Author: Nansen Malin (Page 1 of 5)

Biggest Players Silent on the ‘Day of Action’ for Net Neutrality

Last week I told you about net neutrality and the 2015 government takeover of the internet. The same day I posted, the issue was supposed to be front and center for the left-wing organizers’ “Day of Action” to “save” net neutrality.

Oh, you didn’t notice? Hardly anyone else did, either. Perhaps it’s because few people really care about net neutrality since they never had a problem to begin with. Or maybe they just don’t like the precedent of treating the internet like a public utility and potentially opening it up to endless regulation.

You have to hand it to the social justice warriors; their hearts are usually in the right place. They hear a word like “neutrality” and line right up. But the only thing that isn’t neutral is when big government places its thumb on the scale.

As I wrote last week, there is widespread agreement that users should be able to go wherever they like online without fear of selective discrimination against different websites, internet traffic, or data via Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

But heavy net neutrality restrictions are unnecessary, especially the preposterous public utility rules, and few things are truly as neutral as a free marketplace without government interference.

The interesting thing is the effort was originally backed by big names like Facebook, Airbnb, Spotify, Reddit, and Netflix, among others, sites that the protesters rely on daily, both for their lifestyle choices and their low-risk activism. Then it appears these companies, while supporting the “Day of Action,” kept a relatively low profile. Why?

The fact is that all of them are extremely powerful corporations worth tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars each. Would so many big-time companies really adapt left-wing causes out of the goodness of their hearts and an unshakable sense of justice?  Do they really care about fairness and all the malarkey about mom-and-pop shops?

Of course not; the activists got duped into supporting an objective that fortifies the bottom lines of these companies, the only thing that would compel them to take such bold steps.

Strict net neutrality protects their profitability for a few reasons. First, they are all well positioned now; in fact, near monopolies in their respective online spaces. Permissionless innovation can only loosen their grips, not tighten them. Breakthroughs in technology favor new entrants into the marketplace, unfettered by government, who can usurp the incumbent leaders. That’s why seemingly everyday Facebook simply buys up another new and innovative social media rival rather than compete with them.

Additionally, quasi-monopolies work best when they enjoy biased protections from the government. Overreaching net neutrality essentially protects them and discourages new investors because the utility regulations function similarly to price controls. Think about it: Google doesn’t want to pay more for better broadband just because investors want good returns on their investments.

So it turned out that on Tuesday, July 11th, the day before the Day of Action, Republican House leadership made it clear to Facebook, Google and Amazon that overly aggressive net neutrality activism could make it harder to work together on other policy issues that the companies really care about like privacy rules and legal liability for content on online platforms. So they abandoned, they toned down the resistance and left the millennials to fight the good fight.

As I said last week, the ultimate solution is to settle this issue once and for all by clearly defining the role of the federal government in the internet with a free-market based, legislative solution that locks in basic standards of net neutrality while also promoting continued private-sector investment and innovation. That’s a goal worth marching for.

Conservatives Need to Undo President Obama’s Damage to the Internet

What would you say if I told you that the federal government took an 80-year-old law, originally passed in order to regulate apples, and instead applied it today to oranges—rather than simply draft a new law specifically for oranges?

That’s far beyond the pale even for the feds, right?

Yet in 2015, that is exactly what happened. Let’s rewind to 1934, when Congress passed the Communications Act in order to address the growing network of telephones. Among other things, the law outlined provisions to regulate the Bell System as a “public utility.”

Eight decades later, President Obama and his Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chief, Tom Wheeler, decided that very same law—written years before all but the most rudimentary computers even existed—would work just fine for the federal government to get its hands on the internet.

How ridiculous. It’s not just that this tactic was a regulatory non-sequitur, or that very few people consider the internet to be a public utility in any way, but it was clearly a cynical, abusive end around of Congress well-established constitutional authority to regulate interstate commerce. It isn’t hyperbole to say this amounted to an attempted government takeover of the internet.

The Administration’s excuse for these rules at the time was to implement so-called net neutrality principles. But that doesn’t change the fact that the internet has almost nothing in common with traditional public utilities.

