Responses to “Journalists in the service of Pete Peterson”

Letters to the Editor |

Jan. 18, 2013 — I must first exclaim with enthusiasm how thrilled I am to have found your site (Remapping Debate). It is both the content and method with which I am pleased.

That is, I happen to agree [with Journalists in the service of Pete Peterson”] that we need to question the validity (or exclusivity) of Pete Peterson’s “Castor Oil” solution to federal fiscal policy. And I like the specific way you not only report, but critique the journalists by using hypertext prompts (or perhaps there is another name for this  captions,  bookmarks, smart tags) to take the reader deeper. But having praised you, I do have some questions on two of your commentaries.

First, on the George F. Will interview with Mitch Daniels, Governor of Indiana (2011), in response to [Will’s statement]: “What kind of lash of necessity will it take — what catalyzing event might cause the American federal political system to act?”

I completely concur with your conclusion that this gridlock is, indeed “a function of a significant percentage of elected officials representing a significant portion of the nation’s population resisting a series of policies that would hurt average Americans and enhance the power and privilege of the relatively well-to-do.” But I also agree with Will (with whom I seldom agree, but whose intellect is without question, in my humble opinion).

That is, we do appear to need a “lash of necessity” for our leaders’ to take definitive action (as opposed to their simply talking about taking reformative action).  While I haven’t consumed the entire interview, I share the frustration in Will’s question.

You do not deny that his question is valid, do you?  We need only look at the Sandy Hook School tragedy to demonstrate my point. So far, at least, that event appears to be a catalyst to break the gridlock in gun control reform and/or mental health service improvement. I think Mr. Will would acknowledge the cause of the gridlock, but he likely agrees with the Peterson premise, and thus predictably acts as a “Journalist in the service of Pete Peterson” even as he is clearly frustrated with the lack of action.

My next questions pertains to your comments on Judy Woodruff’s questions to members of The Gang of Six while moderating a panel discussion between senators charged with deficit reduction deliberation.  Again, without having the benefit of consuming the entire interview, I think you’re being a bit hard on Ms. Woodruff. She is clearly asking good questions here and yet trying to be the unbiased journalist.

Granted I’m a PBS devotee, but your responsive critique makes me ask: When you question the wisdom of the senators are you criticizing their ability to handle the task?  Would you have preferred other senators (hindsight being 20/20) to undertake this and/or a different approach altogether? (And if so, what alternative approach?) 

Again, I am thrilled to have discovered Remapping Debate, and there is little doubt that I will eagerly anticipate your response to this letter, as well as each of your scheduled bi-monthly publications that follow!

— Katherine Messner, Hudson, N.H.


Jan. 16, 2013 — I found your article interesting and I would like to suggest a follow up story for you to consider.  Since you “take seriously the idea that the job of journalists is to question and to illuminate,” I think three excellent questions to ask and to illuminate for the American public are these:  How much do our federal, state and local governments presently owe?  How much will they need to pay out over the next, say, 40 years for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, etc.?  What is our governments’ capacity now and in the future to fund such payments?

I suggest this topic because, despite all the hue and cry about fiscal cliffs, and debt ceilings, and taxes, and spending, I never see the actual numbers written down in simple black and white.  Maybe if we did that first, the subsequent conversations and debates would be more fruitful.

— Charles M. Masson, New York, N.Y.


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