Watching the Watchmen

We hear plenty of chatter about how the mass media is biased, one way or another. But I think the main problem is that the media just plain isn’t doing its job. Whether out of laziness, time pressure, or low staffing levels due to cost-cutting, it seems that for most purposes, news outlets function purely as repeaters of stories generated and written by primary sources, which they promote and distribute without any kind of analysis or even verification.

Example: the main Republican talking point regarding the issue of extending the Bush tax cuts is that eliminating the tax break for incomes over $250,000 would “hurt small business.” This meme is repeated unquestioned. But if you look at it for a second, you realize it’s nonsense. Individuals receiving income of a quarter-million dollars per annum are not what the average American thinks of as a “small businessperson”.

When you say “small business”, people think of the local dry cleaner, or Fro Yo franchise, or muffler shop. And these are the types of small business that are suffering in this economy. But you and I both know that the proprietor of Speedy’s Muffler Service is not in a position to pay himself 250 grand. And if he was, he could still avoid a “tax increase” by just diverting more of his profits back into the business.

The people who are really making mid-six-figure incomes are corporate executives, consultants, lawyers, and other specialist professionals. Frankly, if they are taking home that much, they don’t need tax relief in my book. They can talk to me after selling off the second home or the spare Escalade.

So, this Republican talking point is sheer bull-puckey (one of many, of course). But the only “media entity” to call them on it is The Daily Show.

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