Moreover, nearly everyone in the tech industry and public policy circles already agrees on the principles behind net neutrality, the idea that users should be able to go wherever they like online without fear of selective discrimination against different websites, internet traffic, or data via Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Those principles had never been significantly violated in the first two decades of the internet’s existence—so net neutrality was basically a solution to a problem that didn’t exist.

From the 1990s through the 2000s, investors poured billions of dollars in capital into digital services including high-speed network. The Clinton and Bush administrations realized that a hands off approach was best for the internet’s growth.  They didn’t want to interfere with the visionaries and entrepreneurs blazing trails few others could conceive of or act on. Under that light regulatory touch the internet grew our economy, created jobs,  and changed our lives immeasurably.

But in the years since President Obama designated the internet a public utility, investment in broadband networks has declined by 5 percent. What would happen to our economy over the long term if the internet remains a public utility open to government meddling?

There are two ways to undo the damage the Obama administration did.

First, we need conservatives in Washington to stand up and take on the issue of overzealous net neutrality by rolling back Obama Era regulations that are jeopardizing the future of the internet. President Trump’s FCC chairman is doing that now.

But, additionally, Republicans in Congress also need to codify a free-market based, legislative solution that locks in basic standards of net neutrality while also promoting continued private-sector investment and innovation and in so doing prevents further shenanigans by the next Democratic president.

Column | Medicare Part D Keeps Doctor-Patient Control Alive and Should be Allowed to Continue

Suppose the Federal government has created a program that saves taxpayers money, promotes individual freedom, and gets a 90% satisfaction rating from the people who use it.  Should it:

(a) Bury the evidence and let nobody speak of it again;

(b) Effectively dismantle the program by adding lots of new bureaucracy and interfering with what made it work; or

(c) Learn from the success and try to duplicate it in other places?

If you chose answer (c), you’re probably a reasonable tax-paying citizen. But that won’t get you very far in Washington. All too often, what matters there isn’t results — it’s grabbing power wherever you can. You and I can see a clear case of this misdirected bureaucratic energy in the push to have the government micro-manage the lives of people who use Medicare Part D.

Part D is an endangered species: A government-sponsored program that works really well. Since it went into effect in 2006, Part D has done some remarkable things.

First, it has given patients a great deal of choice. Most states have between 20 and 30 different program plans available. Those choices give patients the wide-ranging benefits of competition for their business. It’s hard to think of any business where the quality of customer service doesn’t rise when there is more competition to serve the same customers.

The competitive forces driving private providers to serve these patients also means that Part D has consistently delivered budget savings, costing the government much less than initial expectations and keeping costs to patients well in line, too.

But the most important feature of all is that Part D puts individuals and their doctors in the lead to determine what will lead to the best health and quality-of-life outcomes for patients. It’s easy to overlook the fact that many prescription drugs are used to prevent pain, suffering, and discomfort down the road.

Whether it’s a therapeutic prescription for a condition like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, an anti-anxiety medication being used to enhance a patient’s mental health, or an antibiotic or anti-rejection drug used to help someone recover quickly and successfully from surgery, most prescriptions are used to keep bad things from happening. That saves money, which is good — but it also prevents a great deal of suffering.

For this to work, however, patients and their doctors need to be in control — not bureaucrats. The threat of growing interference by office-holders and power-seekers in Washington could topple all of the benefits that come from today’s well-functioning Medicare Part D. We have heard politicians call for government to set price controls and establish firm ceilings on how much can be spent on patient care. But the big picture is that bureaucratic manipulation of prescription prices is nothing but window dressing. Proposals to force Pharmaceutical companies to pay a ‘rebate’ of up to 40% of their drug sales to Medicare is nothing more than a tax that will drive up the cost of prescriptions and insurance for seniors.

Part D works because of competition, not Washington pencil-pushing. The more government seeks to manipulate and take command over the program, the less patients will benefit from the power of competition. The cure to health-care costs isn’t to drive more decision-making to government, but to stay out of the way of patients and their doctors so they can use whatever therapies make the most sense to prevent illness and disease. Today’s Medicare Part D does that. It should continue to do so tomorrow.

