Wednesday, February 26, 2014

There is no discrimination in Arizona

Arizona SB 1062 is a legislative bill in Arizona that would allow individuals or businesses to refuse service to anyone they wanted to justified on religious grounds. The main intent of the law is to allow business to refuse service to LGBTQ individuals and same-sex couples, but the language is broad enough that it would essentially allow for any kind of discrimination as long as the individual discriminating could cite some religious justification for doing so. In the video below, Anderson Cooper notes that the law could be used to discriminate against divorced individuals (because Catholics are morally opposed to divorce on religious grounds) or single mothers. The entire interview between Anderson Cooper and Republican State Senator Al Melvin is quite interesting, and the look of confusion and bewilderment on the face of Anderson Cooper as he listens to the moronic answers provided by Sen. Melvin are quite amusing, but I want to focus on an exchange that occurs around the 8-minute mark of the video:


Throughout the interview Sen. Melvin has been arguing that the bill in question is not about discrimination, but rather about protecting religious freedom. This, despite the fact that Sen. Melvin can't cite a single example of an Arizonian whose religious freedom is being infringed upon. He then remarks, "I don't know of anybody in Arizona that would discriminate against another person." Cooper then asks, "There is no discrimination in Arizona?" To which Sen. Melvin responds in the affirmative. This is a great example of a Circular Argument. According to Sen. Melvin, the bill is not discriminatory because there is no discrimination in Arizona. When Cooper points out that discrimination against LGBTQ people is legal in Arizona (because they are excluded from anti-discrimination laws at the state and federal level), and then cites other examples of how SB 1062 would allow for discrimination, Sen. Melvin responds by claiming that there is no discrimination in Arizona. Thus, even though SB 1062 is clearly discriminatory, Sen. Melvin claims that it can't be because there is no discrimination in Arizona!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Christmas Present..or two..or ten.

The following video is a very nice compilation from the folks at the Conan O'Brian show that reveals some important truths about the way local media functions:


As one can see from the clip, it is clear that many local and national news anchors are all literally reading from the same script. As this excellent article from Jeremy Barr at Poynter shows, many local news stations are simply buying or using pre-packed content from other sources. This pre-packaged content from various wire-services or public relations firms is often just read word-for-word by the anchors, a process known in the business as "ripping and reading." This is another excellent example illustrating Chomsky and Herman's Propaganda Model of the Media. In this case, this nicely illustrates the third filter, which is the fact that media outlets rely on a limited range of sources in crafting their news content. The fact that so many news stations are relying on exactly the same source provides as clear an example of this as one could imagine.

h/t to the AV Club

Monday, February 10, 2014

"Journalist" Chuck Todd: Reporting Ain't My Job

In a previous post I talked about how the media is actively misinforming its viewer about the recent CBO report discussing the impacts of the Affordable Care Act on the labor market. On person I singled out as particularly guilty was  Chuck Todd who is NBC's Chief White House Correspondent and the host of MSNBC's The Daily Rundown. The following video clip provides a very revealing insight into Todd's understanding of his job, and it helps explain why people who watch him get stupider.

Edit: I seem to be having problems with the video embed. Here is a link to the original article with the video. Go watch the video and then read the rest of what I have to say.

I would ask Todd why he thinks Republicans have been able to "successfully message" lies about the ACA. It couldn't possibly have anything to do with the fact that "journalists" like Chuck Todd are failing to accurately report what the law says, and are instead just repeating Republican lies and distortions. It seems to me that, as a journalist, if you report on something someone says, you also have an obligation to fact check those claims to ensure that they are true. Simply reporting on what other people say isn't journalism. It's stenography, and I don't need Chuck Todd to tell me what Republicans are saying. I can just go to their webpages or C-Span to get that information for myself. The true function of journalism is to serve as a check on the power of governments. If people like Chuck Todd just report in a he-said/she-said manner without providing the proper context and correct information, they really aren't doing their jobs. More evidence that watching the Mainstream Media makes you stupider.

h/t to Tom Kludt of TPM

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Media Makes you Stupider

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has just released a report in which they predict what effect current laws and tax policies will have on the US economy over the next ten years. For those who don't know, the CBO was created by Congress in 1974 to provide objective, nonpartisan analyses of the economic effects of laws and taxes in order to help Congress determine the actual economic impacts of that legislation. As part of its report, the CBO has made some predictions about how the Affordable Care Act (ACA, informally known as Obamacare) will effect the labor market in the US. One of their main conclusions is the following:
CBO estimates that the ACA will reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent during the period from 2017 to 2024, almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor—given the new taxes and other incentives they will face and the financial benefits some will receive.
What this means is that because of the healthcare guarantees provided by the ACA, many people who are working solely to obtain health benefits will stop working because they can now get healthcare on one of the state-run exchanges. This will have the effect of freeing up these jobs for other workers who are looking for employment. As a result, according to the CBO, the ACA will result in the equivalent of about 2-2.5 million workers leaving the labor market. As an illustration, here is ZGare commenting on an article about this in the Washington Post:
At 64, I am about to retire, but my wife who is 55 with a pre-existing condition (diverticulitus 15 years ago) would have had to keep working for health insurance to protect against catastrophic illness wiping out our life savings. But with ACA, she can retire in a couple of years instead of 10 years and travel with me.
So, because of the ACA, ZGare's wife will retire earlier than she would have without the ACA. The job she was performing will still exist, but because she isn't doing it, there will now be a vacancy for a new employee (assuming the employer doesn't decide to reduce its workforce through attrition for some other reason).

So, now that we are clear about what the CBO actually said in its report (and if you don't believe me, just go read it). Let's take a look at how many people in the Media reported on this report. A recurring theme will be that if you get your information from these media outlets you will actually be misinformed about what the CBO actually said. In effect, after watching these programs you will have less understanding about the world, and you will, in fact, be a little stupider.

First up is Fox News. Here is a headline followed by the first paragraph from their website:
ObamaCare could lead to loss of nearly 2.3 million US jobs, report says
The long-term effect of ObamaCare on the U.S. economy was rewritten Tuesday with the Congressional Budget Office issuing a revised projection that nearly 2.5 million workers could opt out of full-time jobs over the next 10 years -- allowing employers to wipe 2.3 million full-time jobs off the books.
Again, the report does not say that the jobs will be lost, but that the equivalent of 2.3 million people might choose to retire, work less, or quit their current job to start up a new business. These kind of lies and deception are par for the course at Fox News, but they weren't the only one's guilty of misrepresenting the report. Here's a tweet from Luke Russert of NBC:
And here is a tweet from Chuck Todd, also of NBC:
In both these cases, we have individuals who claim to be journalists actively misrepresenting the content of the CBO report to their followers. This is a clear example of those in the Mainstream Media who call themselves journalists actually misinforming their audience about a subject of great importance. And this is very strong evidence that getting information from the Mainstream Media actually makes you stupider.

h/t to Dylan Scott of TPM