Forbes Unloads On The TP’s “Fake News” Julia O’Donoghue

It’s been the source of some irritation for some time that the New Orleans Times-Picayune’s capitol beat reporter Julia O’Donoghue is little more than a stenographer for Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards. After all, just today O’Donoghue’s Twitter was a veritable laugh riot in its transparent lapdogging of Edwards.

The thread carried on for quite a while, and it didn’t get a whole lot better. It prompted a number of observers to wonder whether Edwards’ press flack Richard Carbo hadn’t been replaced.

Particularly in light of another of O’Donoghue’s lowlights – a story last week selling the $463 million sales tax increase passed in the last legislative session as a tax cut. That was straight out of Edwards’ press narrative; the governor spent most of the first half of the 2018 calendar year alleging that he was trying to cut Louisianans’ taxes, to which the easy response would have been that if he’d tried less hard our tax relief would have been greater. That never seemed to make the pages of the Times-Picayune, and it certainly didn’t make any of O’Donoghue’s stories.

Which did not evade the notice of Americans for Tax Reform vice president of state affairs Patrick Gleason in his weekly column at Forbes. Gleason unloaded on O’Donoghue and her rather questionable objectivity over the alleged “tax cut”…

The term Fake News gets thrown around quite a bit these days – by the President, members of the media, and politicians from both parties. Yet there is literal fake news on display at the moment in Louisiana, where readers of one of the state’s top newspapers are incorrectly being told that Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) took action recently to lower the state sales tax rate.

In a July 10 article in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, reporter Julia O’Donoghue wrote that “Edwards and lawmakers lowered the state rate from 5 to 4.45 percent, effective July 1, bringing the overall average sales tax burden down to a level that is similar to Tennessee’s.” That is a demonstrably false statement by O’Donoghue.

Gov. Edwards did not in any way “lower” the state sales tax rate, as O’Donoghue incorrectly tells her readers. In fact, Gov. Edwards did the opposite of lower the sales tax; he raised it, signing into law a deal last month to set the state sales tax rate at a higher level than it was scheduled to be today. Some context not provided in the aforementioned Times-Picayune article:

Gov. Edwards approved a temporary state sales tax hike in 2016, a 25% rate hike that raised the rate from 4% to 5%. That temporary tax hike was scheduled to expire on June 30th of this year. Before his temporary sales tax hike could expire, however, Gov. Edwards approved the aforementioned deal to prevent the sales tax rate from going back to 4% on July 1st, instead keeping it at a higher 4.45% rate moving forward.

Had Gov. Edwards taken no action, Louisiana’s sales tax rate would be lower than it is today. Yet reading O’Donoghue’s article and nothing else, one would have the incorrect impression that Gov. Edwards recently took action to reduce the state sales tax. That’s unfortunate for Times-Picayune readers.

And then, after a bit of discussion about the fact Louisiana has dipped just below Tennessee and now comes in second among the states with the highest state and local sales taxes (they’re 9.46 percent in Tennessee and 9.45 percent here), while Tennessee has no state income tax, Gleason hammers home the point of poor journalism and its effects again…

While states neighboring Louisiana and other competing states are enacting pro-growth tax reform to make their states more attractive destinations for the expected uptick in global capital flows into the U.S., Gov. Edwards is busying implementing fiscal policies that make Louisiana less attractive to investors and site selectors. Despite all of this bad news, one can forgive folks in Louisiana for not being aware of what an outlier the Pelican State has become, seeing as those who report on state government in Baton Rouge have a habit of obscuring basic facts, such as whether lawmakers are raising or cutting tax rates.

And we thought we were the only ones noticing. It’s nice to know we’re not alone.

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