Alex Blumberg & NPR Out-Fox Their Listeners About America’s Debt

by Billy Beren on November 23, 2011

Today, NPR ran a piece by Alex Blumberg on its Planet Money segment entitled The National Debt: What The Left And Right Agree On.  Mr. Blumberg employed the tried & true formula for NPR reporting:

2 parts stupid + 1 part smug

Let’s start with the 2 parts stupid:

We learn from Mr. Blumberg’s piece that the left and right “largely agree” when it comes to America’s debt problems.  Mr. Blumberg quotes Alison Fraser from the “right-leaning Heritage Foundation” blaming entitlement programs. He then quotes Bob Greenstein of the “left-leaning” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities as saying the debt is “unsustainable” and due to “the aging of the population” and the “increase in healthcare costs” (i.e. blame Social Security and Medicare).

But what about a Brown University report, released in June, pegging the cost of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan at $3 – $4 trillion? Could military spending be a major factor in the debt crisis?  Mr. Blumberg’s report doesn’t mention the word “military” once. Then again, perhaps Brown University is neither “left-leaning” nor “right-leaning,” but “reality-leaning” and that just won’t do on NPR.

One can’t help but wonder if there are points of view that NPR doesn’t want its listeners to hear. For example:

America’s Not Broke: How to pay for the crisis while making the country more equitable, green, and secure (Institute of Policy Studies)

First Steps in Reforming the U.S. Financial and Tax System (Michael Hudson, research professor of economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City)

Budget Baloney (1): Why Social Security Isn’t a Problem for 26 Years, and the Best Way to Fix It Permanently (Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor, current professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley).

Onto smug:

The so called “Liberal Media” is getting its hee-haws in this week over a new “study” showing Fox News Viewers Know Less Than People Who Don’t Watch Any News. The “study” surveyed 612 people who agreed to take the time to participate in a phone survey. Only 64 of them got their news from Fox. Some study.

My point here isn’t to defend Fox News, but to ask the same question about NPR. How much do its listeners know? Not much thanks to Alex Blumberg and Planet Money.

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