Lazy Journalism

Nothing angers me more than lazy journalists, like the kind I heard on MSNBC’s Morning Joe this morning discussing the state of our national politics.

The easiest thing in the world is to say about what is happening what Mike Barnicle said this morning:

There’s no certainty in this country as to what’s gonna happen to my children. We are now living in a country, where—because of the way this campaign is being waged on both sides—where too many people no longer can afford to dream, and that’s a huge hole in the American fabric. A huge hole.

The huge hole, of course, is in Barnicle’s careless, almost comatose, analysis. If he built his journalistic career on such sloppy, inattentive thinking he has been one lucky guy.

The uncertainty in the country belongs squarely on the Republican Party, whose leaders from the beginning of Obama’s term decided that the best political course for them to follow was to create as much uncertainty and cultural angst as possible. There is simply no disputing that.

And the Romney presidential campaign is following that myopic political script written after the 2008 election by trying to capitalize on the almost complete Republican obstruction of the Democrat’s attempt to fix the massive economic problems left to them by years of governance according to Republican Party principles.

On that note, today’s Joplin Globe editorial played the same kind of game that Mike Barnicle was playing on television this morning. Oh, the piece, titled, “Stop pointing fingers,” started out just fine:

In 2001, the Congressional Budget Office predicted that the federal government would collect surplus funds in the amount of $5.6 trillion during the period 2002 through 2011.

Instead, we incurred a deficit of $6.1 trillion resulting in a gross loss in federal revenues during that period of time in the amount of $11.7 trillion. The question, of course, is why such a miscalculation occurred.

Well, that is certainly one question. But another one would be, who was responsible for the reversal from surpluses to deficits? Huh?

On the way to answering its question, the Globe cited some studies by the CBO, the Committee for a Responsible Federal Government, and the Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative, all of which came up “with the same answers”:

 • The overall weakened economy was the primary cause. Growth for the entire period was predicted to be 3 percent. But from 2002 through 2007, growth was only 2.6 percent. Then during the period 2008 through 2011, growth was only an average of 0.2 percent. This overall lower-than-expected growth caused a 27 percent drop in federal revenue expectations during those years.

• The second highest cause was a 13 percent drop in federal revenues caused by enactment and continuation of all the Bush-era tax cuts, amounting to a 13 percent drop in federal revenues. Other smaller contributors were the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, increases in discretionary spending, defense spending increases not related to wars, the Obama stimulus, and the 2010 tax cuts.

Now, a fair-minded person, upon discovering that the Republican Party was in charge of both houses of Congress and the White House during most of the time the country’s economy was in decline and collapsing and when the path toward massive deficits was first being cleared of surplus brush, would naturally blame the Republicans for most of the mess. Right?

Except that the Joplin Globe editorialist, shielding Republicans from the blame they deserve, had a better idea:

It seems rather naive to be arguing about which party alone caused today’s American economic problems. Again, they both did so big time by cutting federal revenues as shown above, yet continuing to spend at historically high levels.

“Both sides” are apparently equally responsible, it turns out, despite the facts cited in the piece and despite what is plainly clear to anyone paying attention.

All of this, from Mike Barnicle’s dumb statements this morning to the Joplin Globe’s dumb editorial conclusion, serves the right-wing reactionary Republican Party very well, as it requires very little thought to simply assert that both parties are equally guilty, that both parties are equally to blame for the mess we’re in, and therefore the economic philosophy that brought us to our knees can be tried again.



  1. I had similar thoughts about the Globe editorial, Duane. If one parses the paragraph about the “responsibility” for the problem, the only part on Obama’s watch was the “stimulus”, and even that was a continuation of the necessary process Bush II started in 2008. Your criticism of the Globe, and of Barnicle (nice touch), is dead-on in my opinion. But given the political cast in this part of the country, perhaps we are lucky just to get the causes laid out so clearly. The GOP’s strategy of economic obstructionism is also clear, and it’s working. Depressing.


    • The obstruction strategy is working, but whether it will ultimately result in more or less Republicans in the House and a Republican Senate and White House remains to be seen. But what we do know is that the strategy, if successful, will guarantee that our political paralysis will continue because unless Republicans get 60 votes in the Senate, Democrats will, and should, make it impossible for them to govern.

      I won’t tolerate my side allowing obstructionism to work only one direction to the benefit of the other party and, in my view, the detriment of the country. A strong message will need to be communicated that scorched-earth politics, which has definitely wounded the economic recovery, can be a two-way game.



  2. Ed Robinson

     /  July 26, 2012

    Pity young Barry Obama — on his way to school to take an important civics test, and to deliver his plan (as the student council president) to fund new text books and desks for PS 2012. He is attacked by the local bullies (Eric, Mitch, and Grover) and in addition to taking his lunch money, they tie him up and leave him in Eric’s garage. He misses the test and the presentation. The principal finds out what happened and punishes Barry by giving him a “zero” on the test and suggesting he’s an ineffective student leader.

    This is what is going on and the scoundrels who orchestrate this injustice — and the ones who tag along and let it happen are nither patriots or good citizens. I’d call them traitors.


  3. Dear Elvis! Your Globe editorialist did leave out two small matters . . . wars on borrowed money and unfunded tax cuts and unfunded expansions of Medicare. But hey, that’s old news I guess.

    Also, Barnicle is a tool – whatever it takes to keep Joe happy.


    • I guess that’s three small matters. Heh.


    • Barnicle, most of the time, makes me pull what’s left of my hair out.

      By the way, your point about the unfunded expansion of Medicare is exactly right, particularly because the cost goes on and on and on and on, all of it now getting blamed on Obama. And I now hear Republicans calling the Bush tax cuts the “Obama tax cuts,” failing to mention that the GOP had a gun to the head of the country when Obama reluctantly signed their extension.


  4. Treeske

     /  July 26, 2012

    Morning Joe: three hours of wasted time!


    • Tree,

      I have learned to watch it without commercials (the DVR is, of course, a gift from Allah!) and am able to avoid the repeated stuff and the silly stuff. I do, though, like the policy makers and writers and thinkers who appear occasionally on the show, which makes it worth surveying in the manner I described.



      • For a news junkie, the DVR is now the essential tool. Like you, I can tell just by looking whether anything being said is worth listening to. Cuts a one hour show down to about 20 minutes. I LUVZ MY DVR.


    • King Beauregard

       /  July 27, 2012

      Funny thing about Joe Scarborough: people forget he was a Congressman right around the time when Gary Condit was. Google Lori Klausutis sometime, you’ll be wondering why the hell you never heard about any of that before.

      I am not saying that Joe killed Lori or had her killed; there is no evidence of that, and I have no reason to think Joe is that kind of person. But there was at least some sort of cover-up at work, very likely just to keep Joe’s career from being pulled down by scandal. Odds are that Lori died at somebody’s hand, but keeping Joe scandal-free was apparently more important than investigating the case properly.


      • KB,

        Interesting. All I know about the matter is the feud Markos Moulitsas had with MSNBC over some Twitter posts a year or two ago. I will have to do some extensive reading on it and try to understand the dynamics.



        • Actually, I breeze thru both. Anything good will show up at a blog or on teevvee anyway!


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