Friday, November 29, 2002

Here's an interesting correlation. First, we've got Timothy Noah examining a Wall Street Journal article:

[The] class that the Journal frets is not paying its fair share in taxes isn't the rich. It's the poor. When the poor don't pay sufficient taxes, the difference must be made up by the rich. As of 1999, according to the Journal, Americans whose income put them in the top 1 percent paid 28 percent of all income-tax revenue. By contrast, in 1986, the top 1 percent had paid only 26 percent. That the income tax is 2 percent more progressive than it was 16 years ago would not be deemed news on any other editorial page. To the Journal, it's a crisis.

The editorial's indignation is richly comic. By the sixth paragraph, Gigot and Co. are fulminating that a person earning $12,000 pays a mere 4 percent of his income in federal income tax. (It's doubtful there's a single full-time employee on the Wall Street Journal's payroll whose salary is this low.) Why does the Journal want to whittle down this group's disposable income? Not out of sadism, it turns out, but rather because it wants these people to vote Republican. (Who says the GOP doesn't reach out to low-income communities?) The Journal wants poor folks to hate their government, and that can only happen if they're overtaxed. No pain, no electoral gain.
Now, this is funny. Extremely funny. Gut bustingly funny. But it's also enlightening.

Why? Well, for that we'll go over to the Observer, where Josh Benson looks at Al Gore talking about the media:

"The media is kind of weird these days on politics, and there are some major institutional voices that are, truthfully speaking, part and parcel of the Republican Party," said Mr. Gore in an interview with The Observer. "Fox News Network, The Washington Times, Rush Limbaugh—there’s a bunch of them, and some of them are financed by wealthy ultra-conservative billionaires who make political deals with Republican administrations and the rest of the media …. Most of the media [has] been slow to recognize the pervasive impact of this fifth column in their ranks—that is, day after day, injecting the daily Republican talking points into the definition of what’s objective as stated by the news media as a whole."
The Republican satellites here were quick (and utterly predictable) in claiming that there is absolutely no truth to these allegations. Yet if Noah's characterization of the WSJ editorial is right (and it probably is), we've got one of the most important elite newspapers in the country proving Gore's point!

It's sad, really. I've never really bought the media spin on Al Gore, and have always been of the opinion that the portrayal of Gore has more to do with a general anger at Gore being somewhat intimidatingly smart, intellectual, and wonkish... especially compared to the easier and funnier story of the admittedly more approachable Bush's mangling of the english language. This hostility towards Gore (and kid gloves for Bush) have continued to this day even without the "fifth column" as Gore put it (or "vast right wing conspiracy" as Hillary Clinton referred to it, for they are different manifestations of the same thing). It's up to the point where even the media that isn't a weapon of the GOP is spending more time attacking Gore with old and moronic charges than they ever spend actually, y'know, responding to what he's saying. Is it any wonder that he has such a low personal approval rating? How could he not, considering that the media has crafted a persona for him that the public can't help but pay attention to?

It's too bad, though, because Gore is absolutely right on this, and has demonstrated no small amount of courage in laying it on the line. If it were anybody else, it would be the charge that would get all the play, not the man (at least outside of the GOP sock puppets). Instead, we get idiotic pieces about "Gore changing himself again". As if that meant anything, except as yet more proof of the depths to which the mainstream media has sunk.

Edit: slight edit for clarity.

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