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Jonathan Chait: David Fahrenthold's Washington Post Article Designed to Increase Misunderstanding of Federal Budget: Noted for August 26, 2013

Jonathan Chait: Tea Party Now Covering News for Washington Post:

The Washington Post’s lead Sunday news story is one of the weirdest, and most weirdly biased, news articles I’ve ever read in my life…. There are actually two points to the story. One is that government is not shrinking…. This point is clearly false. The author employs crude, badly deployed statistics…. The second point of the story is not a factual one but an opinion: Government is just really, really big. The article bolsters this opinion by describing the size of government with a series of adjectives (“big,” “whopping,” “the government still spends a vast amount of money,” etc.)…. Is the federal government big, vast, whopping, and so on? Well, by the standards of the national government of an advanced country, the answer is no. The United States federal government is comparatively small.

I suppose you could argue that, in some objective sense, the federal government is big in that all governments are big. It’s much, much bigger than a bread box. The Post story tries to bolster its case that the federal government is big by comparing it to a series of small things….

As a point of view, it’s perfectly legitimate to believe that the federal government is too big and that the governments of all advanced countries are too big. But the Post’s particular article seems almost designed to decrease the audience’s understanding of the federal budget.