February 05, 2005

Speaking Of Media Bias

This WaPo article is from August of last year but I just found it searching on another subject. The horribly biased writing is obvious.

First, the wishful thinking is apparent in the first paragraph - "likely to roil the presidential election campaign." What? The CBO releases a study that states less than one and a half percent of the proportional burden of federal taxes has shifted from the top and bottom two quintiles to the second and third highest quintiles and this is supposed to ROIL the election? I'm willing to bet that fluctuating incomes mean it shifts a few tenths of a percent from year to year anyway.

Saying that it is going to ROIL the election is beyond silly - it's wishful thinking. The Democrats tried since 1999 to sell the line that the tax cuts werre unfair and for the rich (Gore: "the top one percent...") and they still passed easily. It's pretty clear that the staff writer wants it to be an issue, so in a case of wishful thinking, he wriotes it to try and make it so.

Second, it barely acknowledges that poor people got cuts and in many cases were exempted entirely from federal income taxes. The Bush income tax cuts eliminated a whole bracket at the bottom and substantially cut the second lowest bracket. No mention of this until the last sentence of the ninth paragraph.

Third, everybody got a tax cut and overall nobody pays more in dollars. So while the proportion might change, the actual effect is that everybody pays less. The argument, then, is that everybody is doing better (by paying less) but the rich got even better. The middle class quintiles are only paying more IN COMPARISON to the top quintile, no in absolute terms.

Fourth, in terms of just the income tax, Bush's tax cuts made the rich pay a HIGHER proportion of income taxes and the middle class a smaller one. We don't hear this until paragraph eleven, though. The rich's proportion of income tax payments is 3.7% higher at a whopping 82.1% due to Bush's cuts and the middle class' proportions fall 1% to a mere 5.4% from the same cuts. We're led to believe in paragraph nine that the richest quintile got a much larger income tax cut overall than the rest of the quintiles. As we find out in eleven, the rate of taxation doesn't seem to line up to the rate of payment, since the rich are paying a higher proportion of income taxes despite the supposedly rich-balanced cuts.

Fourth, the rich still pay the most. By a lot. A whole hell of a lot. A whole fuck of a lot. A fucking hell of a lot. The richest quintile pays nearly 2/3 of the federal tax burden and nearly four dollars and a quarter for every five dollars of federal income tax. That's absurdly unbalanced, even taking into account the fact that they have more money.

Fifth, Bush said in the 2000 campaign that he wanted to not single out some groups and make everybody pay taxes in a less unbalanced manner. In other words, he said he wanted something similar to this to happen. This way, there's not a wildly disparate ratio of payments between the quintiles. It was in the debates, so it wasn't exactly a secret.

I think this article is an example of bias - not too blatant, not too aggressive, but definitely there. It's a trumped up article, it uses misleading wording, leaves important mitigating facts to later in the article, and ultimately tries to create an issue where none exists.


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