The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Steve Rendall,,Tel: 212-633-6700 x13

Charlie Rose's Deficit Non-Debate

Public TV show excludes critics of center-right plan


A report from the co-chairs of the White House deficit commission
has generated significant criticism. But on public television mainstay
Charlie Rose, viewers are hearing only from supporters of the center-right plan to cut spending and lower taxes for the wealthy.

The first Charlie Rose discussion on November 11 featured Harvard economics professor Martin Feldstein, who found the report "very bold," though he thought "it didn't go far enough." The other guest was David Walker of the Peter G. Peterson Foundation,
who found it a "courageous plan" that "could have been even more
aggressive with respect to some of the reforms." Walker went on to
complain, "It is amazing how much controversy there has been, especially
from the left, with regard to the Social Security reform proposals,
because they are not dramatic or draconian."

That controversy is apparently not the kind of thing the Rose program wants to share with viewers.

The non-debate continued on the November 15
show, which featured an interview with Republican Rep. Paul Ryan of
Wisconsin, a member of the commission who cheered (among other things)
the lower corporate tax rates in the Bowles/Simpson plan.

At one point host Charlie Rose asked Paul, "So the
point of the commission is to start the debate?" If that was its
intent, it was a complete failure when it comes to public TV's premier
interview show.

And who is scheduled to appear on tonight's broadcast of the Charlie Rose
show? Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, the co-chairs of the deficit
commission. That means that five guests will have discussed the deficit
commission plan on the show, and all five are enthusiastic supporters
of the austerity-themed blueprint of spending cuts, Social Security
cuts and tax breaks for corporations and the wealthy.

It's not difficult to find progressive critics of
the deficit commission's work. Dean Baker of the Center for Economic
and Policy Research (11/10/10)
called the commission a "waste of time," since the report failed to
deal seriously with the dramatic increase in healthcare costs that are
largely driving the projected deficits. Other revenue streams that have
been championed by progressive experts, like a tax on financial
speculation, are not considered in the Bowles/Simpson plan. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman (11/12/10),
who labeled the whole commission a "compromise between the
center-right and the hard-right," critiqued the plan's arbitrary cap on
federal revenue and called its tax suggestions "a mixture of tax cuts
and tax increases--tax cuts for the wealthy, tax increases for the
middle class."

Other economists who have strongly criticized the Bowles/Simpson plan include James Galbraith, Robert Kuttner and Henry Aaron.

FAIR's recent report on the state of public television ("Taking the Public Out of Public TV") included an evaluation of the elite guest list on the Charlie Rose program (Extra!, 11/10). In response, executive producer Yvette Vega wrote (10/25/10)
that such criticism works to "keep all of us reaching further and
farther in presenting guests and programs that are both varied and
diverse.... We will continue to expand and look for as many views as
possible on a topic and subject." This would be a good chance for the Charlie Rose show to show that they mean it.

Ask the Charlie Rose show to bring some
diversity to its discussion of the deficit commission, which so far has
exclusively featured right-leaning supporters of the Simpson/Bowles

Charlie Rose

FAIR, the national media watch group, has been offering well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship since 1986. We work to invigorate the First Amendment by advocating for greater diversity in the press and by scrutinizing media practices that marginalize public interest, minority and dissenting viewpoints.