The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

Being a True ‘Media Watchdog’ Isn’t a Part-Time Position

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Michigan_SleepingDog_RojaThe Charleston Post and Courier deserves plaudits for its recent work analyzing stimulus job creation in South Carolina.

The paper took time to scrutinize stimulus statistics put forth by elected officials and found large discrepancies in the process.

Unfortunately, that same critical eye has been severely lacking in the Post and Courier’s reporting regarding Boeing. 

There’s been little investigation of claims that the aerospace giant will create 3,800 jobs in the next few years with the construction of a new 787 aircraft assembly line in North Charleston.

The Post and Courier appears almost afraid to fact check information being put out by state leaders for fear that this hometown eco devo windfall might dissipate upon closer reflection.

Consider some of the phrasing the paper included in an editorial it ran shortly after Boeing’s plans were revealed:

“The big news Wednesday afternoon was a Dreamliner come true: Boeing has decided to build a massive facility in North Charleston for production of its 787 airliner. That landmark victory for economic development in our community and state will bring thousands of well-paying jobs – an especially impressive and important achievement during these tough times. … It’s hard to imagine how we can lose on a deal that adds 3,800 good jobs to the local economy.”

But Boeing has never actually come out and specified the amount of its economic investment or the number of jobs that will be created, a fact state Sen. Glenn McConnell included in a Nov. 6 press release.

In fact, the job creation numbers have all come from political leaders, others involved in negotiating the deal and the bill that made the deal possible, rather than the company itself:

  • “At minimum, Boeing will hire some 3,800 employees, while investing more than $750 million.” – State Sen. Hugh Leatherman, newsletter, Oct. 29. 
  • “Greenville attorney and former federal judge Billy Wilkins, who helped negotiate the incentives package for Boeing, said he expects 3,800 new jobs and a network of new parts companies in North Charleston.” – Greenville News, Oct. 29.
  • “Boeing’s new facility, which will be adjacent to the existing plant in North Charleston, will bring hundreds of millions of dollars in capital investment and in excess of 4,000 new jobs.” – S.C. Department of Commerce press release, Nov. 3.

About the only time the Post and Courier has managed to put down its Boeing pom-pons was in a Nov. 5 story acknowledging that aspects of economic incentive packages like that negotiated by Boeing can be kept under wraps for up to a year.

Of course, we appreciated this last article because it made clear that such secrecy makes it impossible for outsiders to calculate the real cost-benefit analysis of such deals.

But the real question is why is no one else asking these questions? Perhaps they don’t want to know the answers.

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Written by Cotton Boll Conspiracy

November 11, 2009 at 12:56 pm

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