 

Nansen Malin is a political activist living in SW Washington State. She is the former Americans for Prosperity WA State Director and is active in social media.

 

[photo credit: alexraths, depositphotos.com]

Repeal of Section 1031 Tax-Deferred Capital Gains Exchanges Would Only Choke Economic Growth | Op-Ed

If you were asked to design a tax code from scratch, you’d want to make sure that the rules would encourage things like investment and economic growth. After all, the more you do to enlarge the economic pie, the less pain we feel when the government takes out its slice to do the work it needs to do.

Since 1921, the federal tax code has contained a provision — Section 1031 — that does exactly that. It allows taxpayers to roll over their capital gains and defer the taxes on investments in things like real estate, equipment, and vehicles, so long as the savings are rolled directly back into like-kind investments.

It’s important to note that the taxes are deferred, not eliminated. But the deferral helps businesses like farms and construction companies to reinvest and grow, ultimately driving job creation and economic expansion. And that, in turn, generates even more tax revenue in the process.

Repealing Section 1031 would be a short-sighted way to collect more taxes today while choking off economic growth in the future. The government estimates it could collect a little over $40 billion in taxes over ten years by repealing Section 1031, but Ernst and Young estimates that a repeal could cost the economy as much as $3.20 in growth for every $1 in tax revenues raised.

A farmer would dismiss that as “eating the seed corn.” You’d have to be pretty bad at math to give up $3.20 to get $1 in return. Keeping Section 1031 in place ensures investment and economic growth, which we need now more than ever.

Centralized, Government-Controlled Price Fixing of Healthcare Does Not Work | Op-Ed

Depositphotos_30765241_s_editedIn the wake of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), healthy, hard-working Americans are facing higher health care costs and a sea of broken promises. Higher premiums, lost providers and plans, as well as increased prescription drug costs are among the negative side effects stemming from ACA implementation.

Amid the ACA fallout, efficient and already successful health care programs are at risk from interference. Medicare Part D, a prescription drug coverage program for seniors and disabled individuals, is the all too rare example of a successful government program. What makes this program work is the market-driven principles and competition built into its design. As a result, program subscribers have access to prescription drug benefits that are offered at substantial savings while simultaneously saving taxpayer money. Over 30 million are enrolled in Medicare Part D, chances are you know someone who is.

From a fiscal perspective, Part D should be viewed as a windfall for our national budget. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), from 2004-2013, government spending on the program was 45 percent, or $348 billion less than originally projected. Unfortunately, myopic Beltway bureaucrats annually target Part D during the budget process and will again attempt to strip the market-driven components that make it efficient and widely popular among seniors and disabled veterans.

This is the real head-scratcher:  Why then would the Obama administration undercut Part D when it is working efficiently and coming in under budget?  It is dumbfounding. Yet, the federal government continues to look for ways to undercut Part D reducing the number of available plans, asserting price controls and instituting a rebate program that would reduce pharmaceutical research and development of new products.

Centralized, government-controlled price fixing is not the answer, and it would only drive prices higher. Furthermore, this is inconsistent with market-based reforms that promote competition and consumer choice. With Part D, prescription cost increases have held steady with the rate of inflation, and seniors have options from a variety of plans to select one that best suits their individual needs. So, rather than undermine Part D, the market-driven approach should be championed as an example of what is working in federal government.

The benefits of Part D extend beyond the fiscal savings. By improving access to prescription drugs, the overall health condition of beneficiaries is improved, decreasing hospitalization rates is realized. According to a Harvard study, Medicare Part D significantly reduced the likelihood of hospitalization for eight conditions, leading to nearly 4 percent fewer hospital admissions, or an estimated 77,000 fewer annual admissions.

