The Blog of the Frances Perkins Center

Posts Tagged ‘Peter Peterson’

NPR was punked

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2010 at 11:43 am

This morning, Deborah Amos interviewed David Walker, executive director of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, and she gave him free reign to promulgate the message that his boss and colleagues are spending millions with which to blanket the airwaves. I wrote this in response:

Dear Deborah Amos and colleagues,

I’m sorry to tell you that you’ve been journalistically “punked.”

This morning’s interview with the executive director of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation is yet another piece in a multi-million dollar public relations campaign by the Wall Street billionaire Pete Peterson and his various mouthpieces to create a fast-track, undemocratic mechanism with an aim to slash social insurance programs — the very programs that are sustaining Americans through a time of economic hardship brought on by Wall Street and its rapacious disregard for Democratic safeguards.

The deficit is a real problem — one of many we face today. However, the path to controlling and reducing the deficit does not lie in diminishing Social Security and Medicare. Social Security is not in any way a contributor to the deficit; it is projected to be solvent for at least another 33 years or so, and small, careful adjustments can be made to make sure that it continues to be solvent in perpetuity. The issue with Medicare is the cost of health care; the way to solve its financial woes is to bring the cost of health care down, as the bill in Congress’s conference committee is the first step in achieving.

The bias of Peter G. Peterson, his foundations, and his other public relations organs such as the Fiscal Times is well known. Last week, the New York Times covered a recent example in which the Washington Post relied on Peterson’s Fiscal Times to cover this same subject. Peterson and his cohorts want us to believe that the public is unanimous in feeling that the only way to cut the deficit is to cut social insurance programs but this is far from true. In fact, it is a highly orchestrated and well-funded disinformation campaign.

For the other side (a side which has the public’s best interests at heart), please consider interviewing experts such as Nancy Altman, author of the Battle for Social Security, and elected officials who oppose the fast-track commission idea such as Senator Baucus and Speaker Pelosi.

And I’d like to invite you (and/or colleagues) to cover a symposium that the Frances Perkins Center is presenting this Thursday in New York City: “Frances Perkins and Social Security — A Celebration in Film, Food, Art, and Discussion” (

Thanks for your attention to this matter.

Yours truly,

Barbara Burt

Washington Post parrots the Peterson “deficit reduction” line

In Political world on January 6, 2010 at 10:12 am

In what’s turning out to be an embarrassing misstep, on December 31st the Washington Post printed a story created by The Fiscal Times, a paper funded by Pete Peterson, Wall St. tycoon, founder of the Concord Coalition and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation, and longtime opponent of social insurance programs such as Social Security.

Peterson has been one of the main forces behind a push to force a fast-track commission on the Congress that would propose cuts in social programs in the name of deficit reduction. He reportedly is spending tens of millions to influence members of Congress to support the commission.

The Washington Post article, Support grows for tackling nation’s debt, included this statement:

“I think there’s more interest in the proposal not only in Congress but at the White House because there’s a growing realization the deficit and the debt are reaching such levels they can’t be ignored any longer,” said Robert L. Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan group that advocates entitlement reform and balanced budgets.

Note that the spokesperson is the executive director of the Concord Coalition — another Peterson connection. The Post later appended this statement to their article:

Correction to This Article
The article by the Fiscal Times, about growing congressional support for a bipartisan commission to address the nation’s debt, contained a statement supporting the concept by Robert L. Bixby, the executive director of the Concord Coalition. The article should have noted that the Concord Coalition receives funding from the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. Peterson, but not his foundation, also funds the Fiscal Times, the independent news service that prepared the article.

The article’s attribution ran thus:

This article was produced by the Fiscal Times, an independent digital news publication reporting on fiscal, budgetary, health-care and international economics issues. Fiscal Times staff writer Adam Graham-Silverman contributed to this report.

After an outcry by many experts and organizations — many of whom have sent letters to Congress and the Administration opposing the establishment of a so-called deficit reduction commission — the Post’s ombudsman is looking into the issue.

The story has been picked up by many progressive blogs. Yesterday it hit the mainstream media: in its Media & Advertising section, the New York Times ran this article, Sourcing of Article Awkward for Paper.

The Times article reported on the conflict-of-interest angle but didn’t mention that the conflict of interest led to an inherently incorrect article, points of which has been soundly refuted. Here’s an excerpt from a letter signed by many social insurance experts and sent to the Post’s ombudsman:

Consistent with the bias of the founder, the story reports glowingly of the increasing support for a commission, failing ever to mention that over forty national organizations, including the AARP, the AFL-CIO, SEIU, National Organization for Women, Common Cause, to name just a few, have been outspoken in their opposition to the proposal.  Indeed, most readers would have no idea from this story that there was any opposition to the proposed commission whatsoever.