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July 7, 2011

Host: Ted Simons

Media and the Casey Anthony Trial

  |   Video
  • A look at why the Casey Anthony trial got so much media attention, and the nature of media in these cases.
  • Stephen Doig - ASU Journalism Professor
Category: Law   |   Keywords: law, media,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Why did the Casey Anthony trial receive so much media coverage? Was it the nature of the crime? The nature of the defendant? The nature of the media or the nature of media consumers? Here to talk about the trial is Stephen Doig. He’s a professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Thanks for joining us tonight.

Stephen Doig: My pleasure.

Ted Simons: What's, first of all, before we answer that long question there, grade the media’s performance in cover this trial.

Stephen Doig: The trouble with the media is it's encompasses everything and I think newspapers did a fine job. It was fine, actually most broadcast, you know, like straight TV news was fine. It was the cable channels that live on the number of eyeballs they can attract and those right ones that really went crazy. And, of course, the sort of the worst offender was headline news and Nancy Grace who was just frothing through the whole three years of it and now her head is going to explode.

Ted Simons: Talk about the journalistic ethics of having a clearly biased pundit actually headlining the coverage, anchoring the coverage there. That seems problematic.

Stephen Doig: Well, to me, the problematic thing about, in fact, the disregard so much of the public has about the news media is we see people like Nancy Grace and they get treated as though they were the news media. Nancy Grace is an entertainer and so I don't see her as a colleague. She has a shtick and she plays it well. It certainly increased her ratings but that wasn't, you know, that is an ethical problem I guess something for headline news to worry about but I don't see that as a media ethics problem.

Ted Simons: The original question, why this particular trial got so much coverage? You got an attractive defendant. You have a very cute child. You have got a horrific crime and apparently you have got Chris -- was anyone anywhere telling the truth about anything in this whole trial? It seemed like the stories were all over the place. How is that not a big story?

Stephen Doig: That's a good question. I personally didn't watch it. So I don't know a lot of the details about all those things that weren't or weren't said about it. The -- any number of trials could be sort of arbitrarily chosen as the ones to cover. I looked up something today. There are about roughly 350 children, two and under, that are murdered each year in this country. That's like one a day. Why were the other 349 who were killed in 2008, why wasn't there this attention on their cases? I don't know. Headline news particularly Nancy Grace who has made a real career off the picking a particular country. I have forgotten the name of her. The girl that disappeared in Aruba. That was her previous obsession and that became a, you know, a thing that she just has covered incessantly since then.

Ted Simons: You mentioned an obsession and something that they cover and just relentless coverage and yet headline news ratings doubled during this trial.

Stephen Doig: Well, it's the gawk effect, basically. Even I when I drive past an auto accident on the road, I will turn and look. And that's what particularly cable news lives for the number of eyeballs that it can attract. So they will do anything to get that. I mean, the look at the various pundits that take ever more extreme views. The reason why is they can get people to talk about that.

Ted Simons: How do you get journalism, you are a professor, how do you tell students that, yes, you can double your ratings by X but the journalistically ethical way of doing things is Y. But X is job security. X keeps us on the air.

Stephen Doig: That's a good question. I would hope that the, our students at least pick up the sense of mission that a good journalist should have about telling a story fairly and objectively. That clearly is not the thing for some journalists. Nancy Grace, again, an entertainer. She makes no claim at all about objectivity. In fact, she had convicted Ms. Anthony, years ago, actually, the whole tot mom thing, she reduced her to a stereotype.
Ted Simons: Impact of Facebook groups and iphone apps and the Twitter, the whole social media, that kind of netherworld that very much a part of the media. What was the impact on the trial?

Stephen Doig: Right. If you remember the Frankenstein movies when the mob would come in with the pitchforks and the torches, this is the modern way of gathering that kind of mob. And by, you know, if making it easy to gather together a group of people who want to believe a particular thing that is being fed by one segment of the media, it becomes very easy to make them very visible and loud.

