The Las Vegas Review-Journal downplayed gun violence in the United States to attack legislative attempts to address the issue while also claiming guns safety advocates "manipulate" data by including gun suicides in gun death totals.
An October 31 editorial argued against stronger gun laws, specifically mentioning expanded background checks, by noting that while public mass shootings have captured national headlines, the overall number of gun homicides has remained relatively flat over the past 15 years:
Mass shootings leave Americans anguished and angry. Every time one happens, more and more voters want to know how many more mass shootings will happen before our leaders "do something" about it. The unrelenting media coverage of and emotional debate surrounding mass shootings create the impression that the country is awash in worsening gun violence.
The trouble is, as horrific as mass shootings are, the numbers tell a different story.
According to a Pew Research Center study of data collected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of U.S. gun homicides and nonfatal gun victimizations have both held steady for roughly 15 years, and are both down over the past 20.
That mass shootings capture headlines is no surprise. According to an analysis highlighted by The Washington Post, the nation is averaging more than one mass shooting each day this year, and by several metrics, the incidence of mass shootings is increasing.
More so, that the firearm homicide rate has been steady for the past 15 years is not a compelling argument against gun safety proposals because the rate remains staggeringly high compared to other high-income nations. And it's unclear that fewer people are actually being shot: according to the Wall Street Journal the number of serious gunshot wounds that required hospitalization increased by nearly half between 2001 and 2011. Doctors speculate that this may not impact the gun homicide rate because medical advances have increased the survivability of gunshot wounds, the Journal reported.
The Review-Journal also took issue with the inclusion of gun suicides when counting the total number of "gun deaths" that occur in the United States each year, claiming that gun safety advocates "manipulate" the data on "gun deaths" to include suicides so as to "push their agenda":
While gun crimes have dropped over the past two decades, the number of suicides by gun is up (and growing) over the same time period. Not wanting to waste an opportunity to push their agenda, gun control advocates like to manipulate this data by citing growing "gun deaths" as a reason for stricter gun controls.
Gun suicides are widely included by experts on public health and gun violence when counting "gun deaths," which typically include suicides, homicides, accidents, and cases of undetermined intention. There is good reason that gun safety proposals and attempts to reduce suicide are interconnected. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, "Twelve or more U.S. case control studies have compared individuals who died by suicide with those who did not and found those dying by suicide were more likely to live in homes with guns." Studies show that between 89 and 95 percent of individuals who survive a suicide attempt do not become future victims of suicide, but when firearms are involved many victims never have this chance because gun suicide attempts are fatal 85 percent of the time.
The Review-Journal's editorial downplaying gun violence and dismissing gun suicides is the latest piece of commentary from the Nevada paper that attacked proposals for stronger gun laws. On September 14 the Review-Journal published an attack on expanded background checks that was so inaccurate that the authors of a study cited by the Review-Journal wrote a letter explaining how the editorial board had misread the study so as to invert its conclusion.
In addition to repeating debunked claims that a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ozone standard will harm the economy and do nothing to improve public health, conservative media are pointing to ozone that naturally occurs in national parks as supposed evidence that the EPA standard is unfair and unnecessary. But while some "background ozone" does come from natural sources like wildfires -- and from industrial pollution drifting into a state from outside the U.S. -- levels of background ozone are not high enough to prevent states from meeting the EPA's new standard, and states are not responsible for reducing it.
Several conservative media outlets cited a recent study in the Journal of Preventive Medicine to conclude that gun laws do not effectively deter criminals from obtaining firearms, even though the study actually found that gun laws in Chicago make it harder for criminals to acquire firearms by increasing opportunity costs. The study's authors are now speaking out against media misrepresentations of their work.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal (LVRJ) published a misleading and contradictory editorial about the effectiveness of expanded background checks in preventing gun violence, omitting crucial statistics showing the value of gun violence prevention measures.
Net metering policies, which allow utilities' customers to send energy from solar panels on their homes into the electric grid in exchange for a credit, are being threatened by efforts in several states to roll back or dismantle the policies -- most of which are bolstered by anti-solar myths from utilities and fossil fuel interests that are being parroted in the media. Here are the facts about net metering.
The Associated Press and Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that GOP presidential hopeful Jeb Bush spoke out against the proposal to bury nuclear waste in Nevada's Yucca Mountain, without mentioning Bush's ties to a nuclear industry group that actively supports the project.
Speaking in Nevada on May 13, Bush told a group of reporters that Yucca Mountain will not likely become the permanent storage location for the nation's nuclear waste. The Associated Press story quoted Bush saying the project "stalled out" and reported that he "said the waste dump shouldn't be 'forced down the throat' of anyone." And according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Bush also said "we need to move to a system where the communities and states want it."
What the AP and Review-Journal left out, however, is that Bush is currently listed as a member of a nuclear industry group called the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition (CASEnergy), which has long advocated for Yucca Mountain -- and continues to do so. As recently as February 24, CASEnergy published a blog post declaring Yucca Mountain a "scientifically safe and sound option" for storing nuclear waste permanently, and "a critical component" of the nation's shift to nuclear energy.
