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A Case Study In Disinformation

By The Reverend Published: September 26, 2009

In a capitalistic society like ours where even "news" is consumed according to brandname, FOX, NBC etc, just like Cheerios or Wheaties......disinformation becoming rampant, I guess, is inevitable.

Today's capitalistic information providers seem to be pulling off the impossible, i.e., convincing Americans that they can have whatever facts they so desire. A kind of designer-news-and-information boutique, if you will, where whatever you want to believe, or already believe to be true,, viola!....true.

My good blog friend Da King provides today's case study on this topic.

Da King on Wednesday...

"Right now, we have a majority government who is telling you that what's best for you is to have the government FORCE you to buy health insurance, and next up, they are going to tell you that adding over $1,700 to your annual utility bills is a really great idea."

The $1700 in that sentence is disinformation. It is not remotely true. Here's where it came from.....

A group calling themselves the Competitive Enterprise Institute filed a Freedom of Information Act to the Treasury Department back in April asking for all documents, "concerning proposals or programs....involving cap and trade schemes that deal with carbon, carbon dioxide, or greenhouse gases."

The Treasury responded on September 11. This is the "information" the Treasury released from which Da King's disinformation was derived....

"In his Feb. 24, 2009 Joint Session address, Pres. Obama called for a greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program, underscoring his commitment to domestic climate policy. While such a program can yield environmental benefits that justify its costs, it will raise energy prices and impose annual costs on the order of (redacted) dollars. At the same time, given the Administration's proposal to auction all emission allowances, a cap and trade program could generate fedeal receipts on the order of $100 to $200 billion annually......"

Here is the problem that led to Da King's insistence that Obama's cap and trade policy would raise everyone's electric bill by $1700 per year:

See the emboldened sentence in the above quote?....that's not part of Obama's cap and trade policy proposal, nor is it part of the Waxman-Markey legislation reflecting Obama's proposal. Obama's proposal and Waxman-Markey would not, "auction all emission allowances", it would only auction 1/3 of all emission allowances, thus cutting down the initial cost to power producers....costs that would then, most likely, be passed on to consumers.

The $1700 per year number makes it appear as if average electric bills, if cap and trade goes into effect, would go up by $160 per month....which would be disastrous. But the $1700 per year number has no relationship-in-fact with Obama's proposal or Waxman-Markey cap and trade legislation.

The Competitive Enterprise Institute, either by accident or on purpose, made phony conclusions from the Treasury Department's release of FOIA information. The energy plan by Obama and the Democrats will only auction 1/3 of the carbon credits....not all of them. The CBO estimate is approximately $13 per month in new costs to consumers. Big difference.

How then, did this disinformation get so widely circulated?

John Boehner (Embarrassment-OH) said on PBS Sept. 17th...

"It's a cap-and-trade proposal that came through the House that we now find out from the Treasury Department would cost each American family over $1,700 per year."

And then Glenn Beck took it from there.....

"You have what came out today, the outright lies coming out of the White House. I hate to call anybody a liar. You tell me. It’s the cap and trade energy bill. We want to thank our friend Chris Horner at CEI for pointing this out to us.


"Look at the document, because in the document, it says “a cap and trade program could generate receipts on the order of $100 to $200 billion annually.” Wow, that’s a lot. In fact, it’s so much it’s the equivalent of hiking personal income taxes by about 15%. Huh. Bigger is always better. That’s $1,761 a year, per household, all of us, every one. "

Then unbelievably, Beck said this....

"I have a question. Did the President of the United States tell the people in Congress about this? Facts are stubborn. Don’t they suck?"

Watch Glenn Beck make a total fool out of himself. It is only slightly better than watching a car wreck in slow motion.

Paul Krugman...a Nobel economist, on Beck's disinformation....

Thus, last week Glenn Beck — who seems to be challenging Rush Limbaugh for the role of de facto leader of the G.O.P. — informed his audience of a “buried” Obama administration study showing that Waxman-Markey would actually cost the average family $1,787 per year. Needless to say, no such study exists.

But we shouldn’t be too hard on Mr. Beck. Similar — and similarly false — claims about the cost of Waxman-Markey have been circulated by many supposed experts.

A year ago I would have been shocked by this behavior. But as we’ve already seen in the health care debate, the polarization of our political discourse has forced self-proclaimed “centrists” to choose sides — and many of them have apparently decided that partisan opposition to President Obama trumps any concerns about intellectual honesty.

Multiply this story exponentially.....and it helps to explain why Americans today hold such contradictory views of the "facts."

Da King was simply passing along bogus information he had received, apparently, from very unreliable, and possibly purposely misleading, sources. Da King was a participant in Glenn Beck's 9-12 event and has said that he watches Beck occasionally. The question now is whether Da King, as other conservatives have been forced to do, will issue a correction.

Must reads on this topic.

Brad Johnson at Think Progress is all over this disinformation story.

8 Republicans pass along false information.

Media forced to issue retractions..



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