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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Does the Washington Post Believe in the Tooth Fairy? Bowles-Simpson Rides Again!

Does the Washington Post Believe in the Tooth Fairy? Bowles-Simpson Rides Again!

Sunday, 18 March 2012 07:47

The Washington Post once again jumped over the line separating the news section from the editorial section and fiction from reality. It ran a tribute to North Dakota Senator Kent Conrad on the front page of the business section.

Conrad, the chair of the Senate Budget Committee and perhaps the biggest deficit hawk in the senate, is retiring at the end of the year. His views on the deficit closely parallel the views of the Post editorial page, hence the tribute.

In praising Conrad the article repeatedly makes reference to the report of the Bowles-Simpson commission. In fact, there was no report of the Bowles-Simpson commission. The report that the article is referring to is the report of the co-chairs of the commission, former Senator Alan Simpson and Morgan Stanley director Erskine Bowles.

In order for a report to have been approved by the commission it would have needed the support of 14 members of the commission. This report only had the support of 11 members. As a result, the chairs never even put the report up for a formal vote.

Since the Post's editorial page is sympathetic to the report of the co-chairs, it apparently feels it is appropriate to misrepresent the report as a report of the commission itself. This has the effect of giving the report greater legitimacy. This is the sort of behavior that has led the Post to be known as "Fox on 15th Street."

Readers of this piece should have been warned. The second sentence refers to Conrad as "a lonely Cassandra." Of course Cassandra was the person who foretold of the disaster that eventually befell Troy.

By contrast, Senator Conrad completely missed the disaster that was made inevitable by the growth of the housing bubble. Instead, he was diverting the public's attention from this imminent crisis with his complaints about budget deficits even at a time when the deficits were relatively modest. 

Comments (4)Add Comment
New fund raising idea?
written by David, March 18, 2012 10:33
Get a donation commitment for every time you catch this Simpson-Bowles fiction appearing, the frequency is high. I'll commit to that.
And Why Did Conrad Miss the Housing Bubble Disaster?
written by Paul, March 18, 2012 11:40
He was a client of Countrywide and Mozilo was his personal mortgage lender!

"In June 2008, it was reported that Senator Conrad had received mortgages on favorable terms for a second home and an apartment building due to his association with Countrywide Financial CEO Angelo R. Mozilo. Conrad acknowledged that he spoke with Angelo Mozilo, the Countrywide CEO, by phone. In an April 23, 2004, email about one of Senator Conrad loans, Mozilo encouraged an employee to “make an exception due to the fact that the borrower is a senator.” Conrad denied any prior knowledge of such treatment and gave away the mortgage discount to charity. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) called on the Senate Ethics Committee to investigate Conrad. In August 2009, after a year-long inquiry, the bipartisan Senate Ethics Committee exonerated Senator Conrad of any unethical behavior regarding his dealings with Countrywide Mortgage."


Conrad is just another Congressional crook with an agenda.
written by Steve Lightner, March 19, 2012 11:09
Casandra? Chicken Little.
WaPo even worse than Dean says
written by Barkley Rosser, March 19, 2012 2:34
Dean is right, but has understated how bad the stories in WaPo were. They went on for paragraphs, repeating repeatedly this crap about the "Bowles-Simpson commission report," which, as Dean accurately notes, does not exist. Presumably what Conrad and WaPo are trying to sell is the proposal put out later by Bowles and Simpson themselves.

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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.