Campaign watch: Marcus batters Candidate Trump!


Gives mainstream "press corps" a pass:
We go way back with Jackie Calmes, though we don't think we ever met her.

Back in the day, on several occasions, she treated readers of the Wall Street Journal to our incomparable jokes, right there on the front page, where the Journal featured her weekly "Washington Wire" piece.

Today, Calmes is at the New York Times, where she seems to hold the official throwback chair. She's the one who composes competent news reports about topics which used to be taken as serious while everyone else just rattles around in the realm of the piddle and foofaw.

Yesterday morning, Calmes wrote a news report about the crazy tax proposals of the major Republican candidates.

The Times had avoided this topic for roughly five months at that point. But when this fully ridiculous paper decided to offer a news report, they assigned the task to our old benefactor and she did her usual solid job.

That said, our journalistic culture has completely collapsed in the current campaign. In yesterday's paper, those tax proposals were reviewed by Calmes on page A12 of the Times; the Times reserved its front-page slot for a longer piece about the fact that Ted Cruz had fired a staffer in the wake of the latest gong-show distraction out on the campaign trail. For more information, click here.

Those important proposals were pushed to A12; the latest bullshit was on page one. Plus, Ashley Parker wrote a memoir about how much she [HEARTED] Jeb Bush! This is the culture which now exists at the silly, ridiculous Times.

Tomorrow, we'll take note of a technical point we think Calmes could have done better. For today, let's compliment Ruth Marcus for what she wrote about Trump's crazy tax proposal, and other ludicrous claims by Trump, in Sunday's Washington Post.

Calmes did an analysis piece in the Times; Marcus penned an opinion column. That said, her column had more information about Trump's crazy proposals and claims than the Times had bothered to publish in the five months since he released his crazy tax proposal.

To Marcus, Trump's manifest lunacy qualifies as a "scandal." Headline included, she started like this:
MARCUS (2/21/16): The Trump scandal no one talks about

In this depressingly unserious campaign season, it's time—past time—to take Donald Trump seriously.
In particular, to take seriously what passes for Trump's domestic policy, aside from that wall.

Trump purports to care about the national debt. "We can't keep doing this," he said of the debt at MSNBC's town hall Wednesday. "We've got to start balancing budgets."
From there, Marcus listed the various crazy ways Trump claims he can balance the budget. Here's one chunk of her column:
MARCUS: Another Trump favorite—empowering Medicare to negotiate prescription drug prices—produces claimed savings, $300 billion annually, that are mathematically impossible. Medicare spending on prescription drugs was $78 billion in 2014. Total national spending on prescription drugs, not just by the federal government, was about $300 billion in 2014, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. Stick with Trump! He'll get the drug companies to pay us to take their meds!

Push Trump on cuts elsewhere in the budget, and you get suggestions that are paltry and unrealistic.
"I'm going to cut spending big league," Trump pronounced at the MSNBC town hall. His sole example, when pressed by Joe Scarborough, was the Education Department.

Which part, please? The $28 billion to fund Pell Grants for low-income college students? The $16 billion to local school districts with large numbers of low-income elementary and secondary students? The $13 billion to states for special education? The entire $78 billion federal education budget?
Trump claims he can save $300 billion every year. He says he'll do so in a program which spends one-fourth that amount.

The inanity runs downhill from there. Before long, Marcus got to that crazy tax proposal:
MARCUS: This would not be so maddening if Trump were not simultaneously pushing a tax cut costing double-digit trillions of dollars over the next decade. His Republican rivals peddle big tax cuts—Trump's is huuuger.

The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates its 10-year cost at $9.5 trillion, or $11.2 trillion with interest. The Tax Foundation gives the Trump plan credit for generating economic growth; as a result, its estimated $12 trillion cost of Trump's plan would drop to a mere—mere!— $10 trillion, excluding interest.

