On the February 22 edition of PBS' The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, David Brooks claimed that "a week ago," Sen. Chuck Schumer and Gov. Jon Corzine did not "kn[ow] a thing" or "care" about port security. Similarly, on the same day, Rush Limbaugh suggested that Schumer and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton had only recently emphasized port security. In fact, Schumer, Corzine, and Clinton have all sponsored or co-sponsored port security legislation and have also frequently spoken out on the subject.
On the February 22 edition of PBS' The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, New York Times columnist David Brooks claimed that "a week ago," Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Gov. Jon Corzine (D-NJ) did not "kn[ow] a thing" or "care" about port security. Similarly, on the February 22 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Rush Limbaugh suggested that Schumer and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) had only recently emphasized port security. In fact, while Brooks and Limbaugh attributed pure political motives to the Democrats' criticism of an agreement in which the Bush administration permitted a company owned by the government of Dubai, a member state of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to manage port terminals in six major U.S. cities, they ignored the fact that Schumer, Corzine, and Clinton have all sponsored or co-sponsored port security legislation and have also frequently spoken out on the subject.
After NewsHour aired a segment in which Schumer and Corzine, among others, criticized the Bush administration's deal with UAE-owned Dubai Ports World, Brooks baselessly accused Schumer and Corzine of "political pandering" by falsely claiming that "a week ago, none of the people we just saw in that report knew a thing about port security or cared anything about port security."
HOLMAN: Several governors of states with affected ports said the deal would raise the risk of terrorism. New Jersey's Jon Corzine is a Democrat.
CORZINE [clip]: It's just incomprehensible to those of us who are concerned for the safety and security of -- of our community.
HOLMAN: New York Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, said he would introduce legislation at least to suspend the transaction.
SCHUMER [clip]: Our legislation will go to the floor, House, Senate, next week, and it's going to pass like a hot knife through butter, I dare say. I can't imagine there being a single vote against it.
BROOKS: I think it's mass hysteria.
LEHRER: Mass hysteria.
BROOKS: I think a week ago, none of the people we just saw in that report knew a thing about port security or cared anything about port security.
LEHRER: Including the president.
BROOKS: Including the president. Listen, this was a thing for experts. And I think what's happened, we've had some nativism, some isolationism, and just mass hysteria and a lot of political pandering.
Similarly, while purporting to identify the "Democrat political scene" on The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh claimed that "the real reason" Schumer and Clinton oppose the port deal is because "they know the last four years they've done a lousy job of making the American people think they have any interest in our national security."
From the February 22 broadcast of The Rush Limbaugh Show:
LIMBAUGH: And I'm also going to tell you the real reason that Chucky Schumer and Hillary Clinton oppose the deal and it isn't national security. They're simply trying to get themselves established as caring about it because they know the last four years they've done a lousy job of making the American people think they have any interest in our national security.
LIMBAUGH: But let me -- let me give you some political -- I've already given you the Democrat political scene on this, and I think they're missing it. I think -- I think, you know, they're -- they're sitting there flexing their muscles saying, "Look at us. We're the ones that care about national security on this issue! We've taken this issue away from President Bush! Why, President Bush has given up on national security. It's our issue now." That's what they think.
But, contrary to Brooks's and Limbaugh's suggestions, the Democrats they cited have a long track record of promoting port security.
As Media Matters for America has documented, Schumer proposed an amendment to the 2004 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill, which would have provided $70 million for research and development to stop nuclear materials from entering U.S. ports. The measure was defeated by a 51-45 near-party-line vote.
As New Jersey senator, Corzine co-sponsored two successful amendments involving port security in 2005: One that provided $150 million for port security grants, and a second requiring the inspector general of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to report to Congress on improvements in the port security grant program, which Corzine described as "an important first step toward safeguarding America's ports." Corzine also emphasized the importance of the 9-11 Commission comprehensively assessing port security when he testified before the Commission in 2003.
In addition to also co-sponsoring the 2005 amendment providing $150 million for port security grants, Clinton co-sponsored an amendment by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) that provided an additional $450 million for such grants, which Clinton and Murray touted in a June 29, 2004, news conference. In a July 12, 2005, news conference, held as the Senate began considering the Homeland Security Appropriations bill, Clinton emphasized that the "President and the Republican leadership have consistently underfunded" port security.