What's interesting about corporate tax policy is that even the left wing is often supportive if they are informed and independent (the writers over at http://www.progressive-economics.ca/ are generally quite informed but most appear to be on a union payroll such that they have to frequently resort to an appeal to the "class struggle" to plug the gaps). For example, Ezra Klein allowed his blog to be used by a guest writer who observed that
The U.S. corporate income tax rate -- at 39 percent, it's the second highest in the developed world after Japan's, and Japan's may be about to drop -- is counterproductively high. It's probably the only tax in the U.S. these days that's conceivably on the wrong side of the Laffer curve; if we lowered the rate, we might take in more money.
But introducing the business-friendly HST to BC has been a public relations disaster for the BC government, which has led me to wonder what role the media played.
In Alberta during in the last few weeks complaints from the Wildrose party about how the Speaker of the provincial legislature (a member of the government caucus) was treating them appeared in the news. If the comment threads are any guide, a lot of people were (initially) of the opinion that Wildrose should just follow the rules. But a day or two later, after the media had talked to former Speakers and a political science teacher and reported their views, public opinion (amongst the segment aware of the reports) shifted to a clearly unfavourable view of the current Speaker's actions. The "trick", of course, was to be onside with informed opinion, such that when the media took up its obligation to inform by going out to collect informed opinions to relay, the desired result was achieved.
But what if the media doesn't do anything? Can a media outlet be biased through inaction?
I think the answer is clearly yes. But one of the ironies, if you will, is that the more even-handed and "responsible" the media is, the more likely it is to be ignored by the general public. “I’m not a journalist,” Glenn Beck (right) said in a June 2009 interview with GQ, “If I wanted to be a journalist, I would be Charlie Rose and bore the snot out of people and have fourteen people watching me." Beck knows what the customers of newsmedia want. His ratings almost doubled in 2009 alone. MSNBC, whose primetime lineup is the left wing answer to FOX, has also done relatively well such that last year CNN fell behind MSNBC with the 25-to-54-year old demographic in prime time. Fox News, for its part, overtook CNN in early 2002 and has long since left CNN in the ratings dust, since as of May 2010 the conservo-populist channel had three times the an average daily prime time audience of CNN. By August of this year, CNN's monthly primetime audience had slipped to a 10 year low, with 5 of its 10 lowest months for the previous ten years having come during 2010 despite just 8 months of the year having passed.
The reality is that media has learned that adding more ideological talk show hosts to prime time and shedding dissenting voices is the ticket to greater audience. "Fair and balanced" may sell as a marketing line, but not as a matter of substance.