News outlets inaccurately cited $35 million as initial Bush administration tsunami relief package
In their coverage of the Bush administration's tsunami aid package, several news outlets have incorrectly reported that the administration initially committed $35 million to countries and people affected by the December 26 disaster. In fact, the administration's initial pledge was for $15 million, which was increased to $35 million following widespread criticism of that initial commitment. The administration's pledge was later increased  from $35 million to $350 million on December 31.
Ed Fox, assistant administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), announced the figure of $15 million, calling it an "initial response," at a December 27 press conference , in which Secretary of State Colin Powell also participated:
FOX: As the Secretary [Powell] had said, not only have we responded, both in terms of the short run, with $400,000 to the various embassies and also a large commitment to the International Red Cross and Red Crescent, but it's anticipated that we'll add another -- at least immediately -- another probably $10 million, for a total of about $15 million, in our initial response to this tragedy.
On January 3, in an article on the United States' most recent pledge of $350 million in aid, The Washington Post , for example, did accurately report that the Bush administration initially pledged only $15 million. However, numerous news outlets have inaccurately reported $35 million as the amount of the Bush administration's initial pledge.
A January 3 Associated Press article  reported:
"It's been seven days and in seven days, we have launched a carrier battle group. We have launched an amphibious battle group. We have contributed $350 million," [Secretary of State Colin] Powell said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." The United States' initial pledge of $35 million drew criticism.
The Associated Press also reported  on January 2:
Powell, whose Asia trip includes stops in Thailand, Indonesia and perhaps Sri Lanka, defended the Bush administration against criticism it reacted slowly to the crisis with an initial pledge of $35 million, since increased to $350 million.
Host Chris Wallace said the following on the January 2 edition of Fox Broadcasting Company's FOX News Sunday:
The initial pledge, which was $35 million, is in fact less money than was going to be spent on President Bush's inauguration. And the current number of $350 million is still pretty small compared to the $13 billion the Congress allocated for hurricane relief in Florida last fall.
CNN correspondent Elaine Quijano  said the following in a report that appeared on the January 2 edition of CNN Sunday Night and the January 1 edition of CNN Live Saturday:
One day after upping the U.S.' initial aid pledge from $35 million to $350 million, President Bush in his weekly radio address ordered another show of support for the tsunami victims.
A January 1 Knight Ridder article  stated:
Meanwhile, the White House said the United States would provide $350 million in aid for victims of the disaster, well above its initial pledge of $35 million.
Though the January 3 edition of The New York Times ran a Reuters article  referring to "Washington ha[ving] been blasted for its initial $15 million aid commitment," a January 1 Times article  read as follows:
In spirit and on paper, the relief program gathered momentum yesterday. President Bush increased the initial American pledge of $35 million to $350 million after Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and other officials told him the need would increase sharply in the weeks ahead.
CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson , while discussing the dramatic increase in the volume of online contributions to Catholic Relief Services, said the following on the December 30 edition of the CBS Evening News:
The totals change by the minute, but a CBS News tally shows online donations alone will likely exceed the federal government's initial $35 million pledge.
CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux said the following about the proposed long-term American support for the nations affected by the tsunamis on the December 30 edition of CNN's American Morning:
He [President Bush] pledged that it would be much more than the $35 million initially offered by the United States. He also said he was working the phones, calling the leaders of those most affected by the disaster -- India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Indonesia.