Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Friday, April 18, 2003  

The Myth of the Liberal Media (again)

Despite Bernie Goldberg's whimpers, every time someone actually applies a methodology to the question of media bias, the only thing they find is a bias to the right. Another brick in that wall today from NPR, who announced the results of a poll on taxes. The findings are revealing. Respondents generally feel that maintaining current spending is more important that giving the richies a tax cut (my language, not NPR's). Not surprising. But then there's this:

"The survey asked about two specific tax-cut proposals -- the elimination of the tax on dividends, and the elimination of the estate tax.... On the estate tax, it was a different story: although 28 percent of Americans said they did not know enough about the subject to have an opinion on it, a solid majority (57 percent) supported eliminating the estate tax -- only 15 percent were opposed."

This is, of course, the estate tax about which conservatives have made much stink. It's worth listening to the story if you missed it, because when NPR interviewed some of the respondents, they recited back story and verse about why this tax is unjust: double taxation, excuse for the government to seize entire estates, unfairly targets small businesses and farms.

Some quotes from the story (errors in transcription my own):

Man One: "I know this gentleman, he's worked his life doing what he does and does it very well. I know his kids. And he told me once, they would have to sell 90% of what he's invested in in order to pay his taxes. So it's just not fair."

Man Two: "Oftentimes they have to sell the business or the farm to pay the federal taxes, which means they've lost that business forever. That business no longer exists in their family because the government's taxed them so heavily."

Of course, none of this is true. When the same people were polled about the actual law--farms worth $4 million or less are subject to no taxes--not just it's name, respondents reversed themselves. (NPR also explains that most estates are built through wealth from capital gains, which, thanks to the current tax giveaways--err, cuts--aren't taxed at all: no double taxation there.)

Man Two, revising his opinion: "Someone like Bill Gates, if you knock him for ten percent or something to that effect, it's not going to hurt him, it's not going to hurt anyone else involved. Maybe that's a little different. Maybe I'm just stepping off of my platform on that one. And it's not just Bill Gates--I think [anyone with] extreme, extreme, extreme wealth."

(Extreme, extreme, extreme wealth? You mean like, ah, campaign donors?)

So, how is it that a majority of people all misunderstand a law and misunderstand it exactly the same way? Because they consume news that reports these "facts." News that comes from--repeat it with Aunt Emma now--the predominantly conservative corporate media.

posted by Jeff | 6:28 PM |
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