Ted Simons: It sounds like this is almost similar to what we have some folks who only watch fox news. And you have some folks that will only watch MSNBC and some folks, a lot of folks would only watch Nancy Grace because they agree with her.

Stephen Doig: Right.

Ted Simons: It's happening all, even in regular stories as opposed to network and home.

Stephen Doig: Well, she has taken on the mantle which has worked for her at least financially, of being the outraged member of the public who wants to execute every criminal. And there is absolutely a sentiment like that out there. So people can hear their own view reflected back at them but it was comforting.

Ted Simons: Which is comforting, but not necessarily what journalism is all about. What does this say about what journalism is all about these days? And where it's going?

Stephen Doig: Well, the larger journalism industry is in various kinds of financial straits so there are, there are those even on, I like to think of the saner newspaper side of it all. But even on my side there are journalists who will do things that 10 years ago we wouldn't be, we wouldn't be doing more to get stories. Certainly broadcast because of the immediacy of ratings and the idea they have to have audience there overnight ratings and so on. It's almost impossible to avoid that pressure.

Ted Simons: Last question. Did the fact that a two-year-old child was brutally murdered, did that get lost in the coverage?

Stephen Doig: There was a lot of, you know, talk about it. But I think the thing that really drove most of the attention right now is on, you know, let's have revenge on -- what's her name? Casey Anthony and when that revenge lust wasn't satisfied that's what's caused all the attention. Yeah, I think basically the victim herself is probably not the thing that's in most people's mind right now.

Ted Simons: Steve, do to see you here. Thanks for joining us.

Stephen Doig: My pleasure.

Medicaid Enrollment Freeze

  |   Video
  • Anne Ronan from the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest discusses the impact of freezing enrollment for childless adults in the AHCCCS program.
  • Anne Ronan - Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest
Category: Medical/Health   |   Keywords: health, economy,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Arizona's Medicaid program known as AHCCCS stops enrolling childless adults starting tomorrow. These are people who earn no more than 100% of the Federal poverty level or about $900 a month. Arizona voters elected to cover that population when they passed prop 204 more than a decade ago but because of the state's financial troubles, lawmakers and the governor decided to freeze AHCCCS enrollment for that group. The state expects to save hundreds of millions of dollars as current enrollees lose eligibility or simply fail to renew their enrollment. Last week I asked Monica Coury of AHCCCS what the agency is doing to make sure people who need Medicaid coverage keep it.

Monica Coury: Well, there's only so much that we can do. We will rely in large part on our stakeholders, our community partners to assist those individuals at the ground level. But as long as, for instance, in the annual renewal time, you are getting something back to us, you are communicating with us, we take the time to work with individuals. So it's when it's in those case when is we may not hear from you at all. But people do have an obligation to provide us with some information if they have moved, if they have changed their address. And hopefully individuals in the community and providers in community organizations can assist us those individuals. But I just want to remind people this is a two-year bridge until we get to 2014, when additional Federal dollars come into play, and there is a mandatory expansion of Medicaid. So this is not a permanent situation.

Ted Simons: Here now to talk about the impact of the enrollment freeze is Anne Ronan, an attorney with the Arizona Center for Law and the Public Interest which attempted to stop the freeze in the courts. Good to see you again.

Anne Ronan: Thank you.

Ted Simons: What happens tomorrow?

Anne Ronan: Well, on an individual basis, what happens is a person who needs health care shows up at a provider site. Many of the providers have the ability to process AHCCCS eligibility applications right on site. That person will come in, they will screen them, take their application, they may get emergency treatment but they will be denied further treatment, further eligibility for the AHCCCS program if they call into one of the prop 204 categories that is now been closed. Who falls into those categories?

Anne Ronan: It is individuals whose income is 100 below 100% of poverty. They have made some exceptions for folks who are seriously mentally ill, HIV positive or receiving HIV treatment and for individuals on social security disability. Those folks will be, they are being transferred into another eligibility category. But to give you kind of a picture of who the people are from real human side, the AHCCCS administration put out some data about what sorts of medical issues do the people who are eligible for the prop 204 eligibility category have. And they start with motor vehicle accidents, strokes, cancer, heart attacks, respiratory infection, and the whole gamut of very serious health care problems.

