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.
On Fox News' On the Record, Sean Hannity falsely identified "a Frisbee golf course" as an example of an earmark in the economic recovery bill. In fact, there is no earmark for "a Frisbee golf course" in either the House or Senate version of the bill, which both specifically prohibit using funds in the bill for a "golf course." The Senate version also prohibits using funds for a "community park."
On its website and on Your World, Fox News has promoted the misrepresentation of a provision in the economic recovery bill to make false claims about restrictions on spending in the bill for religious activities in schools. In fact, the provision is nearly identical to provisions included in numerous other federal bills.
On his radio and television shows, Sean Hannity again claimed that "[n]o other speaker had" a military plane "before" Nancy Pelosi and that she is the "first speaker to ever have that plane." In fact, following 9-11, the House sergeant-at-arms, the Defense Department, and the White House agreed that military planes should be made available to the speaker of the House for national security reasons, and the first speaker to use such a plane was Dennis Hastert in 2001.
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.
Fox News' Greta Van Susteren allowed Sen. Lindsey Graham to advance the myth that the economic recovery legislation would "reward ACORN." In fact, neither the House version nor the proposed Senate version mentions ACORN. The false claim is based on a misrepresentation of a provision that would appropriate $4.19 billion for neighborhood stabilization activities, but which would be distributed through competitive processes; ACORN has denied that it is eligible, or plans to apply, for those funds.
While criticizing President Obama for saying that the economy is currently doing poorly, Steve Doocy purported to contrast what Obama has said with FDR's famous statement that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." In fact, in the very speech in which Roosevelt made that remark, he said of the economy at the time, "Values have shrunk to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income." Roosevelt later added: "Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment."
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.
The Wall Street Journal's John Fund falsely claimed that "Hong Kong has had a flat tax for over 50 years and has had the fastest economic growth of any country in the world over that period of time." In fact, Hong Kong's system for taxing salaries features multiple tax brackets, with differing marginal rates for different levels of income.
Discussing the economic recovery bill, Sean Hannity falsely claimed that the Congressional Budget Office "say[s] it's not a stimulus bill." However, in analyzing the House and Senate versions of the bill, the CBO stated it expects that either version "would have a noticeable impact on economic growth and employment in the next few years."
On his Fox News program, Glenn Beck reported as true the idea floated on Forbes.com that a program the Obama administration is reportedly considering should be called the "Bad Asset Repository Fund." Without noting that the reported program has not in fact been named, Beck then ridiculed the creators of the nonexistent name for failing to recognize that the acronym is "BARF."
On Forbes on Fox, Forbes national editor Mike Ozanian declared that the Employee Free Choice Act "should be called the anti-free choice, pro-slavery bill," and Ozanian, host David Asman, and others advanced a common distortion employed by opponents of the legislation -- that it would, in the words of on-screen text that ran during the segment, "Ban Secret Votes at Work." In fact, the bill would not "ban" secret-ballot elections; rather, it would take away employers' right to insist on holding a secret-ballot election to determine whether workers favored unionization.
Fox News' Bret Baier asserted that Rep. David Obey is "under fire" because the economic stimulus bill provides more than $2 billion for the National Park Service, "the industry for which his son lobbies," and cited a Washington Times article reporting that, in Baier's words, "a spokeswoman for Congressman Obey's office says nepotism was not a factor." But Baier did not mention that the Times article also reported the spokeswoman saying the funding for parks "was included at the request of [Rep.] Norm Dicks." Nor did Baier note that Dicks has repeatedly made similar appropriations requests for national parks in previous appropriations bills.
On Fox News, Carl Cameron and Laura Ingraham repeated or uncritically reported the false Republican claim -- originating in an AP article -- that, in Cameron's words, the economic stimulus bill would allow "illegal aliens" to claim "tax credits of $500 per person or 1,000 per couple." Cameron and Ingraham advanced the falsehood even after a revised version of the AP article made clear that the bill excludes undocumented immigrants.