This week, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review attacked information sessions set up by non-profit organizations to help undocumented youth navigate President Obama's deferred action plan while avoiding scammers. The Tribune-Review, relying almost entirely on a single article from The Hill, tried to minimize the importance of these sessions by framing the issue as partisan, strictly because some Democrats are participating. However, these sessions are a helpful and necessary tool for undocumented youth and their families to ensure that those eligible are taking advantage of the deferred action properly and avoiding scammers -- all at no cost to taxpayers.
From the Tribune-Review:
"Outreach" programs are being organized to help illegals "navigate applications," understand fees and avoid rip-offs, The Hill newspaper reports. This, after Mr. Obama sidestepped Congress and ordered that "qualified" illegals brought into the U.S. as children could remain here -- temporarily.
But if these are, in fact, talented, achievement-oriented people, then they shouldn't need the Democratic Party's "help" filling out immigration forms.
And how much is this "reach-out" going to reach into taxpayers' pockets?
Despite the Tribune-Review's assertion that the outreach programs are unnecessary because qualified undocumented youth "are, in fact, talented achievement-oriented people," these programs are an essential tool for immigrant communities to receive proper information about their rights under deferred action. Instead of providing information about the sessions, the editorial mocks those eligible, some of whom are potentially still in their early teens.
The New Hampshire Union Leader's editorial board attacked the new Medicaid expansion provisions in the Affordable Care Act and instead proposed a block granting scheme, but experts say block granting Medicaid would be detrimental to the most vulnerable Americans and decrease the quality of health care.
An editorial in the Toledo Blade has highlighted the role of Fox News in helping Mitt Romney mischaracterize an effort by the Obama campaign to restore early voting to all Ohio voters.
Fox has distorted the efforts of the Obama campaign effort to extend early voting in Ohio, with anchor Bill Hemmer saying the lawsuit aims to "limit military voters' early voting time" and reporter Shannon Bream saying the purpose of the suit is "to keep members of the military from having extra time to cast their ballots." The Romney campaign has also pushed the distortion.
The editorial, titled "Campaign distortion," argued that the notion of any politician attempting to curtail the voting rights of the military is "absurd," and accused the Romney campaign "and his friends at Fox News" of "peddling that canard" in an attempt to sway Ohio voters. From the editorial:
The notion that President Obama -- or any other rational politician -- would seek to curtail the right to vote of servicemen and women is absurd. Yet Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is peddling that canard in an attempt to win votes in this critical battleground state. Ohio voters surely are too savvy to fall for such nonsense.
The Obama campaign sued Ohio to keep the early-voting ban from taking effect. The lawsuit says it's unconstitutional to extend voting opportunities for one class of voters -- the military -- but not others. According to the suit, the purpose of legal action is "to restore in-person early voting for all Ohioans during the three days prior to Election Day," military and nonmilitary alike.
But that didn't stop Mr. Romney -- and his friends at Fox News -- from claiming that the suit was intended to disfranchise the soldiers, sailors, and airmen who defend the liberties -- such as voting -- that other Americans enjoy. The nonpartisan fact-checking organization Politifact rated that claim "false."
After the election in 2004, it was discovered that thousands of voters had been effectively disenfranchised due to long lines and faulty machinery, necessitating the expansion of early voting in the state. More than 1.7 million Ohioans voted early in the 2008 presidential election. Ohio however has ended early voting the weekend prior to Election Day to all except members of the military and their families and voters overseas. The Obama campaign initiated a lawsuit to restore early voting to all Ohioans.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial board attacked the "Democratic Senate" for giving "tax breaks for pet businesses," including green energy producers. However, many Republicans support giving the wind industry the type of economic certainty that the oil industry has enjoyed for decades -- a position the Review-Journal has previously defended.
With facts and statistics staring down the New York Post's attempted defenses of the New York Police Department's controversial stop-and-frisk agenda, the Post has been forced to resort to purely emotional appeals in their attempt to maintain public support for the policy.
Over the past few months, the New York Post has published several news pieces dedicated to interrogating the friends and family members of recent New York City shooting victims. Each story features someone emotionally close to the case speculating about whether ramping up the New York Police Department's controversial "stop-and-frisk" policy could have saved their loved ones' lives. Meanwhile, the Post's editorial page has been littered with hyperbole and graphic imagery -- fear mongering designed to scare readers into believing that ending stop-and-frisk will result in "more blood in the streets."
