Michael Scherer & Social Security, Part 3

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

Following up on last week's posts about Time's Michael Scherer's Swampland post about Obama, McCain and Social Security ...

Today, Scherer acknowledges that "McCain supported the Bush plan then, and still speaks in favor of the private account idea in the future" and concludes:

The social security example did not belong where I put it in the post, and by placing it there I launched a confusing discussion about the issues--committing the same crime that I was chastising the candidates for committing.

Scherer still insists the Obama's ad's assertion that Social Security privatization constitutes "risking Social Security on the stock market" is a "distortion" that "exaggerat[es] the worst-case scenario of Bush private account plan." Since Scherer acknowledges that the plan involves investing some Social Security funds in the stock market, and since (I assume) he would acknowledge that investing the stock market involves "risk," it seems misguided at best to continue to call the ad a distortion.

Nonetheless, Scherer's post today is a welcome acknowledgment that he was wrong, and that he muddied the issue rather than illuminating it. Scherer could have ignored the matter, as many journalists do when they are wrong. Or he could have offered a terse two-sentence statement that walked back his original claim without really making clear what he got wrong in the first place. That, too, would have been all-too-typical of "corrections" to flawed news reports. Scherer didn't do that. Instead, he posted five paragraphs of explanation, including clear statements that he got it wrong and that he confused the debate rather than clarifying it.

More journalists should take their mistakes as seriously as Scherer does in his post today.

Posted In
Economy, Social Security
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