Thursday, March 12, 2009

Media Matters Daily Summary 03-12-09

Politico, Fox News advance McConnell's "fuzzy math" on cost of omnibus and stimulus bills
The Politico uncritically reported Sen. Mitch McConnell's claim that the combined cost of the omnibus and recovery bills amounts to spending $1 billion an hour. Fox News' Sean Hannity and Brian Kilmeade also repeated McConnell's claim. But as Time's Michael Scherer explained, McConnell's figure is "fuzzy math that does not really mean what it seems to mean" because it is based on dividing the cost of the two bills over 50 days, when, in fact, the money will be spent over the course of many months. Read More

Hannity misquoted Obama to falsely accuse him of breaking promise
On his Fox News program, Sean Hannity misquoted President Obama in falsely claiming that Obama, "in the [presidential] debate with [Sen.] John McCain, said, 'I'm going to go line by line. I'm going to eliminate all the earmarks.' " In fact, during the second presidential debate, Obama said that he wanted "to go line by line through every item in the federal budget and eliminate programs that don't work and make sure that those that do work, work better and cheaper." Indeed, during his presidential campaign, Obama actually promised to reform the earmark process and cut wasteful spending, not eliminate earmarks altogether. Read More

ABC's Gibson repeated myth as fact that "some 60 former [Guantánamo] detainees ... have reappeared on foreign battlefields"
ABC's Charles Gibson baselessly claimed that "some 60 former detainees ... have reappeared on foreign battlefields." In fact, according to the Pentagon, 18 former Guantánamo detainees have been "confirmed" to have "return[ed] to the fight." Read More

Cavuto did not ID Lott as energy company lobbyist, even as Lott touted specific issues for which he lobbies
On Your World, Neil Cavuto hosted Trent Lott to discuss energy policy but failed to disclose that Lott is now a lobbyist for major energy companies. During the segment, Lott touted specific issues for which he lobbies, including "Algae to Ethanol technology" and offshore drilling. Read More

Employee Free Choice Act: "Fox Facts" vs. actual facts
Fox News has run on-screen text, often billed as "Fox Facts," falsely claiming that the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) would "kill workplace secret ballots," "kill workers' right to secret ballot" and "take away workers' right to have a secret ballot vote." In fact, as the Christian Science Monitor has noted, the legislation "gives workers a choice of forming a union through majority sign-up ('card check') or an election by secret ballot." Fox News has also aired on-screen text claiming that "current law requires workers to vote by secret ballot"; in fact, current law already allows a union that shows it has the support of a majority of workers to represent the workers if their employer voluntarily agrees to recognize the union. Read More

One difference between Limbaugh and Carville? Limbaugh is still saying he wants Obama to fail
Rush Limbaugh purported to favorably contrast his repeated statements that he wants President Obama to "fail" with Democratic strategist James Carville's statement -- prior to learning of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that "I hope [President Bush] doesn't succeed." In fact, whereas Carville reportedly retracted his statement immediately upon learning of the terrorist attacks and subsequently urged Democrats to support Bush's anti-terrorism efforts, Limbaugh has repeated his desire to see Obama fail throughout the current economic crisis and has gone so far as to say that he "hope[s]" Obama's stimulus package "prolongs the recession." Read More

O'Reilly's claim about Stewart's motives undermined by Stewart's criticism of Cramer a year ago
Bill O'Reilly said of Jon Stewart's recent Daily Show segments on Jim Cramer's coverage of the current financial crisis: "So, when Mr. Cramer began criticizing Barack Obama, Mr. Stewart -- an ardent Obama supporter -- let him have it." O'Reilly later added, "So here we have the melding of politics -- because if Cramer didn't attack Obama, Stewart would not be on his case." In fact, Stewart criticized Cramer in March 2008 over Cramer's claim that investment firm Bear Stearns was "not in trouble" less than a week before the company collapsed. Read More

Full plate-itude: Media repeat charge that Obama has taken on too much
Recently, the media have highlighted claims that President Obama's "plate" is too "full," suggested he has "bit off more than he can chew," or otherwise given credence to the accusation that the president has loaded his agenda with unrelated items when he should be focusing on the economy. In many instances, the media have simply run teasers to this effect, reinforcing the idea without challenge; in other cases, they have highlighted the accusation, while also providing responses by the Obama administration. Read More

On World News, Gibson falsely claimed Obama "says he opposes earmarks"
ABC's Charles Gibson falsely claimed that President Obama "says he opposes earmarks, but he signed the [omnibus] bill anyway." In fact, Obama said, "Done right, earmarks have given legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects that benefit people in their districts, and that's why I've opposed their outright elimination." Read More

The Hill ignored Grassley's support for health reform this year when reporting his concern that Obama is "biting off too much"
The Hill reported Sen. Charles Grassley's concern that President Obama was "emphasizing [other issues] to too great of an extent so people don't think he's serious about the economy. He's biting off too much, considering how bad the economy is." However, The Hill did not report that in opening remarks at a Senate Finance Committee hearing, Grassley said that he supports working on health-care reform now even though it will not singlehandedly fix the economy. Read More

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