May
06
2005

Dean Baker on Social Security, Rory O'Connor on CPB

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: The debate over Social Security privatization will be heating up again now that George W. Bush is endorsing a specific proposal. Are the media sorting out the truth about Bush's push for so-called progressive indexation? Does the math really show that Bush is, as one New York Times column put it, Robin Hood? We'll get the details from Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research. Also on the show: The conservative cat seems to be further out of the bag at CPB. Now PBS president Pat Mitchell is being criticized […]

Apr
01
2005

CBS's Pro-Privatization Predictions

CBS Evening News has presented two segments in recent weeks (2/9/05, 3/4/05) that purport to show how typical American workers would fare under George W. Bush's plan to privatize Social Security. But the segments rely on stock market projections that, if true, would make any "crisis" in Social Security almost impossible. CBS reporter Jim Axelrod first profiled (2/9/05) Jama Whitesell, a 28-year-old receptionist making $32,000 a year. Axelrod went to a financial planner who predicted that a private account would be a safe bet for this worker--based on a projected 8 percent return on the private account. Why did CBS […]

Mar
10
2005

Times Responds on Social Security Semantics

On January 27, FAIR issued an action alert on the New York Times' and AP's use of the White House-friendly phrase "personal accounts" to describe Bush's privatization plan. On March 6, Times public editor Daniel Okrent devoted part of his column to responding to FAIR activists and others on this issue. FAIR replied in its online Media Views feature, a daily compendium of media criticism and analysis. Okrent's comment was: "Now a rugby scrum has gathered around the Bush Social Security plan. Republicans tout 'personal accounts'; Democrats trash 'private accounts.' In this atmosphere, I don't think reporters have much choice […]

Mar
08
2005

CBS Offers Misleading Pro-Privatization Predictions

CBS Evening News has presented two segments in recent weeks (2/9/05, 3/4/05) that purport to show how typical American workers would fare under George W. Bush's plan to privatize Social Security. But the segments rely on stock market projections that, if true, would make any "crisis" in Social Security almost impossible. CBS reporter Jim Axelrod first profiled (2/9/05) Jama Whitesell, a 28-year-old receptionist making $32,000 a year. Axelrod went to a financial planner who predicted that a private account would be a safe bet for this worker-- based on a projected 8 percent return on the private account. Why did […]

Feb
14
2005

USA Today Responds on Social Security Criticism

On February 7, FAIR issued an action alert criticizing USA Today's re-writing of George W. Bush's Social Security rhetoric. Bush has said a number of times that the system will be "flat bust," "exhausted" and "bankrupt" in the year 2042. In describing Bush's position, USA Today changed those misleading claims, reporting that Bush has said that Social Security "won't have enough money to pay promised benefits in 2042," and "Bush says that in 2042, it won't be able to pay 100 percent of guaranteed benefits." As FAIR argued, USA Today effectively changed Bush's inaccurate claims into more accurate-- though still […]

Feb
07
2005

USA Today Covers for Bush's Social Security Distortion

NOTE: Please see the update to this alert. In its February 3 edition, USA Today not only failed to challenge a George W. Bush distortion about Social Security-- it actually changed Bush's remarks to make them more accurate. Summarizing Bush's case for privatizing the program, reporter Judy Keen explained: "Two days after winning re-election, Bush said his top priority would be Social Security, which he says will go into the red in 2018 and won't have enough money to pay promised benefits in 2042." And in a Q & A piece, the paper made the same claim: Answering the question, […]

Jan
27
2005

Private Vs. Personal

Media's Social Security Semantics

[Read the Times's response to this Action Alert.] Facing significant opposition to its plan to privatize part of the Social Security program, the White House is pushing reporters and lawmakers to use the expression "personal accounts," since polling data seems to indicate that "privatization" is an unpopular term with voters. While it's not unusual for politicians to try to spin the terminology used in debate, journalists should avoid changing word usage simply because some politicians think it will be to their advantage. There's little doubt that "privatization" is a more accurate description of the White House plan, especially considering that […]

Jan
21
2005

Mark Weisbrot on Social Security, Sheldon Rampton on Armstrong Williams

Download MP3 This week on CounterSpin: Social Security is still the top domestic story, and we’ve talked about how distorted and ill-founded much of the reporting has been. But is coverage of the issue starting to improve? And does that have something to do with the political reality that the White House is likely to face in their effort to privatize the program? We'll ask Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic & Policy Research about the state of the Social Security debate. Also on the show: the revelation that conservative pundit Armstrong Williams had been paid by the White […]