Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Republicans’ trust in news media decimated

[Guest post by Jonathan Small]

"How much do you trust the news media?"

In a survey of likely Oklahoma voters conducted this year by Cor Strategies, two out of three Oklahoma Democrats answered “a great deal” or “a good amount.”

However, nearly three in four Oklahoma Republicans said “not at all” or “not very much.”

That’s telling, but not surprising. I’ve experienced media bias firsthand. I’ve spent hours talking to reporters at The Washington Post, The Economist, and other media who already had their story formula prepared: Recent GOP tax cuts have led to drastic cuts in Oklahoma education funding.

I explain to these reporters that there’s been only one income tax cut as a result of Gov. Mary Fallin’s tenure—a quarter-point reduction in the personal income tax rate. Meanwhile, in the last four years, our state’s political leaders have raised $1.1 billion in annual taxes and other revenues.

And education cuts? Total inflation-adjusted education funding (including retirement and excluding bond sales) rose from $9.14 billion in 2013 to $9.24 billion in 2017 (the most recent year available). Per-pupil revenues fell from $13,579 to $13,319. Hardly apocalyptic.

Needless to say, these facts don’t fit into liberal reporters’ preordained narrative. Their slogan could be: All the news that fits, we print.

It’s not just national reporters. A reporter at Oklahoma Watch reported on Nov. 7 that Republican “tax-cutting policies contributed to steep cuts to education funding over the past few years.” Tax-cutting policies? Steep cuts? Not true.

The Associated Press reported on Aug. 29 that “this year’s (primary election) vote came after four consecutive years of budget shortfalls that have decimated funding for public schools.” Decimated!

This reporting is simply—oh, what’s the word?—false.

And on it goes. Just last week, in the lede of a straight-news story recapping the election, a Tahlequah Daily Press reporter informed us that “Oklahomans—sort of like the Soviets and the Chinese—will live under the rule of a single political party for the next two years.”

Seriously? This would be offensive enough in an op-ed. But how could a reporter write that in a news story? And how could an editor let it remain?

Is it any wonder Oklahoma Republicans don’t trust the news media?

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