Several recent interviews in the news section of the New York Post have followed the above theme. Given the unconditional support for stop-and-frisk expressed by the Post's editors over past months, it's difficult to view these stories as anything more than an effort to exploit the raw emotions of their subjects in order to push the paper's political objectives in a "straight news" format. One example, from the New York Post on July 19, was an interview with a mother whose teenage son was shot and killed in July:
The grieving mother of a 15-year-old student who was shot in the head and died last week told The Post police should stop and frisk every person on the streets in order to stem increasing gun violence.
"My son is gone because of an illegal gun on the street," said Natasha Christopher, whose eldest son, Akeal, died on his birthday.
"If they had frisked the person who killed my son, it would have been one less gun on the streets. I'm for it," she declared.
Over the past few months, the New York Post editorial page has defended the New York Police Department's controversial stop-and-frisk policy with myths and imbalanced coverage.
On Sunday, the Denver Post published an op-ed about climate change by Americans For Prosperity's Sean Paige, but did not disclose AFP's close ties to the Koch brothers -- fossil fuel magnates who benefit financially from convincing the public that our consumption of fossil fuels is a harmless indulgence with no ill effects. The companion counter-argument by children's author and astronomer Jeffrey Bennett tellingly noted "Despite any debate you may hear in politics or the media, there is no scientific doubt that global warming is tilting the odds the wrong way."
In his op-ed, Paige suggests that we are simply experiencing "natural" "climate fluctuation" and argues that the specter of "climate change" is "the ultimate all-purpose excuse" to evade responsibility for disaster or increase regulations.
Deriding Americans concerned about climate change is nothing new for AFP. Nor is it surprising, if one knows that AFP was founded and bankrolled by David and Charles Koch, whose Koch Industries is a major player in fossil fuel markets. The Denver Post's failure to explain what AFP is, which speaks to Paige's potential agenda and the trustworthiness of his claims, is a significant breach of the duties it owes to its readership.
Furthermore, in providing Paige and AFP such a prominent platform, the Post has contributed to an unfortunate national trend in failed media coverage of the wildfires in the West - ignoring or diminishing how climate change increases the risk of fire there. Paige's column dismisses the effects of climate change as a "cop-out," and completely ignores significant research indicating climate change has contributed to warmer and drier conditions. A study by the U.S. Global Change Research Program sums it up:
Wildfires in the United States are already increasing due to warming. In the West, there has been a nearly fourfold increase in large wildfires in recent decades, with greater fire frequency, longer fire durations, and longer wildfire seasons. This increase is strongly associated with increased spring and summer temperatures and earlier spring snowmelt, which have caused drying of soils and vegetation.
In two editorials over the past week, the Las Vegas Review-Journal argued that Nevada should opt-out of the Medicaid provision in the Affordable Care Act. The paper's arguments completely ignored the potential benefits Medicaid expansion would have to the citizens and economy of Nevada.
Radio host Bill Nojay and station executive Bob Savage, of WYSL 1040 AM in New York, attempted Monday to deflect attention from racist on-air attacks the pair made last week toward Democratic Congressional candidate and third-generation Japanese-American Nate Shinagawa. Nojay and Savage both disavowed any wrongdoing and accused the "political left" of manufacturing outrage after a segment on Friday's The Bill Nojay Show featured the two making fun of Shinagawa's name, claiming he comes from the "People's Republic," and playing over a minute of a popular Japanese song from the 1960's commonly known as "Sukiyaki."
From the July 6 edition of The Bill Nojay Show:
Savage's peers weren't as dismissive of the segment's potential to offend listeners. As Hornell, NY Mayor Shawn Hogan told the Canisteo Valley News, "I think it was a definite slap at Nate Shinagawa's Asian heritage." Furthermore, one of The Nojay Show's affiliate's, AM 1480 WLEA, did not air that portion of the show on Friday due to its controversial nature.
Earlier this week, the Orange County Register's Pat Brennan, the California paper's science editor, broke from the editorial board's established (and dismissive) opinion regarding the effects of global warming. In a news article discussing the massive wildfires in the West and the heat wave scorching the Midwest and the East Coast, Brennan looked at the two events and asked, "Are we feeling the effects of global warming?" The article cited scientific evidence supporting the existence of global warming and the dangers carbon dioxide emissions pose to the environment.
Brennan provided a look at the global warming reality that has been consistently denied or ignored on the paper's editorial page. For example, the editorial board of the Register claimed that global warming is a non-threat and that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a "highly questionable, perhaps meaningless, goal." The editorial page has been filled with columns attacking efforts to reduce carbon dioxide in our atmosphere instead of acknowledging what the vast majority of scientists concur upon -- that man-made climate change is real.
The Register's editorial section has also provided a place for writer Mark Landsbaum to attack global warming. He called greenhouse gases "harmless" and claimed that those who believe humans have contributed to increased global temperatures are committing a logical fallacy.
