Such a Disappointment
Yesterday, Ian Donnis suggested that my latest Providence Journal op-ed “oversteps in prescribing [ascribing?] an advocacy role to [WPRI’s Steve] Aveson, who like [himself] and other panelists, uses various rhetorical devices (the ever-popular devil’s advocate, for example) in the interest of posing questions and stimulating discussion.” Truth to tell, I didn’t see myself as ascribing advocacy to Aveson. My impression was more that he was simply voicing his general opinion.
Yes, the “devil’s advocate” defense is always available, but as with journalists’ nigh upon pathological use of the word “alleged,” that strategy of conducting interviews is generally heavily laden with such phrases as “some people say,” and I don’t recall Aveson deploying that device at all during discussion of illegal immigrant RIte Care. Indeed, I don’t think a fair viewing of that exchange leaves any doubt that Aveson is speaking his own mind. At 3:53 of segment three, here, Aveson turns to somebody whom he knows agrees with the point of view that he’s describing, Jennifer Lawless, and asks:
Jennifer, let’s rally back to the question of depriving 2,000 kids who are illegal immigrants [sign language quotation marks], by definition, of access to healthcare. It seems like, of all the people that could be criticized for taking… solving the budget deficit on the backs of people, how do you solve it on the backs of kids who aren’t able to go out and earn a living, for example.
And before she’s even finished her thought, Aveson continues:
I mean, it almost feels a little bit like a harsh carrot and stick: “Okay, we can’t solve this problem in a big way, so if we deprive children of this support, then at least they’ll get the idea, those parents of those kids, and they’ll go away from Rhode Island.”
Let me be clear, here: I’m not faulting Aveson for expressing his opinion. I’m faulting him for having that particular opinion. But while we’re on the topic of tough interviews, Donnis mentions that he poses a sticky question to Patrick Crowley on tomorrow’s edition of Newsmakers (viewable already here). While I won’t dispute that Ian’s question is not an example of “rolling over,” I have to admit that it struck me as pretty mild, considering that he and Aveson had just let Crowley get away with the following package of lies, after Aveson explained that “Governor Carcieri sat here.. and said that the rich are leaving the state”:
Yeah, the facts don’t bear that out. Since 2004, the number of people with incomes over $200,000 have actually risen in the state of Rhode Island. And while we have lost some population, it is a typical demographic shift, and we are not in any worse position than our neighboring states of Massachusetts and Connecticut. But what we have done is cut our taxes for the upper income people more deeply than Massachusetts and Connecticut has, and that’s what’s contributing to our economic problem, right now.
Ian should know better. He reads Anchor Rising and presumably skims my Projo op-eds. Even Crowley’s latest propaganda (currently being published in local newspapers across the state) doesn’t support his claims. In that letter, Crowley claims that the number of such people rose “between 1997 and 2004.” The latest data that I’ve seen shows upper income Rhode Islanders disappearing by the tens of thousands between 2005 and 2006.
It’s understandable that Crowley would find it advantageous to spread lies that undermine the reality that I and others have been trumpeting, but it’s very disappointing how broadly those lies are enabled — even by respected and respectable media figures.