NYT advances false claim that recovery bill contains spending for "marsh-mouse preservation"

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

In a New York Times article, Sheryl Gay Stolberg reported that Newt Gingrich "sees the stimulus bill as his party's ticket to a revival in 2010, as Republicans decry what they see as pork-barrel spending for projects like marsh-mouse preservation." However, Stolberg did not note that the oft-repeated Republican claim is false; the bill does not contain any language directing funds to the salt marsh harvest mouse, or its San Francisco wetlands habitat, a fact that the House Republican leadership aide who reportedly originated the claim has reportedly acknowledged.

In a February 22 New York Times article, reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg wrote that Fox News contributor and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) "sees the stimulus bill as his party's ticket to a revival in 2010, as Republicans decry what they see as pork-barrel spending for projects like marsh-mouse preservation. 'You can imagine the fun people will have with that,' he said." However, Stolberg did not note that the oft-repeated Republican claim is false. As Media Matters for America has noted, the bill does not contain any language directing funds to the salt marsh harvest mouse, or its San Francisco wetlands habitat, a fact that the House Republican leadership aide who reportedly originated the claim has reportedly acknowledged.

As Media Matters noted, Gingrich previously falsely claimed during the February 17 edition of Fox News' Hannity that the recovery bill directs "$30 million to save a mouse in San Francisco."

After writing that "there isn't any such money in the bill" for the mouse, The Plum Line blogger Greg Sargent wrote on February 12 that the claim originated in an email from a "House Republican leadership staffer" who, when contacted by Sargent, "conceded that the claim by conservative media that the mouse money is currently in the bill is a misstatement." San Jose Mercury News staff writer Paul Rogers subsequently reported on February 13 that Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH), originated the claim and said that "[t]here is no language in the bill that says this money will go to this project."

As Media Matters has noted, media outlets such as Fox News, Fox Business Network, The Washington Times, and CNN have advanced the falsehood that the recovery bill contains language directing funds to the salt marsh harvest mouse, or its San Francisco wetlands habitat.

From the February 22 New York Times article:

Mr. Gingrich scoffs at the notion of the "loyal opposition."

"You are loyal to the nation," he said, "not the temporary possessor of power. I think any president deserves the opportunity to make a proposal, and that proposal should be listened to seriously. But it is foolish for a president to assert that they have prime ministerial authority."

Besides, there are political gains to be made by standing tough. Mr. Gingrich sees the stimulus bill as his party's ticket to a revival in 2010, as Republicans decry what they see as pork-barrel spending for projects like marsh-mouse preservation. "You can imagine the fun people will have with that," he said.

But opposition, or obstructionism, can be a risky game. Robert Dallek, a biographer of both John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson, suggested that cooperating with a popular new president can benefit the party out of power. For instance, when Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, Democratic leaders like Johnson and Sam Rayburn stressed the virtues of bipartisanship, fearing that "if they caused Eisenhower grief, the party would pay a price for it," Mr. Dallek said.

Posted In
Economy
Network/Outlet
The New York Times
Person
Newt Gingrich
Stories/Interests
Economic Recovery Plan
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