A Collaboration in Service to an Agenda

December 5th, 2011 · No Comments · economy, tax policy

By Arthur Alpert

The Sunday, Dec. 4 Albuquerque Journal was nothing short of a triumph. It was a tour de force – the editors turned almost the entire newspaper into a weapon of political advocacy.

I plan to substantiate that accusation later in the week, but today let’s look at just one story.

It takes precedence, you see, because it originated at the Associated Press’s Washington Bureau, about which I just wrote.

And this “story” was an editorial.

Needless to say (but I’ll say it, anyway) it argued exactly what the Albuquerque Journal advocates in its editorials, the preponderance of its Op Ed columns and by manipulating its “news” pages.

Andrew Taylor, who benefits from the (weird) Associated Press Washington Bureau policy permitting reporters to opine in news stories, wrote the piece Journal editors chose to run. It appeared on A7 under the following (accurate) headline:

“Year-End Spending Spree to Add $200B to Deficit”.

Please keep in mind, because Taylor never says it, that his article assumes the nation’s top challenge is the deficit, which we must cut immediately, not the sputtering economy.

Of course, that assumption is a political stance.

It’s highly debatable, too. Not only do many (perhaps, most) political economists disagree, so do most Americans, judging from polls in which they list the economy and lack of jobs as more troubling.

You know that, you’re reading this blog on journalism, but a faithful Journal reader might not. Editors rarely publish those political economists or polls whose results it disagrees with.

Returning to Taylor’s editorial, it does indeed use the word “spree” to describe the following:

• The payroll tax cut.

• Extended unemployment benefits.

• Anticipated action to spare doctors from cuts in their Medicare reimbursements.

Now wait a cotton pickin’ moment!

If Taylor’s going to list the payroll tax cut ($120 billion) as an expenditure, why doesn’t he apply the same logic to the still-in-force Bush-era tax cuts whose cost is estimated at $1.3 trillion?

And how come his “spree” doesn’t include the monthly bills on the $1.26 trillion total cost of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq?

And if rescinding the cut to MDs makes the list, why not the monthly cost of the $272 billion prescription drug program?

For that matter, why don’t the dollars subsidizing industries as diverse as banking, oil and pharmaceuticals qualify for the “spree?”

Because, I suspect, Taylor is writing an editorial.

And, I surmise, he believes it’s acceptable to spend public dollars to benefit major corporations and the military but finds repugnant efforts to bolster the general welfare.

Taylor’s editorial also includes a recounting of recent failed attempts to rein in the deficit, but nothing about raising taxes – no matter what conservatives like Pete Domenici recommend.

Most crucial, though, is that Taylor never states his fundamental political assumption that the deficit is a clear and present danger.

By using his editorial, however, the Journal makes explicit, even flaunts its collaboration with AP’s Washington Bureau in service to an agenda, not journalism.

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