Sunday, November 25, 2007
Dan Fagan's Meretricious Bubble
Reading wingnut welfare recipent Dan Fagan's latest inelegant, falsehood-strewn screed this morning reminded me of two people - former privatized corrections industry mogul Bill Weimar, and Time Magazine's Joe Klein. For several reasons. Both Weimar and Klein were fairly liberal in their younger years; both turned far more conservative as they aged. Weimar was and Klein is challenged by those pesky little things called "facts." And both are lousy writers.
When I was Program Director at Anchorage's Cordova Center, back in the early 1990s, I was also editor of the Allvest Newsletter. Bill Weimer, Allvest's President, submitted articles and columns for each issue. Later on, as Bill's Executive Assistant, I edited a lot of his correspondence and position statements. He was the only person for whom I've edited who consistently felt each of his sentences worthy of its own paragraph.
I first read Dan Fagan's column in today's ADN, Do the math: Oil tax hike a tax grab, on the web. As I scanned it, I thought "he really isn't doing that, is he?" Sentence after sentence was incoherently placed in an entirely new paragraph. I thought that maybe the web version of the op-ed had been hastily entered in by copy editors too busy to correct some sort of margining error. But when my wife brought the print edition up from the paper box at the bottom of the driveway, I looked up the column, and - Yep! The style of his opinion piece is anti-literary, and very poor editorial writing, to boot. Maybe it is an inevitable stylistic trait from Fagan's radio style, which is also fairly disjunct. And fairly fact-free.
Fagan devotes four sentences, uh - three paragraphs - to this:
Out of every dollar the oil companies earn in our state at the current price of oil, the government now lets them keep a meager 30 cents of it.
Seventy percent goes to the government. The oil industry, which invests billions in capital, takes all the risk, does all the work gets 30 percent.
Would you work under a 70 percent tax burden?
First, it is not the oil companys' oil. It is ours. If somebody comes onto my property and wants to remove gravel or trees or green beans to sell somewhere else, I want as much money for my stuff as I can get. And the guy buying it isn't being taxed, he's paying for access to my stuff and for the stuff itself.
Second, I work for an organization that pays me about $8,000 for every $75,000 I make for them. Unlike Fagan, I'm not going to bother whining about the facts of life. But, using Fagan's "logic," the oil companies are getting more than three times as good a deal as I am.
Fagan goes on:
Liberal bias lives in the mainstream media because most who work in it lean left.
Media bias is not calculated, designed or premeditated.
Most journalists I know pride themselves on being fair.
But liberals see the world through a different prism than conservatives.
And one of the trademarks of a liberal is they don't know they are liberal. And those who do realize it, rename themselves progressive.
So you can understand why those in the media would deny a liberal bias.
Unfortunately the only people denying a liberal bias in the media are those working in the media.
Several studies, even a recent one by Harvard, document a strong left-leaning media bias.
Where to start? How about with the recent Harvard study Fagan cites? It concentrates on recent coverage of the 2008 presidential races. Although the study's methodology came up with a liberal bias in the coverage of all candidates of both major parties put together in a mix, it noted:
Most of that difference in tone, however, can be attributed to the friendly coverage of Obama (47% positive) and the critical coverage of McCain (just 12% positive.) When those two candidates are removed from the field, the tone of coverage for the two parties is virtually identical.
As far as Fagan's statement, "Liberal bias lives in the mainstream media because most who work in it lean left" goes, I've never seen a credible study of political or ideological affiliation or affinity of journalists and editors working in Alaska that would back Fagan's contention. As most of what Fagan brings up is about local issues, I don't see him bringing any proof whatsoever to the table.
Last year, in the wake of ABC’s notoriously inaccurate “Path to 9-11,” Fagan erroneously claimed that in the aftermath of the Battle of Mogadishu, the subject of the movie “Blackhawk Down,” President Clinton had “cut and run” from Somalia. A caller disputed Fagan, saying that Clinton had wanted to stay the course, but the GOP-dominated US Congress had demanded a quick exit strategy. Fagan told the caller that he was wrong. I called, with a list of quotes by prominent Republicans demanding then that Clinton immediately withdraw US forces from Somalia. Fagan refused to allow me to read any of the short statements, hanging up on me in mid-sentence. Dan “cut and ran.”
On an earlier show Fagan had challenged a caller who asserted that during the Reagan administration, the US had actively supported Saddam’s chemical warfare programs. Fagan hung up on the guy, saying his claim was “nuts, just totally nuts!” When I called supporting the earlier caller, including the facts behind President Reagan’s veto of a 1984 Congressional Resolution condemning Saddam’s use of chemical weapons, Fagan hung up on me too, calling my claim “a wacko’s view,” after he had denied me a forum from which I might retort.
At the start of Vic Kohring's trial, Fagan erroneously asserted that Kohring had gotten his wife in Russia. When I called to correct him, he stated "That's not true," or words to that effect, and hung up on me. Later, when I wrote about this, he commented on my trial blog, saying I had misquoted him in my article. I offered him a chance to prove I was wrong, by quoting our conversation verbatim from an aircheck transcription. He has declined.
Fagan is also what some might term a homophobe. Most humorously, he related how bothered he was that one of his card-playing partners had seen the movie “Brokeback Mountain.” He kept on asking Sharon Leyhow “How can I even sit next to this guy after he’s seen that movie?” Sadly, Fagan was dead serious. I have also accused Fagan of racism for his claim that only Blacks use the "race card."
Fagan loosely and inaccurately uses the terms socialist and communist on his radio show. Time and again. I've yet to hear him use the terms accurately. Using his vague definition of socialism, the commentator in today's ADN occupying the space above Fagan, Governor Walter J. Hickel, is a rabid socialist for his concepts of the owner state and writings on the subject of the commons.
Why did I mention Joe Klein, past similarities to Bill Weimar? Two reasons.
Recently, when inaccuracies in a Time Magazine article Klein had written were pounded into the comment section of the article, Klein admitted, “Clearly, I didn’t do sufficient vetting of the facts." I doubt we'll ever see that sort of an acknowledgement on inaccuracies from Fagan. The second reason I brought Klein into this is that I think Joe Klein's web nickname might fit Fagan too - Joke Line...