It’s maddening how the mainstream press absorbs and replays ruling ideology as fact. You have to be paying attention, or you don’t see it.
Exhibit A is a seemingly neutral New York Times reporting piece on challenges facing Angela Merkel in her new term. The title is a little suspicious: “As Merkel Begins New Term, Compromises Could Pose Threat.”
What fatal compromises? The writer, Jack Ewing, goes on to warn—remember, this is a news piece, not an op-ed—“She had to bend to demands from her party’s junior coalition partner, and agree to roll back deregulation that, since 2005, has unleashed the country’s economy.”
That junior partner would be the Social Democrats. What dangerous policies are they demanding that reporter Ewing finds so alarming? Policies that would “make it easier for workers at small firms to organize, greater increases in pensions, and put limits on companies’ use of temporary workers.” Oh, the horror of it!
Ewing states as fact that these policies would depress growth and raise unemployment. But of course that is one side of a highly charged ideological argument, not fact. The evidence suggests that Germany’s rare slump early in this century was the result of the costs of absorbing the integration of the former East Germany and the Bundesbank’s perverse response of hiking interest rates, not the result of excessive wages or worker protections.
Ewing’s piece reads as if it were spoon-fed by Germany’s now mercifully departed ultra-austerity finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble. But this nonsense is published as straight news.
Does the Times still have editors? Or do they drink the same Kool-Aid?
Want another one? The Wall Street Journal reports, in a straight news story, that Toys R Us plans to close all of its U.S. stores. The story gives the usual explanations—competition from Amazon and from Walmart, and so on.
You have to read down to the 23rd paragraph, the last one in the piece, to learn the real prime reason for the collapse. Private equity company owners of the toy chain, Bain Capital and KKR, joined by Vornado Realty Trust, loaded up the chain with $6.6 billion in debt.
The piece doesn’t point out that private equity’s strategy is to use that borrowed money to extract windfall returns, stick the company with payments on the debt, and then let it collapse.
Commercial: These media lapses are why we need the Prospect!