Fox News advanced a talking point in its Monday morning’s programming blaming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) for supposedly blocking coronavirus relief aid — when in fact, it has been Republicans who have insisted on a smaller package for months.
The New York Times reported last week that President-elect Joe Biden’s team had pushed for congressional Democrats to agree to a smaller $908 billion package, which Biden has publicly called a “down payment” on further relief efforts that he believes are needed. According to the Times, “Even a smaller, more immediate deal would fund an imminent distribution of a vaccine — a prospect that emerged after the election — and leave open the possibility for another relief package under a Biden administration.” Biden also still supports proposals for $1,200 stimulus checks.
Forbes also noted last week that Pelosi had supported proposals including direct stimulus for months — while McConnell and other Republicans have been the ones opposing them: “One reason stimulus checks are on the chopping block? Time is running out. … Simply put: Democratic leaders so far appear willing to sacrifice some spending items in order to get more fiscally-conservative Senate Republicans on board and pass something this month.”
In addition, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had reportedly told the White House to wait until after the election for a stimulus package, on the grounds that efforts to strike a larger $1.8 trillion deal would split Senate Republicans from their main priority at the time: the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
But on Fox’s programming Monday, the message was that Democrats were blocking aid.
“[Pelosi] didn't care about people who were actually suffering out there. The Republicans were trying to just give stimulus money direct to suffering people,” New York Post columnist Miranda DeVine said during an appearance on Fox & Friends. “She was playing politics with it. And I think the only reason that she was negative before about bills that were twice as big as this one, and that’s OK now, is because she wanted people to suffer. Because she calculated, cold bloodedly that that was going to play better for the Democrats in the election, and it was going to damage Donald Trump. And, in fact, she’s the one who’s really been damaged.”
Just to be clear: Direct stimulus money has been the Democratic proposal, which Republicans have forced Democrats into jettisoning for now.
On Fox’s purported “straight news” programming, Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo hosted former acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, who alleged: “The true answer is probably, she didn't pass a piece of legislation before the election, because she thought it was not good for her politically. Now she's looking her hands over and thinking maybe she'd get an advantage, say, in the Georgia Senate race, if she passes a piece of legislation right now. So I think it's politics driving everything.”
In a later segment on America’s Newsroom about lockdowns in California, Fox News contributor Byron York also blamed the situation solely on Pelosi:
In a later segment, Smith and Bartiromo supported claims by Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) in a debate last night for the Georgia Senate runoffs, blaming Democrats for the aid being blocked. “Unfortunately, politics has gotten involved in everything, so it’s here as well,” said Bartiromo, referring back to her earlier interview with Mulvaney. “This has a much bigger impact, because so many people are hurting out there, and we are still in the middle of this pandemic.”