So I have it on good authority that the Seattle Times’ demonstrably false unsigned “Death Tax” editorial was penned by editorial columnist Erik Smith. Figures. That’s exactly the sort of corporatist shilling for which he was clearly hired.
I know Smith from his several years blogging for the business-backed Washington Wire, where he covered Olympia with an undeniably pro-business/pro-Republican slant. That was his job and he was okay at it, I guess. But I never paid much attention to Washington Wire because it never had much audience or influence.
Still, let’s clear away the pretense: this is what the Seattle Times hired when they put Smith on their editorial board—a conservative blogger. And that is exactly what they got.
Indeed, if anything, Smith has behaved more like a righty blogger since being elevated to the editorial board than he ever did at Washington Wire, where he always seemed defensive about his business backing. At Washington Wire, Smith stuck to a more reportorial voice, and at least went through the journalistic motions. At the Seattle Times he’s lapsed into fact-free bloviating, relying on the credibility inherent in writing under a major newspaper banner to make up for the lack of effort he’s displayed to actually, you know, get stuff right. And his “Death Tax” editorial celebrates a new low.
The McBrides had long ceased to operate a “working farm,” and the value of Ralph McBride’s property was far too small to be subject to either the state or federal estate taxes. Perhaps you could just chalk those errors off to mere laziness. But the following is intentionally misleading:
Washington state’s tax is especially punitive. The rate of up to 20 percent is the highest in the country — on top of a federal rate of 40 percent. The typical state exemption for the first $2 million of estate value is hardly enough for a farm or prosperous business, despite reforms by the 2013 Legislature.
I mean, how do you write this statement without acknowledging that working farms are entirely exempt from Washington’s estate tax, and still take pride in your work? I know I couldn’t.
If I have a chip on my shoulder it comes from years of being lazily dismissed by “real” journalists like Smith and his editorial page editor Kate Riley as just a foul-mouthed liberal blogger who can’t be taken seriously. But the truth is, I do exactly what the Seattle Times editorial board does, except I do it from the left, I do it better, and I do it honestly. And, unlike the Seattle Times editors, I have the goddamn self-respect and pride of work to sign my name.