the misinformation watch… they hope we won’t notice

As persons in search of credible news, that means we maximize the credible and minimize the bias. AllSides, one of the Intramuralist’s fave sources (that is, when in search of the objective and thus accurate perspective), has a tool recently realized. It’s entitled the “Misinformation Watch.” Allow us to elaborate, courtesy of AllSides:

Misinformation — false or misleading information shared without explicit intent to deceive — is a concern on the left and right. Some believe misinformation is a grave threat, and the spreading of falsehoods is a danger to democracy. Others believe ‘misinformation’ is a propaganda term used to justify silencing certain people or those sharing dissenting perspectives. In a polarized political and media landscape, accusations of misinformation are often applied to any position or perspective that one group finds objectionable or concerning. What, then, constitutes ‘misinformation’ or ‘disinformation’ for one group may simply represent another group’s honest estimation of the truth.”

Hence comes the zillion dollar question: How can we tell misinformation from truth? (Key hint: it doesn’t depend on whether it’s from the left or the right.) Lest we think it’s only one side or another, let’s take a look. Notice last week’s response to Pres. Biden’s 2024 $6.8 trillion federal government budget proposal. As AllSides calmly noted, it didn’t take long to spark misinformation… [All emphasis is mine.]

“The Associated Press (Lean Left bias) reported that ‘Biden’s budget would reduce the debt.’

The Washington Examiner (Lean Right bias) reported that the plan ‘would result in a $1.8 trillion deficit, further adding to the country’s high debt,’ its headline stated that the proposal would not ‘stabilize the debt.’ Both reports spun data-based estimates to portray misleading conclusions. Estimates from budget watchdogs contain more context.

The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget reported that under Biden’s proposed budget, ‘debt would rise at a slower rate than projected under current law but still reach a new record as a share of the economy by 2027.’ So debt would likely still rise, just at a slower pace. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said the proposal was ‘doubling down on the same Far Left spending policies that have led to record inflation and our current debt crisis.’ It is not accurate to pin the debt crisis entirely on the left, as McCarthy does here. Since the last time the federal government recorded a budget surplus in 2001, two of four U.S. presidents have been Republicans. During those administrations, Republicans held majorities in both chambers of Congress for three congressional sessions. The two Democratic presidents held majorities in both chambers of Congress for one congressional session. 

In the proposal, Biden states that ‘we’ have cut the deficit ‘by more than $1.7 trillion in the first 2 years of my Administration—the largest reduction in American history.’ This is technically true, but lacks crucial context on the unique economic challenges faced in 2020 as the country responded to COVID-19. In 2019 for example, before the pandemic, the deficit was $0.98 trillion, lower than estimates state it would be under Biden’s proposed budget.

Another claim circulating among politicians is that the Republican-controlled House of Representatives is responsible for blocking the proposal from turning into legislation.

Some Republican lawmakers are taking credit for blocking the proposal, citing Republican control of the House of Representatives as a stopgap on Biden’s agenda. Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said that ‘the American people can thank the Republican House’ for blocking the proposal.

While united Republican opposition to the proposal will certainly stop it, Democratic support is not guaranteed, either. Biden faced pushback on spending bills before the midterm elections, when Democrats controlled both chambers of Congress. This plan includes spending proposals similar to Biden’s ‘Build Back Better’ plan from earlier in his administration. ‘Build Back Better’ was opposed by Republicans in Congress, but it was Democratic defectors like Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) who doomed its chances of passing. It’s possible that this budget proposal would have the same opposition from centrist Democrats as ‘Build Back Better’ did. That’s true, but the proposal was not guaranteed to get full support from Democrats.” 

So note the conclusion of the “Misinformation Watch,” which is intriguing to say the least…

“Biden’s proposal neither eliminates the deficit nor stabilizes debt, according to estimates. Saying definitely that it would — as some outlets did — qualifies as misinformation. However, no President of any party has done this in 22 years. The federal deficit increased every year of the Trump Administration, and so far has decreased every year of the Biden Administration, largely due to the end of many pandemic-era spending programs. The plan does not get rid of the deficit, which is expected to grow over the next decade due to multiple Biden-era investments in infrastructure, climate tech, manufacturing, and more… The proposal would not stabilize or reduce the national debt, as critics on the right have noted. It estimates a reduction to the federal deficit by slowing down the accumulation of new debt, which budget watchdogs also believe it could do.”

This is what we call “misinformation.” On the left. On the right.

Let’s maximize the credible. Minimize the bias. And not allow “misleading media reports to dictate our feelings on a story.”