Jun
01
2010

The 'Liberal Media' and State Austerity

Scaring readers with right-wing research

On March 12, a front-page article in the New York Times warned that the value of the federal government’s debt, if Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security obligations are included, totals $79 trillion—yes, with a T. Less than three weeks later, another front-page Times article (3/30/10) alerted readers that states’ pension obligations to public employees tops $5 trillion. Truly shocking figures, especially when the size of the entire U.S. economy is a measly $14 trillion. These articles exemplify a trend in mainstream media discussions of budget deficits and state debt that make sensational and deeply conservative assertions about the costs of […]

Jun
01
2010

Pete Peterson's Media Empire

Conflicts are OK when you have an anti-entitlement agenda

Pete Peterson--Photo Credit: Forbes/Photographer: Jin Lee/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Peter G. Peterson is on a crusade to end Social Security as we know it, and he’s spread his tentacles throughout the media. Peterson, investment banker and co-founder of the Blackstone Group, is also a co-founder of the Concord Coalition, a trustee of the Committee for Economic Development and a board member of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. Peterson has long been a corporate media favorite (Extra!, 3-4/97), but since 2008, he’s also poured money into making his own media—via his Peter G. Peterson Foundation, a $1 billion behemoth dedicated to “fiscal sustainability issues related to federal deficits, […]

Jun
01
2010

Framing the Fed as Financial Philosopher Kings

'Independent' of the public, but not bankers

Ben Bernanke--Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy

The fact that there was any doubt about Ben Bernanke’s reconfirmation as chair of the Federal Reserve drove corporate media into a state of high anxiety. “The battle over Bernanke’s confirmation has been a test of central bank independence, a crucial element if the Fed is to carry out unpopular but economically essential policies,” an AP news story reported (1/28/10). A Washington Post editorial (1/25/10) fulminated: By threatening his tenure for no apparent reason other than political panic and pandering, his new opponents have turned this confirmation process into a test of central bank independence, which is an indispensable element […]

Jun
01
2010

SoundBites

Tea Parties Can’t Fail Describing the anti-tax Tea Party rallies on April 15, Washington Post writers Amy Gardner and Michael Ruane (4/16/10) wrote, “The showing, while smaller than the crowds that gathered in Washington on September 12, made clear that the ire and energy that have defined the tea party movement since it became a force last summer have not abated.” Funny, you would think that smaller crowds would be a sign that the “ire and energy” of the Tea Party movement have abated. Isn’t that what “abated” means? Stupid, Racist = Republican? Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly (O’Reilly Factor, 4/5/10) […]

Jun
01
2010

Letters to the Editor

Healthcare’s Flawed Narratives When Michael Corcoran writes (“The Flawed Media Narrative of the Healthcare Debate,” Extra!, 4/10) that “pragmatic” is a curious way to describe letting the public option die, I’d like to agree with him. He would be correct if we really had a functioning democracy. Actually we have an oligarchy, which is only partially elected. Pragmatism could well mean the best that democratic elements can wrest from the oligarchic power structure. I wonder if this is the unconscious belief of the commentators who use the term “pragmatic.” Peter Denison Somerset, Mass. “The Flawed Media Narrative of the Healthcare […]

Jun
01
2010

Predatory Lending? No Such Thing!

Photo Credit: Occupyourhomes.org

Remember predatory lending? The deceptive and discriminatory lending practices that were a driving force behind the housing bubble and disastrous collapse? Well, CNBC would like you to forget about it. Critics pointed (CJR.org, 3/4/10) to a March 2 segment in which all assembled excoriated a guest for referring to the very idea. In a discussion which began with host Larry Kudlow suggesting that “this consumer protection thing” was “kind of a distraction,” financial consultant Janet Tavakoli mentioned that people had been “preyed upon,” which was greeted with general disbelief and dismissiveness. Anchor Melissa Francis scoffed: “The phrase ‘predatory lending’ always […]

Jun
01
2010

Wealth Gap Yawns--and So Do Media

Little interest in study of massive race/gender disparities

The Insight Center for Community Economic Development (3/8/10) released a stunning report about the wealth gap for women of color: Single black women have a median wealth of $100 and Hispanic women of $120—dramatically lower than white men ($43,800), white women ($41,500) or black men ($7,900). Insight Center for Community Economic Development, March 2010 The median wealth for single white women in their prime working years, age 36-49, is 61 percent of the wealth of their male counterparts, who own $70,030. That’s terrible, but the corresponding ratio between women and men of color is nearly off the charts, at just […]

Jun
01
2010

Who Ate the Dessert?

Deficit mania ignores growth of income gap

No sooner had the unemployment rate dipped from its January high of 10 percent than the media drumbeat began: What will the Obama administration do about looming deficits? The danger, it was made clear, was both imminent and mammoth: The federal deficit, warned the New York Times (2/2/10), was on pace by 2020 to “equal 77 percent of the gross domestic product, the highest level since 1950.” The Times (1/26/10) even alluded to “perceptions that government spending is out of control” as a cause of Obama’s falling poll ratings among independents. The “out-of-control spending” theme, in fact, dominated news coverage […]