by David Safier
OK, that headline, "Star backs cutting taxes for the rich," isn't exactly accurate. It may not even be true; I'm basing it totally on inference. But since The Star uses headlines to deceive its readers, I figured I'd put up a grabber to spotlight how the Star's Creative Headline Writing Team (SCHWT) distorts the news by throwing misleading headlines on top of stories.
The difference between me and SCHWT is, I'm admitting my purposeful distortion.
The Star headline for the day is:
Sounds like the article says people want budget cuts, right? Actually, that's not what it says. It says, people want to tax the rich and leave Medicare and Medicaid alone. Here's the first paragraph:
Alarmed by rising national debt and increasingly downbeat about their country's course, Americans are clear about how they want to attack the government's runway budget deficits: Raise taxes on the wealthy and keep hands off Medicare and Medicaid. [boldface added]
How misleading is the headline? Let me count the ways more accurate headlines for the same article in other papers, starting with the Republic.
Poll: Fight deficits by taxing the rich (Arizona Republic)
Poll finds 64% favor higher taxes for rich (Seattle Times)
Majority: Tax rich, quit U.S. borrowing (The Wichita Eagle)
Poll shows support for higher taxes on wealthy (Fort Worth Star Telegram)
A FEW HAT TIPS: First, a h/t to AzBlueMeanie who brought the headline to my attention. Second, a h/t to the Weekly's Jim Nintzel for spotlighting another bad Star headline in a post on The Range. Nintzel pointed out the Weekly's coverage of the amount of taxes most Americans pay (including Social Security taxes, Medicare taxes, gas taxes, sales taxes, etc.) was better than the Star's (absolutely true!) and also knocked the headline the Star wrote for the story it ran:
When you consider all of that [about the taxes people pay other than income taxes], the Star's headline on the AP tax story, "Tax breaks so extensive many pay zip," is utterly misleading and disgraceful.
AVOIDING GRATUITOUS VULGARITY UPDATE: If I left the word "Writing" out of "Star's Creative Headline Writing Team" (SCHWT) it would simply be "Star's Creative Headline Team." But then I read the new acronym out loud — SCHT — and decided, that would be funny, maybe even accurate, but it would be in poor taste. I'm better than that.