By Adam Pagnucco.
One of the reasons why Donald Trump was elected President is that he made things up out of thin air and the press, for the most part, let him get away with it. Now Governor Larry Hogan is doing the same thing. And so far, it’s working.
We refer of course to the Governor’s all-out campaign to repeal this year’s transportation transparency law. The law, passed over the Governor’s veto, would require the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) to rank transportation projects according to a variety of numerical criteria to bring transparency into what has been an opaque funding process. The Governor claims that it would require him to kill most state transportation projects. But in fact, the plain language of the law lets the Governor have final say over which projects get funded. It states, “Nothing in this Act may be construed to prohibit or prevent the funding of the capital transportation priorities in each jurisdiction.”
So just like Trump, the Governor is making things up and trotting them out to the press. How did the press react? Erin Cox of the Baltimore Sun got the facts right, quoting both the law’s language and an advisory letter from the Attorney General’s office to demonstrate that Hogan is wrong. A reader had to review the article carefully to glean these things, however, as it also included lots of back-and-forth between politicians. The Washington Post and the Capital Gazette also quoted the law’s language, though only in passing.
Other press outlets got suckered. The Hagerstown Herald-Mail, Frederick News-Post, Ocean City Today, WMAR (Baltimore), WJLA (Washington), Bethesda Magazine, Afro-American, WMDT, WTOP and Montgomery Community Media (MCM) never mention what the law actually says, depicting the issue as a he-said-she-said dispute between politicians. Ocean City Today, WJLA and WMDT never bothered to quote any Democrats, giving the Governor free rein. WJLA, WMAR, MCM and the Afro-American stated falsely that certain transportation projects either “were,” “will be” or “have been” canceled. Again, the law says no such thing and a simple fact-check could have uncovered that.
The real story here is that one side is accurately characterizing state law and the other side is making stuff up. No one in the press wrote that story.
Even more incredibly, the Governor said in his press conference about the law that the General Assembly “rammed it through without hearings or any public input.” You can see that in the video below at the -10:40 mark.
In fact, video of the hearings in both the Senate and the House are available on the General Assembly’s website. Pete Rahn, the Governor’s Secretary of Transportation, attended both. This is a pants-on-fire lie that no press outlet exposed.
Secretary of Transportation Pete Rahn testifying at the Senate hearing that Governor Hogan says never happened.
For a person who is known as not being a fan of Donald Trump, the Governor is remarkably quick to embrace his tactics: make stuff up, ignore the truth and bully anyone who disagrees. Most of the press is letting him get away with it.
Will the Democrats?