What we mean when we talk about media bias

Issie Lapowsky at Wired has an interesting piece on Ro Khanna’s proposal to radically expand the earned-income tax credit. Lapowsky writes that this will be difficult to do, because “the Trump administration is gutting the federal budget.”

Setting aside the fact that tax laws are written by Congress and not by the White House, the Trump administration’s budget proposal contains a 1.2 percent spending cut to the discretionary budget, i.e. a 1.2 percent cut to a portion of the budget that amounts to less than one-third of federal spending. A 1.2 percent cut to 29 percent of federal spending is not “gutting the federal budget” under any plausible interpretation of those words by a reasonably literate English-speaking person.

The reason these kinds of erroneous — indeed, ridiculous — claims get published is that magazines such as Wired are full of people who suffer from similar biases and who therefore never think to challenge such claims. The same holds true for all sorts of things: guns and gun laws, for example, or questions involving religion, something that Dean Baquet at the New York Times has at least acknowledged is a problem.