NYT's Chan Pens Two Puff Pieces to Offset Thursday's 'Obama Rejected at G-20' Faux Pas
Don't go overboard with it, but have some pity on Sewell Chan at the New York Times.
On Thursday evening online and in Friday's print edition, Chan was among three Times reporters who composed a report ripping President Obama's lack of results at the G-20 summit. The piece's original title -- "Obama's Economic View is Rejected on World Stage" -- originally appeared online and actually made its way into the print edition. The headline apparently didn't sit well with someone at the Times. As I noted in a previous post (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), it was changed to "Obama Trade Strategy Runs Into Stiff Resistance" sometime on Friday.
That was apparently not enough to satisfy whoever is charge of politically correct revisionism at the Times. Chan seems to have been assigned the thankless task of composing not one, but two, kiss-and-make-up pieces to smooth things over.
Here are a few paragraphs from the first related item, complete with a laughably absurd headline and obvious internal contradictions:
Summit Shows U.S. Can Still Set Agenda, if Not Get Action
It could have been far worse.
That was the consensus among the leaders of the Group of 20 economic powers as they dispersed Friday, following a two-day summit meeting dominated by anxieties over currency and trade frictions. In their fifth meeting since the 2008 financial crisis, the leaders agreed in essence to a year-long cooling-off period during which they will slowly tackle persistent economic imbalances.
“In Seoul, there was too much jostling over currencies, deficits and exports for the G-20 leaders to make any significant breakthroughs,” said David Shorr, who studies economic diplomacy for the Stanley Foundation, an organization in Muscatine, Iowa, that advocates international cooperation. “But there was also enough concern to avert a disastrous breakdown.”
The meeting still showed the power of the United States to set the agenda for international discussion, even if the result — charging the International Monetary Fund with analyzing the sources and consequences of the imbalances — was far less robust than American officials had hoped for.
... in interviews here, officials from Europe and the United States said that weakening, specifically the decision by the Federal Reserve to inject $600 billion into the economy, was not a major topic of discussion in the leaders’ private meetings.
... Mr. Obama found himself defending the Fed’s decision buy government bonds to lower long-term interest rates, even though he has tried to avoid commenting on the central bank, an independent entity.
At the leaders’ dinner on Thursday, Mr. Obama acknowledged that the Fed’s monetary policy offered the most promising course of speeding the American recovery, given the political impediments to any additional fiscal stimulus measures, according to Mr. Barroso.
So let's see:
- Our country's ability to prepare a to-be-discussed list is really, really crucial, even if the list isn't followed and tangible results aren't achieved.
- "It could have been worse," even though whatever Obama thought was important was put off for a whole year, which in diplomat-speak usually means "We're putting those items way out there into the future, in the hope that conditions change enough in the meantime that we never have to really discuss them."
- Ben Bernanke's QE2 wasn't a major topic -- so not-major that Obama "found himself defending" it.
All of this makes perfect non-sense to me.
Chen's second penance, which was posted online on Friday and appeared in Saturday's print edition, was to make it appear as if Obama's tempter tantrum over China's lack of cooperation was really an example of being tough:
Obama Ends G-20 Summit With Criticism of China
The Group of 20 major economies took initial steps to address imbalances in the global economy on Friday. But they did not act as assertively as President Obama had hoped, and he left little doubt that he considered one country, China, the primary source of the problem.
Scrapping a longtime practice of speaking with diplomatic caution about China’s currency policy, Mr. Obama accused Beijing of intervening aggressively to keep its currency, the renminbi, below its market value to promote exports. He said it was a mistake for nations to think that “their path to prosperity is paved simply with exports to the United States.”
“Precisely because of China’s success, it’s very important that it act in a responsible fashion internationally,” Mr. Obama said at a news conference at the conclusion of the economic summit meeting here. “And the issue of the renminbi is one that is an irritant not just to the United States, but is an irritant to a lot of China’s trading partners and those who are competing with China to sell goods around the world.”
Though his own Treasury Department, like those of prior administrations, has certified that China is not a “currency manipulator,” a designation that can prompt Congressional trade action, Mr. Obama appeared to remove the remaining wiggle room he had on the subject of the renminbi, declaring: “It is undervalued. And China spends enormous amounts of money intervening in the market to keep it undervalued.”
The tougher language seems likely to add tension with China, which has already sharply criticized the Obama administration’s decision to try to mediate territorial disputes involving China and its East and Southeast Asian neighbors.
But Mr. Obama’s efforts to persuade China to act on its own, or as part of a collective commitment by big economies to address trade imbalances, have yielded only incremental steps, raising the possibility of a contentious and awkward prelude to a state visit to Washington by President Hu Jintao of China scheduled for January.
Well, if China is manipulating its currency, haven't we lost the so-called 'high ground" in the discussion with Ben Bernanke's second round of "money from nothing" quantitative easing?
Let's hope this puts Sewell Chan back in good graces with the higher-ups at the Times. After all, the chances that Chan will break down somewhere down the road and tell the whole truth in another report are much higher than, say, David Leonhardt's.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.