UPDATE: I spoke this morning with the lead reporter on this story, David Fahrenthold. His response was that he didn’t realize he had given rationales for only Republican points of view. He said he was new on the beat and is till trying to figure out how to handle the issues he’s covering. I take him at his word. Which reinforces my suspicion that if Democrats want fair coverage, they’ll need to ask for it. My impression from our conversation is that I was the only one who had made this point to him. He should have had many calls from Democratic leaders asking that their reasons for the policies they are pursuing be included.
This is one of those stories that make you wonder: Do reporters show preference for delivering one side of an argument (in this case, the GOP’s) or does the other side (in this case, the Dems) do a poor job of articulating and pushing its argument with the media?
In this Washington Post article about the seven big issues facing the lame duck Congress, it appears that in all but one case, only the GOP’s side of arguments is articulated. The first is tax cuts.
Most Democrats want to extend tax cuts covering up to the first $250,000 that a family earns in a year. Republican leaders want to keep all the tax cuts, including those on income above $250,000. In a recession, they say, it doesn’t make sense to cut anyone’s taxes.[emphasis added]
Note that both positions are stated, but only the GOP’s rationale for its position is stated. Did Dems decline to state that 1)the rich have received most of the benefits from the major tax cuts over the past 30 years and it’s time to re-balance our tax system or 2)we can’t afford to add $700 billion to the deficit or 3)The middle class tends to spend their tax cuts, thereby spurring the economy, whereas the well-off tend to save their tax cuts. Or did the reporter ignore the Dems’ reasoning?
Next was the START treaty.
[Arizona Sen. John] Kyl has said he wants more guarantees that the government will properly maintain the nuclear weapons that remain. He also thinks that the lame-duck session is too short a time to consider the issue.
So why do the Dems want to pass it now? The reporter hints that in the next Congress “there will be more Republicans — and perhaps more support for denying Obama a foreign policy win — in January.” But with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin making noises about the delay, did the Dems give reasons other than it will be easier now to pass it? Did they argue that delaying it could damage relations with Russia and perhaps spark a new cold war?
Next we have DADT.
Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) could bring it up for a vote on the floor this month. But the ascendant GOP is in no mood to cooperate. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) says he’s still worried about the effect on morale, and other Republican leaders say the whole issue is a distraction from their top priority — job creation.
So we know that Republicans think it’s not important enough to deal with now and, despite the Defense Dept. report that found it won’t adversely impact its operations, where is the Democratic argument for passing it? The morally right thing to do? It would expand the pool of candidates for the military?
No. 4: the budget continuing resolution.
The sticking point is Republican demands to shrink federal spending back to 2008 levels.
No word if the Dems have a point, sticky or not.
Next, unemployment benefits
Some Republicans have voiced concerns about the high cost of these benefits.
Are the Dems unconcerned…about everything?
On childhood nutrition, the Dems seem to have a position, albeit one articulated in jargon, while the GOPers are concerned about costs.
“Kids that have food insecurity learn at a slower rate than their peers,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told reporters Tuesday. “Food insecurity” is Washington-speak for “hunger.”*
The bill passed the Senate unanimously. But it will face some Republican opposition in the House from members who say it will impose more costs on struggling school systems.
And lastly, the DREAM Act. Only the opponents seem to have a view on this.
To them, it looks like a kind of amnesty for lawbreakers.
Do the supporters have a view?
Is this kind of coverage—where only one side, for the most part, has reasons for its views—the result of biased reporting, poor or nonexistent messaging from the Dems or fecklessness in pressing their points, or something else?
At the very least, I would like to know if this reporter asked Democrats why they hold the position they do? If he did and they didn’t respond, shame on them. If he didn’t, shame on him. If he did and they did and he didn’t include their reasons in the report, maybe we need an explanation. And Democrats should demand it. I’d like to know.
*This is an example of why Pelosi should not be minority leader.