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If you know me, you know what I lose the most sleep over: our lack of progress in changing over from dirty energy to clean energy fast enough to save my children's world from climate hell. You might also know that there's an awful lot that government can do, and is trying to do, to hasten that progress.

I came across my new favorite academic study yesterday. It's my new favorite because it documents, in a really useful way, Republican use of the Big Lie to sabotage any progress at all.

The study is called "Job Killers" in the News: Allegations without Verification, and it's authored by Peter Dreier from Occidental College and Christopher Martin from the University of Northern Iowa.

Check out why I love it so much, below the fold.

Dreier and Martin detail how the phrase "job killer" has been wielded against all manner of government regulation, including almost everything proposed or promulgated by the EPA in recent years.  

As background, they give a nice history lesson of the use of "job killer" dating back to the Depression, and talk about the role of big business in propagating anti-regulatory propaganda since the 1970s. They searched the output of four major media outlets from 1984 to 2011 - the AP, NY Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post - to chart the frequency of the charge over time, and to document how it is used.

They document the spike in media stories citing the anti-regulatory "job killer" accusation - showing how it has correlated with elections since the early 1990s, and how it has spiked dramatically during the Obama years.  They find, unsurprisingly, that the leading sources of "job killer" accusations are Republicans in Congress and lobbyists for big corporate interests.

Figure 2: "Job Killer" Stories Published in Four News Organizations, 1984-2011
job killer graph 2

The real kicker, though, is the way they array the data to show the mainstream media's complete abdication of journalistic responsibility. So many us of rail at the MSM for letting the dumbassery go by without questioning time after time, as they blindly copy down the accusation and reprint it, unquestioningly propogating the propaganda sans fact checking. But now Dreier and Martin have done us the favor of counting and displaying that.

Here's my new favorite pie chart (which apparently appealed to Media Matters too):

Figure 7: Evidence Supporting "Job Killer" Claim in News Stories
Job Killer Graph

Mull over that pie chart for a moment. An accusation based solely on conjecture over 90% of the time, leveled with impunity as reporters blindly scribe without question. As Dreier and Martin point out:

With no journalistic fact-checking, the job killer meme has become political propaganda that can go through the entire news cycle unscathed, and then become even more powerful propaganda as the original allegations get re-circulated by political sources as credible "news."
Sadly, how much has changed since Stephen Colbert addressed the White House Correspondents' Dinner back when Bush was President?
But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works. The President makes decisions. He's the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration? You know, fiction!

Originally posted to SolarMom on Sun Jun 17, 2012 at 08:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Climate Hawks, DK GreenRoots, and Community Spotlight.

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