How to pay for this? The Tax Policy Center illustrates the magnitude of cuts required...
The lunacy of Trump's tax proposal is clear as Marcus proceeds from there. Technical note:

In the passage we've posted, Marcus includes a basic technical point, the technical matter Calmes skipped. More on that tomorrow.

Marcus calls this lunacy from Candidate Trump "depressingly unserious;" she's certainly right about that. That said, she fails to mention another key point—her colleagues in her own press corps have also been "depressingly unserious" in their approach to this astonishing pigpile of nonsense.

In its basic reporting, Marcus' own Washington Post has basically ignored Trump's crazy tax proposal, just as the New York Times has done. As our journalistic culture collapses, such topics are no longer part of our front-page discourse. Speculation and species of piddle obsess our "reporters" instead.

Marcus name-calls Candidate Trump, but as she does, she gives the national "press corps" a pass. But then, it has always worked this way:

It's called a code of silence. Scrupulously, that code is maintained all through what we call "the press."


  1. No, no, Bob. It's called the "Cone of Silence." Like Maxwell Smart.

    And yes, I yearn for the day when the "media" spends its time commenting on and correcting the "mistakes" of other "media."

    What a fine world we would live in, indeed!

    1. Are you so focused on knocking Somerby that you don't wonder why the press hasn't talked about Trump's proposals before now?

    2. NO! I am not wondering. I am wondering if you can show me the last time a tax proposal was news in a primary in either the New York Times or Washington Post.

    3. You mean the press that has trouble choosing which "Trump proposal" is the outrage of the day, so you pretend they report on none of them?

  2. "In its basic reporting, Marcus' own Washington Post has basically ignored Trump's crazy tax proposal, just as the New York Times has done. As our journalistic culture collapses, such topics are no longer part of our front-page discourse."

    So Bob or and Bob fan, show me when tax proposls were part of our front page discourse in a Presidential Primary.

    1. Not the primary, but here is an example:

      Here's one from the primary:

    2. Exactly what Bob has been pointing out for years. Why isn't analysis of every candidate's tax proposal on the front page of every M$M paper? Why does hair, attire and mindless bloviating take precedence over substantive analysis of political issues?

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    4. 10/31/92 wasn't exactly "primary season" was it?

      And an editorial from 3/27/92 isn't exactly the front page, is it?

    5. Gary, because eyes glaze over and people don't read it.

      And I am still very amused that Bob and his fans still think the media, in this Information Age, is in lockstep, where the NY Times calls the tune and every other "media" cheerfully dances along.

    6. Anon @ 3:41 I applaud your effort to respond, but second the notice by @ 6:15 that it did not meet Bob's criteria of front page.

      But what both of your examples had in common was one candidate attacking the tax plan of another. President Bush attacking Governor Clinton a week before the general election. And the editorial responded to a tax plan by Jerry Brown that was under attack in the primary by Bill Clinton at a time when the race was basically between the two of them.

      Bob constantly criticizes the media for not taking the initiative to do the job a candidate's challengers for an office should do.

      Bob got on this tear in this election year because nobody covered Trump's plan after Kasich alluded to crazy tax proposals but didn't name names. If 15 opponents don't make a candidate's plan an issue, why should it be the job of the press?

    7. 3:03 - Good point but a quick clarifier - we are talking about tax proposals that are "mathematically impossible" - by hundreds of billions of dollars. I think your question should be clarified to read "Bob or and Bob fan, show me when mathematically impossible tax proposals that are off by hundreds of billions of dollars were part of our front page discourse in a Presidential Primary."

      You interpreted the "topic" as simply a tax proposal.

      I don't have an answer to the original or revised question but I do see that as news - which you may not and neither did NYT - until yesterday. Perhaps DH could have put it differently but I agree with him if his point is that "mathematically impossible" by a magnitude of hundreds of billions of dollars tax proposals should be covered during primary season by major news outlets.

      I would actually like to read about that and see him questioned about it every day in print and on cable. That would interesting to me.

