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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Turning Economic Problems Into Fiscal Problems: Washington Post Repeats David Brooks' Freudian Slip

Turning Economic Problems Into Fiscal Problems: Washington Post Repeats David Brooks' Freudian Slip

Wednesday, 03 November 2010 05:12

Bring out the scientists, we have uncovered evidence that Freudian slips are contagious. BTP readers will recall NYT columnist David Brooks' wonderful Freudian slip from last week in which he noted that President Obama took office in the middle of a "fiscal crisis." Of course, Brooks meant to say "financial crisis," although in his columns he has certainly helped build up the notion that the country faces a fiscal crisis.

Today, the Washington Post committed a similar mistake. In an article headlined "economic concerns overshadow all others," the Post told readers that:

"But one issue is on their minds like no other this year: the economy. Nearly 40 percent of voters in a recent Washington Post poll rated the nation's fiscal situation as their top concern in the days leading to the election, a far higher proportion than those concerned about immigration, health care, Afghanistan, taxes, the deficit or dysfunction in Washington. (emphasis added)"

There is no doubt that the Post meant to say "economic situation" as indicated by the inclusion of the deficit as an issue that mattered less. The Post has worked tirelessly in the last two years to hype concerns about the deficit in both its opinion and news pages. It constantly raises the concern and rarely provides readers with any context that would allow them to meaningfully assess the size and nature of the problem.

In this case, we get to see the obsession in plain view. Both the reporter and the copy-editor somehow could not recognize this obviously wrong assertion.

Comments (5)Add Comment
written by jojo, November 03, 2010 7:31
Give it about 5 months and we won't hear any more about deficits. Now that the Republicans control the money, we're back to "Reagan taught us deficits don't matter" and "tax cuts increase revenue."
written by Michael Radosevich, November 03, 2010 7:55
NPR just had a report from a Wall Street Journal reporter [David Wessel?] - the reporter stated that there isn't enough money in discretionary spending to cut in order to balance the budget, and he mentioned Social Security and Medicare, but never mentioned the defense budget!

Of course the NPR anchors sat like bumps on a log, nodding in agreement. Do the NPR anchors listen to what their guests say?
written by Queen of Sheba, November 03, 2010 9:28
It's no wonder that the American populace is so ignorant about economics. Not only have schools failed to teach even the basics, but our major media insist on using imprecise, if not downright dishonest terminology. I would be amazed if over 5% of Americans even know the difference between "financial" and "fiscal," much less between "fiscal" and "monetary."

We had better get used to living with this knowledge level though, as the elections show. Ignorance will not be bliss (unless you reside in the top 5% of the wealth holders).
written by Ron Alley, November 03, 2010 1:18

Maybe it was not a Freudian slip after all. If Brooks, the Post and their Republican henchmen can get the mainstream press to speak of "fiscal crisis" instead of "financial crisis" they can make the public accept their tax cutting and Social Security cutting strategies more easily. Often winning the battle to name the debate is tantamount to winning the debate on the merits.
Wash Post is OCD
written by Paul, November 03, 2010 2:21
Hopefully psychologists will soon recognize a new mental disease: OCD about the Federal Deficit. Any rational person, including the majority of voters, knows that the FD is a minor concern that is easily manageable, unlike our unemployment problem which, RIGHT NOW, is damaging the lives of millions of Americans.

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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.