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January 05, 2005

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Yet Another Washington Post Edition)

It looks as though I have successfully outsourced this feature to Max Sawicky:

MaxSpeak, You Listen!: WASHINGTON POST: This is getting to be a full-time job. Postie Dan Morgan, this morning:

"For the GOP leadership, which controls the Steering Committee, the decision is crucial because regaining control over spending from the often balky -- and traditionally independent -- Appropriations Committee will be a key to taming the soaring budget deficit."

No it won't. Look at it this way. The deficit for FY2004 was $413 billion. Domestic discretionary spending was about $436 billion, including some Homeland Security. If entitlements, military spending, homeland security, and tax cuts are off the table, balancing the budget would mean eliminating domestic discretionary spending, which is ridiculous. This picture does not change in five years, and it gets worse in ten years, as discussed ad nauseum in my paper. We have a Leave It to Beaver tax system, and a 21st Century spending budget, including two wars, double digit growth in our second largest Federal program (Medicare). and the impending retirement of the Baby Boom.

You can forget about balancing the budget. It isn't worth it anyway. But you do have to reduce the rate of growth of Federal debt, and you can't do it in the Appropriations Committee.

If anyone can tell me what the Post's editors and writers think they are doing, i would greatly appreciate it.

Posted by DeLong at January 5, 2005 09:34 AM

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It is far more important to them to ensure their own continued access to the corridors of power than it is to report the truth.

Our democracy is dying.


Posted by: Aaron at January 5, 2005 09:51 AM

Aaron hits it. For the Posties, as should be apparent by now, the overriding concern is to stay on the Republicans' good side. If that means disregarding reality so that stories can be canted to please Republicans, well, that's the way it goes. Too bad for the readers, too bad for the country.

As the editors at both the Post and the NY Times will quickly tell you, they are under no obligation to report reality and they have no duty whatever to the reader beyond delivering advertising. If retyping White House press releases isn't good enough for you, go start your own paper.

Posted by: Derelict at January 5, 2005 10:04 AM

Maybe they should read Brad Setser's blog more often - as his post at the end of the year noting outside of Social Security receipts, taxes are only 11.5% of GDP whereas Federal spending is around 16.5% of GDP (not including the interest payments to the Trust Fund). Will Congress cut defense spending by 50%? I doubt it. Will Congress eliminate spending on health care? I doubt it. So how is Congress going to slash the General Fund deficit now above $600 billion a year? Does the Washington Post have any real suggestions? I doubt it.

Posted by: pgl at January 5, 2005 10:51 AM

The other day on C-Span Ben Bradlee and Don
Hewitt were being laid into by an audience, I
believe, of journalism students. Bradlee was
standing up for the WaPo reporters. It was
sad. Don't look to him for relief.

What has changed at the Post and NYT since
Nixon that makes them as they are? Somerby
says they are paid too much. Can it be that

Posted by: SEC Overreach at January 5, 2005 10:55 AM

>Somerby says they are paid too much. Can it be that simple?<


For what they produce, they are most definitely being payed too much. I don't pay a dime for lies - those can be had for free.

Posted by: Thane Walkup at January 5, 2005 11:14 AM


The problem starts with the WH press releases.

Posted by: bakho at January 5, 2005 11:42 AM

The Post is supporting Our Leader and the Troops with the blessings of God.

Posted by: Michael Getler at January 5, 2005 12:16 PM

Bakho -- I disagree with your comment that the problem starts with the WH . If the press reported that today the WH released a package of misleading distortions of facts everytime they did it the WH would stop. The problem is that they get away with it, and that is the fault of the press.

Posted by: spencer at January 5, 2005 12:30 PM

spencer wrote, "Bakho -- I disagree with your comment that the problem starts with the WH ."

But note that bakho's first word was "stenography" and that he said "The problem *starts* with the WH press releases." [emphasis added]

Posted by: liberal at January 5, 2005 01:53 PM

Perhaps we should consider that we are living in Mccarthyesque times. Even the most tame and reasonable criticism is shouted down by the right-wingers in politics and the accompanying press with no attempt to consider or discuss the merits of the critics and what they say. The moderate press corps is increasingly unqualified, disinterested or simply going catatonic when dealing with the hurricane from the right.

Posted by: Jay at January 5, 2005 02:02 PM

Dictatorships typically control the press through overt means. The Bush administration does it through covert means.

Posted by: Dubblblind at January 5, 2005 04:03 PM

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