Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Feigned Outrage: WSJ Motivating Examples: The first week in June 2020

To give an idea of how pervasive the problem is, let's take a look at just a few examples from last week from the Wall Street Journal: Doctors for Lockdown Discrimination: June 7

Opinion stated as fact: 

The misguided decision to shut down elective surgery in most of the country is slowly reversing, so hospitals can get back to non-Covid-19 business. [ERD]

Any evidence the decision was misguided? It's certainly open for debate, but was there really no legitimate concern that healthy people would be in danger of contamination before hospitals had COVID under control? How and when elective surgery should be opened is worthy of debate, but please support this criticism with something. 


Democratic politicians can’t explain why they let peaceful protesters and even rioters march in tight crowds in their streets but continue to ban other gatherings and maintain strict lockdowns on the rest of the public. [DLD]
There's a fair point that people should be allowed to protest different viewpoints, but it's disingenuous to pretend scale doesn't matter - it's obviously easier to request social distancing for crowds one hundredth the size. Their own editorial mentions crowds of heavily armed protesters entering the capitol in Michigan, another obvious difference - what would happen if heavily armed Black Lives Matter protesters entered a capitol building? Further, protests of both kinds have happened in states run by Republicans and Democrats alike - first show us the pattern of Democrats behaving differently than Republicans in this regard. 

The public-health justification for continuing strict lockdowns in large Democratic cities looks increasingly dubious as states that reopen like Texas, Florida and Georgia have so far kept control of new infections and hospitalizations. [DLD]
Wow. In some places, WSJ argues for different responses based on the characteristics of different locations [rightly I say, but not matter]. Here they compare "Democratic" cities to much sparser states. Some preliminary studies suggest the lockdowns saved millions of lives, but let's at least be honest that we can't be sure they didn't. The states mentioned have nowhere near the densities of the hard hit northeastern cities and at no time had their infection rates. New cases continue to rise in Texas and Florida - while plummeting from dire peaks in Boston and New York. Meanwhile, all states, and even the hardest hit "Democratic" cities have started to reopen. The recent history of Texas and Florida doesn't even plausibly relate to the public health justifications for lockdowns in large "Democratic" cities.

Well, in recent days we’ve learned that America’s left does have a broken-windows policy: Let rioters break enough windows and loot enough stores and maybe their righteous anger will be satisfied.
That’s certainly how it looked when the June sun rose Tuesday over the broken glass, looted storefronts, burnt-out cars, and vandalized buildings in New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Madison and other American cities. Public officials let rioters exploiting the memory of George Floyd run wild in the streets. Even after nearly a week of violence, these and other liberal Democratic cities let lawless radicals harass and plunder almost at will.
. . .
What all these cities have in common is that they are led by Democrats who seem to have bought into the belief that the police are a bigger problem than rampant disorder. They are either cowed by their party’s left, or they agree that America is systemically racist and rioting is a justified expression of anger against it. They offer pro forma disapproval of law breakers but refuse to act to stop them. [LCRM]

Where to start? The fact is the vast majority of the largest cities in the US have Democratic mayors. The WSJ knows this and offers no evidence that the party of the mayor has any effect on the level of rioting. St. Louis, one of the four cities mentioned, is in a state with a Republican governor. There were riots in AZ, GA, IN and other states with Republican governors. Odd, when the tagline of the editorial is " Democratic mayors and governors seem unable to stop the destruction of their own cities."It's a disingenuous cheap-shot to point out an issue in large cities and attribute it to Democratic mayors, when almost all large cities have Democratic mayors - and it's nonsensical to attribute them to Democratic governors when riots occurred in states with Republican governors. You've got a problem with specific policies, fine; or some analysis which shows a disparate effect from having a Democratic mayor, fine. And at least call out that the majority of protests have been peaceful. You'll find a much more fair-minded piece in the newspaper the Journal loves to hate. 

Unnecessary invective: 

Friday’s surprisingly upbeat jobs report for May was no doubt cheered by most Americans, but not by all. Democrats Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer seemed glum, as they ignored the progress and demanded still more federal money. What do they have against good economic news? [ERD]

An otherwise reasonable piece starts of with an opening salvo against the Dems for no reason. 

Still, the labor market has begun to heal, but you wouldn’t know it from Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer. The Speaker issued a statement that “nearly 600,000 critical government employees have lost their jobs in the last month and hundreds of thousands more frontline workers are at risk of being laid off, including teachers, first responders and hospital, nursing care, sanitation, transit, food, postal and other essential workers.”

Well, the speaker has a perfectly valid point. Schools are considering layoffs, for sure, and lot of jobs lost may not return. Maybe her solution is bunk, but the point deserves consideration, not cheap potshots. 

Summary: All of these editorials are filled with fair points that can be agreed with or not. But they do their journalism, and their cause, discredit with the cheap shots, loose analysis, and willful blindness. Soon to follow, similar motivating examples from the New York Times. We're purposefully starting with two of the most respected publications in the US. Yes, the problem is often far worse elsewhere, but if we can't hold the NYT and WSJ to high standards, what hope do we have?

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