Yesterday, we broke apart the terrible, inaccurate story from KGW that claimed Oregonians were fleeing to Vancouver to avoid paying taxes.
Shortly after we posted our story, KGW took the remarkable step of taking down the video of the report and editing the online story to make it sound less like they were parroting the talking points of right-wing anti-tax lobbyists. There’s now an editor’s note that says: “The original earlier version of this story failed to properly attribute statements to Oregon anti-tax activist Jason Williams.”
Usually when reporters get a story wrong, they issue a correction and move on; why didn't KGW just do that? In their case, it’s more like they’re trying to revise history. Here are some side-by-side comparisons that show just how much the story parroted Jason Williams’ blog post:
Original title: “More Oregon taxpayers moving to Washington state”
New title (24 hours after the story aired): "Activist says Oregonians moving to WA for tax relief"
Original intro from Joe Smith: “How do you spell relief—tax relief? More and more people from Oregon are spelling it N-O-R-T-H, as in moving north to Washington. With no income tax and lower home prices, the Evergreen State is becoming a haven for Oregonians, rather than pay some of the highest taxes in the country.”
New intro to the online story (24 hours after the story aired): “More people from Oregon are moving north to Washington and it might not be for the weather. The Evergreen State, which has no income tax and lower home prices, is becoming a haven for Oregonians, according to a tax activist who says it's because of taxes.”
And the new version also omits definitive comments made by both anchor Tracy Barry and reporter Joe Smith that “the move is on.”
In the interest of posterity, we now provide you (below) with a screenshot and full transcript of the original story.
For the time being, you can also still catch the video here.
Tracy Barry: The move is on to Clark County. The big question is what’s driving the growth? That tops tonight’s Your Money.
Laurel Porter: Here’s News Channel 8’s Business Reporter Joe Smith
Joe Smith: Good evening, Laurel and Tracy. How do you spell relief—tax relief? More and more people from Oregon are spelling it N-O-R-T-H, as in moving north to Washington. With no income tax and lower home prices, the Evergreen State is becoming a haven for Oregonians, rather than pay some of the highest taxes in the country.
Joe Smith: There appears to be an exodus in progress from Oregon to Washington.
Jason Williams: Portland taxpayers are not flooding into Vancouver for the weather. They’re going there because of their low taxes…
Joe Smith: Jason Williams, a taxpayer activist, says Oregon has one of the highest personal income tax rates in the country, 11% on earnings over $250,000. The move is on.
Jason Williams: There really is thousands and thousands of people coming from Oregon into Vancouver. And they’re going there, buying homes, setting up families, and escaping the high taxes of Oregon.
Joe Smith: In 2010, the Washington Office of Licensing reported some 15,000 residents moved to Clark County, most from Oregon. That’s up nearly 3,000 from the year before.
Mike Lamb: It’s sort of a natural. I think you could call them tax refugees if you like.
Joe Smith: Realtor Mike Lamb says the migration of some businesses and residents from Oregon into Washington has been taking place for some time. In the early 90s, it was for better schools. Now it’s taxes, mainly bringing in higher income people and retirees. Lower priced homes here are also a reason.
Mike Lamb: It helps provide buyers for properties here that we might not have otherwise.
Eric Fruits: Turns out that our predictions are coming true.
Joe Smith: According to economist Eric Fruits, Measures 66 and 67 passed in 2009, raising the personal and corporate income tax created higher unemployment, and now a shortfall in the amount of tax collected.
Eric Fruits: In other words, they’re collecting about 30% less than they originally anticipated.
Joe Smith: There is now talk of repealing 66 and 67 during this legislative session to curb the exodus and tax revolt.
Jason Williams: It’d be very difficult. Politicians never want to lose any money. But they’re losing money because people are leaving the state.
Joe Smith: Oregon isn’t the only state losing population because of taxes. Californians were the second largest group to move to Southwest Oregon—or rather Southwest Washington last year.