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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Does the NYT Have to Call Trade Agreements "Good" In News Stories?

Does the NYT Have to Call Trade Agreements "Good" In News Stories?

Tuesday, 02 July 2013 04:37

This is one of the great mysteries of news reporting. No, the NYT didn't literally call a trade agreement "good" in a news story, but it did call it "free" which amounts to pretty much the same thing.

A piece discussing European anger over evidence that Edward Snowden released of U.S. spying on European governments noted that several officials had raised the possibility of breaking off discussions on a "free trade" agreement with the United States. The question is what information does the NYT think it is conveying by including the word "free" in the article.

While there will be some reductions in tariffs and quotas in this deal, the bulk of it will involve setting regulatory rules that have nothing directly to do with "free trade" as it is traditionally defined. For example, the agreement may restrict national and local governments' abilities to impose safety and environmental restrictions on industries operating in their jurisdictions or on the goods and services being sold. It is simply wrong to describe these restrictions as "free trade."

It is also possible, if not likely, that the deal will lead to stronger patent and copyright protections. These are forms of government created monopolies that are the direct opposite of free trade.

Reporters usually complain about lack of space to get out all the information they would like. So why does the NYT feel the need to waste space to include a word that makes the article at least misleading, if not actually wrong.

Comments (6)Add Comment
NYT Massive Error of Omission
written by Robert Salzberg, July 02, 2013 5:49
While Dr. Baker is right about 'free' trade, the larger issue is how the U.S. is using unfree trade threats to bully countries into not offering Snowdon asylum.

The U.S. holds itself forth as a beacon of Democracy and Free Speech, yet when one of its citizens exposes a massive, blatant disregard for the 4th amendment protections in our constitution and a massive effort to spy on our friends and neighbors, that citizen not only effectively has his citizenship annulled by revoking his passport, but then the U.S. is threatening each and every country that is considering offering Snowdon asylum with economic sanctions.

If the 4th estate was doing its job, the NYT would have pointed out that the U.S. is using its massive economic power to bully the world into not protecting free speech and due process.

Ecuador is being threatened with massive economic sanctions if it dares to grant Snowdon asylum. Ecuador is being put in the impossible position of upholding its principles or protecting its economy for all its citizens.

America has gone from being the world's policeman to the world's bully.

written by Last Mover, July 02, 2013 6:35

Not only that, the military-industrial-security-spy network itself is knee deep in crooked insider info used to send handsome profits to targeted beneficiaries. But hey, when Snowden threatens that network it's all about endangering "free" trade.
beacon of democracy
written by pjm, July 02, 2013 7:13
Hah. Not to disagree but 1) Anyone exposed to even undergrad poli sci knows how dubious the claim is (the US is by most measure the least democratic of wealthy industrial nations). 2)Commitment to democracy on the Right is superficial and rhetorical and quickly qualified when democracy is invoked ("we're not a democracy anyway, we are a republic").
Free, as in let loose
written by nassim sabba, July 02, 2013 7:50
Let the corporate dogs loose on Europe. That is what the free trade is about. Companies like Apple and Microsoft can kill and decimate any nascent innovation that can be technologically threatening their turfs, unless those little innovators are willing to be bought for pennies on the €, either to be snuffed out or swallowed.
They have done that wonderfully well in the US with the threat of Uncle Sam's sword domestically, now they can do it internationally.
They want to be set free/loose in EU as soon as possible.
private property not consistent with free trade?, Low-rated comment [Show]
Trade Agreements
written by Bart, July 02, 2013 12:31

I'm still waiting to receive all those delicious mangoes from India that were promised years ago in exchange for our giving them the nod for going nuclear.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.