Today the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Gilbert Ross, who asserts that "[a]s a threat to our nation's security, allowing imported drugs into our pharmacies ranks just below terrorism" because drug reimportation "is a sure path to destroying our drug industry." The Journal identified "Dr. Ross" as "medical director of the American Council on Science and Health," which certainly sounds like a credible authority on reform of our health care system.
But what the Journal didn't share with readers is that Ross previously served time in a federal prison after defrauding New York's Medicaid program by turning society's most vulnerable into drug dealers. In a 2005 Mother Jones expose, Bill Hogan reported that Dr. Ross worked with clinics that "raked in indigent patients-most of them homeless, alcoholic, or drug-addicted men-by offering them prescriptions for expensive drugs that they could resell on the street for cash," in return for bodies on which to perform "medically unnecessary examinations, procedures, and tests." You remember the doctors' oath: First, do no harm ... unless you've got an opportunity to steal millions from taxpayers, then do that first.
From Hogan's Mother Jones piece:
But Ross may not be ACSH's most prudent choice to question the credibility of other doctors, scientists, and researchers. Although the biography posted on the organization's website doesn't mention it, Ross actually had to abandon medicine on July 24, 1995, when his license to practice as a physician in New York was revoked by the unanimous vote of a state administrative review board for professional misconduct.
Instead of tending to patients, Ross spent all of 1996 at a federal prison camp in Schuylkill, Pennsylvania, having being sentenced to 46 months in prison for his participation in a scheme that ultimately defrauded New York's Medicaid program of approximately $8 million. During a three-and-a-half-week jury trial, federal prosecutors laid bare Ross' participation in an enterprise, headed by one Mohammed Sohail Khan, to operate four sham medical clinics in New York City. For his scam to work, Khan needed doctors who could qualify as Medicaid providers, and Ross responded to an ad in the New York Times promising "Very, very good $$."
The scheme was brazenly larcenous: The clinics, which were later described as "very dirty and unsanitary," raked in indigent patients-most of them homeless, alcoholic, or drug-addicted men-by offering them prescriptions for expensive drugs that they could resell on the street for cash. Word spread fast, and in streamed patients who, in exchange for the valuable scrip, would provide their Medicaid recipient numbers, give blood samples, and undergo medically unnecessary examinations, procedures, and tests. All of this brought Ross and the other doctors in the scheme money from the state's Medicaid system, a percentage of which was kicked back to Khan.
Ross testified at his trial that he had no knowledge of the ongoing fraud at the clinic where he worked. This defense only added to his troubles when, following his conviction, the judge ruled that Ross had obstructed justice by committing perjury. In addition to his prison sentence, Ross was ordered to forfeit $40,000 and, for his role in the fraud, to pay restitution of $612,855-an amount that was later reduced to $85,137 on the grounds that he didn't have the assets to pay more. In 1997 a judge sustained a decision by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to bar Ross for 10 years from participating in either the Medicare or Medicaid programs, holding that he was "a highly untrustworthy individual" who had, at Khan's clinics, engaged in "medically indefensible" practices.
If his appallingly unethical past isn't enough to establish that Ross is uniquely unqualified to comment on drug reimportation, it's also the case that his organization, the American Council for Science and Health, has been funded by the drug industry. Although ACSH no longer provides the names of its funders, in 1985 ACSH revealed that drug companies contributed to its budget. Whether ACSH continues to receive funds from the drug industry is one piece of information that would benefit Journal readers presented with an op-ed claiming a policy that hurts drug companies also threatens the country almost as much as terrorists do. But we probably shouldn't get ahead of ourselves with regard to whom the Journal's opinion page is supposed to benefit.
In his January 5 Wall Street Journal column, Pete du Pont used data from the U.K.'s Met Office Hadley Centre, which he misidentified as the "Hadley Climatic Research Unit," to suggest that climate change is not human-caused. In fact, according to the Met Office, "human activities like burning coal, oil and gas, have led to an increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, causing an enhanced greenhouse effect and extra warming," and as a result, "over the past century there has been an underlying increase in average temperatures which is continuing" and "[g]lobally, the ten hottest years on record have all been since 1997."
