In the comments to my post about the deceptively named Middle Class Taxpayers Association, Lucas O’Connor makes three points worth responding to: One false, one irrelevant, and one true.
The false claim is that I criticized the union- and Democratic-backed group because of its ideology. No, the deception is what I criticized.
When groups advertise themselves under a false flag and the media swallows the description, the public interest is harmed. This is true no matter what the group’s ideology. However, the media usually gives a pass to lefty groups and accepts their descriptions at face value. And since I’m a card-carrying journalist, I don’t like the discredit the disrepute this abetting of deception brings to my profession.
I also don’t like it when a reporter with a political agenda is hired from an advocacy journalism job for a sensitive political beat with an “objective” news outlet, and lets his bias leak into news stories.
The irrelevant claim is that I didn’t refute articles that were tweeted by association board member Murtaza Baxamusa. These articles support higher taxes; one claiming Americans are undertaxed, another claiming Americans support higher taxes.
The truth or falsity of these claims wasn’t the focus of my article. It’s the deception. If O’Connor wants to argue that Americans are undertaxed, that’s the subject for a different post. He’s welcome to argue why Americans should pay more taxes over at Two Cathedrals and I’ll link to him.
Third and truthfully, O’Connor points out that tweets I linked to didn’t contain Baxamusa’s words endorsing higher taxes; they were auto-generated headlines.
I would imagine that nobody here finds it reasonable to assume that every word of every title of every article is endorsed as a personal quote when linked on Twitter,” O’Connor wrote.
As a general rule that’s correct. People do sometimes tweet stuff they disagree with (although they usually say when they disagree with it).
But we don’t have to “imagine” what Baxamusa is doing. We can test this empirically, by looking at his Twitter feed. And not all of his tweets come from auto-generated headlines. Some contain his editorial comments.
If Baxamusa is just giving information he doesn’t necessarily agree with, we would expect to see a variety of views on the subjects of big business, unions and taxes. But if he’s pushing a line, we would see stories reflecting the progressive/left viewpoint: Big business bad, unions good, taxes good. And paying less taxes through deductions and tax credits is the same as a government subsidy:
So has Baxamusa linked to stories arguing we are overtaxed? No. Admittedly, he has on very rare occasions linked uncritically to Carl DeMaio and the Tea Party. However, there are other instances in which he makes his sympathies for higher taxes plain, as well as his opposition to DeMaio and the Tea Party.
Such as in this tweet in which he says: “Good news on property tax rolls: SD sees 1st increase in property assessments since ’08”. (emphasis mine)
The “SD sees 1st increase in property assessments since ’08” is in the headline to the linked story. “Good news on property tax rolls:” was Baxamusa’s editorializing. It’s not in the story headline.
Good news for whom? Certainly not for the middle-class homeowners who are paying more in property taxes!
There are other tweets linking to stories on left-leaning sites purporting to prove that America is lightly taxed, none on the other side. So either Baxamusa really does think America is lightly taxed, or he’s only giving the side of the issue he doesn’t believe in.
Summing up, the vast majority of his tweets that touch on big business and labor take the predictable theme: Big business bad, labor good.
And that tweet above is also not taken from a headline, but Baxamusa’s editorial comment.
The LA Times commentary linked to is from another misleadingly named lefty group, the Cry Wolf Project, which the LAT calls “a nonprofit research network that identifies and exposes misleading rhetoric about the economy, regulation and government.” (Take a look at those affiliated with the group, including the hard-left Robert Kuttner of The American Prospect, honoree of the Democratic Socialists of America and ACORN organizer Peter Dreier of Occidental College).
And just so O’Connor doesn’t misunderstand, I’m not protesting the Cry Wolf Project’s leftist agenda here; I’m protesting the deceptive way it describes itself. People can be fooled into thinking they’re getting non-political views when they’re actually getting an agenda.
With someone like fellow Rostrafarian Richard Rider, his biases are up front. He’s against higher taxes, and wants to see them lowered, or at least not raised. And the Cato Institute openly admits it’s a libertarian think tank. That’s honest disclosure.
It’s all about truth in advertising.
So if your idea of a taxpayer group in one that thinks more taxes are better, the Middle Class Taxpayers Association is the group for you.
(DISCLAIMER: This is my opinion, not necessarily that of my employer, the North County Times).