Journal Readers Rip Rio Grande Foundation Guest Column

September 17th, 2010 · 3 Comments · Uncategorized

By Tracy Dingmann

I must confess I find it heartening when Journal readers pick up on some of the same criticisms we make here – especially when they show up on the opinion page of the Journal as letters to the editor.

Usually, someone will write one letter that picks up on a particular point that we’ve commented on – totally independent of our analysis – and it confirms for us that the media criticism we are doing here is needed and worthwhile.

What hasn’t ever happened is the Journal running an entire page of letters to the editor pointing out one of our most persistent problems with the paper.

It happened on Tuesday, Sept. 14, when the Journal published seven fairly lengthy letters from readers who were angry – that’s really the only way to put it – about a Sept. 2 guest column by Rio Grande Foundation fellows Micha Gisser and Kenneth M. Brown.

The column, called “Let Parties Be Your Guide In Choosing Congressmen,” urged readers to support Republican candidates in local races, in large part because they advocate for lower taxes for all and for the continuation of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. The column places the blame for the current recession squarely on Democrats, who they say love large government and excessive spending. For their column “signature,” the paper identifies Gisser and Brown only as “Retired Economists.”

We at Journal Watch have repeatedly noted the frequent and prominent presence of the Rio Grande Foundation in the pages of the Journal, both as sources quoted in news stories and as writers of guest editorial pieces.

We find it especially troubling when the organizational affiliation of such “fellows” are not identified in their column signatures – leaving readers in the dark about exactly who the messages are coming from.

It has always seemed odd to us that a small group that throws tea party events and advocates for extreme ideas like privatizing Social Security would dominate the pages of the state’s “home-owned, home-operated” paper of record.

And it is especially curious that the paper chooses not to identify such writers – who openly advocate for partisan candidates – as representatives of the Rio Grande Foundation, which is clearly billed on its website as a non-partisan organization that “does not endorse or oppose either directly or indirectly any candidate for public office” and “does not engage in any other activity that may favor or oppose a candidate.”

Looks like plenty of readers think it’s curious too – and Gisser and Brown’s piece compelled them to write.

From reader Doug Byers:

“I do not know I DO NOT know Kenneth Brown or Micha Gisser, but their op-ed … is so devoid of fact and so baseless in its conclusions that there is nothing there that remotely resembles proper trade craft from the ‘dismal science.'”

Unlike what Gisser and Brown assert, writes reader John Scott, the blame for America’s current economic doom is tied more to the deregulation of corporations than to the ideology of any one particular political party.

“Our recent economic troubles are also the disastrous consequences of the 30 years of the deregulation mania.”

And reader David Bennahum, a resident scholar at the Institute of Ethics and a professor emeritus of medicine at the University of New Mexico, writes:

“The op-ed by Kenneth Brown and Micha Gisser is deceptively even-handed and seemingly unbiased. Yet their writing betrays a number of significant flaws in their analysis and argument. They do not acknowledge that the last Democratic administration led by Bill Clinton left the country in a very healthy economic condition and that it was precisely George Bush and the Republican Party’s congressional delegation that cut taxes and began two costly wars that have led us to the recession that we are now experiencing.”

And it went on and on.

Not to be corny, but I guess you could say that Tuesday was a red-letter day for Journal Watch.

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3 Comments so far ↓

  • Roland

    My impression is that the ABQ Journal uses letters to the editor to emphasize Republican talking-points, under the guise that they somehow represent “spontaneous feedback” from the readers, as if they are an impromptu poll of reader sentiments. This way we get a triple whammy of brainwashing — first from the politically biased editorials, second from John Trever’s politically biased cartoons (presumably for those who don’t bother to read?), and third from a carefully selected batch of letters making points which the editor wants to emphasize. I always wonder which letters get chosen for print, and which ones get tossed in the wastebasket. Readers should also be alerted that on those occasions when letters by Democrats are printed, they are sometimes treated like a slow softball pitch, which the editor sets up for a home-run slam by an irate conservative — sometimes the editor waits two weeks or more for the desired teaparty response, but inevitably those will be published.

  • Paul Gessing

    I’m not sure what you want Tracy. These two retired, unpaid economists are damned by you if they are published writing for the Rio Grande Foundation and they’re doubly-damned if they write as private citizens. We’re not pulling any “fast ones” here. They wrote the article and submitted it without my input and any involvement of the Foundation. Just because they occasionally do something for RGF, should they be prohibited from submitting articles to the Journal?

  • Tracy Dingmann

    Paul, I think you are trying to have it both ways. Which is it?

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