Apr 1 2010

Deficit Fascinates Media–Its Causes, Not So Much

Bush tax cuts seldom mentioned as source of red ink

The role of George W. Bush’s tax cuts in the current federal deficit is tremendous. Their role in corporate media’s current round of deficit obsession, however, is tenuous at best. Sometimes acknowledged in editorials or op-eds, the cuts generally only make it into news reports as assertions from the White House or Democrats, rather than established and relevant economic fact. Elite papers lately issue near daily alarms on the deficit—“gargantuan,” “unprecedented,” “unimaginable a few years ago.” Virtually all accounts speak portentously of the costs of benefit programs like Social Security, often described as “the main causes for expanding federal spending […]

Feb 9 2010

USA Today’s Social Security Scaremongering

Under the headline “Social Security Races to ‘Negative’: Rash of Retirements Push Fund to Brink,” USA Today‘s February 8 front page presented an alarmist view on a story that is regularly misreported in the corporate media (Extra!, 7-8/95, 1-2/05; FAIR Action Alert, 10/19/07). Reporter Richard Wolf leads with this warning: “Social Security’s annual surplus nearly evaporated in 2009 for the first time in 25 years.” But several paragraphs later, readers are told that the program has been “accumulating a $2.5 trillion trust fund”–which certainly sounds less ominous than the headline’s warning about being on a “brink.” And by a “nearly […]

Jan 13 2010

WaPo Ombud Responds on Fiscal Times

Alexander denies article was 'propaganda,' but acknowledges flaws

Responding to complaints by FAIR activists and others (FAIR Action Alert, 1/6/10), Washington Post ombud Andy Alexander (1/10/10) denied that a Post article (12/31/09) underwritten by an anti-Social Security crusader constituted “propaganda,” but he acknowledged that the piece contained serious flaws. The Post had come under fire for running a piece from the Fiscal Times, a for-profit news outlet launched by Peter Peterson, a billionaire who has spent millions promoting cuts in entitlement spending (Extra!, 3-4/97). Alexander maintained that it was “false” to say that by publishing the Fiscal Times story–about the possible creation of a bipartisan commission that would […]

Jan 6 2010

Washington Post Lets Lobbyists Write Its Stories

Anti-Social Security outfit does propaganda, not journalism

The Washington Post‘s publication of a “news” article written by an organization created to advance an ideological agenda is a troubling reminder of the declining ethical standards at one of the nation’s most influential newspapers. The article, headlined “Support Grows for Tackling Nation’s Debt” (12/31/09), was a product of the Fiscal Times, described in an accompanying note as “an independent digital news publication reporting on fiscal, budgetary, healthcare and international economics issues.” More accurately, it’s a propaganda outlet created and funded by Peter G. Peterson, a Wall Street billionaire and Nixon administration cabinet member who has long used his wealth […]

Sep 19 2008

James Galbraith on financial turmoil, Forrest Hylton on Bolivia crisis


Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Unlike tendentious media debates about government aid to the poor, journalists greeted bail outs of major financial corporations with almost universal approval. We’ll talk to economist James Galbraith of the University of Texas about what the news means for regulatory policy and issues such as GOP plans to invest Social Security funds on Wall Street. Also on the show: Headlines from Bolivia speak of violence and possible conciliation but even after reading the reports you might be unclear on who’s fighting and over what. Is it really half the country against the other half […]

Oct 22 2007

Milbank Defends Post Column

Piece blended Social Security, Medicare problems

After FAIR’s October 19 action alert criticized coverage of Social Security in the Washington Post and on ABC News, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank responded to one FAIR activist with this message: Don’t you think it a bit unfair of “FAIR,” in complaining about my “context,” to ignore the fact that I was writing about the combined impact of Medicare and Social Security? While most of Milbank’s column (10/16/07) obviously concerned Social Security (the headline “Smile, Smile–You’re on Social Security!” was no accident), he did link the Social Security and Medicare programs in explaining how baby boomers would “begin to […]

Oct 19 2007

Social Security Scaremongering

ABC, Washington Post push well-worn 'crisis' myths

When the first baby boomer filed for Social Security, ABC News and the Washington Post‘s Dana Milbank led the pack in media scaremongering–pushing the widely disputed myth of a pending crisis while dismissing the less alarmist views espoused by many economists. At the top of ABC‘s October 15 World News with Charles Gibson, the anchor declared this a “day of reckoning,” later calling it “one of this country’s greatest challenges.” Correspondent David Wright called the first baby boomer filing for benefits “the raindrop that’s about to become a tsunami,” and warned that “paying for the baby boom’s retirement may leave […]

Oct 5 2007

Cynthia Boaz on Burma, Dean Baker on Social Security


Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: what’s going on in Burma? Besides violent crackdowns by the country’s military dictatorship, which are covered in the U.S. press, you’d be hard pressed to know that the non-violent, pro-democracy movement there has been organizing for years. We’ll talk to Professor Cynthia Boaz, a professor at SUNY Brockport and academic advisor to the International Center on Non-Violent Conflict about Burma and press. Also on the show: none other than the Maestro, former Fed chair Alan Greenspan, has stated that Social Security does not face a looming crisis. Normally his word is gospel with the […]