Media Downplay 25 Percent Tax Promoted By Democrats
Journalists fail to link think tank study with senators connected to group that researched it.
XXX marked the spot where the media failed to portray accurately a
major new Internet tax initiative. Under a plan promoted by several
Democratic senators, Internet pornography would be taxed 25 percent,
but that wasnt the focus of the news reports.
In the five stories since the July 27 announcement, journalists downplayed the major new tax initiative and promoted the real answer about teens using Internet porn based on a study done by a Democratic group. Those included stories on two different broadcast networks, as well as two Associated Press reports.
performed by the Democratic think tank Third Way, set in motion
the new tax bill put forth by Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark.). What
the media failed to explain was that Lincoln was one of six
Democrats listed as honorary Senate chairs of Third Way. The
Associated Presss July 27 story listed seven Democrats behind the
bill, but never mentioned that four of them are listed on the
Third Way Web site as Our Honorary Senate Chairs or Our
Honorary Vice Chairs.
The July 27 NBC
Today didnt even bother to explain that Third Way is
Democratic. Instead, co-host Matt Lauer called it a new
progressive strategy center, duplicating the language used by the
group on its Web site: a strategy center for progressives. That
evening, NBC Nightly News reporter Chip Reid helped set the
record straight, calling Third Way a new Democratic think tank in
Press admitted Third Way was run by a group of Democrats seeking
a moral authority some say their party has lost in a July 27
article by David Hammer. But a follow-up AP story on July 28
simply called them a group of centrist Democrats while pointing
out that the Free Speech Coalition opposing them was a lobbying
group backed by the pornography industry.
The online porn industry generates about $12 billion in annual
sales, but none of the five stories explained that the proposed
tax would generate up to $3 billion, depending on how many of the
companies were based in the U.S. Although NBC Nightly News
explained that foreign firms wouldnt be impacted by the plan,
none of the stories addressed the likely relocation of Web
companies offshore to beat the huge tax increase.
Lauer promoted the
Today story by stating outright that the study was accurate and
ignoring any bias the group might have. You might think that
dirty old men are the biggest consumers of Internet pornography,
but the real answer hits a lot closer to home for moms and dads
everywhere, he said.
ABCs World News
Tonight July 27 introduced the story with its own study claiming
that A recent ABC News poll found that 44 percent of all teenage
boys have visited a sexually explicit Web site at least once. ABC
didnt bother to explain the difference between sexually
explicit and pornography.
interviewed Third Way President Jon Cowan, but never gave his
background as an executive under President Bill Clinton. According
to Third Ways own Web site, Cowan was Chief of Staff of the U.S.
Department of Housing and Urban Development, managing a federal
agency of 9,000 employees with a $27 billion annual budget.