While mounting evidence exists to save Part D, it is far from safe. It will likely be on lawmakers’ and regulators’ radars yet again. It is critical that we continue to defend and maintain Medicare Part D. Instead of derailing its success, the federal government should model other programs after Medicare Part D. As the numbers show, the security of Part D is not merely a concern for seniors and the disabled population. It impacts us all. The bottom line is that centralized, government-controlled price fixing is not the answer. All taxpayers benefit from Part D, and Washington, D.C., should stop its pattern of fixing something that is not broken.

[Image manipulated under license: Depositphotos.com]

Cap-and Trade is a Stealth Tax—Don’t Let Inslee Or Anyone Else Tell You Otherwise | Op-Ed

In a previous post, I wrote about two of Gov. Inslee’s highly ironic tax hike proposals. In this post, I’ll write about a third: His de facto tax wrapped up in his cap-and-trade proposal.

The objective of this plan is allegedly to get organizations emitting more than 25,000 tons of CO2 to rein in their carbon dioxide output. In reality, like most things progressives do that increases revenue, the objective is really the revenue bump, but never mind that. Let’s pretend that this is all about what Inslee says it is about, and nothing more. Would you be surprised to know that one of the companies set to see a huge bump in its tax bill is REC Silicon Solar, which makes Solar Polysilicon for use in solar applications?

According to data analyzed by the Washington Policy Center, REC will be forking over in excess of $4 million a year if this plan goes through.

Would you also be surprised to know that Wafertech, owned by Taiwan Semiconductor, which appears also to be in the solar business, would be hit?

According to the analysis, Wafertech will be forking over about $3.5 million a year, if the plan passes.

Others that would be getting a big tax bill include facilities that appear to be generating hydrogen, which is what a lot of environmentalists would like to see power our cars in future, because it’s greener than gas.

These aren’t the types of entity that a lot of progressives think of when they think about corporate polluters that need to be made to pay up for emitting too much CO2. In fact, they seem like the kind of businesses that progressives usually want to promote, stimulate and see more of because they are tied into the green energy economy and provide those famed green-collar jobs. So this is another respect in which Inslee’s proposed tax package is rife with irony.

Also set to be hit with a big cap-and-trade bill under the Inslee proposal are the University of Washington and Washington State University. Could that mean higher fees for students? If so, that’s another ironic, anti-progressive aspect of what Inslee is pushing. Aren’t progressives supposed to be for making college cheaper? (I will refrain from commenting on President Obama’s plan for 529 accounts here).

Again, legislators should think carefully about what is being proposed, and recognize that there’s a better way of dealing with budgetary challenges than this plan.

Gov. Jay Inslee’s New Tax Hikes Are the Wrong Direction for Washington State | Op-Ed

In light of ongoing state fiscal issues, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing a raft of tax hikes.

There are numerous problems with all of these proposed increases (and I’ll write about several of them in this and succeeding posts), but Inslee’s desired jump in taxes on cigarettes sold in our state is one of the three more ironic ones he’s pushing. Why? Inslee has always billed himself as a progressive Democrat. And yet he’s going all in for a tax hike that would if enacted be extremely regressive, as well as very fiscally unsound.

This 2012 study found that poor smokers spend about 14 percent of their household income on cigarettes. According to the left-leaning Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, 29 percent of poor adults smoke, compared to 18 percent of non-poor adults.  A 2007 study by the Heritage Foundation indicates that even before the economy hit rock bottom, more than 25 percent of smokers lived below the federal poverty line, with a further 25 percent living between the poverty line and 200 percent of it. These are the people Inslee wants to tax more, and in so doing, he wouldn’t even be shoring up the state’s revenue base in a sound manner.

There’s a general economic principle that if you tax something, you get less of it. In this case, what Inslee is trying to do is more heavily tax the consumption of legally purchased cigarettes. That might work well from a fiscal standpoint if no smokers were going to quit in response, or alternatively locate, buy and consume untaxed cigarettes that are purchased illegally. But when cigarette taxes go up, some smokers do quit just like anti-tobacco campaigners want them to (we’ll come back to Inslee’s solution to that problem in a bit). But most shift to buying illicitly sold smokes. Inslee doesn’t seem to have a solution to this conundrum, despite the fact that he’s trying to hike the tobacco tax in an already high-tax state that is full of Native American reservations where state tax is often not charged on cigarette purchases made by non-tribal buyers, and which borders Idaho (which has a much lower tax rate than Washington).

