Sep 01 2011

Deficit-Obsessed Media Misinform on Causes

Nightly network news fumbles reasons for debt

Nightly network news fumbles reasons for debtAt a time when the federal budget deficit is so prominently featured in the news, with pundits and “experts” (falsely) touting it as a leading concern of the U.S. public (FAIR Blog, 1/21/11), you might think corporate journalists would be well-practiced in explaining the chief causes of the deficit. Unfortunately, if you rely on network nightly news programs for your information about the economy, you are likely to be misinformed about the main causes of the current deficit—in order of importance, the economic downturn, the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and […]

Aug 02 2011

David Gregory’s Social Security Nonsense

Misinforming viewers about deficit's causes--and public's solutions

Misinforming viewers about deficit’s causes–and public’s solutionsCorporate media coverage of budget deficits and debt often turns to blaming Social Security and Medicare for being the real problem. NBC‘s Meet the Press host David Gregory is especially fond of passing off such misleading claims as facts. In a question to Republican Sen. John Thune, Gregory put it this way (7/31/11): Senator, what’s really ludicrous to the American people, even when the American people don’t always speak with one voice on this matter, is that Washington is not really dealing with what really drives the debt, that’s entitlement spending. It’s been going […]

Oct 01 2010

‘Saving’ Social Security From Its Previous Rescue

The multi-trillion surplus that must never, ever be used

The multi-trillion surplus that must never, ever be used Way back in 1983, corporate media helped sell the dubious notion that Social Security needed saving by a blue-ribbon commission (Extra!, 1-2/88). The panel—headed by future Federal Reserve chair Alan Greenspan—raised payroll taxes and the retirement age for the ostensible purpose of accumulating a large surplus to help finance the retirement of the baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964. That this surplus, loaned to the general federal budget in exchange for Treasury bonds, would also help to finance the Reagan-era tax cuts for affluent taxpayers was treated as a complete […]

Sep 03 2010

Phyllis Bennis on Obama Iraq policy, Dean Baker on Social Security


Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: On August 31, President Obama announced the end of U.S. combat operations in Iraq in a speech from the Oval office. While in a palace in Baghdad the commander of those combat operations, General Ray Odierno, announced that his job was over, proclaiming that in Iraq, “hope has replaced despair.” This was all noted with little challenge by corporate media. We’ll talk with Phyllis Bennis, of the Institute for Policy studies about the changing U.S. role in Iraq. Also on the show: Are Americans on the verge of losing one of the most popular […]

Aug 11 2010

Situation Room Scaremongering

CNN's Social Security crisis

CNN’s Social Security crisisThe August 5 reports from the Social Security and Medicare trustees declared Social Security’s long-term financial outlook mostly unchanged from the previous year, and the projections for Medicare were greatly improved from previous forecasts. But on CNN‘s Situation Room, this news amounted to a crisis in Social Security and a threat to the country. On the August 5 broadcast, host Wolf Blitzer announced: “Social Security reaches the final financial tipping point. The system is now paying out more than it’s taking in. Will Washington do anything anytime soon to fix this problem?” Blitzer was referring to the […]

Jul 02 2010

Nancy Altman on deficits and Social Security, Alfie Kohn on education


Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: a special look at two issues that seem to bring out the worst in the corporate media. First up, the deficit. Worrying about the budget deficit is a corporate media staple, so President Obama’s deficit commission must appear a godsend. Early reports are that Social Security cuts, another media obsession, have become the commission’s main focus. Somewhat tellingly, the commission has announced that it will not be reporting on its recommendations until after the November elections. We’ll talk about the President’s commission, social security, public opinion and the media, with Nancy Altman, the co-director […]

Jun 01 2010

The ‘Liberal Media’ and State Austerity

Scaring readers with right-wing research

Scaring readers with right-wing researchOn 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 […]

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

Conflicts are OK when you have an anti-entitlement agendaPeter 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 […]