Liberal Media Bias – Caught Redhanded Edition

Everyone with an iota of sense knows the NY Times is one of the most biased media outlets in the country…but seldom does the bias show itself as blatantly as this.

The headline?  ”A Holdout Will Support Democrats’ Health Bill” – and the subject is Mary Landrieu.  The implication is clear – Senator Landrieu has thrown her support behind the health care bill moving through the Senate.

Only she HASN’T – and was at pains to say so:

“My vote today to move forward on this important debate should in no way to be construed as . . .an indication of how I might vote as this debate comes to an end,” she warned in comments on the Senate floor. “It is a vote to move forward. … But much more work needs to be done.”

In direct contradiction of the Times‘ headline, then, Landrieu made it clear she is voting to move forward on bringing the bill to the floor for debate (indeed, that’s all she could have voted on, as that is the matter at hand) – and that her vote should not be construed as anything more.  Good news for the Dems?  Yes, indeed – but hardly a declaration of support for the final bill…

Of such little things are big things made – and it’s a telling example of how the mindset of the editors of the Times influences not only their opinion pages, but their “hard news”, as well…

UPDATE 1:31 p.m.: Landrieu is also at pains to assure us that $300 million in funds for Louisiana had NOTHING AT ALL to do with her vote to move forward…I’ll leave it to you to examine the credibility of that statement…

UPDATE 1:45 p.m.: Mary Lincoln votes to move the bill forward, too…let’s not sugarcoat, big win for the Dems…they’ve passed an important hurdle…

19 comments to Liberal Media Bias – Caught Redhanded Edition

  • I can’t support a filibuster to cut off debate before it starts. I have not even called Bayh on this issue. Sorry GOP. That’s farther than I’m willing to go.

    Of course, I’m on record as being opposed to filibusters in their current form in any case.

    Which does not mean, by the way, that I think the GOP should not try to filibuster. I think the minority party should use whatever tools they have available. I just think that this particular tool should not be available.

    Anyway, when they get to the cloture vote to end debate, let me know. I’ll call Bayh then.

    Interestingly enough, I have contacted Dan Burton, Evan Bayh and Richard Lugar on this issue. Congressman Burton is the only one to send me any sort of response. Yes, it was a form letter, but given how many people are likely contacting their congressmen on this issue, I wasn’t offended. At least he (or someone on his staff) bothered to respond.

  • Peter

    I think you’re grasping at straws here. Maybe you have a misleading or imprecise headline, but it is clarified in the article. What you don’t have is liberal media bias, let alone evidence that “the NY Times is one of the most biased media outlets in the country.” It begs the question of which media outlets in the country are less biased, or more reliable, in reporting the news. Who would you name as a better source of news?

    The more interesting article from today’s New York Times is in direct contradiction with your statement last week that the stimulus plan is “a big-time failure, and no amount of spin will take that away.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/21/business/economy/21stimulus.html?hpw

  • Peter

    Senator Lincoln also voted for opening debate, and the Republican Party calls it a vote for the health reforms:

    Amber Wilkerson Marchand, spokeswoman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, issued a statement before Lincoln even stopped talking.

    “Blanche Lincoln’s vote tonight is unequivocally a vote in favor of President Obama’s $2.5 trillion government-run health care plan. Obviously the pressure from the left wing of her party finally got to Blanche Lincoln.

    “She not only reversed her previous statements that a government-run plan was too costly, but she completely ignored the increasing unemployment rate in her state and the growing national deficit when she announced that she will cast the 60th vote in favor of President Obama’s costly health care plan tonight,” Marchand said.

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/11/21/senate.health.bill.expect/index.html

    Obviously the New York Times is simply repeating GOP talking points. It’s a clear case of right wing media bias.

  • Peter said:

    The more interesting article from today’s New York Times is in direct contradiction with your statement last week that the stimulus plan is “a big-time failure, and no amount of spin will take that away.”

    Typical quote:

    Among Democrats in the White House and Congress, “there was a considerable amount of hand-wringing that it was too small, and I sympathized with that argument,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Economy.com and an occasional adviser to lawmakers.

    Even so, “the stimulus is doing what it was supposed to do — it is contributing to ending the recession,” he added, citing the economy’s third-quarter expansion by a 3.5 percent seasonally adjusted annual rate. “In my view, without the stimulus, G.D.P. would still be negative and unemployment would be firmly over 11 percent. And there are a little over 1.1 million more jobs out there as of October than would have been out there without the stimulus.”

    The other analysts interviewed said pretty much the same thing. The stimulus worked, and it would have worked better had it been somewhat bigger.

    As Steve Benen notes:

    Left unsaid is what the economic consequences would have been if we’d listened to congressional Republicans — 95% of whom voted for a truly insane five-year spending freeze at the height of the downturn.

