLG was a group that FBI director J. Edgar Hoover sought to have the Attorney General designate as a Communist front organization. Welch had privately discussed the matter with Fisher beforehand and the two agreed Fisher should not participate in the hearings. Welch dismissed Fisher’s association with the NLG as a youthful indiscretion and attacked McCarthy for naming the young man before a nationwide television audience without prior warning or previous agreement to do so:
Welch (left) being questioned by Senator Joe McCarthy (right) at the Army-McCarthy hearings, June 9, 1954.
When McCarthy tried to renew his attack, Welch interrupted him:
McCarthy tried to ask Welch another question about Fisher, and Welch interrupted:
Talk about hijacking a thread.
Hijacking the thread?
Waldmann is making a point about how awful the NYT coverage of HRC is. My point is that such hand-wringing is unjustified and unnecessary. It’s unjustified based on the reality that “objective media”, has always been a dismal failure. Unnecessary because the forces leading to its demise have already been unleashed. I add a description of the process which has obscured the facts: the popular understanding of journalism’s role in our democracy has been written by journalists themselves, and, worse, they believe their own bullshit.
Bruce replies with some non sequiturs supporting a general assertion that I don’t know what I’m talking about. My rejoinder includes links that demonstrate several occasions where the self-assessment of the press is clearly false. Time and again, it’s true that public ends are served by the existence of some kind of press, but in each case it’s clear that the agent who acted in the interests of democracy was not a journalist, was not uncovered by a journalist, and–most importantly–did not require an “objective” or “professional” or even competent press to accomplish his or her goals.
The way the NYT destroys people like HRC and Al Gore is a direct result of the post-war experiment in objective media. In the history of mass communication from the pro-God Guttenburg Bible to the pro-Black people reality on YouTube, the era of objective media will be seen as an anomaly and a failure.
The original post didn’t mention Sec. Clinton at all, but Gov. Bush’s tax proposals.
Somehow that morphed into My Lai and Viet Nam.
Warren is absolutely right. Granted that the post makes the point that the NY Times series of blunders regarding the Bush tax cut plan are yet another example of it’s less then sterling reporting. It goes a step further to point out that the so called beat journalists are becoming increasingly less reliable in comparison with the seemingly more fact based blogger journalist. But the focus is on the misleading way that the Bush tax cut plank is being presented in the Times. So two points are made. One having to do with poor political reporting and the other focusing on the as usual effort of a Republican front runner to cut the taxes of those least in need of such financial aid. Going back forty years to Vietnam Nam is simply way off base in this context.
But what does it mean to say things are getting “increasingly less reliable”?
I think that claim is patently false. And I think the reason so many otherwise very sharp people make that patently false claim is because they are comparing the the truth as seen today thanks to a profusion of new sources of information (bloggers in the OP) with a story about the recent past history of journalism that is a myth. It is a self-serving myth written by journalists.
That’s a strong claim: what everyone thinks is true about the past 60 or so years of American journalism, the baseline that informs every “journalists today” lament, is false.
So to back up my claim I point out that the CW on every big journalistic success of the post war era is clearly wrong based on well established facts. I don’t see how anybody can deny that Felt found Woodward, not vice versa. Nor can anyone deny that the CW is that Woodward “took down the President.”
What does it mean that “if we lose Cronkite, we lose the country”? It means that if you bamboozal 5 or 6 wealthy white guys (Hunt, Brinkley, etc), you’re halfway there. What does it mean when the NYT mentions in every Ferguson story that the rate of police violence has not gone up recently? It means that the current rate is not an outlier. It means that for 50 years, including the years Bob Woodward spent in a parking garage, local law enforcement has been murdering unarmed black people at a rate of one every two months.
To see the pattern you need the history.
“To see the pattern you need the history.”
Which does not exist for the most part as not all or only some police departments report all or some shootings and results of them