Yesterday, the United States Supreme Court struck down three of the four contested provisions of Arizona's anti-immigrant law, SB 1070. In the wake of the decision, the Washington Post, New York Times, and Los Angeles Times all allowed anti-immigrant voices to peddle misinformation about the ruling's impact. The LA Times quoted an Americans for Legal Immigration (ALIPAC) statement while the Washington Post quoted both Dan Stein of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) -- a Southern Poverty Law Center labeled- hate group -- and Roy Beck of NumbersUSA, a group associated with white supremacists and the notorious anti-immigrant activist John Tanton. However, while both the LA Times and the Post gave limited space to these voices, the New York Times provided an extensive section to Mr. Stein and FAIR:
Both sides claimed on Monday that they had achieved important gains. Dan Stein, the president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform, or FAIR, a group that supported Arizona, called the ruling "an important victory."
"Even if the Obama administration refuses to enforce most immigration laws, states have the power to deter and discourage illegal aliens from settling or remaining within their jurisdictions," Mr. Stein said.
He said the ruling, coupled with a Supreme Court decision last year that affirmed an Arizona law requiring employers to verify the legal immigration status of employees, gives states "broad latitude to carry out a policy of attrition through enforcement."
Mr. Stein's organization supported a small but determined corps of lawyers who created legal blueprints for Arizona's and other state laws that were intended to drive out illegal immigrants by making daily life impossible for them in this country.
As a Media Matters study previously found, the top five newspapers in America cited anti-immigrant groups hundreds of times since the introduction of SB1070 in January 2010. In addition, as was the case with FAIR's description here, the New York Times often whitewashed the group's ugly past, including its strong ties to Tanton and the fact that it has received over $1.2 million from the white supremacist Pioneer Fund. The Times had previously published two articles detailing the group's affiliations to Tanton and white nationalist organizations and acknowledging FAIR's effort to scrub Tanton's name from their website following the initial report.
Unfortunately, the Washington Post and the New York Times weren't the only ones to provide a platform for Stein to air his anti-immigrant views. Immediately following the ruling, CNN hosted Stein for an interview to air his reaction to the ruling. Unsurprisingly, CNN's John King also failed to note Stein's unsavory ties, instead calling FAIR "the country's largest immigration reform group."
The Orange County Register's stance on climate change and efforts to contain greenhouse gases that contribute to the current warming trends isn't exactly in line with widely accepted scientific data. This is due in part to the presence of climate change contrarian Mark Landsbaum on its editorial board. Landsbaum, who had a previous stint at the Los Angeles Times before joining the Register, has penned numerous columns for the Register attacking climate science and cap-and-trade initiatives going as far back as 2008.
Landsbaum seems to deny basic physics in his columns. He calls carbon dioxide a "so-called greenhouse gas" and claims that it is a "harmless" gas that "every human being creates with every exhale." In 2008, Landsbaum wrote:
Follow this logic: "The sun rises every morning. We wake up every morning. Therefore, our waking up causes the sun to rise." Baloney, right?
Then why do so many people believe this: "Temperatures have increased. Man-made greenhouse gases have too. Therefore, global warming is caused by man." Sadly, most of the media and public have jumped to the conclusions that man is causing dangerous global warming, and unless we "do something," we'll all be toast.
Yes, Landsbaum apparently believes that the vast majority of climate scientists are basing an entire body of science on a logical fallacy. In fact, scientists established the greenhouse effect over a century ago: greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide trap more of the heat from the sun, raising temperatures on Earth. And contrary to Landsbaum's assertions, the National Research Council has stated:
There is a strong, credible body of evidence, based on multiple lines of research, documenting that climate is changing and that these changes are in large part caused by human activities.
As for Landsbaum's claim that every human breathes CO2 and therefore it can't be a pollutant, he fails to take into account what scientists are saying -- that excess discharges of CO2 are what harm the environment, not people breathing.
In addition to attacking the scientific evidence of global warming, Landsbaum has also attacked measures -- such as California's greenhouse gas reducing AB 32 -- which decrease pollution in the atmosphere and seek to reduce the harm to our environment. However, it's no surprise that his anti-science viewpoints echo those of his editorial board. Landsbaum, like the board, continually misinform their readers about the 'consequences' of the AB 32. In fact, AB 32, and the cap-and-trade program specifically, are extremely cost effective and successful ways of reducing harmful greenhouse gas levels.
As California's cap-and-trade program nears implementation in January 2013, AB 32 is sure to return to the editorial pages of the Register. However, don't expect the editorial board or its resident climate change denier Mark Landsbaum to discuss the harmful impacts of global warming or the successes other cap-and-trade programs have had in improving our environment.
