Unbelievable, because the majority of mainstream media reporting on
Palin lacks credibility and even the most basic fact-checking. You know
this just by watching, reading and listening (unless you’re distinctly
anti-Palin and enjoy this attack campaign), and one of the surest signs
is how frequently accusations are picked up from one critic and re-run
over and over, by big-name journalists, using the exact same language.

Two professors did just a bit of actual research and turned up the clearest revelation yet. 

The Left’s nastiness toward Gov. Sarah Palin is quite
appalling, even given the usual ugly character assassination we have
come to expect from liberals. That has been especially true regarding
Palin’s family, particularly her choice to bring to term a baby with
Down Syndrome.

Within that, there is a particularly nasty tack. The Left, including
its mainstream-news sources, are alleging that Palin, as governor of
Alaska, “slashed” funding for Special Olympics — as well as a myriad of
other notable charitable causes — from the Alaska budget. The strategy
is to frame Palin as a hypocrite, one who chose life for her own son,
and claims to support government funding for special-needs programs,
but as a state official worked to do just the opposite.

They give a rundown of names, dates and news outlets….just to name a few.

As far as we can tell, the Special Olympics claim was
first made in the September 6 edition of the bible of the Left, the New
York Times, where Jennifer Steinhauer and Amy Harmon reported,
“According to state documents, she cut the state’s Special Olympics
budget in half.” Then came an Associated Press piece on September 9, in
which a writer in the Atlanta bureau wrote, “During her few years as
governor, she vetoed $275,000 for Alaska’s Special Olympics — half the
amount being sought.” From there, the story became more twisted and
mangled.

Margaret Carlson, September 11 (and again on the 18th), Bloomberg
News. Linton Weeks, Sep. 12, NPR (quoting not any real source in, say,
Alaska, but another news reporter, Palin critic Sue Libenson).

And…

The myth shows no sign of dying. To the contrary, it is
gaining momentum, as shown in the reporting of Keith Olbermann on MSNBC
on September 17. Olbermann noted Palin’s claim that she increased
funding for special-needs kids. But there’s a “problem,” reported
Olbermann: “As the chief executive up north, she vetoed $275,000,
crossed it out, of the state funding for the Special Olympics. She cut
the Special Olympics budget in half and is campaigning as an advocate
for special-needs kids. That’s pretty sick.

There is ’sick’ behavior going on, alright. But exactly where?

Liberal blogs are piling on to the rumor bandwagon, but so are other
mainstream media. Al Hunt passed the tired and worn rumor along in an
op-ed piece, which is just amazing how these lies and distortions are
given that kind of credibility.

As we write, opposition researchers are going through Alaska budgets looking for more “cuts” in funding. What’s the truth?

That’s the ‘money line’ in the piece. What’s the truth?

That question used to drive journalists in their daily work. But
since it no longer does, intelligent people willing to do a little
research are pursuing the truth, thankfully.

The confusion stems from a failure — or refusal — to
understand the difference between cutting funding and declining to
increase funding to the requested degree. In a cut, you get less money;
with a denied raise you get at least as much as you got before. This is
not the first time liberals have abused these terms for political
purposes.

Last year, the state of Alaska gave the Special Olympics $250,000.
This year, the Alaska legislature requested $550,000 for Special
Olympics, which would have constituted a 120 percent increase. It is
typical, of course, for advocates to submit impossibly high budget
requests, even during budget crunches, in the hopes of getting whatever
they can. This is understood by anyone who has ever run an organization
or prepared a budget that requires legislative or executive approval.
 
Gov. Palin denied the request, but not completely: She reduced it to a
10-percent raise, approving a gift of $275,000. A 10 percent raise
during tough times is very good, as any employee in America would
quickly attest. For most employees, a raise of 3 to 4 percent is a good
raise.

In other words, not only did Palin not cut funding, she actually raised it — just not as much as some would have liked.

See the difference? But that’s not all…

As a further check into the context of the 2008 raise,
we went back to the 2005 budget. For that year, the Special Olympics
received only $125,000. We also reviewed the Special Olympics 990 form
for 2006, which shows that the group received over $1.8 million in
revenues that year; thus, the organization gets the vast majority of
its money from sources other than the state.

These numbers are straightforward. This information is easily
accessible on the state of Alaska and Guidestar websites, and took us
about 30 minutes to find. In other words, two professors at a little
college in Western Pennsylvania have been left to do the simple
research that America’s top news organizations — scrambling all over
Alaska to dig up information on Gov.Palin — have ignored or, worse,
abused.

It doesn’t get much clearer than that.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....