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Unprecedented Amounts of Money Spent to Attack Democrats This Year

NPR is doing a series on this election cycle’s spate of anonymous attack-ads. Here’s the jist of the problem:

Two such groups advertising in Pittsburgh are Americans for Job Security and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Both are 501(c)s, organized under the tax code as nonprofits. The law says they can’t engage in politics as their primary purpose. It also says they can accept unlimited donations and don’t have to report their donors. Couple that with the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, and you have a wide-open path for corporate money to flow into partisan politics.

Here’s an interesting tidbit buried at the bottom of the story (emphasis mine):

The ads in Pittsburgh attacked candidates of both parties, but the ones attacking Republicans were all from Democratic candidates or party committees, groups that have to disclose their donors. Not one ad from the supposedly nonpolitical groups attacked a Republican. All of those ads are aimed at Democrats.

NPR: ‘Nonpolitical’ Groups Target Democrats In Ad Blitz

And yes, attack ads do work. Read Everything You Think You Know About Politics and Why You’re Wrong for some insights into political campaigns.

Credit where credit is due: Obama and NPR on same-sex couples visitation rights

Same Sex Marriage blushing brides

I criticize Obama frequently, and complain about mainstream media’s tendency to do what Jay Rosen calls he said, she said journalism. I’m often galled by NPR’s practice of the technique (particularly their refusal to call torture torture)

So I was please this morning to hear this report today on Morning Edition: Obama is requiring all hospitals who receive Medicare or Medicaid funding must allow same-sex couple visitation rights. And specifically, I was happy to hear Morning Edition’s journalists calling out conservative spinmeisters on their bullshit. They get both sides of the story, but do what reporters should do when one side of the story is blatantly wrong: they check the facts and provide context.

They call on J.P. Duffy, vice president for communications at the Family Research Council, to comment on the new memo:

Most hospitals, he said, have no restrictions on same-sex visitation.

But Dr. Jason Schneider, former president of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, said that unless a hospital has a formal policy allowing same-sex visitations, gay couples can run into trouble.

“One person in a hospital can make a huge difference — a security guard, a front desk clerk looking at a same-sex partner and saying, ‘You don’t have any right to go back there,’ ” Schneider said. “So I think this directive gives weight to the importance of recognizing the variety and the breadth of how people define families.”

And:

It’s a move that Duffy of the Family Research Council calls “a big-government federal takeover of even the smallest details of the nation’s health care system.”

But this isn’t the first time a president has used Medicare funding to expand access to hospitals.

When President Johnson signed Medicare into law in 1965, many hospitals were racially segregated. That new law said hospitals that received federal Medicare dollars would have to integrate.

This is a commendable move by the Obama administration, and a good example of journalism providing context and fact checking instead of just “telling both sides of the story.” Bravo.

(Photo by SFBart / CC)

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