Nevada political reporter Jon Ralston first detailed Bush's ties to the pro-Yucca industry group in March, in a blog post in which he wrote that Bush "was once part of a front group for the Nuclear Energy Institute, the main lobbying entity behind siting a repository at Yucca Mountain." Ralston further noted that Bush "signed letters opposing interim waste sites," specifically pointing to a November 2006 letter that said Senate legislation backing interim storage sites would constitute "a step backward in the long-standing federal policy to establish a permanent disposal facility."
The Las Vegas Review-Journal is mirroring the claims of congressional climate science deniers, who are lambasting the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for requiring that states consider climate change impacts to better protect themselves from future disasters.
In a May 11 editorial, the Review-Journal enthusiastically endorsed a letter from a group of senators -- led by famed climate science denier and Environment and Public Works Committee chairman James Inhofe (R-OK) -- which alleged that the new FEMA policy requiring states to address climate change in their disaster mitigation plans "injects unnecessary, ideological-based red tape into the disaster preparedness process."
Echoing the GOP senators, the Review-Journal declared that "climate change is not settled science," and that FEMA has no right to weigh in on an issue as "dogmatic and hyperpolitical" as global warming. Like the letter itself, the editorial also channeled its inner Fox News, claiming the FEMA climate policy is a matter of "ideology." Never mind that 97 percent of climate scientists agree human activities are causing the planet to warm or that NASA scientists say "it is very likely that [climate change] will impact future catastrophes."
The Las Vegas Review-Journal criticized a long-awaited draft Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule to reduce smog pollution as economically harmful, echoing unfounded industry fears about EPA regulations. The EPA's estimates, however, are based on sound science and show that the smog regulation will have long-term economic benefits.
Newspapers across the country have been publishing misleading op-eds attacking the federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy without disclosing the authors' oil-industry funding. The op-eds, which attack the wind energy policy as "corporate welfare" and "government handouts," ignore the fact that the oil and gas industry currently receives far greater government subsidies and that the PTC brings great economic benefits.
A recent study from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) claims that smog regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will cost the economy $270 billion. But the regulations, necessary to alleviate the unsafe smog pollution currently experienced by 140 million Americans, will likely achieve net benefits by reducing costs associated with medical expenses and premature deaths, while experts have said the NAM study uses "fraudulent" claims and is "not based in economic reality."
Local journalists covering Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy's case stress he is no victim and is breaking the law, regardless of conservative media's sympathy for his defiance of government orders to remove cattle from federal land.
Those reporters and editors -- some who have been covering the case for 20 years -- spoke with Media Matters and said many of Bundy's neighbors object to his failure to pay fees to have his cattle graze on the land near Mesquite, NV., when they pay similar fees themselves.
"We have interviewed neighbors and people in and around Mesquite and they have said that he is breaking the law," said Chuck Meyer, news director at CBS' KXNT Radio in Las Vegas. "When it comes to the matter of the law, Mr. Bundy is clearly wrong."
Bundy's case dates back to 1993, when he stopped paying the fees required of local ranchers who use the federally owned land for their cattle and other animals. Local editors say more than 85 percent of Nevada land is owned by the federal government.
Bundy stopped paying fees on some 100,000 acres of land in 1993 and has defied numerous court orders, claiming the land should be controlled by Nevada and that the federal government has no authority over it.
Last year a federal court ordered Bundy to remove his cattle or they would be confiscated to pay the more than $1 million in fees and fines he's accumulated. The confiscation began earlier this month, but was halted because the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had "serious concerns about the safety of employees and members of the public" when armed militia showed up to block the takeover.
But for local journalists, many who have been reporting on him for decades, that image is very misguided.
"He clearly has captured national attention, among mostly conservative media who have portrayed him as a kind of a property rights, First Amendment, Second Amendment, range war kind of issue," Meyer noted. "That's how it has been framed, but the story goes back a lot longer and is pretty cut and dry as far as legal implications have been concerned."
He added that, "Cliven Bundy and his supporters are engaged in a fight that has already been settled. There are a number of people around these parts who have strong reservations about Bundy's actions."
Las Vegas Sun Editorial Page Editor Matt Hufman said depicting Bundy as a victim is wrong.
"The BLM had court orders against him in the 90s telling him to get off federal land," Hufman said. "He's got a bunch of these arguments about state's rights, it's not federal land, blah, blah, blah. All of the arguments have been knocked down."
The Las Vegas Review-Journal used the story of a Nevadan who had trouble with his state's exchange to bash "the intentionally flawed design" of the entire Affordable Care Act (ACA) exchange system while incorrectly claiming that people are forced to use the state exchanges to access coverage.