From a January 5, 2010 Wall Street Journal column by Pete du Pont:
Al Gore said the other week that climate change is "a principle in physics. It's like gravity. It exists." Sarah Palin agreed that "climate change is like gravity," but added a better conclusion: Each is "a naturally occurring phenomenon that existed long before, and will exist long after, any governmental attempts to affect it."
Over time climates do change. As author Howard Bloom wrote in The Wall Street Journal last month, in the past two million years there have been 60 ice ages, and in the 120,000 years since the development of modern man, "we've lived through 20 sudden global warmings," and of course this was before--long before--"smokestacks and tail pipes."
In our earth's history there has been both global warming and global cooling. In Roman times, from 200 B.C. to A.D. 600, it was warm; from 600 to 900 came the cold Dark Ages; more warming from 900 to 1300; and another ice age from 1300 to 1850. Within the past century, the earth has warmed by 0.6 degree Celsius, but within this period we can see marked shifts: cooling (1900-10), warming (1910-40), cooling again (1940 to nearly 1980), and since then a little warming. The Hadley Climatic Research Unit global temperature record shows that from 1980 to 2009, the world warmed by 0.16 degree Celsius per decade.
Wall Street Journal Travel Editor Scott McCartney writes:
Congress needs to confirm Erroll Southers as TSA chief. The agency has no leader because Congress has dragged its feet on his nomination. Mr. Southers, who has worked for the FBI and handled airport security for Los Angeles World Airports, gets high marks from colleagues and seems well-qualified. Someone needs to be in charge at TSA.
While it's true that "Congress" hasn't confirmed Southers, McCartney's formulation obscures rather than clarifies who is responsible for TSA lacking a leader. Souther's nomination is being blocked by Republican Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina:
Two Senate committees have given their bipartisan blessing to Erroll Southers, a former FBI special agent and a counterterrorism expert who is Obama's nominee. But DeMint has objected to a full Senate vote, saying he wants additional testimony to clarify Southers's stand on unionizing the TSA, a shift Democrats support.
That's why TSA lacks a chief: Not because "Congress has dragged its feet," but because a Republican Senator is blocking a nominee who has won bipartisan support, simply because the Senator doesn't want TSA to be unionized. And because the rules and customs of the U.S. Senate give one Senator the power to do such a thing.
One of the primary reasons why individual Senators are able to block nominees to important posts like this is that few people know it is happening, so there is little if any public pressure on the Senator to allow the nomination to proceed, or on the Senate to change its rules to prevent situations in which a single Senator is able to keep the President from filling key jobs. And one of the primary reasons why few people know it is happening is that journalists don't make it clear. McCartney's phrasing may appeal to people who like to rail against Congress as a bunch of pinheads who can't get anything done, but it doesn't actually do anything to actually illuminate why this thing isn't getting done -- and, therefore, doesn't actually do much to get it done.
Later, McCartney writes:
Body scanning technology needs to be stepped up and widely deployed. Terrorists carry bombs on their bodies, not their bags. We need to get past privacy concerns and spend the money to get machines in wide use.
But McCartney doesn't explain what the privacy concerns with the machines are, or why he thinks they are outweighed by their benefits. He simply announces that "We need to get past privacy concerns." Call me crazy, but I like to hear a reason or two before I get on board with dismissing "privacy concerns."
From the December 22 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:
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Conservative media have cited a study by insurance company WellPoint to claim that under health care reform, younger people would face premium increases of up to 178 percent. However, that study did not take into account subsidies provided by legislation to assist those buying insurance, which the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated would substantially lower premium costs for many individuals purchasing coverage on their own through the exchanges.
From the December 16 edition of Fox News' On the Record with Greta Van Susteren:
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The New York Times' David Carr looks at the Wall Street Journal under Rupert Murdoch's ownership, complete with complaints from the paper's reporters that the Journal has lurched rightward. One example of that shift caught my eye:
Mr. Baker, a neoconservative columnist of acute political views, has been especially active in managing coverage in Washington, creating significant grumbling, if not resistance, from the staff there. Reporters say the coverage of the Obama administration is reflexively critical, the health care debate is generally framed in terms of costs rather than benefits - "health care reform" is a generally forbidden phrase - and global warming skeptics have gotten a steady ride. (Of course, objectivity is in the eyes of the reader.)
