A New York Times essay by Jason DeParle highlighted a resurgence of the use of the word "welfare" among conservatives, this time to attack President Obama's economy recovery plan. Indeed, while economists agree that provisions in the legislation targeting needy people are among the most economically stimulative, Media Matters documents below the pervasiveness of what DeParle called the "weaponiz[ation]" of the "very word, welfare," in the media, particularly, but not exclusively on Fox News, to denounce the stimulus bill.
In purporting to "take a look back" at how the economic recovery plan "grew, and grew, and grew," Fox News' Jon Scott referenced seven dates, as on-screen graphics cited various news sources from those time periods -- all of which came directly from a Senate Republican Communications Center press release. A Fox News on-screen graphic even reproduced a typo contained in the Republican press release.
In a fundraising email "[p]aid for by The National Republican Trust PAC," Dick Morris claimed that "the Democrats want to give almost $5 billion to groups like ACORN" in the recovery bill. In fact, the bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding; ACORN itself has said that it is ineligible for the funds and has no plans to apply for them.
Chris Matthews said that Republicans "got some of their blood thirst going here when they learned that they could score when John Boehner went after the condoms in the -- condoms in the -- in the House version" of the recovery bill, adding that "it was a lot of fun for the Republicans to say contraception shouldn't be one of the pieces of this stimulus package." But Matthews himself also repeatedly raised, criticized, and on at least one occasion misrepresented the section of the bill dealing with contraceptives on Hardball.
In recent days, Sean Hannity has repeatedly claimed that Mark McKinnon is "a pollster for the Democrats," a "Democratic pollster," or a "Democratic strategist." In fact, McKinnon has described himself as a "moderate Republican" and served as a senior adviser to Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign and as former President Bush's chief media adviser.
On Morning Joe, Chris Matthews accused the Obama administration of not "honestly marketing" the recovery bill, in part because "unemployment extensions" included in the package are "relief," he said, not "recovery." But Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Elmendorf has testified that transfers to persons, such as unemployment insurance and nutrition assistance, are effective tools to stimulate GDP growth and that the stimulative effect on GDP leads to job creation.
Fox & Friends' Brian Kilmeade falsely claimed that during a congressional subcommittee hearing, Rep. Gary Ackerman was "going off at" whistleblower Harry Markopolos. In fact, the video of Ackerman Fox & Friends showed contradicted Kilmeade's claim, as acting SEC general counsel Andrew Vollmer was shown on-screen responding to Ackerman's comments.
Echoing a Republican talking point, Lou Dobbs claimed that in the economic recovery bill, "There's more than $4 billion for ... neighborhood stabilization activities -- $4 billion, which translates into funding for so-called advocacy groups such as ACORN." In fact, the recovery bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding; Dobbs was echoing a common attack by Republicans, who have falsely accused Democrats of trying to appropriate money for the group.
Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski did not challenge Sen. John Thune's claim that the creation of "government jobs" does not stimulate the economy. In fact, Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Elmendorf has stated that, "in terms of the short-term stimulus, either kind of job [government or private sector] works because the people who get those jobs and receive the paycheck go out and spend it, and that's -- or spend much of it, and that is the multiplier effect that economists talk about."
In his Washington Post column, Robert Kagan claimed that "Pentagon officials have leaked word that the Office of Management and Budget has ordered a 10 percent cut in defense spending for the coming fiscal year." In fact, the Obama administration has reportedly proposed a $14 billion increase from its fiscal year 2009 budget.