Ted Simons: So where will these people go?

Anne Ronan: Well, on some level, some of them can continue to get some treatment at the community health centers. But for long-term treatment for something like cancer, the community health centers can't begin to pick up the volume. I mean, we are talking about just in the first month, the AHCCCS administration expects the this eligibility category to drop by 17,000 people. And every month, there's another group of people who either fall off or who are denied at application. And by the end of the first year, it's close to 250,000 people who otherwise would have gotten health care through our system.

Ted Simons: What are you hearing from service providers, community health organizations? What are you hearing out there as far as ramping up, getting prepared, challenges they are facing?

Anne Ronan: Well, I think they are all working as best they can to keep as many people on the eligibility rolls as possible. But the reality is they don't have any additional dollars. They just have a whole lot more people who otherwise would have had insurance and who are going to be looking to them for services. We have talked to some of the rural community providers in particular and in particular some of the rural hospitals and some of them project that if this continues, if this lack of funding for this population continues, over the next several months, some of them will have to close their doors. It's not going to be something they can work with.

Ted Simons: The idea of the spend down program, which is frozen, actually frozen, already in place. Some folks were a little confused about that but that's very interesting because some of the things you were talking about, these catastrophic illnesses, injuries very much in play in these spend downs.

Anne Ronan: That's correct. That's only complicating the situation. The population who previously were eligible for AHCCCS under a spend down provision have ongoing income that is above 100% of poverty. These are folks who have a major medical problem, sometimes it's an automobile accident, sometimes it's a heart attack, a stroke. They will go into the hospital and have emergency treatment and the cost of their emergency treatment is subtracted from their income so they were in the past eligible for AHCCCS on an ongoing basis. These folks now get the emergency treatment and have no follow-up. They have no coverage for any follow-up. We have talked to some individuals who for instance have had major surgery and need follow-up to the surgery. And they don't have the money nor do they have any insurance to get them into a doctor's office to follow-up care in a hospital for their treatment.

Ted Simons: And that freeze is already in place?

Anne Ronan: That freeze has been in place since the first of May. There are a number of many people who have been impacted by that already. The prop 204 population is being frozen tomorrow. From the folks that we see who are going to be affected, I mean, these folks have no income. The five plaintiffs in our lawsuit currently all are, have no income and four of them are living in homeless shelters. These are people with no other way to get health care other than through the Medicaid system.

Ted Simons: We heard from AHCCCS and basically, what Monica Coury was saying is that people need to be reminded this is a bridge, that when Federal health care kicks in a couple of years, these folks should be taken care of. What are your thoughts on that comment?

Anne Ronan: Well, that may be factually correct but from a human perspective that's 250,000 people in Arizona who needed health care with serious health problems who aren't going to get health care. They may get sporadic emergency care but they will not get ongoing care forever their chronic conditions. And some of the doctors we talked to who worked at the community health centers believe we will see more increased mortality as a result of this.

Ted Simons: I know that folks who have talked about the free market and when there's a need, someone will set up a business and try to take care of that need. Is that at all at play here?

Anne Ronan: No.

Ted Simons: Why?

Anne Ronan: Health care is expensive. You can't go into the health care industry with no revenue source. We have, there are clinics like the St. Vincent de Paul clinic that gets charitable donations and they see some of these folks. But they can't provide beyond sort of the basic. If someone needs surgery, for instance, one of the plaintiffs was an individual diagnosed with cancer, needed surgery--they would to find AHCCCS eligibility for this person or, you know, take out major loans in order to get his treatment.

Ted Simons: I am guessing that as soon as tomorrow hits it's not going to take too lock for your folks there to the center for law and public interest to find someone who was harmed. Is that the legal strategy? Take from it there?

Anne Ronan: And take it back into court.