That's the kind of fairly subtle that often goes unnoticed by reporters, but it's actually quite common. During the 2007/2008 presidential primary debates, for example, it was common for the Democratic candidates to be asked only one question about health care reform: How you gonna pay for it? (The Republicans, meanwhile, were not typically asked how they would pay for their tax cuts. In one debate, MSNBC's Chris Matthews even encouraged the GOPers to propose more tax cuts, rather challenging them to explain how they'd pay for any of it.)
And this kind of thing isn't limited to health care coverage. Last March, President Obama unveiled a budget outline that cut taxes for the vast majority of Americans, while raising them on those who make more than $200,000 a year. And, as I explained at the time, much of the media focused like a laser on the tax increases, all but ignoring the cuts:
The [Washington Post] article was chock-full of details about the tax hikes, referring to "nearly $1 trillion in new taxes over the next decade on the nation's highest earners ... $318 billion in new taxes on families in the highest income brackets, who would see new limits on the value of the tax breaks from itemized deductions. ... That proposal is a fraction of the new taxes Obama proposes to heap on the nation's highest earners. ... Hedge fund managers would take an even bigger hit. ... Oil and gas companies would be asked to pay an extra $31 billion over the next 10 years ... Corporations that operate overseas could expect to pay $210 billion more over the next 10 years."
By my count, at least 484 of the article's 1,284 words were about the tax increases in Obama's proposal. Among those 484 words was this quote from House GOP leader John Boehner: "The era of big government is back, and Democrats are asking you to pay for it." That simply isn't true, unless you make more than $200,000 a year -- though the Post simply presented Boehner's claim without rebuttal.
And how did the Post address the tax cuts in Obama's plan? The article devoted just 39 words to them. Among other omissions, the Post completely ignored the fact that the plan makes permanent the Bush tax cuts for the vast majority of Americans.
And by the following Monday, tax cuts had disappeared entirely from the Post's reporting. Under the headline "Aides Defend President's Budget; White House and Fiscal Conservatives Set for Showdown," the Post reported Obama's budget would be "raising taxes on top income earners and oil and gas companies" and again quoted a Republican criticizing the tax increases. But there wasn't so much as a hint that most Americans would see their tax bills go down.
The New York Times' coverage of Obama's proposal was little better -- and cable news was often even worse.
Here's one indication of how hysterical the media went over potential tax increases for very few Americans: both The New York Times and ABC News rushed to produce reports about wealthy taxpayers purportedly seeking to reduce their incomes to avoid paying the higher tax rates. The ABC article in particular was deeply flawed, prompting widespread condemnation that led to an editor's note and re-write that improved things -- if only a little.
The conservative framing reporters are detecting in Wall Street Journal articles lately is certainly not limited to news outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch. It's quite common across the board, and is a key piece of evidence that the "liberal media" is no such thing.
P.S.: Look back at those examples of complaints from WSJ reporters: "global warming skeptics have gotten a steady ride." That's pretty clearly true of the Washington Post (among others), too.
From Bret Stephens' December 8 Wall Street Journal column:
[T]he really interesting question is less about the facts than it is about the psychology. Last week, I suggested that funding flows had much to do with climate alarmism. But deeper things are at work as well.
One of those things, I suspect, is what I would call the totalitarian impulse. This is not to say that global warming true believers are closet Stalinists. But their intellectual methods are instructively similar. Consider:
[...]• Monocausalism: For the anti-Semite, the problems of the world can invariably be ascribed to the Jews; for the Communist, to the capitalists. And as the list above suggests, global warming has become the fill-in-the-blank explanation for whatever happens to be the problem.
Huffington Post's Danny Shea writes:
The Wall Street Journal has scrubbed an article from its website after learning that it was plagiarized from several sources.
"A Nov. 10 "New Global Indian" online column by New York City freelance writer Mona Sarika has been found to contain information that was plagiarized from several publications, including the Washington Post, Little India, India Today and San Francisco magazine," a notice to readers now reads where the column once lived.
