- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Ever wonder why Republicans always appear to be the villains on Capitol Hill? Easy. They have been cast in the role by the news media. As the GOP readies to overhaul Obamacare or confront a possible government shutdown, consider that broadcasters methodically portray the GOP — particularly such legislative entities as the House Freedom Caucus — in the role of villains or extremists. A representative new study of 141 news stories on the health care debate reveals that ABC, CBS, NBC did much to advance the public’s impression that Republicans are troublemakers.

“In 30 days of health care debate coverage — March 7 through April 5 — the broadcast networks consistently framed it as a fight between unreasonable conservatives versus more moderate Republicans and Senate Democrats by overwhelmingly applying ideological labels to one side of the argument,” writes Geoffrey Dickens, an analyst for Newsbusters.org.

“Overwhelmingly, the networks used conservative tags to talk about Republicans. Fully 80 percent of these labels talked about conservatives or those on the ‘right.’ Just 20 percent referred to ‘moderate’ Republicans,” he says in the study, noting that 11 percent of the labels painted conservatives as “far right,” “hard line” or “ultra-conservative” combatants.

“Such deliberate labeling is designed to stigmatize conservatives, casting them as outside-of-the-mainstream ideologues, as compared to their usually unlabeled adversaries,” Mr. Dickens says, adding that Democrats “were never labeled” as liberal or progressive — though on two occasions, the Democratic lawmakers were referred to as “moderates.”

REALITY CHECK: ABOUT THAT BORDER WALL

“President Donald Trump’s request that Congress include $1.4 billion to fund the beginning of his proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border equals approximately 0.035 percent of what the federal government will spend in total this year, according to the latest estimate of fiscal year 2017 federal spending made by the Congressional Budget Office,” writes the always meticulous Terence P. Jeffrey, who compared all the numbers.

“It also equals less than the Department of Health and Human Services spends in just twelve hours and less than the Treasury collects in taxes in four hours,” Mr. Jeffrey adds.

On another front, the Federation for American Immigration Reform already has crunched the numbers on the cost of the wall — an estimated $25 billion — versus the overall cost of caring for or managing America’s illegal immigrants.

“Securing the southern border is a sound fiscal investment. The overall construction and annual maintenance costs pale when compared to the $113 billion FAIR estimates illegal immigration costs American taxpayers. In fact, if the project only results in a 5 percent reduction in the annual cost of illegal immigration to American taxpayers, and construction and maintenance costs reach the most expensive estimates, it would pay for itself after only six years,” the organization says in its study.

LIFE GOES ON FOR JEB BUSH

On the 2016 presidential campaign trail, Jeb Bush was simply known as “Jeb!” Now he will have a new title.

“A group led by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and former New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter has won the auction for the Miami Marlins baseball team with a $1.3 billion bid, according to a person with knowledge of the deal,” reports Bloomberg Sports.

And it is a small world. The news organization reports that none other than Tagg Romney — eldest son of former presidential hopeful Mitt Romney — was one of the rival bidders for the team.

CHEERING THE PRO-LIFE VICTORIES

President Trump is being lauded for his pro-life accomplishments in a new report from the Susan B. Anthony List, which calls the president and Vice President Mike Pence “game changers” for the pro-life cause.

“Not only have there been several pro-life victories within the first 100 days of their administration, we are confident that pro-life progress will continue. This is a new era,” says Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the organization.

She cites the confirmation of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch, Mr. Trump’s order to stop taxpayer funding of the “abortion industry overseas,” plus specific key appointments of pro-life protectors in the Trump administration. They include Mr. Pence, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and White House counselor Kellyanne Conway. Find the report here

LIBERTARIANS PONDER THEIR HERITAGE

The Libertarian Party is tracing its history back to its earliest days, which is somewhere around 1972. The results: “The LPedia” — a master library for loyal and curious Libertarians that will include historical documents, archives, news accounts, training materials and more.

“This will be a huge project as we have an incomplete collection of these items in our archives and they are fragile. We’ll also have to overcome the challenges of scanning large newsprint pieces. The home for these records will be LPedia.org — the working collaborative, crowd-sourced history of the Libertarian Party,” advises Caryn Ann Harlos, who is overseeing the project.

“This will not be limited to national items, though national items are those items in the scope of our Historical Preservation Committee. State parties can also use LPedia to preserve and update their history. It will take on a life of its own — spontaneous order if you will. Very libertarian,” she says.

FOXIFIED

It was a victorious debut for Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson on Monday night; he took over the 8 p.m. time slot following the abrupt departure of longtime host Bill O’Reilly last week. According to new audience numbers from Nielsen Media Research, “Tucker Carlson Tonight” drew 3.2 million viewers, besting CNN’s Anderson Cooper with 1 million viewers and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes with 1.5 million during the same time slot.

Fox News’ average prime-time audience is up by 31 percent compared to this time last year.

POLL DU JOUR

92 percent of U.S. business economists expect more hires and workplace stability in the next four months.

91 percent expect rising sales in the next quarter of 2017; 89 percent expect profits to rise or remain unchanged.

66 percent expect a rise in domestic product growth of up to 3 percent in the next four quarters.

31 percent expect profits to grow in the next quarter.

Source: A National Association for Business Economics survey of 87 economists conducted March 21-April 6 and released Tuesday.

• Ballyhoo and balderdash to jharper@washingtontimes.com

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