In January, we asked our friends and supporters to pledge a donation to CEPR for every time the Washington PostNew York TimesWall Street Journal and National Public Radio reported that eurozone countries are facing sovereign debt crises because of a pattern of profligate spending that led to unsustainable deficits. We figured that if the reporters couldn’t be counted on to get the story straight, at least CEPR could earn some much needed revenue from their inaccuracies.

The results are in, and the four media sources misrepresented the cause of the eurozone crisis a total of 57 times from February through June.  The individual totals are as follows:

New York Times – 23
Washington Post – 21
Wall Street Journal – 8
NPR – 5

Some typical stories include this Washington Post piece from June:

“Ireland's voters approve E.U. treaty in victory for fiscal union”
"The fiscally conservative Germans, in particular, have called for ratification of the treaty, which was drawn up in January, as essential to ending years of overspending and over borrowing by their profligate neighbors.”

(Read Dean Baker’s Beat the Press reply, here)

And this one from the close “winner” of the “contest,” the New York Times (April 22):

“Dutch Austerity Talks Fail As Geithner Prods Europe”
“Countries in the euro zone and international partners -- mostly wealthy economies, including Japan, Norway, Britain and Switzerland -- pledged more than $430 billion to the monetary fund to help guard against any runs on sovereign debt within the euro zone and to protect countries that might be innocent bystanders to the crisis, the fund announced on Friday.

But that money comes with the understanding that Europe will be vigilant in fighting off speculative attacks, bringing down unwieldy budgets and spurring growth -- even as political changes come, like those looming in the Netherlands and France.”

(Dean caught that one as well)

We like to think that we’ve had some impact, as many reporters have stopped claiming that it was overspending by socialist governments that caused the crisis. But CEPR has a long way to go, as too many of the mainstream media sources are still reporting that austerity is the way out, both for Europe and the U.S. Not to mention the misstatements and inaccuracies on a host of other issues (Social Security, housing, Latin America, Haiti, the minimum wage, unions ... the list goes on). 

CEPR is grateful to the many friends and supporters who donated to our Beat the Press Pledge Campaign. We promise to use the gifts wisely and to keep up the good fight.  You can keep tabs on our efforts every day at Beat the Press. And although we also thank the NYT, the WaPo, the WSJ and NPR, we hope that we don’t have to rely on their mistakes to raise money ever again.

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