Jon Barela, Garrey Carruthers, Miss Emily Litella and the Journal’s Silver Linings (Economics) Playbook

May 21st, 2013 · No Comments · budget policy, economy, journalism

By Arthur Alpert

Don’t tell me the Albuquerque Journal is not wonderful in its fashion. Not journalistically, of course, but in its tireless efforts skew the news to fit its agenda.

Only the other day, you may remember, I was pointing out how the editors kinda, sorta downplayed a Dan Boyd story that – because of its “wow” factor – merited Page One. They relegated it to the Metro section below the fold

The editors’ message was clear. It was no big deal that the Governor’s Finance Secretary did a Gilda Radner as Emily Litella – “never mind” – about his 11th hour misstatements to the 2013 Legislature.

These statements arguably helped the cause of a tax package that treated corporations kindly, ostensibly to spur economic development.

This is a core Journal belief, that lower taxes for the rich and corporate spur the economy, though the evidence for that proposition is (to be kind) meager. And as you know, Journal management sees no problem with a newspaper shaping its news coverage according to its core beliefs.

So the Boyd story got that treatment Wednesday, May 15, but three days later, the editors played another of his accounts prominently, higher, at the top of the Metro cover.  This was well deserved, I’m sure, and the editors’ decision had nothing to do with the headline:

Barela: Tax package saved, created jobs”.

The Governor’s economic development secretary, Jon Barela, told a legislative committee the state would have lost roughly 1,500 jobs if not for the tax package.

Barela cited no evidence for his assertion, as Boyd politely noted in paragraph four. Also, some listeners, including Sen. Jacob Candelaria, an Albuquerque Democrat, were skeptical.

That’s it. I wanted only to offer a little insight into how the Journal uses placement of stories in its wonderfulness.

But there’s another Journal technique called forgetting the story that tells us more. Case in point, the Journal ignored Garey Carruthers’ remarks to the same legislative panel.

I am aware only because Milan Simonich featured them in his May 17 New Mexico Capital Report. What grabbed Simonich, and me, and just may explain the Journal’s omission is that Carruthers departed from the party line on economic development.

He did not squarely oppose the Governor’s tax package, mind you, but the NMSU President (and former governor) did caution against baiting companies with tax incentives. Simonich wrote:

“A Republican, Carruthers said these programs can backfire. Help one company or one business sector and you may disenfranchise others, he said.”

Carruthers also told the legislators New Mexico is the only Western state not showing economic recovery and needs a thorough workforce analysis.

“For instance,” Simonich’s account continued, “ Spaceport America has no plan for the precise workforce it needs to excel in space travel and transportation, Carruthers said. The Spaceport in Sierra County is a $209 million venture built by tax dollars.”

He talked about improving education in the state, too.

Funny, isn’t it? Carruthers’ comments, which do not track the Oligarchy’s silver linings playbook, fail the Journal’s newsworthy test. And Barela’s unsubstantiated assertions pass with flying colors.

If you want to ponder that, please do it later because I have another example of what makes the Journal wonderful in its fashion.

The Journal’s Business Outlook has been hosting an exchange of letters between the omnipresent Paul J. Gessing of the Rio Grande Foundation, in which he recites the gospel according to the Koch brothers, and one Dan Metzger of Santa Fe, who doesn’t attend that church. (A quick web search reveals he’s a retired scientist and student of economics.)

Anyway, Monday, May 6, Gessing, in arguing for austerity, characterized Metzger as a “deficit denier. ”

Today (I’m writing Monday, May 20) Metzger offers a sophisticated rebuttal in which he says the federal debt is not a present danger, austerity is.

And – here’s the punch line – Outlook’s headline for his letter reads:

Austerity no panacea to U.S. debt crisis”.

Get it? The Journal’s rubric describing his letter insists there’s a debt crisis. This atop Metzger’s assertion no such crisis exists, it’s a fiction!

Give me a moment, please, to stop giggling. (I would rather laugh than cry.)

OK, now, let’s consider the headline writer’s process. It’s possible he or she “just knows” there’s a debt crisis and perpetrated the rubric without thinking. After all, the Journal has been promoting that proposition for years.

It’s also possible that the writer wrote the head smiling and muttering, “Take that, you dangerous Krugmanite”

I have no idea what transpired, of course.

I do know the headline does not serve the letter.

It serves brilliantly, however to remind us of the daily’s tireless efforts to skew the news to fit its agenda, wonderful in its fashion.

UPDATE: In all fairness, Joe Monahan made the Emily Litella – Tom Clifford comparison first and deserves credit for same. Read all about it here.

Tags: ············

No Comments so far ↓

There are no comments yet...Kick things off by filling out the form below.

Leave a Comment