More media meltdown

Former outside counsel to the Bush campaign Ben Ginsberg contrasts media coverage of alleged coordination of 527-group advertising with the presidential campaigns of George Bush, on the one hand, and John Kerry, on the other: “Swift boats and double standards.” Ginsberg’s point is one that has been made with similar skill and persuasiveness in the blogosphere, but here it is in the Washington Post.
During the Reagan and first Bush administrations, the Democratic Party turned the creation of bogus economic data into a cottage industry. The mainstream media of course also helped out, with daily stories of economic destitution, homeless families, destroyed jobs, vanishing industry, and so on, all in an era of economic revitalization that produced 18 million mostly high-paying jobs.
Riding the crest of this propaganda wave was the 1992 number-one best-selling book America: What Went Wrong by Donald Barlett and James Steele, one of the worst books of all time. The election of Bill Clinton in 1992 of course “solved” the homeless problem and other such purported catastrophes, at least until the election of the current president.
Rocket Man and I documented several variants of the bogus economic data cranked out by Democratic Party operatives and their counterparts in the mainstream media in our 1995 essay “The truth about income inequality” linked in the left margin. One particularly galling variant of the attack on the economic success of the Reagan-administration policies was the production of charts depicting a vanishing middle class based on Census Bureau data showing a shrinking number of occupants within a defined middle-income range.
The problem with the chart was that the shrinking middle-income population was a function of growing wealth rather than a vanishing middle class. Many of those formerly earning incomes within the middle income range had moved beyond it to the territory of “the rich” — thus the shrinking population of those within a defined middle-income band. As I recall, this statistical trick was an artifact of Democratic Party operatives.
Now the Democratic Party does not have to work quite so hard on its own to create such bogus economic data. Its allies in the mainstream media do the party’s work for it. In the Washington Times Bruce Bartlett discusses a New York Times story that shows a vanishing middle class based on the old Reagan-era methodology that we discussed in our 1995 income inequality paper: “Skewing the middle class.” (Courtesy of RealClearPolitics.)


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