I’ll also try to tackle the Peterson phenomenon more directly. Does his foundation and all his money make certain issues bigger than they deserve to be? Does he “buy the debate” in some respects, as some think? Or do these issues get the weight they should, with or without a Pete Peterson? And do some people make him a bête noire to avoid the spending and deficit issues they’d rather not face?

And how should the press address such questions? I’ll provide the best press criticism I can on these broad and important areas of coverage, areas that just about everybody, on all sides of economic debates, agrees are real.

(*My earlier version had misread the BusinessWeek piece, which had actually said [with my addition]: “Peterson had disbursed $300 million of the $1 billion pledge [meaning, to the foundation, not to outside groups] by Mar. 31 of last year, according to tax records.”)

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Holly Yeager is CJR's Peterson Fellow, covering fiscal and economic policy. She is based in Washington and reachable at holly.yeager@gmail.com.