Given this situation, it is unsurprising that Washington has one of the highest rates of inbound cigarette smuggling of any state. Nearly half of all cigarettes consumed here are smuggled and thus have gone completely untaxed by Olympia or local governments. Nationally, cigarette smuggling deprives governments of $5.5 BILLION per year.  A fair chunk of this amount is the loss sustained by Washington.

It is unclear why Inslee wants to double down on this problem. Some more conspiracy-minded critics of his plan argue that by pursuing this kind of bad tax policy, he’s making it easier for Washington progressives to force through a state income tax, and a high one at that. More often than not, states that pursue cigarette tax increases wind up missing their revenue targets (in some cases, they even bring in less total revenue after the tax hike than they did before it, as happened in New Jersey and DC), meaning they have to find different, supplemental sources of revenue in future. In this case, that different, supplemental revenue source could be the kind of income tax we see in most American states, but which Washington voters oppose. Irrespective of the reason, doubling down on the smuggling and lost revenue problem seems to be exactly what Inslee is trying to do.

A second problematic component of Inslee’s tax plan is his proposal to jack up taxes on e-cigarettes. This, too, is ironic. Part of the logic for cigarette tax hikes is to force people to quit smoking or at least reduce their likelihood of killing themselves with cancer in chasing their nicotine fix. Higher e-cigarette prices mean more expensive devices of the type that a friend and her husband claim helped them quit smoking, and which various health studies and experts out there—including former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Richard Carmona, former American Lung Association president and CEO Charles D. Connor, and Medical and Executive Director of the American Council on Science and Health Dr. Gilbert Ross—seem to think are less likely to kill than inhaling smoke from a tobacco-filled stick the user set on fire. (Side note: The R Street Institute also has a good post on why this tax increase is silly). But by setting a high tax rate on e-cigarettes, I suppose at least theoretically, Inslee might be dealing with the revenue problem posed by people quitting smoking, as long as they all try an e-cigarette instead of going cold turkey or using Nicorette (given the weather in the Pacific Northwest, I bet most will just go the Nicorette route, though).

Legislators should think carefully about the lack of logic behind these proposals as the session gets underway. There are better budgetary solutions than tax hikes, including the regressive, fiscally unsound and just plain nonsensical ones discussed here. I’ll write more about the third highly ironic tax hike proposal from Inslee in a separate post.

President’s Exec Order Should Not Stop Republicans from Leading on Immigration | Op-Ed

You would have to be living under a rock to not notice all of the attention being given to the issue of immigration reform right now.  Conservatives have sometimes appeared to want the issue to go away entirely – yet it will not.  And it should not.  Republicans will now control both houses of Congress and this is our chance to lead on this issue.  We can fix the broken system our way.  Our conservative values should mean that we are stronger on immigration and we need a system that strengthens America.

The President’s recent executive order won’t address the root causes of our broken system, and so there is still an enormous opportunity for Republicans to enact real improvements and address the structural problems he is choosing to ignore.  We need a modern immigration system that drives our economy rather than ignores it.  We need to attract and retain the workers our farms, our laboratories, and industries across the economy need to compete and grow.  That requires an immigration system that responds to bull markets and bear markets by adjusting the number of visas we allocate according to the needs of our economy.  To address these needs we need the Republican-led congress to pass comprehensive legislation.

The President’s executive order won’t change anything.  The economic imperative for Congress to enact immigration reform still exists.

Reforming our immigration laws will help promote new business growth – a goal that many immigrants and conservatives share.   A Partnership for a New American Economy report shows that in 2011, immigrants started 28 percent of all new U.S. businesses and contributed more than $775 billion dollars in revenue to our Gross Domestic Product.  Foreign-born researchers and students at our nation’s colleges also help spark business innovation with new products and ideas.  This reports shows that more than 75 percent of all patents awarded at our top universities had at least one immigrant inventor involved in their production.  Foreign-born investors also help bolster the economy, accounting for over 80 percent of investments in cutting-edge industries like information technology and digital communications.