To read our full report on the Orange County Register Editorial Board's attacks on AB 32 click HERE.
Over the last year, the Orange County Register has published numerous editorials that falsely portray California's pollution reduction program as costly, ineffective and arbitrarily imposed by state regulators. In fact, the program -- which incorporates a cap-and-trade program -- is part of a bipartisan law expected to benefit the state's economy.
Local TV station WALB 10 in Georgia recently ran a story which advised its viewers to shred voter registration forms that they did not receive from the state or local government. However, instead of explaining that many of these forms are specifically sanctioned by the Secretary of State's office and that these types of voter registration drives have laws which protect them, WALB struck a foreboding tone about the practices of third party registration organizations. From WALB:
With elections only a month a way [sic], election officials in Georgia are keeping an eye out for fraudulent registration information.
And some Georgians are getting voter forms in the mail that are not from the state.
This is what the Georgia voter registration form looks like, but a form very similar is being sent to some voters and it is not from the state.
Officials say if you get a form not from the state, they recommend you shred it immediately.
Officials say there is more voter registration fraud in presidential election years.
The company sending the registration forms is not violating any law, but if you fill out that form, it is going somewhere besides the state.
Unfortunately, WALB is not providing a true picture of the voter registration laws in Georgia. According to the Brennan Center for Justice, Georgia has a system which allows "anyone to circulate state voter registration forms without being certified" and that even those who aren't registered with the state can distribute and collect registration forms. In fact, the Secretary of State's office has an entire section of their website devoted to third party registration organizations, including a "Rules & Procedures" manual and rules sheet. Included on the site are the specific laws which govern third party voter registration initiatives and explain that the state should not "prevent private entities from conducting organized voter registration programs."
Indeed, as Page Gardner, Founder and CEO of The Voter Participation Center, explained, these forms were approved by the Georgia Secretary of States Office and even use the Georgia voter registration form. Despite the way in which WALB framed it, these applications are legitimate and attempts to diminish the role of third party voter registration drives only hurt the ability of qualified voters to become registered.
UPDATE: WALB later clarified their story.
In a June 19 Detroit Free Press opinion piece, guest writer Gary Wolfram advocated for the privatization of Michigan's prison system. The Free Press editors provided a rather innocuous description of Wolfram's credentials: "Gary Wolfram is the William Simon Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Hillsdale College." An honest description of Wolfram, however, would also note that he is an adjunct scholar at the right-wing Mackinac Center for Public Policy, which is a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the "largest conservative state-level policy think-tank in the nation." While the Free Press has in the past identified Mackinac connections to their contributors, Wolfram's affiliation appears to have been overlooked.
Accurately describing Wolfram's credentials is vital to a reader's ability to judge whether Wolfram's opinions are academically objective and trustworthy or tainted by an agenda and background that should temper expectations of accuracy. Here, the latter is certainly the case -- the Mackinac Center has been described as "tied at the hip with the Republican Party establishment," and its donors include the hyper-conservative Charles G. Koch Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation. Mackinac was integral to Michigan's controversial Public Act 4, which "lets the governor name appointees to take over financially troubled cities." (In fact, the Republican governor appointed a former Mackinac scholar to one of these "emergency manager" positions in Pontiac, MI.)
Mackinac Center research is often of low quality and because of this it should be treated with considerable skepticism by the public, policy makers and political leaders. Indeed, much of the work of the Mackinac Center may have cause more confusion than clarity in the public discussion of the issues that it has addressed by systematically ignoring evidence that does not agree with its proposed solutions.
On the issue of prison privatization specifically, the Mackinac Center has been pushing a privatization agenda for years, hand in hand with ALEC and the private incarceration industry. Mother Jones highlighted some of Mackinac's conflicts of interest (emphasis added):
A cause underlying much of the [Mackinac Center's] work is privatization. Its scholars have called for privatizing Amtrak, prisons, and even the state's flagship university, the University of Michigan. The center publishes the Michigan Privatization Report, and offers how-tos on privatizing school districts and suggests local contractors available for hire to replace existing public services.
The Mackinac Center is also connected to the American Legislative Exchange Council, the private organization that allows corporations and lobbyists to craft legislation for use at the state level. For instance, as NPR reported last fall, Arizona's draconian immigration bill was based on a "model bill" written by private industry, including the Corrections Corporation of America, the nation's leading private prisons company that operates corrections facilities around the country.
In other words, Wolfram is part of an extensive network of right-wing ideologues pushing an agenda for the benefit of their private industry funders. But as far as the Free Press readers know, Wolfram is just a professor of economics and public policy at a small, local college.