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CBS News: The Eye Goes Blind

By ThinkProgress on March 14, 2005 at 11:48 am

"CBS News: The Eye Goes Blind"

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With the retirement of evening news anchor Dan Rather, is CBS preparing to outfox the Fox News Channel? On issue after issue, it seems that CBS is all too willing to present whatever misinformation it takes to make the Bush administration look good. When it comes to praising the Chilean model for Social Security privatization, which was enacted under the brutal dictatorship of Gen. Augusto Pinochet, both President Bush and the Fox News Network are big fans.

President Bush to the President of Chile: “And, finally, I think some members of Congress could take a good — could take some lessons from Chile, particularly when it comes to how to run our pension plans. Our Social Security system needs to be modernized, Mr. President, and I look forward to getting some suggestions as to how to do so, since you have done so, so well.”

Sean Hannity of Fox News: “The two great examples now, that have been used in the last 25 years, one is Chile where there was fierce opposition. Many of the same arguments that are being used today were used back then….Only 25 percent of the population signed on in the beginning. Now 95 percent of the population got into it, because it works. “

And now CBS’s Bob Schieffer, longtime friend of President Bush and interim replacement anchor for Dan Rather, is ready to jump on the bandwagon.

As pointed out by Media Matters, Bob Schieffer “labeled Chile’s privatized government pension system ‘a success story.’” His views, presented as news, came along with a hard-hitting report.

Trish Regan of CBS News: “Still, most of the people who consistently contribute to their accounts, like Espinoza, say the system works [and that] the risk is worth it because for him and millions of Chileans like him, ownership of a retirement account means ownership of their future.”

So what does the picture of Chile look like without the spin?

“[N]ow that the first generation of workers to depend on the new system is beginning to retire, Chileans are finding that it is falling far short of what was originally advertised…. For all the program’s success in economic terms, the government continues to direct billions of dollars to a safety net for those whose contributions were not large enough to ensure even a minimum pension…. Even many middle-class workers who contributed regularly are finding that their private accounts – burdened with hidden fees that may have soaked up as much as a third of their original investment – are failing to deliver as much in benefits as they would have received if they had stayed in the old system.”

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