Republicans must act now to create a more streamlined immigration policy based on market-driven principles.  A market-based approach will drive new job creation and increase economic growth nationwide.

In addition to very powerful economic reasons for reform – there are also political ones as well that we cannot ignore.

Many people hold the mistaken belief that immigrant voters in the United States are predominantly liberal.  However, another recent PNAE study found that notion is simply not true.  In fact, more than 50 percent of immigrants do not identify with either the Republican or Democratic Party. These votes are up for grabs.  And, it is imperative that Republicans thoughtfully consider issues important to this growing and politically unaffiliated group of voters.

This study also found that immigrants and conservatives often hold many of the same moral and religious values.  In fact, 73 percent of Hispanics who identify as Evangelical Christians were opposed to abortion, compared to only 43 percent of the U.S. population as a whole.  Fifty-three percent of black immigrants oppose gay marriage, which is nine percentage points higher than the national average.  And, 22 percent of immigrant voters cited “moral values” as the most influential factor in determining their votes in the 2004 election.

Younger immigrants also tend to be more religious and conservative than their U.S.-born counterparts.  41 percent of immigrants aged 18-29, rank religion as being “very important.”  Due their strong religious faith and personal commitment to family, many immigrants indicate they would respond favorably to a conservative message if Republicans would act on the issue of immigration reform.

Conservatives must recognize the profound impact that immigrants have on America’s economic, cultural and political life. By implementing meaningful immigration reforms, Republicans can help fix the ineffective and broken system we have in place today.  The result will not only create jobs and build businesses, but also help Republicans gain support from this important group of voters.

[Featured image: Donkey Hotey]

It’s Time for Immigration Reform | Op-Ed

Closed AmericaSimply stated, immigration reform is about economic growth. In Washington state alone, if undocumented immigrants followed a path to legal citizenship it would generate more than 12,700 jobs and more than $1.1 billion for the state, according to Regional Economic Models, Inc. Vital industries are facing substantial labor shortages, which could be filled by immigrant workers and ultimately drive job creation across the state.

Our broken immigration system is tying the hands of business owners and farmers from hiring necessary workers to operate their businesses. Additionally, our outdated system makes it highly challenging for foreign-born, Washington University educated, high skilled workers and innovators from having a chance to remain in the state. Meaningful immigration reform is critical to address these important issues facing our state’s economy.

Large and small companies in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (“STEM”) fields are facing significant labor shortages of high-skilled workers across the country, and Washington is no exception. A 2011 study by McKinsey and Company found that one in every four science and engineering firms reported hiring difficulties.

Unfortunately, American students pursuing careers in STEM fields is growing at less than one percent per year, yet according to the Partnership for a New American Economy, 47.3 percent of Engineering PhD graduates in Washington’s research-intensive universities are temporary residents. Although these students want to remain in the state and companies want to hire them, our fragmented immigration system imposes arbitrary limits to the number of high-skilled visas allowed each year. This forces a significant number of immigrants educated in our taxpayer funded universities to leave the country, while creating an unnecessarily problematic structure for our businesses to recruit essential workers.

The loss of educated and motivated immigrants has a substantial impact on job creation. In the STEM industry, an additional 4.3 jobs are created for every high skilled technology job filled. Moreover, new businesses are essential to drive job creation, and the rate at which immigrants start new businesses grew by more than 50 percent between 1996 and 2011. In fact, immigrant-owned businesses employ one out of every ten American workers at privately owned-companies and add more than $775 billion dollars of revenue to the Gross Domestic Product.

It is not acceptable to allow the loss of taxpayer dollars invested in the education of foreign-born students and then make it virtually impossible for them to remain in the United States to return our investment by driving job creation, and stimulating economic growth. The passage of meaningful immigration reform is long overdue, and I am calling on Congress to pass substantive reform legislation this year for Washington’s economy, and for our country as a whole.

