Okay, the Post Beats the NYT for Awful Reporting on Minnesota's Budget CrisisSadly, a democracy can only work if the electorate understands who are the key actors and what their motives and agenda truly is. But the press confuses the scene. As Baker points out, the press is selling opinion as fact and misleading the public. No wonder the turkeys keep voting to keep Thanksgiving as a festive holiday. They are being told that the axeman is their friend come to give them a glimpse of "heaven on earth".
The Washington Post once again shows why it is known as "Fox on 15th Street." It begins an article on the government shutdown in Minnesota:
"There is a giant gap between what many of the world’s governments have promised and what they can afford. Now, the headlines from the across the United States and overseas show what happens when the clunky machinery of democracy goes about trying to close that gap.
The latest: The Minnesota government shut down Friday, locking families out of state parks on a normally busy holiday weekend after the Democratic governor and Republican-controlled legislature failed to reach agreement on whether to close a projected $5 billion budget deficit in part with tax increases."
As folks who looked at the graph in the last piece know, this bit if editorializing has nothing to do with the Minnesota budget crisis. It is just one more instance where the Post shoved its editorial position about budget problems right into the middle of a news story.
On the larger point about "many of the world's governments" the Post is also misleading. A main source of the budget problems facing governments at all levels is the economic collapse caused by the bursting of housing bubbles in the U.S., Ireland, Spain and elsewhere. (The folks at Fox on 15th have not been told yet about the housing bubble. They still rely on the chief economist at the National Association of Realtors as their main expert on the housing market.)
If the world economy was operating at normal levels of output, most countries would have manageable budget deficits. In the case of the United States, the long-term budget deficit is the result of its broken health care system. If we paid the same amount per person for our health care as other wealthy countries, the long-term budget projections would show a surplus, not a deficit.
By the way, the above reference to the Washington Post being worse than the NY Times... here's a bit from Baker's assessment of the NY Times coverage:
It is irresponsible to run a story with a statement from one politician saying it is sunny and warm in Alaska and another saying that actually the temperature is below zero and it's snowing. There are real conditions in Alaska that the reporter should know and be able to tell readers. This information will let readers know that one politician is being largely truthful, while one is not. Reporters who have a job reporting the news have the time to find out about the actual weather conditions in Alaska. Readers generally do not.So much for reporting as an attempt to lay facts before the reader as opposed to shaping reader's perceptions to sell a point of view.
By this same standard, the NYT printed a horribly irresponsible piece on the shutdown of Minnesota's government. This article included a quote from the Republican House Speaker, Kurt Zellers:
“We’re talking about runaway spending that we can’t afford,... And we will not saddle our children and grandchildren with mounds of debts with promises for funding levels that will not be there in the future.”
While the article also includes a quote from the Democratic governor, it provides no information that would allow readers to assess the truth of the claim that spending is out of control. In fact, state and local government spending in Minnesota has not been rising relative to its GDP over the last decade.