Repeal a Ban, or Ban?

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on November 2, 2011

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-Read the excerpt below from the "Best of the Web" post by OpinionJournal.com's editor James Taranto.
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

From a “Best of the Web” post by OpinionJournal.com’s editor James Taranto:

Incandescent light bulb, used by Americans for over 100 years.

House Republicans failed [in July] in an effort to repeal the Bush-and-Pelosi-era ban on traditional incandescent light bulbs, which begins to take effect at the end of this year. The vote was 233-193 in favor of repeal, but the bill was introduced under a procedure that required a two-thirds super-majority. The Associated Press responded by quibbling with Rep. Joe Barton of Texas, whom it describes as “a driving force” behind the repeal effort:

“If you are Al Gore and want to spend $10 for a light bulb, more power to you,” Barton said. [Barton] exaggerated the cost of most energy-efficient bulbs and neglected to mention that they last years longer than old incandescent bulbs, which give off about 90 percent of the energy they consume as heat.

The AP does not hold itself to the same fastidious standards, though. The dispatch’s headline is “House Republicans: Down With Squiggly Light Bulbs”–even though the GOP [the Republican Party] is as permissive toward the squiggly compact fluorescent bulbs as it is toward the old-fashioned incandescent ones. [They want consumers to have the choice to buy the light bulb of their choice.]

London’s left-wing Guardian’s headline is an outright falsehood: “Republican Bill to Ban Energy-Saving Lightbulbs Fails.” Here’s the sarcastic first paragraph:

A Republican campaign to defend America against a sweeping assault on personal freedoms–or energy-saving lightbulbs [CFLs] as they are more commonly known–went down in defeat on Tuesday night.

That’s like describing the repeal of Prohibition as a ban on nonalcoholic drinks.

Read the original post at OpinionJournal.com. (scroll one-third of the way down the page to “Accountability Journalism”)

NOTE:   Under federal law, incandescent bulbs are being phased out in 2012, when American manufacturers no longer will be allowed to make 100-watt bulbs. By Jan. 1, 2014, the only incandescents left on the market will be three-way bulbs, plant lights and appliance lamps.  Republican congress members attempted in July to repeal this law that would eventually prohibit the sale of incandescent bulbs, so that consumers would have the choice between buying the incandescents or CFLs or LEDs.
Consumers have been slow to accept the two emerging alternative technologies, known as CFLs and LEDs. The main complaints: CFLs, or compact fluorescent lights, cast a harsh, greenish beam, unlike the warm, amber glow of incandescents. Also, they contain mercury, a hazardous material which cannot be thrown into the regular garbage. LEDs and CFLs are much more expensive than traditional light bulbs. Neither variety is universally available in dimmer form and, therefore, not always ideal for people partial to mood lighting.  In their final months of retail life, incandescents still dominate market share, accounting for about 82 percent of sales.

Questions

1.  Define ban and repeal.

2.  Describe the misrepresentation that Taranto illustrates in the excerpt below.

3.  Why do you think the media chooses to “take sides” in the compact fluorescent light bulb debate?


Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers.
























Answer(s)

1.  ban – to prohibit especially by legal means; also: to prohibit the use, performance, or distribution of  (from Merriam Webster’s Dictionary, m-w.com)

repeal – to officially make a law no longer valid (from learnersdictionary.com)

2. Congress passed a law in 2007 (which takes effect in January 2012) banning the sale of traditional incandescent light bulbs.  In July, the new Congress (Republicans) attempted to repeal the law (ban).  The media portrayed it as an attempt by Republicans to ban energy-saving CFL bulbs, instead of an attempt to give consumers a choice about which bulb they buy.

3.  Opinion question. Answers vary.