[Image used under license: depositphotos.com]

I Told You So: Book Written By George Soros Supported Author, Gabriel Sherman, Is a 600-Page Anti-Roger Ailes Attack Ad

9780812992854Gabriel Sherman said he was writing a fair take on Roger Ailes, the Northwest Daily Marker warned you, here that it would be attack journalism. When Gabriel Sherman said it would be accurate, the Northwest Daily Marker warned you that accuracy is not Gabriel Sherman’s strength and when Gabriel Sherman and his water carriers demonstrated that Sherman was practicing stalkeratzi tactics, the Northwest Daily Marker gave him the opportunity to do the right thing. Then Sherman’s book came out.

If one takes a swing at the King, one should be sure to knock him out. Gabriel Sherman has not even knocked Roger Ailes down. We are not the only one’s who noticed. Behold: the NY Times, the Washington Post, Slate, the Baltimore SunUSA Today and The Hollywood Reporter. Not a right wing writer in the bunch. And one, Erik Wemple of the Washington Post, was a very consistent and constant defender of Gabriel Sherman and his tactics … even tactics like cyber harassing Ailes’ wife.

What even the left wing media has noticed is that Sherman–despite the years-long time to research–has simply gotten it wrong. From the big picture–Sherman’s imaginary whale, an Ailes that divided America, failed to appear–to the details, where Sherman’s own fact-checkers erase one of Gabriel Sherman’s few salacious selling points of “The Loudest Voice In The Room,” the book cannot back up its charges and adds nothing of note to the man with whom the author never spoke in its pursuit.

After four years of studying Roger Ailes, Gabriel Sherman failed to do the one thing that any author with that much time to focus should have easily accomplished. In nearly 600 pages of writing, Gabriel Sherman failed to prove the very thesis that appears on the cover of his own book, namely that Roger Ailes somehow divided a country.

A TV network dividing a nation is an odd case to make in the first place; the math is simply not on Sherman’s side and no “writing around” his subject (as Gabriel Sherman was left to do when Ailes didn’t speak with him) gets anywhere near proving Sherman’s central thesis on Ailes. Yes, Fox News dominates cable news and has for 141 consecutive months, but about 95% of Americans never watch the network. Based on total viewers, the three most popular programs on Fox News in 2013 account for a combined viewership of roughly 6,199,000 people in a country of over 319,000,000 people (or about 239,250,000 people over eighteen years of age). Even if every person who views Fox is somehow magically changed into copies of Gabriel Sherman’s imaginary Roger Ailes, 6 million people who watch TV a lot simply do not divide 239 million who can’t be bothered to tune in. As Erik Wemple points out, Gabriel Sherman himself cannot explain his assertion.

If Sherman had only missed on the big picture but added details that provided the reader a new understanding of Roger Ailes, the book would be, while not meaningful, at least interesting. But, in “The Loudest Voice In The Room,” the reader simply cannot trust the details. Gabriel Sherman recounts a story of a dinner between two media power brokers, an intimate dinner between Roger Ailes and Discovery Network President, David Zaslav. According to Gabriel Sherman, at that very dinner, Roger Ailes issued an anti-semitic slur against Mr. Zaslav. Random House, the publisher of “The Loudest Voice In The Room,” found that particular passage so important that it was among the teaser passages they released to the media. The problem? According to the two men who actually attended the dinner, it never happened, as Breitbart notes by way of quoting The New York Times. To make the problem worse and to drive the trust rating for Sherman even lower, readers don’t learn that both men deny it from Sherman’s prose, they only learn it from the footnotes of “The Loudest Voice In The Room” … if anyone besides book reviewers–or Random House’s fact checkers and lawyers–ever read the footnotes.

By failing to provide any proof at all for his central theme that Ailes has divided a country, to selling stories that his own fact-checkers do not support, the rest of the tales about Roger Ailes that Gabriel Sherman relays in “The Loudest Voice In The Room,” while salacious and larger than life, can only been seen in the light of what they actually are: second and third hand musings in a book that hoped to reveal a new Citizen Kane, but instead introduces readers to a new Kitty Kelly.

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