Ted Simons: And that's probably going to happen two minutes after the law takes effect?

Anne Ronan: It's a difficult situation because the eligibility process can actually take 30 days or longer. So we are having to try to figure that one out, whether we could start with somebody who knows will be denied or someone wait until someone is actually denied.

Ted Simons: Last question real quickly. We have talked about this a lot on the program. There are folks with a different viewpoint and they say the state simply can't afford these folks, covering these folks any more. How do you respond to that?

Anne Ronan: William, I don't think the state can afford not to cover them. This is lots of money we are losing from the Federal government. I mean, millions and millions of dollars that we are losing and it's dollars that go into our economy and pay for staff and hospitals and nursing homes and health care centers. And it generates revenue for the state. So I think it's very short sighted. There is increased revenue that we are seeing already this year through the jail B.C. reports, and the hospitals, I don't know if you had them on but the hospitals actually proposed a tax which would have generated all the necessary revenue to continue this program over this gap period.

Ted Simons: All right. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Use Tax

  |   Video
  • Anything that you buy online is subject to a use tax, and Stefanie Campbell, EA of the Campbell Tax and Financial Services, talks about the not new, but soon to be strongly enforced tax.
  • Stefanie Campbell - EA of the Campbell Tax and Financial Services
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: taxes,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Good evening and welcome to "Horizon." I'm Ted Simons. One of the attractions of shopping online is that you can buy stuff tax free. Right? Wrong. State law requires that you pay a use tax on items bought over the internet and out of state. It's a requirement that's not widely known. But state lawmakers are sending a reminder them passed a law in April that add as new line on individual tax returns for people to declare how much use tax they owe. Most folks hadn't heard a thing about this until the "Arizona Republic" ran a story over the weekend. A lot of folks now have a lot of questions. And here to provide a few answers is Stephanie Campbell, a tax professional known as an enrollment agent. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Stefanie Campbell: Thank you.

Ted Simons: OK. Did I explain that right? What's going on here with this use tax?

Stefanie Campbell: The use tax has been around since 1955. So it's not a new tax. But it's the most heavily underutilized tax, I think, in Arizona. The sales tax, it's confusing to people since we actually have a transaction privilege tax, but and now the sales tax. But the use tax is to be paid on any item that you purchase that you use in Arizona that you did not pay sales tax on.

Ted Simons: OK. So I buy a set of MP 60 left-handed golf clubs, on the internet, on E-bay from some dude in Wisconsin. Do I have to report that on my next return?

Stefanie Campbell: The answer is yes.

Ted Simons: OK. I bought the same MP 60 left-handed golf clubs from a company in Louisiana. Do I have to report that?

Stefanie Campbell: The answer is yes, if you did not pay sales tax.

Ted Simons: Folks haven't been reporting that kind of stuff.

Stefanie Campbell: No, they haven't. The only ones they have really been reporting is on vehicles, on cars that are purchased because you can't register the vehicle without proving you paid sales tax to somebody.

Ted Simons: OK. What if I buy a book on these particular golf clubs, on Amazon? How does that work?

Stefanie Campbell: That would also be subject to the use tax.
Ted Simons: So is there a minimum? If I buy a $3 watch, is that subject to the use tax?

Stefanie Campbell: In theory, the answer to that is yes. They have not established whether there will be a minimum amount that will be excluded. Or nor a maximum amount in that case.

Ted Simons: So what about traveling? You buy something in another state and you send it back to Arizona. How does that work?

Stefanie Campbell: If you did not pay sales tax, and you had it shipped into Arizona you are required to pay the use tax on that item.

Ted Simons: Is it true that businesses have been doing a better job of reporting this than individuals?
Stefanie Campbell: Yes. It's very much true. They have had an easy mechanism by reporting this on their TPT form, their sales tax form. And there's a -- you add it on to a line and it's right there. But the individuals have had to self-report and had to write a letter to report.

Ted Simons: Interesting. How much has the state been losing? Any estimates throughout?

