A ‘Nonpartisan’ Reason to Challenge California Anti-Taxpayer Media Bias

It’s quite often the subtle bias in the dominant liberal media that can make a significant difference. Witness yesterday’s San Francisco Chronicle piece on a California ballot initiative to impose tax-and-spending limitations on state government.

Writer John Wildermuth quotes from two Colorado sources to establish views on our own state’s experience with the stronger Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights limit (emphases added):

“Nobody disagrees that (the cap) kept government spending lower,” said Carol Hedges, a senior fiscal analyst for the nonpartisan Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, which opposes the state’s budget cap. “But supporters don’t like to talk about the human cost of keeping government smaller.”

Across the nation, anti-tax advocates, small government activists and fiscal conservatives pointed to Colorado as an example of how less is more when it comes to taxes and government spending.

“What spending limits do is force politicians to make tough choices about priorities sooner, rather than later, when the state’s in a financial crisis,” said Jon Caldara, president of the Independence Institute in Denver, a free-market think tank.

Here’s my beef, and it’s with only one word in the story: Why call the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute — an outsourced arm of the “progressive” Democratic machinenonpartisan? Since it’s accurate only in the most technical sense, but in reality far more misleading to the uninitiated reader, why include it as a descriptor?

If the writer is going to use the adjective nonpartisan for CFPI, why not also use it to describe the Independence Institute? (Full disclosure: The Institute is my full-time employer.) It would be at least as true. But I’ll argue that the word nonpartisan should have been dropped altogether, as it only affords an undeserved degree of credibility.

Having cited Carol Hedges as the primary source, and a “nonpartisan” one at that, the story rolls downhill a lot closer to a predetermined conclusion than an objective story should.

Does anyone still wonder why newspapers are going out of business?


  1. Tom McDowell says

    The blogs, it turns out, aren’t a lot better. Too many have their own agenda and filter their “news” through it.

    Don’t they, Ben?

  2. says


    Why don’t you be a little more explicit with your claim? The issue isn’t insufficient objectivity, but rather lack of transparency. If a newspaper or journalist had posted a piece like http://bendegrow.com/who-writes-this-blog/, so we could see where they sit, then the agenda and the bias wouldn’t be a big deal. Do you know a blog that doesn’t have its own agenda and filters its “news” through it?

  3. Tom McDowell says

    It wasn’t a “claim.” It was a comment. I suppose it could have been a claim, but not tonight.

    How many blogs have a “who writes this blog” post?

  4. says

    Not enough. I would encourage more to do so. But in the free speech free-for-all that is the new media environment, I’d say the SF Chronicle’s news story bias is more worthy of observation than a random blogger’s bias. That’s just me, though.

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