It doesn't help at all when CNN's Wolf Blitzer, as part of his coverage of the Democratic convention, does a segment with retired basketball player Charles Barkley on the "average tax change" on incomes above $161,000, but leaves the 95% of Americans who make less out of the picture, both figuratively and literally.
Watching the clip, it was as if Blitzer just thought it'd be fun if he could get a multi-millionaire athlete to complain about Obama's intention to raise taxes on the very wealthy. Barkley, a former Republican, didn't take the bait: "Well, I think that if you're rich -- I thank God I've been very successful -- if you're rich, you're always going to be rich. If we pay more in taxes, I got no problem with that. If you're making that kind of money, a couple hundred thousand dollars here or there are not going to change your life."
Barkley's answer notwithstanding, CNN showed the "average tax change" for exactly four groups of incomes: those who make more than $2.9 million annually, more than $603,000, between $227,000 and $603,000, and those between $161,000 and $227,000. That's not exactly a comprehensive look at the "average."
Blitzer's chart left out the entire middle-class, and just as importantly, the fact that those making $112,000 or less would actually get a bigger break from Obama than McCain. Given that McCain is running mendacious ads about Obama's desire to "raise taxes," it seems like the kind of detail a news network might want to mention, so the public will have all the facts.
To be fair, earlier in the summer, CNN did a brief segment that actually did a good job on the details. But airing an accurate report on taxes on an early morning in June, and then airing a misleading report on taxes during the Democratic convention, doesn't amount to quality reporting.