Part 3—What we have here is a failure to report: Last evening, Candidate Romney made a truly remarkable claim.
Unfortunately, few voters have any way of judging if his claim is accurate! To a large extent, our cluelessness stems from a growing trend in the headlong decline of our culture.
In large part, our cluelessness stems from our big news orgs’ refusal to report.
What we have here is a failure of Americanism—a refusal to perform the basic tasks expected from alleged journalists.
What claim did Candidate Romney make? He spoke in response to a basic question about his absurd tax proposal.
In a nation which was better-informed, his claim might have drawn a laugh:
CROWLEY (10/16/12): Governor, let's—Before we get into a vast array of who says, what study says, What if it shouldn't add up? If somehow when you get in there, there isn't enough tax revenue coming in? If somehow the numbers don't add up, would you be willing to look again at a 20 percent—Romney made a remarkable claim. But very few voters have any idea what he and Crowley were talking about. Even fewer have any way to evaluate his claim.
ROMNEY: Well of course they add up!
What makes Romney’s claim so remarkable? Just for a moment, forget the study, released on August 1, which said his tax proposal is “not mathematically possible.” Instead, consider a newer, even more punishing study—a newer study which was discussed in yesterday’s New York Times.
But uh-oh! As you consider this new study, gaze on the hollowed-old soul of the Times! You see, this study was discussed in an editorial, not in a news report:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (10/16/12): To the annoyance of the Romney campaign, members of Washington's reality-based community have a habit of popping up to point out the many deceptions in the campaign's blue-sky promises of low taxes and instant growth. The latest is the Joint Committee on Taxation, an obscure but well-respected Congressional panel—currently evenly divided between the parties—that helps lawmakers calculate the effect of their tax plans.In last night’s debate, Romney seemed to double down hard on the claim that he can cut all income tax rates by twenty percent—that his plan to do so “adds up.” But according to this latest study, the basic arithmetic of his plan only allows him to cut rates by four percent!
Last month, the committee asked its staff what would happen if Congress repealed the biggest tax deductions and loopholes and used the new revenue to lower tax rates. The staff started adding it up: end all itemized deductions, tax capital gains and dividends as ordinary income, and tax the interest on state and local bonds, along with several other revenue-raisers.
The answer came last week: ending all those deductions would only produce enough revenue to lower tax rates by 4 percent.
Mitt Romney says he can lower tax rates by 20 percent and pay for it by ending deductions. The joint committee's math makes it clear that that is impossible.
Romney said his numbers add up. This new study says his numbers are off by a factor of five!
The editors snarked about the way “members of Washington's reality-based community have a way of popping up” to puncture claims of this type. But as they displayed this full measure of snark, they hid a disgraceful fact:
The news division of their own paper doesn’t belong to that community! In its endlessly fatuous “news reporting,” the New York Times has not reported what that new study says.
Indeed, the New York Times hasn’t even reported the fact that this new study exists! If you read the news pages of the Times, you don’t have the slightest idea that this new study even exists.
But so it has gone all through this campaign as the lazy, lordly Times turns away from its basic journalistic duties. So it goes as the cowardly Times runs and hides from the embarrassing truth about Romney’s absurd deceptions.
A bit of background:
Romney’s ridiculous tax proposal was introduced last February. The proposal was absurd from the start—and no, Romney didn’t change his proposal at the first debate, despite the bullshit you have heard on The One True Liberal Channel
The proposal was absurd from the start—and from the start, the Times has refused to tell you. Just consider what the “newspaper” did when that first embarrassing study appeared on August 1.
Good grief! The highly-respected Tax Policy Center released a detailed study which made a wreck of Romney’s proposal. The plan “is not mathematically possible,” the report rather colorfully said.
This study contained a colorful finding—a great journalistic hook. How did the New York Times respond? In a clownish bit of non-reporting reporting, it presented a 423-word report—a very slender report it buried on page A10.
As a courtesy to a great and powerful man, that striking hook—“not mathematically possible”—didn’t appear in the text. (The Washington Post gave the study 338 words, presented on page A7.)
Here at THE HOWLER, we hollered and yelled; then, we screamed a bit. (For one example, click here.) Romney’s silly absurd proposal was one of the backbones of his campaign. We yelled then hollered, saying these papers should help their readers know what this embarrassing study had said.
Quite sensibly, Kevin Drum suggested that the Post and the Times might be planning fuller reports in the future. But alas! One week went by, then several more passed.
As a courtesy to a (powerful) con man, the Times kept refusing to report.
If you read the New York Times, do you understand Romney’s proposal? Do you understand how crazy it was when Romney told the world last night that his numbers add up?
If you do, it isn’t because of your paper’s alleged news division. Within your paper’s news reporting, you still haven’t read a single word about the punishing new study which was released last week.
If you know anything about Romney’s “plan,” you may know it from this front-page report. Annie Lowrey’s abstruse report finally appeared on September 10, six weeks after the Tax Policy Center said those magic words: “not mathematically possible.”
Lowrey’s report—a “Washington Memo”—betrayed some unhelpful features. It appeared beneath an abstruse headline: “Effects of Romney’s Tax Plan? Key Variables Are Left Blank.”
We’re not sure how many readers are drawn to memos about “key variables.” But as she proceeded, Lowrey managed to bury the lede—the lede that every reporter was handed by that respected study.
Good God! According to a detailed study from a well-respected organization, Romney’s absurd proposal is “not mathematically possible!”
That phrase provides a magnificent lede—a strong journalistic hook. But in Lowrey’s report, you had to read all the way to paragraph 20 (of 31) before you saw that punishing statement. In the headline, that punishing finding was replaced by ruminations about “key variables.”
Let’s be fair: Nothing was “wrong” with Lowrey’s report, although a great deal was missing. (No single report could cover all aspects of Romney's sweeping proposal.) If you were able to fight your way through it, you might have realized that Romney’s plan doesn’t pass the arithmetical laugh test.
You might have realized that that Romney’s numbers don’t even come close to adding up, even though Lowrey put a rather abstruse face on this mess.
But please understand: That ludicrous proposal seems to lie at the center of Romney’s campaign. And from August 1 to this very day, that single report by Lowrey represents the only serious, stand-alone attempt the Times has made to report this ridiculous plan.
Romney’s plan is rather complex. It contains at least three or four moving parts. This has helped Candidate Romney keep the gorilla dust flying.
In the face of this confusion, the New York Time has made little attempt to report this ridiculous plan.
Four percent, not twenty? To this day, the fatuous Times has not reported last week’s study. At the Times, you have to peruse the editorial page if you’re looking for basic facts.
Why does the New York Times play it this way? We can imagine two answers. But very few voters had any way of evaluating Romney’s claim last night.
“Of course they add up,” the candidate said. To all appearances, his claim was a ginormous pile of crap.
But the vast majority of voters were clueless as they watched Candidate Romney dissemble. Within our failing intellectual culture, their cluelessness stems in part from an abject refusal to report.
It’s clear where this abject refusal begins. The refusal begins at the hollowed-out, insipid defunct New York Times.
(For another example of this paper’s refusal, be sure to review our very next post, concerning events in Benghazi.)
Tomorrow: Our own pseudo-liberal refusals and failures regarding the Romney tax plan
The Washington Post did report that latest study: Last Saturday, the Washington Post did present a news report about that latest remarkable study.
The Washington Post didn’t do enough. Lori Montgomery’s news report appeared on page A10. It ran 554 words.
But the fatuous New York Times has failed to report that study at all! "What, us worry?" the New York Times says.
At which point, it's off to the Hamptons!