Thursday, January 27, 2011

There They Go Again

John Boner and Eric Cantor have been talking big about cutting the defense budget, but plenty of members of their own caucus don't like the idea. At. All. Sez Rep. Howard McKeon of California:
I cannot say it strongly enough: I will not support any measures that stress our forces and jeopardize the lives of our men and women in uniform...
Brave words indeed.

But guess what Howard didn't say strongly enough? In fact, he didn't say it at all -- strongly, weakly, or mediumly -- that in the last election cycle he received $300,000.00 in campaign contributions from defense contractors. Last cycle was especially kind to Howard, since it brought with it nearly 40% of the $778,000.00 he's received from the masters of war since 1992. Always one to know on which side his howitzer shells are oiled, Howard certainly won't be complaining about unrestricted corporate campaign contributions any time soon. Yep: Those defense contractors is just real good folks...

You know who else is real good folks? Elisabeth Bumiller and Thom Shanker, the New York Times reporters who wrote this story. In a 17-paragraph story, they buried the fact that Howard was the single biggest recipient last election of defense contractor largesse in the 12th 'graph. The Times has editorialized against the influence of unrestricted corporate donations. Is it too much too ask their reporters that they elevate the single most relevant fact in the story to place where people might actually read it?

6 comments:

Roy said...

Hmmmmm... Boehner committed Republican blasphemy by suggesting a cut in the military budget? How did that happen?

Has anyone brought up that burying of McKeon's funding in the letters to the editor or on one of the Times's blogs?

Steven said...

Check out the latest Rolling Stone's magazine for a finely worded attack on Mr. Boehner and his compatriot? Cantor.

tnlib said...

It's very important that we point these things out, but since we tend to be preaching to the choir, Roy is right that we need to write letters to the editors and leave comments on the blogs. We simply have to become more pro-active.

paula said...

Well said! Here, here!

I saw something like that last week when it was reported all over the place that Illinois was raising its state income tax 66%. Remember that? Yeah, well, their old rate was 3%. What have they been running the state on, the lottery? Hunting licenses? Who pays a paltry 3% state income tax? That's chickenfeed, especially for a large state like Illinois, with Chicago and multiple mid-sized urban centers, prisons, lots of highways, airports, etc. A better lede would have been: Illinois is finally catching up with the rest of the country by raising its income tax rate to something closer to that of other states its size.

The Boston Globe did a similar disservice this week when it reported on the governor's proposed budget, which will reduce state funds coming down to local governments. If you look at what the state proposes to send back to towns and cities this year compared to what it has send down over the past four administrations (including Dukakis, Celluci, Swift and Romney) you see that Patrick is actually sending back substantially more than any of the the last three, especially Romney, who all but bankrupted many small towns to save us a whopping 3/5 of 1% in income tax. I wanted to send him my %50 and beg him not to gut our fire department and close two of our schools. But I digress...

The Globe headline focused on the pain of the cuts without putting them in context, but they include a chart for those of us who read past the lede.

Even the great grey lady and her offspring now stoop to titillating, instead of informing, explaining and putting in context. But, hey, look what they're up against over at Faux News et al.

K. said...

OK, inspired by you all, I sent the following to The Times:

Buried deep in “G.O.P. Splits On Plans To Cut Defense Budget” was part of the most relevant fact in the story: That in the 2010 House election, Rep. Howard McKeon (R-CA) was the leading recipient of donations from defense contractors. Not only should this have been disclosed early in the story, the Times should have added that for 2010 election Mr. McKeon received $300,000 of the total $778,000 in donations he has received from the defense industry since first being elected to the House in 1992. That’s right: Thanks to unrestricted corporate campaign contributions, the 2010 election brought Mr McKeon 40% of the donations given to him by defense contractors in 20 years. That’s not free speech. It is influence peddling.

paula said...

Thanks, K! And, you do it so well!