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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Has God Been Talking to the Washington Post?

Has God Been Talking to the Washington Post?

Thursday, 14 April 2011 04:57

In its article covering President Obama's speech on the budget yesterday the Washington Post told readers that:

"Obama acknowledged that the debt must be tackled faster than he has previously proposed."

It is only possible to "acknowledge" something which is true. The Post obviously believes it is true that "the debt must be tackled faster than he has previously proposed," but that does not make it so. This is the Post's opinion. A real newspaper would have reported that President Obama "said that the debt must be tackled faster than he has previously proposed." It would not have implied that its view of the world is the unquestioned reality, especially in a front page news story.

Remarkably, the coverage of the President's speech in both the Post and the NYT included no mention of the recession. The main reason that the deficit has soared in the last three years is because of the economic collapse that followed the crash of the housing bubble.

If the deficit is reduced substantially before the economy has gotten back to near full employment levels of output the main effect will be to slow growth and throw more people out of work. This fact was never mentioned in either piece even though President Obama proposes to have his deficit reduction targets to become binding in fiscal year 2014, a point at which the unemployment rate is still projected to be 7.2 percent. By contrast, the first stimulus package was put into law under President George W. Bush when the unemployment rate was just 4.7 percent.

Both articles made reference to the deficit reduction plan from the President's deficit commission. This is wrong. There was no plan from the commission. The co-chairs of the commission, Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, never put their plan up for a vote because they knew they lacked the majority needed for passage. The plan referred to in these articles is only the proposal of the two co-chairs. It is not the plan of the commission.

This should be a simple point for a major newspaper to get right.

Comments (8)Add Comment
written by foosion, April 14, 2011 5:50
In the Post's worldview, high unemployment is a good thing. It lowers labor costs, leading to increased corporate profits. Look at the data - corporate profits are very strong, executive compensation is up and stock prices are doing well.

Why risk a change to this success story merely to deal with some issues among people the Post doesn't like anyway and never see at their parties?
written by izzatzo, April 14, 2011 6:47
Has God Been Talking to the Washington Post?

And God let the asset bubble and recession grow into a massive flood to cleanse the wickedness of mankind's conspicuous consumption

Whereupon God appointed WaPo to build Noah's Ark and save the upper 5% of annointed animals boarded two by two

And God disgorged them onto dry land to multiply under Obama as a new breed of traders free from debt, usury and malice of hyperleverage forethought caused by satanic intervention in free markets

splitting peas
written by diesel, April 14, 2011 7:21
Dean, are you implying that Bowles and Simpson put off putting up their proposal for parliamentary approval by the panel, apprehensive (apparently) about the probity of publicizing the unpopularity of their pinched perspective and pursued a purposely perverse path that made it appear as though their proposition were in fact the panel's approved plan?
Perfectly Parsed
written by Dean, April 14, 2011 8:17
You got it splitting peas.
written by The Bat, April 14, 2011 8:57
splitting peas,

Penguin, is that you?
"A Major Newspaper"
written by Wisdom Seeker, April 14, 2011 2:03
Seems the WaPo and NYT are now "major blogpapers"... not "news" papers!
This should be a simple point for a major newspaper to get right ...
written by David, April 14, 2011 5:25
... but it's the Post!?!
written by John Q, April 15, 2011 1:30
"This should be a simple point for a major newspaper to get right."

And as the plan they were touting was the personal opinion of two members of the commission, you might think the Post and others could have given a least some weight to plans put forward by other members of the commission.

Like this one:

How many of your readers got to hear of it?
Funny how that works, isn't it?

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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.