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Frat Boy Budget Reporting at the NYT

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Wednesday, 05 February 2014 06:08

The NYT was almost as bad as the Washington Post in its reporting on the farm bill. The NYT gets a few points for explaining how many people would be hit by the cuts in food stamps and what the cuts translated to in dollars per month.

But the main numbers still appeared as just really big numbers. No one knows what $1 trillion in spending means over the next decade and the article offers no context to provide meaning. So, this one will get a good humma, humma, humma, down at the budget reporters' frat house, but provides almost no information to readers.

The NYT had committed itself to placing these numbers in context more than three months ago. What is going on? It really is not that hard.

Comments (2)Add Comment
...
written by Ron Alley, February 05, 2014 9:55
Ironic, but the Public Editor seems uninterested in this issue.

I thought the negatives in the farm bill - concealing the identity of Congressional recipients, the "no negotiation with insurers" , the $900,000 adjusted gross income limitation on certain subsidies and other provisions did not get appropriate emphasis.
Matching WaPo Whoppers
written by John Q, February 05, 2014 11:40
In its business reporting generally, the NYT can be as bad as the Washington Post. For example, under the headline “Economy Is Expanding, but Obama’s Legacy May Be Slipping Away” (Business Day section, Jan. 3) reporter Nelson A. Schwartz makes this misleading observation: “. . . the country will still have a lot of catching up to do before the gains recorded under Mr. Obama match those of his two predecessors in the While House.”

In 2007 under President George Bush, the economy, which had been severely weakened by his seven-year failure to regulate Wall Street, plunged into a deep recession. Nonetheless, Schwartz gives Bush credit for the economic gains created by the policies of his predecessors, and the four sources he then quotes are not likely to disagree:

1) Guy Berger, former senior economist at Bank of America, which has been fined $33 million for paying $5.8 billion in illegal bonuses to complete its Merrill Lynch acquisition, and has agreed to pay $138 million to settle allegations of defrauding schools, hospitals, and state and local government organizations.

2) Ellen B. Zentner, senior U.S. economist at Morgan Stanley, which, according to Wikipedia, has paid various fines, penalties and settlements of $125 million in 2003, $452 million in 2004, $19 million in 2005, $58 million in 2006, $23 million in 2007, $4.5 billion (a securities repurchase settlement) in 2008, $7 million in 2009, $14 million in 2010, $4.8 million (pending) in 2011 and $14 million in 2012.

3) Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS, a consulting firm with more than 6,700 employees in 31 countries and assets of more than $800 million that provides a data base of the world’s oil and gas deposits to the aerospace, defense, autos, chemicals, energy, and finance industries of more than 165 countries.

4) Julia Coronade, chief economist for North America of the French megabank BNP Paribas, the fourth largest bank in the world, which was fined by the French Government in 2010 for colluding to charge unjustified fees on check processing. It has more than $13.5 billion in nuclear investments, which in 2011 Greenpeace held protests against in 24 French cities.

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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.

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