  • Peter, my opening statement was a pretty blatant case of waving the red flag in front of the bull…you have to have a little fun sometimes when you’re blogging…the Democrats are ALWAYS saying stuff like that about Fox, so I threw a little red meat out there for the faithful…but certainly, the headline was completely false…I can’t speak for the RNC, so please don’t ask me to…

  • Bob from Ohio

    Anybody can get two or three quotes to support their spin.

    And there are a little over 1.1 million more jobs out there as of October than would have been out there without the stimulus.”

    What a tool. There is no, zero, nada way to measure that.

    Maybe though they were in the 19th Arizona Congressional District and all those other phantom districts reporting massive job increases.

    Moody’s is under fire because, like all the rating bureaus, it cooked its ratings for Wall Street. The logical explanation is that the chief economist of its on-line arm is just doing some damage control.

  • Peter

    Uh, no. There are ways to measure these things, or at least estimate within a reasonable tolerance. You can quantify the number of jobs which were created by stimulus programs, the number of announced state and private layoffs which were cancelled, and in general estimate the delta between the likeliest scenario absent a stimulus plan and what we ended up with. Staying true to form, Bobo lacks any facts or evidence, and instead maligns the integrity of the person he disagrees with. Zandi works for Moody’s; the rating agencies were too lenient in rating debt; ergo, Zandi is in Obama’s pocket. In addition to being laughably untrue (I’m familiar with Zandi, see him on CNBC and Bloomberg often, and he’s anything but a shill – he’s like the David Gergen of economics, a non-partisan who advises both Democratic and Republican administrations) there are plenty of other economists who will tell you the same thing.

    Admit it, Bobo: the Obama stimulus plan saved the economy (along with TARP). Had we adopted the GOP plan of a spending freeze, we would be in an economic nuclear winter. As someone once said, facts are stubborn things.

    There are two other things in the Benen piece, linked above, of interest. The first is a second link to all of the Republicans who opposed the stimulus plan, smiled in front of the cameras when a new bridge or building was built in their district, and then took credit for the bill they opposed. The second is a reader comment:

    “Bush fails to prevent 9/11, and gets rewarded with 90% approval and carte blanche to do whatever he wants for 8 years.

    Obama successfully prevents the second Great Depression, and no one cares. Worse, the effort has to be “sold”. Come on.”

    I think this overstates the case – I’m not sure that even a capable President could have stopped 9/11 – but it raises a valid point. The right wing media, combined with centrist media which feel compelled to treat all opposing views as somehow equally valid, have repeated the “stimulus has failed” meme so often and so vociferously that it has been accepted by many as conventional wisdom. Facts may be stubborn things, but they are not always obvious things, especially when confronted by an unrelenting fog machine.

  • What a tool. There is no, zero, nada way to measure that.

    That’s what economic forecasters do for a living.

    And, since these are private sector forecasters, whose livelihoods depends on people (investment firms) paying them for their forecasts, they tend to have to do better-than-average job of it.

    Moody’s is under fire because, like all the rating bureaus

    This isn’t the bond ratings agency; this is the forecasting firm.

    And, besides, Zandi’s was the most pessimistic of the three private-sector forecasting firms.

    See .

  • Ack. Let’s try that link again.

    Here.

  • The Times article also emphasizes a point that I made last week, when we were discussing this.

    The Bernstein-Romer forecast, from January, was on the optimistic end of the range of forecasts produced by the private economic forecasters. This was mistake, both practically (because it led them to recommend a stimulus package smaller than was required) and politically (because it left them with egg on their faces, when the more pessimistic forecasts turned out to be correct).

  • Peter, as long as you go around making sweeping comments like “the Obama stimulus saved the economy”, you are practically begging not to be taken seriously. And then to back it up with “facts are stubborn things”, where your statement is clearly opinion.

    Well…come now. Let’s leave the hyperbole and the Obama worship/ Bush hatred aside and talk like the reasonable adults we all are. You can make the case for the stimulus without resorting to such rhetorical flourishes, surely…

  • Peter, as long as you go around making sweeping comments like “the Obama stimulus saved the economy” …

    How else would you interpret these graphs?

    I’m not sure I would call them “facts”; they are, after all, merely the projections of the leading private economic forecasters. But I challenge you to find a single forecasting firm whose models indicate (say) that we would have been better off without the stimulus.

    I suppose it’s possible that everyone in the economic forecasting ‘biz is wrong, and you’re right. In which case, you should really consider changing careers, as there’s a lucrative niche for you to fill …

  • Bob from Ohio

    David Gergen of economics

    Talk about stepping on your own argument. Nobody is a bigger tool than David Gergen.

    Economic forecasting is no better than long term weather forecasting. Or alchemy. Or Global Warming forecasts from East Anglia.

