Monday, March 23, 2009

Media Matters Daily Summary 03-23-09

Perpetuating falsehood, Wall Street Journal's Fund claimed "AIG bonuses ... were in the stimulus bill"
On Fox & Friends, John Fund advanced the Republican falsehood that Democrats created the right for AIG to pay bonuses by passing the economic recovery bill. In fact, the recovery bill did not create the right for AIG -- or any company -- to pay bonuses. Rather, AIG reportedly disclosed that it had entered into agreements to pay these bonuses more than a year ago, the Bush Treasury Department approved of the AIG bailout with this agreement in place, and the relevant provision in the recovery act actually restricted the ability of companies receiving money from TARP to award bonuses in the future. Read More

Scarborough falsely claimed Orszag "admit[ted]" Obama budget "will create an unsustainable debt"
Joe Scarborough falsely claimed that the president's "own OMB director admits" that his budget will "create an unsustainable debt." In fact, OMB director Peter Orszag recently said that deficits at the level estimated by CBO in scoring Obama's proposed budget "would ultimately not be sustainable," but also said: "I think that what you're going to see, again, under our assumptions, our policies lead to lower deficits than that." Orszag also recently asserted that "[t]he President's Budget," if enacted, would "put the nation on a sustainable fiscal path."
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Wash. Times forwarded false GOP suggestion that Bush administration played no role in AIG bonus controversy
A Washington Times article reported GOP criticism of Democrats over the AIG bonus issue and quoted a Republican strategist asserting: "This is not something [Democrats] can point to George Bush. ... They own the issue of giving bonuses to the AIG executives." But the article did not note that $53 million in AIG bonuses that the article mentioned were reportedly paid out under the Bush administration, or that a Bush-appointed special inspector general for TARP has stated that the Bush Treasury Department knew about the AIG bonus contracts and did not insist on their abrogation as a condition of AIG's receiving bailout money. Read More

NY Times falsely claimed that Obama "campaigned as an antiwar candidate"
In a New York Times article, Sheryl Gay Stolberg wrote that President Obama "never served in the military and campaigned as an antiwar candidate." In fact, Obama did not campaign as "an antiwar candidate"; Obama has repeatedly said that he doesn't "oppose all wars" but is opposed to "a dumb war" or "a rash war." Read More

Politico published Bauer op-ed that advanced 61-detainee falsehood
Politico published an op-ed by Gary Bauer that falsely claimed that "a January Pentagon report found that 61 former detainees [of the prison at Guantánamo Bay] had engaged in terrorist activities." In fact, according to the Pentagon, 18 former Guantánamo detainees have been "confirmed" to have "return[ed] to the fight," while an additional 43 former detainees are "suspected" of having done so. Even the Pentagon's "confirmed" figure has been questioned by analysts. Read More

Wall Street Journal article omitted Bush Treasury Department's role from AIG bonus timeline
A Wall Street Journal article about Tim Geithner and his aides' involvement in decisions about AIG's bonus payments did not note that it was the Bush administration that negotiated a November 2008 stock purchase agreement with AIG through which the Bush Treasury Department injected $40 billion into the company without requiring that the bonus contracts be nullified. Read More

Following Politico's lead, media fixate on Obama's "awkward laughter" in 60 Minutes interview
Echoing a March 22 Politico article that was hyped by the Drudge Report, the March 23 editions of Today, Morning Joe, MSNBC Live, and Fox & Friends all featured segments on President Obama's laughter during a 60 Minutes interview. The segments are reminiscent of the media's echoing Drudge by seizing on Hillary Clinton's laugh as a new subject of attention following Clinton's talk show appearances in September 2007. Read More

Did O'Reilly violate his own ambush rules?
According to the O'Reilly Factor website, Bill O'Reilly will address "why ... the far left, in cahoots with NBC News, hurt a rape victim and her family." The post appears to be a reference to an "ambush" interview of the Center for American Progress' Amanda Terkel reportedly conducted by Factor producer Jesse Watters. But O'Reilly has previously suggested that the "ambush journalism" conducted by his producers is limited to targeting "public servants" and stated that prior to those "ambush" interviews, subjects would either be asked on the program or asked "to issue a clear statement explaining their actions." Read More

Memo to the media: Where's W?
So how did we get to this point? Job losses in the hundreds of thousands every month, almost weekly bank failures, and 401(k)s at half their value from a year and a half ago. The media treat the question as a mystery that can be solved through scrutiny of the Obama administration's actions starting on January 20, 2009 -- an approach that is absurd on its face. The media's erasure of the Bush administration and its policies in their coverage of the economy has been so pervasive that they have given round-the-clock attention to the AIG bonus scandal for days on end with virtually no mention of the fact that it was the Bush administration that last fall approved billions of dollars in aid to AIG without requiring the company to nullify its bonus contracts. Read More

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