Chuck Todd's suggestion during last night's press conference that President Obama should ask the public to "sacrifice" -- as though lost jobs, health care and houses aren't enough -- drew immediate and widespread criticism online. And not just from progressives. At National Review's "The Corner," Ramesh Ponnuru implicitly criticized the question, noting that Obama "made a reasonable point about the way the economy is already forcing people to make sacrifices." Todd's question drew rapid criticism on Twitter, too.
Now, we know that the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz regularly reads National Review -- he quotes its content frequently. And we know he's an obsessive Twitter-user, and was Tweeting during last night's presser. So it's a little odd that his article about the press conference doesn't mention Todd's "sacrifice" question at all. It was perhaps the worst -- certainly the most widely-criticized -- question asked, and yet the nation's most prominent media critic didn't even mention it.
In fact, if you didn't know anything about the press conference other than what you read in Howard Kurtz's article, you'd think Todd simply asked whether those who were "irresponsible" should be helped by Obama's policies. Here's how Kurtz described Todd's question:
NBC's Chuck Todd said that "some of your programs, whether for Main Street or Wall Street, have actually cushioned the blow for those that were irresponsible."
And here's the part of Todd's question Kurtz left out: "Why haven't you asked for something specific that the public should be sacrificing to participate in this economic recovery?"
Also missing from Kurtz's article: the word "deficit." That's more than a little surprising, given that the journalists who questioned Obama last night were bizarrely fixated on the topic.
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."
On CNN Newsroom, Fredricka Whitfield advanced the false Republican accusation that Democrats created the right for AIG to pay bonuses by passing the economic recovery act, asserting that Sen. Chris Dodd was "widely criticized for allowing the bonuses in the first place." In fact, AIG reportedly disclosed that it had entered into agreements to pay these bonuses more than a year ago, and the Bush Treasury department approved of the AIG bailout with this agreement in place. Furthermore, the relevant provision in the recovery act, which was based on an amendment by Dodd, actually restricted the ability of companies receiving money from TARP to award bonuses in the future.
On his Fox News program, Sean Hannity falsely claimed that "a parliamentary procedure called reconciliation" would allow the Obama administration to pass legislation "without any Republicans even having an opportunity to vote." In fact, according to the House Rules Committee's description of the budget reconciliation process, the version of reconciliation legislation agreed to during the conference process is then "brought back to the full House and Senate for a vote on final passage. Approval of the conference agreement on the reconciliation legislation must be by a majority vote of both Houses."
On CNBC's The Call, while purporting to describe "the value of our money," Larry Kudlow lit a U.S. dollar bill on fire, destroying part of the bill -- a possible violation of Title 18, Section 333, of the U.S. Code.
On America's Newsroom, Bill Hemmer did not challenge Sen. James Inhofe's claim that President Obama's proposal to cap annual carbon emissions and auction the right to pollute is "the most regressive tax that you can have, because ... someone who is very poor spends a very high percentage of his or her income on ... energy that they have to buy." Hemmer did not point out that, in proposing a cap-and-trade program in his budget outline, Obama addressed the issue of higher energy costs impacting consumers differently by proposing to return "[t]he balance of the auction revenues ... to the people, especially vulnerable families, communities, and businesses."
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Linked article: Frank assails bonuses paid to executives at AIG
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On Forbes on Fox, host David Asman falsely claimed that President Barack Obama "once pledged to ban all earmarks." In fact, Obama promised to reform the earmark process and cut wasteful spending, not eliminate earmarks altogether.
No Democratic members of Congress were quoted in a Washington Post opinion article asking "members of Congress and others whether federal budget earmarks are defensible"; the three members of Congress whose responses were listed are all Republicans. This is consistent with a pattern in the media of portraying earmarks as a practice unique to Democrats.
My column this week looks at the deliberate stupidity in the news media's coverege of earmarks. Here's an example in which MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell engages in juvenile mockery of pig odor research rather than actually assessing whether it is a good idea:
CNN's Wolf Blitzer did not challenge Ari Fleischer's false claim that President Obama has a "proposal to eliminate deductions" for charitable donations and housing-related expenses. In fact, Obama's fiscal year 2010 budget proposal includes a provision to reduce to 28 percent the rate at which families earning more than $250,000 a year can take deductions for charitable donations, housing-related expenses, and other itemized deductions.
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."
The whole column today is a bit nutty. i.e. There aren't enough businessmen in Obama's cabinet! (Including SOS.) Of course, columnists are allowed to wander down incoherent roads, but they're not allowed to make stuff up.
Like here [emphasis added.]
The Democrats were egregious in packing the stimulus bill with pet projects that won't stimulate much except campaign contributions and in sticking with earmarks -- a symbolic outrage that Obama promised during the campaign he would eliminate.
As Media Matters has noted, the media's beloved meme that Obama promised to eliminate earmarks is pure fantasy. Not that that has stopped the press from peddling its favorite falsehood.
Second, the stimulus bill had no earmarks in it. Period. Even Fox News conceded that point:
President Obama did make sure that bulky earmarks were not in the stimulus bill.