An Otherwise Good to See News Story in The Oregonian

Chuck Sheketoff

I was pleased to see that The Oregonian’s lead story yesterday brought attention to the extent of the hardship that would follow if Congress fails to extend emergency unemployment benefits before year’s end.

The story did a nice job reporting on the likely impact of ending the emergency benefits. It noted that the Oregon Employment Department estimates that without an extension 13,400 Oregonians would lose their benefits in January, a huge jump from the current monthly pace of 2,000. And The Oregonian story noted that the National Employment Law Center considers that estimate too low. According to NELP, 32,000 Oregonians will lose their benefits come January absent congressional action.

So what’s my beef?

The news article — not someone quoted in the article — claimed that “lawmakers face intensifying pressure to cut the federal budget deficit.”

But the article offered no evidence of such “intensifying pressure.” Thus, at best the claim constitutes editorializing in a news story. At worst, it spreads false information.

Lawmakers don’t face “intensifying pressure” to cut the federal deficit. Poll after poll shows that deficit-reduction is a secondary concern, at best, especially when compared to Americans’ support for job-creation.

For example, a CNN poll conducted in late August (PDF) showed that by a two-to-one margin Americans agreed that it’s “more important” to “create more jobs even if it means less deficit reduction” (68 percent agreed) than to “reduce deficit even if unemployment remains high.” (30 percent agreed).The same poll showed that it’s not just Democrats and Independents who put creating jobs ahead of deficit reduction; a majority of Republicans polled (54 percent) put creating jobs ahead of reducing the deficit (44 percent).

Notably, the polling took place before the Occupy Wall Street movement exploded nationwide, putting at the forefront of the national debate issues regarding the job crisis, income inequality, corporate greed and poverty.

If anything, the Occupy Wall Street movement here in Oregon and across the country reflects the intensifying pressure from the American people for Congress to tackle the job crisis and help the unemployed who are facing a loss of unemployment insurance benefits starting in January.

Oregon Center for Public PolicyChuck Sheketoff is the executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. You can sign up to receive email notification of OCPP materials at

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    I can hear the same GOP voices responding to the poor and the destitute as they did to the plight of the man without health care coverage. "Let them die!" I predict Boehner and his teabagger bosses will do nothing to extend subsistence benefits to the unemployed. The GOP rep from Eastern Oregon where the long term unemployment is double digits is Greg Walden. Is he going to do anything for those destitute people? "Let them die......" is their response.

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    The news article — not someone quoted in the article — claimed that “lawmakers face intensifying pressure to cut the federal budget deficit.”

    Paging Politifact.

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      I will be pleasantly shocked if Politifact picks this up. They have recently turned to the bizarrely irrelevant like if Jefferson would be the first candidate from far east Portland. Furthermore, I don't believe they ever check their own paper.

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    I think that everyone agrees that more jobs need to be created. My questions are - Who's going to create those jobs and how are they to go about it?

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    This is more of the 'must show balance by blaming both sides' style of journalism. It used to work when there was less hard partisanship and before the Google. Now we do not have trouble finding the facts ourselves, but the journalists? don't seem to have accepted that.

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    I have noticed an ever increasing amount of right wing lies published as news in the Oregonian. In August, for example, they ran this headline: "Standard and Poor's makes the historic downgrade, citing insufficient budget cuts".

    Except that - if you read the actual text - Standard and Poor's did not cite "insufficient budget cuts" at all, but rather specifically cited Congressional Republicans' willingness to hold the debt limit hostage.

    The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed. The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy.

    You can read the whole thing (the real news, including the actual text) at TalkingPointsMemo.

    I would like to believe that publishing verifiably false information is rare from the Oregonian, but I don't appreciate having to fact-check them every time they publish something about politics. At least not not when I'm reading their news section.

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