    How many economic forecasters got the last year right? Or especially the year before that?

    This isn’t the bond ratings agency; this is the forecasting firm.

    It is one company. Fraud in one division doesn’t inspire confidence in the other divisions.

    Face it Petey and Jacques, you don’t have facts, you have models and forecasting which are just fancy names for opinion. Opinion that has a poor track record. So you are basing your dubious opinions on other people’s dubious opinions. Hardly stubborn facts.

    BTW, Petey, your passive aggressive use of 9/11 to defend the domestic policies of O is an insult to those who died there, not George Bush. I say beneath you but that would not be a fact.

  • Jacques – and Peter – I have long said I supported a stimulus. My beef with you guys in this instance is that you impute superhuman policy foresight to an administration that was doing a time-tested “prime the pump” strategy when facing a slumping economy. “Obama’s stimulus” was neither innovative, nor particularly effective. Yes, pouring hundred of billions into the economy is bound to have some positive effects on growth and jobs – but the question has always been whether this particular stimulus was as targeted as it could have been, or whether much of it was just good old-fashioned something for everyone pork. I submit far too much of the latter…

  • Bob blathered:

    Economic forecasting is no better than long term weather forecasting. Or alchemy.

    If that’s the case, then why does every Wall Street firm, and every Fortune 500 company either employ their own team of economic forecasters, or contract with outside firms like the ones cited in the NYT article?

    Are they all nuts?

    Of course economic forecasting is far from infallible. But if they weren’t right, more often than they are wrong, why would all those Fortune 500 firms continue to employ them? Do you think they also employ a division of alchemists?

    And, if you think the whole enterprise of economic forecasting is fruitless, on what basis do you conclude that the stimulus was a failure and/or that we would have been better off following some other policy?

    D’you think everyone just makes stuff up (as you, apparently do)?

    Mark (more sensibly) wrote:

    My beef with you guys in this instance is that you impute superhuman policy foresight to an administration that was doing a time-tested “prime the pump” strategy when facing a slumping economy.

    I impute nothing of the kind. The Administration adopted a sane policy, in light of the economic circumstances.

    It’s the opposition who were offering quack cures as a policy alternative.

    As to whether, on the whole, the stimulus was “worth it”, let’s assume (purely for the sake of argument) that the projections in those graphs are more-or-less correct. If they are, then the $787 billion stimulus bought us an extra 2%/annum of GDP growth, for at least 3 years.

    Do the math. That’s an incredibly good deal.

  • I wrote

    Do the math. That’s an incredibly good deal.

    Oh, heck. Why don’t I do the math for you.

    If, under scenario A (stimulus), GDP grows 2%/annum faster than under scenario B (no stimulus), then during those three years alone total economic output under scenario A exceeded that under scenario B by $1.7 trillion.

    $1.7 trillion.

    And that’s just during the first three years.

    At the end of those three years, the economy is still 6% larger under scenario A than it would have been under scenario B. So economic output continues to exceed what output would have been, without the stimulus, until scenario B eventually catches up to A (in 5 years? in 10?).

    All of this, for a “mere” $787 billion.

    Now do you see how lucky you are that McCain (who proposed the spending freeze that the Congrssional Republicans later voted for, en masse) lost the election?

  • I’ve got to hand it to you, Jacques – answering your own posts! That’s a reader any blogger would be glad to have…

    As an aside, you guys know that I don’t blog as much as I used to – so the fact that we have these spirited discussions in the comments means a lot. I appreciate all of you, right and left…

  • Oh, heck. Why don’t I do the math for you.

    Looking at Zandi’s congressional testimony, I think I misunderstood the labelling of the graphs. We’re talking about 5 quarters with (on average) an extra 2% in GDP growth, not 12 quarters. (The graphs, apparently, must depict GDP, rather than GDP growth.)

    That’s still a huge difference (about $1 trillion in economic output, over three years), just not as huge as I said.

    s an aside, you guys know that I don’t blog as much as I used to – so the fact that we have these spirited discussions in the comments means a lot. I appreciate all of you, right and left…

    I appreciate these discussions, too, Mark.

    We may not often agree, but I think my understanding of the issues of the day is much sharper, for having the opportunity to debate them here.

    Thanks.

  • Bob from Ohio

    If that’s the case, then why does every Wall Street firm, and every Fortune 500 company either employ their own team of economic forecasters, or contract with outside firms like the ones cited in the NYT article?

    Are they all nuts?

    Nuts? No, just a herd mentality.

    I love the fact that, when it suits your point, because Wall Street does something, it is per se valid.

    Those forecasts about how securitized mortgages would work were reeeeaaal accurate.

    If the stimulus had really worked, unemployment would not be at 11 and going up. The smart guys and gals in the O administration told us so.

    Oh, those forecasts were bad but the new ones are good, I bet.

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