Yes, He Accused Them, But Did It Happen?

One could drive oneself insane blogging this all the time, but I genuinely think that every single person involved in covering politics for a major newspaper needs to take some time to think about the possibilities that their articles, as written, reduce the level of informedness in the population. Say, for example, you didn't follow American politics or public policy at all. You'd probably have no opinion as to whether or not the Democratic congress is plotting the largest tax increase in American history. Then you read Peter Baker's Washington Post article:

Appearing before cameras at the Treasury Department alongside his economic team, the president vowed to veto spending bills that exceed his targets, and he accused Democrats of plotting the largest tax increase in history to fund an additional $205 billion in discretionary spending over five years. . . .

Democrats quickly returned fire, noting that Bush inherited a surplus that turned into a deficit and that he never vetoed a spending bill during the six years that Republicans controlled Capitol Hill, even as the budget grew by 50 percent.

Now, based on this, one would probably conclude that Democrats are, in fact, planning the largest tax increase in American history. One certainly would not conclude that what Democrats are proposing is that tax legislation that Bush himself proposed years ago be allowed to proceed in the manner that Bush proposed, and that all of the arguments about affordability that Bush made, when proposing this tax legislation back in the day, were founded on the premise that the legislation would operate as proposed, complete with a phase out and so forth.

It's barely worth mentioning because this happens all the time, but it's necessary to mention precisely because it happens all the time. Baker's article is by no means a bad one relative to the prevailing standards of the day, but even so it does more to assist the powers that be in their effort to mislead people than it does to help people understand what the powers that be are doing.