"In the column, 'Homeward Bound,' about H-1B visa holders returning to India, Ms. Sarika also re-used direct quotes from other publications, without attribution, and changed the original speakers' names to individuals who appear to be fabricated," the notice continued. "The column is the only work by Ms. Sarika to be published by the Journal, and it has been removed from the Journal's Web sites."
The original article — near 1,200 words — described Sarika as "a graduate student and freelance writer who hails from India and currently lives in New York City."
Now if News Corps could just get a handle on Fox News' penchant for doctoring of video, we'd have some real progress.
The Wall Street Journal's Gerald Seib has a piece about Sen. Joe Lieberman's opposition to the public option that serves as a clear reminder of why politicians lie: they know they won't get called on it.
Mr. Lieberman also notes that the public option wasn't a big feature of past health-overhaul plans or the campaign debate of 2008.
Well, no. Mr. Lieberman doesn't "note" that. Mr. Lieberman lies about that.
Lieberman claims that "if you look at the campaign last year, presidential, you can't find a mention of public option...It was added after the election." In fact, the Obama-Biden campaign health care plan included a public option, and the New York Times reported as far back as May 2007 that "Mr. Obama would create a public plan for individuals who cannot obtain group coverage through their employers or the existing government programs." And when it is pointed out to Lieberman that his claims are incorrect, he reiterates them.
Seib, continuing directly:
So he says he finds it odd that it now has become a central demand -- which it has, he suspects, because some Democrats wanted a full-bore, single-payer, government-run health plan, and were offered a public option as a consolation.
But it isn't "odd" at all -- because Lieberman is lying when he says the public option wasn't part of the discussion until post-election. Seib completely gives him a free pass on those lies. Worse, he presents Lieberman's lies as the truth.
What happens when reporters present politicians' lies as truth? They encourage politicians to lie. That's pretty obvious, isn't it? Gerald Seib and the Wall Street Journal are encouraging Joe Lieberman to lie about health care.
Seib also quotes Lieberman's claims that he opposes a public option for fear of increasing the debt -- and, no, Seib does not bother pointing out that CBO says health care reform containing a public option will reduce the deficit.
It's important to keep in mind that Seib's entire piece is about Lieberman's opposition to health care reform. This isn't a case in which a reporter inserts a quick paragraph about Lieberman into a larger health care article without fact-checking his statements. That would be bad enough. But this is so much worse: an entire piece dedicated to Lieberman's opposition that presents Lieberman's false claims as truth, and neglects to mention that the CBO contradicts his claims.
In a November 24 Wall Street Journal column, News Corp. vice president William McGurn wrote of the Senate health care reform bill: "Conservatives and Republicans rattle off any number of objections to the bill: It would bust the budget; it would force many families to replace private coverage with government; it would subsidize abortion; it would ration care, etc. These are all variations on the major argument: It's not going to work."
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, former Bush official Karl Rove criticized the "degree" to which the Obama administration has released "news on contentious issues late on Friday," adding that "such tactics ... can look disingenuous if they undercut public debate on substantive policy changes"; later on Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade cited Rove's column and asserted that the administration's use of this tactic means it did not have to "confront the questioners." In fact, the Bush administration made numerous substantial and often controversial announcements on Fridays, including news about the Abu Ghraib scandal and a report related to the Pentagon's military analyst program.
In a November 19 editorial, The Wall Street Journal falsely claimed that recent task force recommendations for breast cancer screenings advises doctors to "cut off all screening in woman over 75" in order to fearmonger that the recommendations are a form of government rationing of care to the elderly -- that "grandma is probably going to die anyway, so why waste the money?" In fact, the task force made no recommendation related to women older than 75, stating that "the current evidence is insufficient to assess the additional benefits and harms of screening mammography in women 75 years or older."
A November 13 Wall Street Journal op-ed claimed that loans made "under the pressure of" the Community Reinvestment Act helped to "fuel the greatest housing bubble our nation has ever seen." The claim that affordable housing initiatives were responsible for the housing crisis is a widely discredited myth.