Accuracy in Media

The New York Times has long supported both unions and high taxes—but at last, the once-great newspaper is forced to recognize reality: that unions and high taxes are anything but good for business.  On November 12, 2009, the Times announced that it would be moving 25 staffers from the newsroom in New York to The Gainesville Sun’s newsroom in Florida.  Why?

Because the Florida paper’s “newsroom is not unionized and has lower salaries.”

According to Reuters, “the New York Times Co informed non-union employees that it would stop contributions to their pensions at the end of the year. The company plans to instead contribute 3 percent of non-union employees’ salaries each year to their 401K plans.”  Reuters adds, “The New York Times Co has experienced declines in advertising and mounting debt that have forced it to cut costs and sell assets.”

Certainly, it would be foolhardy to expect anything but a decline in profits for the Times.  All newspapers are struggling these days as a result of free news on the Internet; the Times is now up against an ever-growing tidal wave of grassroots conservatism.  As the number of progressives and the uninformed shrinks, so does New York Times readership.

But of course, the Times has never seen it that way.  Take, for example, this article by Edward L. Glaeser.  In this article, Glaeser argues that state taxes on millionaires are bad—but only because they make millionaires move to different states.  Instead of state taxes on millionaires, the federal government should tax millionaires even more—because that way the “rich” can’t escape to a different state.

Glaeser writes, “Taxing the rich always has costs, like reduced entrepreneurship and hours of work, but those costs may be worth paying to achieve greater equality.”  And also: “It is perfectly consistent to be in favor of soaking the rich at the national level but to be against such policies at the state or local level. If New York taxes its financiers heavily, it can be sure that Greenwich will grow.”

On October 12, 2009, David M. Herszenhorn and Robert Pear wrote an article about taxes on high-cost health insurance plans.  In the beginning, they point out critics’ views, including that such taxes would hurt the middle class.  But later on, they only cite one group of experts who happen to favor the higher taxes.  They write, “The tax, a provision of the bill to be voted on Tuesday by the Senate Finance Committee, is one of the few remaining proposals under consideration by Congress that budget experts say could lead directly to a reduction in health care spending over the long term, by prompting employers and employees to buy cheaper insurance.”  In fact, the article seems to favor the tax so much that it comes as a shock to read that this bill “Republicans and Democrats alike” support actually has a strong Democratic opposition: “At least 173 House Democrats, two-thirds of the party caucus, have signed a letter to Ms. Pelosi voicing opposition to the insurance tax.”  Why wasn’t that at the beginning of the article, again?  Herszenhom and Pear mention the opposition halfway through the article, and then go back to quoting all the nice things Max Baucus’ aides have to say about the tax.

In January of this year, Steven Greenhouse strongly defended both unions and Hilda Solis.  In the article, Greenhouse implies that Republicans were guilty of harassing Solis, who “took pains to avoid any contention or debate,” “calmly deflected [Republican] jabs,” and “talked abut her humble roots and her ability to identify with struggling workers.”  And why would the Republicans attack Solis?  Well, Greenhouse writes, it’s because of her support for the Employee Free Choice Act, which Republicans hate “because it would enable unions to add millions of workers over the next few years and would largely eliminate use of the secret ballot to determine whether workers want a union… The bill would give employees at a workplace the right to gain union recognition as soon as a majority of them sign cards saying they want to join a specific union.”  In other words, it’s because those evil Republicans hate it when nice Democratic women make life easier for the poor workers, right?

Throughout the article, the Times writer complains about Republicans seeking to “trip [Solis] up,” while also focusing on things like the Democrats who “invited her to praise labor unions for how they have helped lift wages and preserve the middle class.”

Also in January, Times writer Paul Krugman wrote glowingly of “public”—by that, he meant “government”—investment, stating “We need stimulus fast, and there’s a limited supply of ‘shovel-ready’ projects that can be started soon enough to deliver an economic boost any time soon.”  He later on complains about those Republicans again, standing in the way of more taxes: “Make 40% of the package tax cuts, they’ll demand 100%. Then they’ll start the thing about how you can’t cut taxes on people who don’t pay taxes (with only income taxes counting, of course) and demand that the plan focus on the affluent,” he writes.

A March article by that same Steven Greenhouse praised unions again, calling the United Automobile Workers union “a much humbled but still proud union” that was “reluctant to ask others for help.”  He quotes the UAW union president John Sweeney saying, “The way the U.A.W. has been treated is a disgrace,” and notes that once again, those meanie Republicans have been standing in the way of union progress.

It really is fitting that after all of this flagrant support for progressive tax and union policies, the Times has to move to Florida.  Now the real test will be if the Times continues supporting all the policies that forced the move in the first place.




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