Why Did Think Tank Kill Journal Critique?

May 17th, 2011 at 8:09 am | 7 Comments |

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A very large hat-tip goes out to blogger Brendan Nyhan who has noticed that the Tax Foundation has deleted a blog post on their site which was very critical of an editorial graphic published in the Wall Street Journal.

This though is not the only blog post that appears to have been deleted by the Tax Foundation. A follow-up blog post from Friday entitled “Where the Taxable Income Is, Continued” also seems to have disappeared. The follow up blog post still exists online thanks to a tax law aggregator site which copied it and the text of the original blog post can still be read on Nyhan’s site.

Scott Hodge, President of the Tax Foundation, responded to FrumForum’s requests for comment and stated that the original blog post had side-stepped the editorial process:

Like all organizations we have an editorial process. The piece was posted before I could edit it. I thought it needed revision and editing. We never got a satisfactory revision. It’s a moot point now.

The post argued that a chart used in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on how much taxable income existed in different income groups was “a textbook example of how to lie with statistics”. The blog post agreed with the spirit of the op-ed, but argued that it was not necessary to make the argument in a misleading way:

My point here is not to criticize the editorial itself, because it’s true that taxing only the rich isn’t a viable path towards deficit reduction. At the same time, we shouldn’t resort to misleading charts that pretend to show that those with high incomes don’t make the majority of the money in this country— they do.

The follow-up blog post proposed better ways to present the data, but it also referred to the original post as “nonsense for a variety of reasons” and being guilty of “distortion”.

The Tax Foundation’s actions raises questions because to some outside observers, it would appear that the post was deleted not because of the merits of the post, but because it accused the Wall Street Journal of dishonesty. Without further clarification from the Tax Foundation, it is likely that this incident will become another datapoint of a conservative think tank taking questionable action with its data and materials, such as when the Heritage Foundation removed part of its GOP budget analysis from their website after receiving significant criticism for their unemployment projections.

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7 Comments so far ↓

  • ottovbvs

    These guys are in the business of falsifying the record. Sometimes they don’t get their stories straight so they have to expurgate the record. It’s that simple.

  • Non-Contributor

    The tax foundation has a sketchy history so really nothing new.

    To me whats interesting is that there isn’t one news organization that exists today that could have seen that graph as an issue (and I include the Frum Forum, Daily Kos and others).

    Today news is all about regurgitating what is said by pundits, politicians, and lobbyists. The only real information comes from bloggers who on their own dime take up the truth cause.

  • armstp

    The dishonesty of “conservatives” never ceases to amaze me. You never see the same level of lying, distortion and manipulation on the “left”. I guess it is just a different mentality and moral code.

  • balconesfault

    Truthiness trumps truth.

    You never see the same level of lying, distortion and manipulation on the “left”.

    You will sometimes see it – but you’ll see plenty of left leaning publications who will jump into pointing it out and pillorying the guilty party.

    To that extent – FrumForum is to be commended. It would be easy to follow the lockstep of the rest of the conservative pundit class and ignore that this had ever happened. I’m sure Frum doesn’t make any friends on the right with an article like this.

  • gover

    Replying to armstp at 8:50:
    It’s not a difference in moral code, it’s a matter of necessity. For most conservative positions, it is simply impossible to make a publically acceptable argument without lying. A liberal can stand up in public and say ‘I support health care reform because I want everyone to have health insurance.’ He can even say that ‘I expect eventually HCR will be popular and help me and my party politically.’ A Republican cannot stand up in public and say ‘My insurance lobbyists want HCR killed.’ So we get ‘death panels’ and ‘government takeover.’

    Paul Ryan can’t stand up and say he’s representing the wishes of his wealthy sponsors who don’t want to pay taxes, so instead we have magical trickle down, ‘the job creators must be unshackled’ nonsense that no one would believe if the gops hadn’t been screaming it non-stop for forty years.

  • dante

    To that extent – FrumForum is to be commended. It would be easy to follow the lockstep of the rest of the conservative pundit class and ignore that this had ever happened. I’m sure Frum doesn’t make any friends on the right with an article like this.

    ABSOLUTELY!! Thank you DF for calling your colleagues on their bullshit. You give me hope that someday I can actually go back to voting for a sane, rational GOP party.

  • forkboy1965

    The whole thing reminds me of those missing minutes on Nixon’s tapes.

    The GOP: as untrustworthy as the day is long.