More Journalistic Offenses of Commission and Omission

September 17th, 2014 · No Comments · economy, financial coverage, health care reform, inequality, journalism, polling

By Arthur Alpert

Some days this gig is frustrating. No, that’s incorrect; it’s frustrating most days because I cannot decide if I should alert you to Albuquerque Journal management’s daily journalistic offenses of commission or its offenses of omission.

Should I say the headline on Winthrop Quigley’s Sept. 14 UpFront column on commercial insurance rates managed to miss the most fascinating part of his complex analysis –the impact of one pricey new hepatitis C drug – while succeeding in bad-mouthing Obamacare?

Or, alternatively, that the Journal has totally ignored the issue of refunding the Export-Import Bank, which subsidizes major American enterprises. This failure has nothing to do, I’m sure, with the Journal’s determination to downplay the struggle between Tea Partiers who oppose and conservatives who support the ExIm Bank.

Oh, and speaking of that struggle within the Right, you would not know from the Journal’s coverage of the US response to ISIS that there are rightists warning against intervention. Instead, the usual suspects beat the war drums.


Should I point out the Sept. 14 story on the Journal’s poll showing Governor Martinez widening her lead over Attorney General King dealt only with that? The editors found no room to note that a NY Times/CBS poll found Martinez’s lead shrinking. (See NM Telegram, Sept. 12.) Nor have they found room to cite the NYT/CBS poll elsewhere.

Or that the editors have neglected to inform you that, as the NY Times Upshot noted Sept. 3, per capita Medicare spending is actually falling, even as they have published several more AP Washington reports on Obamacare’s terribleness.

Should I note the Journal’s amazing hire, a mind-reading headline writer? “Winter wants to build bridges, cut drama” was the headline atop Jon Swedien’s interview with interim APS superintendent Brad Winter on page one, Sept. 16.

Poor Swedien. Lacking ESP, he reported only what Winter said. The writer of the rubric, however, saw into the politician’s soul.

In this case, the problem would appear to be basic journalistic ignorance, not bias. I find that cheering.

However, while it’s fine that Swedien failed to identify Winter as of the same political persuasion as the governor and interim education secretary, the editors’ decision to put the story on the front page suggests we should keep an eye on the Journal’s treatment of the APS situation.

Returning to omissions, I must point out the Journal’s failure to report a big Standard and Poor’s story because it’s really odd. The Journal loved and respected S&P when it lowered its long-term credit rating on the U.S. (Barack Obama, president) Aug. 5, 2011. The editors’ appreciation of S&P was so strong they never mentioned it lied about bond values, thereby abetting other banksters in perpetrating the great Wall Street heist of 2008.

Yet despite all that, the Journal ignored the S&P study this past August 4 that argued income and wealth inequality is causing slower economic growth.

Pretty good story! The Wall Street Journal reported it August 5. And Neil Irwin wrote in the NY Times the same day:

“The fact that S&P, an apolitical organization that aims to produce reliable research for bond investors and others, is raising alarms about the risks that emerge from income inequality is a small but important sign of how a debate that has been largely confined to the academic world and left-of-center political circles is becoming more mainstream.”

Mainstream, maybe, but not in Albuquerque’s faux newspaper, where debate is not always welcome and discussion of inequality is – what’s the word?

Oh yes, carping.

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