    8. 10:06 - Bob's criteria may have not been narrowly defined as simply "tax proposals on our front page discourse" but claims by a candidate that are "mathematically impossible" and off by hundreds of billions of dollars. I see that as "news". NYT did not until yesterday and apparently you don't. You feel like it's not their job to cover impossible proposals until other candidates make an issue of it. You may be right. I am not attacking you. It may be true "mathematically impossible" tax proposals were never a part of front page discourse and never should be. I would love to see that tax proposal covered ad naseum. That is a town hall I would watch. Just put him in a room and shine a light on that tax proposal over and over. Somersby may be wrong and the fans all idiots but taken simply at face value: Trump made a "mathematically impossible" proposal that is off to the tune of $220 billions of dollars is fascinating!! Much more so than the Cruz staffer. Again, that is just me. It's not an attack on you. I see that as "news".

    9. It's even more of a good story when the "mathematically impossible" by a magnitude of hundreds of billions of dollars tax proposal is made by a candidate who positions himself as some sort of business/boardroom badass. I am not against the commenters but I cannot see how they don't see that as huge, front page news. It's just a GREAT story. I know they don't see it as really a story at all so we just differ. But Donald, the big blustery business man whose business resume and track record makes him so qualified blah blah blah makes a 200 billion dollar mistake and you want to argue that it's not front page news? Don't you hate the guy? It's absolutely relevant and demonstrable evidence that he is unqualified and you want to keep it out of the news? I don't get it. But it's not an attack against you. I may be wrong. It may be that this 220 billion dollar mistake is not something that needs to be reported now. Let's wait for other to point it out and discuss other things that are more important and relevant and traditionally part of our discourse. I'm not judging. It's just my take that it is something that should be reported and talked about all day, every day, that it is MAJOR NEWS.

    10. I know, I know. Tax proposals shouldn't be discussed on the front page. They were never discussed. Bob is a crank. His fans are slavish dolts but Gad Damnit people that is the greatest story! Every reporter in every interview should ask as their first question how he proposed to cut 300 billion out of 78 billion dollar budget. How can anyone not see that as front page news? It should be a town hall! MSNBC should create a 20 part, 6 week special on it. It is F'N GOLD HOW COULD ANYONE DISAGREE???? IT DOESN'T MAKE SENSE!!!!! How could someone critcize someone who points out something SO OBVIOUS! Bury the tax story? Talk about Cruz staffers instead? Insane,

    11. It's true. Trump is a bully and wouldn't it have been nice if he was hit back hard with this a long time ago especially from so called advocates who instead present pet sounds and god only knows what else. It doesn't make sense to me but I guess I just wasn't made for these times.

  3. Learning from Our TrollsFebruary 24, 2016 at 7:08 PM

    Somerby's wrong that the press is derelict in its duties, because a random internet troll says the press never has had that duty.

    What an awful Somerby!

    1. Now who said that?

      I'm just saying that Bob is no better or worse than any old tired neo-Populist crank who throws over-simplified answers to the overly simple-minded, as he passes along images in his mind of a media monolith marching in lockstep, and bound by a code of silence to never tell the truth.

      Now you would think that a blog that began not only at the start of, but as the result of, the Information Age would realize that if such a monolith ever existed, it no longer does.

      But you know what's truly ironic? At the same time he bemoans the media monolith who all behave the same, he years for the good ol' days (which also exist only in his head) when a handfull of "gatekeepers" kept us away from news we really had no business of hearing.

      I'd guess you'd need a functioning brain and a dictionary to recognize the cognitive dissonance there.

      But then again, you want to believe that Bob's right and the world as it truly is simply doesn't exist. That would take too much brainpower to figure out. Far easy to go with his simplified theories.

    2. You could try imagining a bowling ball on a trampoline, then throw in a few billiard balls...

    3. Suppose you're thinkin' about a plate of shrimp. Suddenly someone'll say, like, "plate," or "shrimp," or "plate of shrimp" out of the blue, no explanation. No point in lookin' for one, either. It's all part of a cosmic unconsciousness.

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