A March 19 editorial relayed the story of Larry Basich, an enrollee in the Nevada health insurance exchange who has paid his premiums but has not been provided coverage due to administrative errors by the exchange's contractor, Xerox. The Review-Journal editorial used Mr. Basich's story to call the exchanges "intentionally flawed" and claim Mr. Basich's problems could be solved if he was allowed to shop outside the exchange through a private insurer (emphasis added):
Mr. Basich's problems go to the failure of Obamacare nationwide and the intentionally flawed design of the exchanges. The government wanted to create a system that allowed some people buy insurance without seeing the actual price. That requires connectivity with federal databases to determine subsidy eligibility. Buying insurance and collecting subsidies are two entirely separate issues, and should have been treated that way. Would Mr. Basich be in this predicament if he'd simply been allowed to buy insurance through an insurer instead of the exchange?
The editorial continued on to link Mr. Basich's problems "to the failure of Obamacare nationwide" leading it to explain that the only real solution is the repeal and replacement of the ACA.
However, the Review-Journal is incorrect in its assertion that Mr. Basich was not allowed to buy insurance privately outside of the exchange. The option to purchase insurance outside of the exchange has always been available and unrestricted. In fact, due to the flawed roll out of the exchanges, the Obama administration has retro-actively extended the tax credits previously available on the exchanges to customers who were frustrated with enrollment and purchased insurance privately.
Numerous local newspapers failed to identify the fossil fuel funding behind Thomas Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, while allowing him to publish op-eds across the country misleadingly attacking a potential tax credit for wind power, while ignoring subsidies for the oil and gas industries.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal published a misleading editorial on the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including tired falsehoods about enrollment numbers and new misinformation that negatively framed Congressional Budget Office (CBO) numbers that actually show Americans will have more job choice thanks to the ACA.
In a February 5 editorial the Review-Journal revived the claim that the ACA will not meet enrollment goals and offered a CBO report showing Americans will work less as they rely less on their jobs for insurance as proof the ACA is failing:
If the governor is legitimately shocked at this development, he shouldn't be. Healthcare.gov, the national exchange, has been a disaster since its Oct. 1 launch, and it is well off the enrollment pace required to sign up 7 million Americans by April 1. Even if the national exchange reached its goal, Obamacare won't be viable because younger, healthier people aren't signing up in sufficient numbers to subsidize the costs of older, sicker enrollees. At least 40 percent of enrollees must be younger and healthier for the law to pencil out.
The House is still trying to roll back this nightmare, proposing bills that address the law's most significant flaws, such as its various incentives for part-time work. On Tuesday, a Congressional Budget Office report projected the ACA would reduce the number of full-time workers in the United States by 2 million people by 2017 and 2.3 million by 2021 -- nearly three times the CBO's previous projected labor force impact of 800,000. Obamacare subsidies are partly to blame, the CBO reported, because they are "encouraging part-year workers to delay returning to work in order to retain their insurance subsidies." That's another way of saying Americans can't afford mandate-heavy, ACA-compliant policies that President Barack Obama promised would be cheaper.
The Review-Journal's assertion that ACA's success rests on enrolling 7 million by April 1 misrepresents what that number actually means. The CBO estimated 7 million people could sign up through the 2014 enrollment period, but that number is not critical to success of the law. The ACA has seen success in increasing sign-up rates as fixes to the system progress and enrollment deadlines draw closer. Furthermore, according to research by the Kaiser Family Foundation, young enrollees are participating enough to support the law. Even in Kaiser's worst-case scenario -- young enrollment freezing at the already-surpassed 25% of enrollees -- the ACA would be stable and provide a profit to insurers.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal misleadingly attacked a proposal to increase the minimum wage by incorrectly claiming that doing so would hurt job growth and do little to reduce poverty.
In a January 12 editorial, the paper attacked a recent push to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 per hour to $10.10, arguing that Democratic proposals were little more than distractions "from the party's Obamacare debacle." The paper misleadingly claimed that raising the minimum wage would increase unemployment, especially for workers under the age of 25, before concluding that, given other so-called "broken promises" from President Obama, the public should be skeptical of claims that higher wages would reduce poverty.
But comprehensive studies of the employment effects of the minimum wage don't back up the assertions laid out by the Review-Journal, which has used this tired line of attack -- or allowed anti-minimum wage increase lobbyists to do so -- in its opinion pages before. One analysis by economists Paul Wolfson of Dartmouth and Dale Belman of Michigan State looked at several studies published on the effects of the minimum wage since 2000. Wolfson and Belman found that, while some studies showed slightly positive employment effects and others slightly negative employment effects, across all studies there was no statistically significant negative impact on employment. A similar report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research on the employment effect of the minimum wage also concluded that, "employment responses generally cluster near zero, and are more likely to be positive than negative."
It's no secret income inequality is on the rise nationwide. Research from economist Emmanueal Saez of the University of California, Berkeley shows inequality at its highest level since 1928. In Nevada, according to a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities release, income for the poorest 20 percent of residents remained stagnant from the late 1990s to the mid-2000s. That stagnation led to the richest 5 percent of households having average incomes 13.0 times larger than the bottom 20 percent of households. A report by the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Center for Democratic Culture found that 16.8 percent of Nevada's population lives in "poverty areas," with African-American, American Indians, and Latino populations all having more than 20 percent of their populations living in poverty.