This post originally appeared at Campaign for America's Future (CAF) at their Blog for OurFuture. I am a Fellow with CAF.
The right's propaganda machine begins with a simple narrative, repeats it endlessly, and then ties current events to the narrative to drive the point home. The corporate/conservative right are currently working a narrative that public employees and their unions are the reason for state and local budget problems. This is repeated endlessly, and every current event that hits the news is then used to support the claim. This is how an untruth becomes "conventional wisdom."
Source Of Story: Three "Unidentified" Workers
Huge headline at the Drudge Report: NYC SNOW JOB: SLOW CLEAN-UP WAS UNION 'PROTEST' The headline links to a NY Post story, "Sanitation Department's slow snow cleanup was a budget protest." The source of the claim? Three "unidentified" plow workers.
Halloran said he met with three plow workers from the Sanitation Department -- and two Department of Transportation supervisors who were on loan -- at his office after he was flooded with irate calls from constituents.
The story claims the unions did this to protest budget cuts. Of course the obvious cause of the snow mess was that budget cuts caused the problem because there were not enough people employed to clear the snow.
The way the right's "noise machine" works is that a story gets started somewhere and is amplified by the right-wing media machine that includes FOX, Limbaugh and scores more talk-radio hosts, blogs, newspapers and magazines. And in this case, of course the story is being spread by... FOX, Limbaugh and scores more talk-radio hosts, blogs, newspapers and magazines. The idea is to create enough "noise" that the mainstream press picks up the story.
Yesterday at FOX, the "rumor" (that no one had heard) was a headline story,
The chairman of the Municipal Labor Committee, Local 831, which represents men and women of the New York City Sanitation Department says there is no truth behind a rumor that his members worked slower during the blizzard of 2010.
Today the NY Post piles on with three "unidentified" workers saying the unions did it. The right's blogs and magazines of course amplified.
Strata-Sphere: "Union Protest Killed New Born Child":
That is called negligent homicide or manslaughter - and every union idiot who participated in that blizzard protest should be charged and locked away for as long as possible.
Gateway Pundit: "NY City Workers Planned Their Slow Response to Record Snowfall As a Protest to Budget Cuts"
National Review: "How Will Bloomberg Deal With a Union Snowplow Slowdown?"
The Noise Machine Drives It To The Mainstream
The "noise machine" is having success. Even though the entire story is based on three "unidentified" snow plow drivers, the story has been driven into the mainstream corporate media.
CBS News, Report: Disgruntled Workers Slowed NYC Cleanup. CBS News "reports" that there is a "report" that unions caused the problem. Does not work to verify the story, sends it out to the nation.
Getting To The Point: Cut Pay And Pensions
In "Ten Holiday Attacks On Public Employees," I warned,
If you haven't already noticed, there is a corporate/conservative campaign underway to convince the public that public employees are living high on the taxpayer's dime and should have their pay and pensions cut back. Even during the holidays this attack does not let up.
The blog Big Government takes the "unions caused the snow mess" story to the obvious point, that "lavish" public-employee pensions and benefits must be cut: "Union Snow Job Just Glimpse of Coming Blizzard":
With all the political payoffs, scandals, and bailouts, the issue seems as mundane as the figures are mind-boggling, but the bill for lavish public employee pay is coming due in the form of a pension tsunami -- or, if you prefer, a blizzard that will have union bosses calling for a bailout.
And, Business Insider, in, "Meet The Hundreds Of NYC Sanitation Workers Who Earn Over $100000," says:
There are also perks that come with the job. While delaying clean-up for the city, sanitation workers promptly plowed the street in front of Doherty's Staten Island home, according to the Daily News.
And to make the point as clear as possible, the Examiner's Beltway Confidential, "New York City streets unplowed, but at least sanitation workers retire well":
According to the Manhattan Institute's "See Through New York" database of 2009 pensions, nearly 180 retired employees make over $66,000 year -- in other words, over and above the maximum salary of currently working employees. In fact, 20 retirees make upwards of $90,000 in retirement, up to $132,360.
You will probably be hearing a lot more about this, maybe even Congressional hearings in January. All based on three "unidentified workers" who made the claim. This is how the right's "noise machine" diverts us from seeing and solving real problems and into voting against our interests.