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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 5/10/13

Tick-Tick-Tick: Do 60 Minutes and America's Billionaires Want Us to Beg?

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If you're a jobless person looking for food or a wounded vet who needs health care,  60 Minutes  has a solution: Beg a billionaire for it. That was part of the powerful, if covert, message behind last Sunday's  60 Minutes  broadcast.

The rest of Sunday night's message, which tracks closely with the right-wing agenda promoted by billionaires like Pete Peterson, goes like this: Keep downsizing government. Keep tolerating and promoting the hijacking of our national wealth by the rich, even as it suffocates the middle class and creates soaring poverty rates. Surrender democratic control over the social safety net to wealthy donors.

And whatever you do, keep stroking their insatiable egos.

The Agenda

Did the 60 Minutes staff sit around a table and choose this message? Probably not. Chances are we're just seeing more evidence of a herd mentality among our well-paid elites. But they might as well have.

This ideological bias agenda was glaringly evident in Lesley Stahl's "Counterinsurgency Cops" story. Viewers weren't informed that Stahl is on the board of anti-government billionaire Pete Peterson's Foundation, for example, or that her foundation works closely with the defense contractors of "Fix the Debt." Those contractors stand to make billions more in taxpayer-funded profits if America's cities buy into Stahl's premise and purchase even more military equipment -- including tanks, sniperscopes, full battle regalia, night vision goggles, and drones.

The Peterson anti-government vision dovetails nicely with a conservative fantasy world in which all government spending is bad -- but military and police spending somehow isn't "government," or "big government," or whatever it is they're railing against today. We discussed "Counterinsurgency Cops" in Part 1 of this piece.

Sunday's broadcast also featured Scott Pelley's flattering portrait of a hedge fund billionaire's generosity, which failed to ask the fundamental question: Why do we need to depend on a hedge fund billionaire's generosity in the first place?

As they say on 60 Minutes: The answer might astonish you.

Say what?

The 60 Minutes website [1] tells us that "Billionaire Paul Tudor Jones' charity -- the Robin Hood Foundation -- fights poverty with the hardnosed, business sense of Wall Street." Say what? The "hardnosed, business sense" of Wall Street? That "hardnosed business sense" was actually, by any objective measure, fiscal incompetence and gross managerial negligence.

Wall Street's "business sense" would have driven every single financial institution in the country into catastrophic collapse - that is, if the government (which presumably lacks such "sense") hadn't stepped in to rescue them. Not only did Wall Street's titans grievously mismanage their books. There is now overwhelming evidence that executives at every major bank criminally and fraudulently deceived their customers.

You could call that latter trait "hardnosed," I suppose.

Mr. Jones

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Host of 'The Breakdown,' Writer, and Senior Fellow, Campaign for America's Future

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