Stefanie Campbell: I am not aware of an estimate.

Ted Simons: OK. But probably a whole lot, huh?

Stefanie Campbell: Probably.

Ted Simons: Yeah. And Arizona not the only state taking a hard line on this?

Stefanie Campbell: Arizona is not the only state taking a hard line. Illinois is extremely pick taking a very hard line and Wisconsin. California, those others, and in my practice, we have been reporting these use taxes to other states for many years. It's not a new tax. It's not a new concept but Arizona has not been cracking down on that.

Ted Simons: You mentioned cracking down. What happens if you don't comply? I mean, there's going to be a line now on the return. Correct?
Stefanie Campbell: Yes.

Ted Simons: Now, let's say I didn't buy anything on the internet. Or out of state. There's nothing to put on that line. Is that a red flag?

Stefanie Campbell: That has not been established. However, it is assumed that most people have bought something that's subject to the use tax in today's day and age with the internet usage.

Ted Simons: Boy, so those of us who haven't done much of that should better start stepping up.

Stefanie Campbell: And you better save your receipts.
Ted Simons: That's a biggie.

Stefanie Campbell: Yes, the receipts are very important and you need to keep all of your receipts and you need to start now if you haven't before and you need to go back and try and obtain some of those older receipts. But it's only starting in 2011 that they have said that at this point they are going to crack down. But you sort them into two piles. The sales tax and the nonsales tax-paid and you have two things you can add up your sales tax for the Federal deduction and see if you went over but you also have the amount of money for the use tax. And an example I wanted to mention is that if I buy shoes in Scottsdale that on my credit card statement, which is what possibly what they could ask for in an audit, it says that it runs the charge through Texas. So if I don't have the actual receipt for the shoes, that shows I paid the sales tax in Scottsdale, then, they could try and collect the use tax on that particular transaction.

Ted Simons: But wouldn't they know you got them at Dillard's or Nordstrom or something? They wouldn't know that just from the -- I mean --

Stefanie Campbell: They would. But you can order them online as well.

Ted Simons: I see what you are saying. Something you can get online, they don't know the difference because there's no receipt.

Stefanie Campbell: Right, if there's no receipt it could be subject to the tax.

Ted Simons: Well, when the return has the line and you are sitting there scratching your head trying to figure out. Will there be a table to help you, to give you --

Stefanie Campbell: There will not be a table. Other states have use tables on extensive work sheets but Arizona will not be providing a table. They will be providing a simplified work sheet that just says, put the amount of money here, and times 6.6% here and that's the extent of the help that they are going to be giving.

Ted Simons: It's not retroactive. Correct? You were saying starts with 2011?

Stefanie Campbell: They said they are not going to enforce back past 2011.

Ted Simons: That's what they say.

Stefanie Campbell: That's what they say.

Ted Simons: Yeah. Again, this is not a new tax.

Stefanie Campbell: No.

Ted Simons: Wait, I don't understand. This thing has been around for so long and know one seems to know about it.

Stefanie Campbell: Most people do not know about it and that's why I am here. I want to make sure that all of the taxpayers in Arizona know all the individual taxpayers are going to have this line on their return and they need to have receipts to back it up.

Ted Simons: Yeah.

Stefanie Campbell: One way or the other. Do you have a lot or a little? But you need to have receipts to back it up in case of an audit.

Ted Simons: If you haven't purchased anything online or out of state and you legitimately would leave that thing blank you might log into Amazon and buy a book?

Stefanie Campbell: I don't know that I would want to buy something just to put something on the line. But it does seem that that line will be somewhat of a target in the future.

Ted Simons: And when does this law take effect now?

Stefanie Campbell: It will be on the 2011 tax returns. So you will need to -- it will be available in January.

Ted Simons: So basically it's the next go around, then?

Stefanie Campbell: It's now. Right now is when you need to start taking care of your receipts.

Ted Simons: We got you. Thank you so much for joining us. Interesting stuff.

Stefanie Campbell: Thank you.