Drudge And Fox News Push False Attack Against Disaster Relief Bill In Wake Of Hurricane Sandy

Matt Drudge, Fox News, and The New York Post misrepresented the content of a bill to provide federal aid for the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in order to claim the bill is a “scam” that is “filled with holiday goodies unrelated to storm damage.” In fact, less than 0.3 percent of the spending identified is unrelated to Sandy, and that spending is largely allocated to separate disasters.

The Senate is scheduled to begin debate on Monday on a $60.4 billion bill that provides funding for the after-effects of Hurricane Sandy. Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his Democratic colleagues in New York and Connecticut, Governors Andrew Cuomo and Dannel Malloy, have endorsed a bill of this size, but some congressional Republicans have reportedly balked at the bill, saying it is too large or that its spending should be offset by spending cuts in other areas.

Drudge hyped a New York Post article claiming the bill is “filled with holiday goodies unrelated to storm damage.” Fox News Fox & Friends aired a graphic titled “Sandy Scam,” which listing six spending items:

Fox Sandy Scam List

Aside from money for fisheries, which represents about 0.2 percent of the spending in the bill, the White House has said that each of the items identified by Fox and the Post -- $42 million for U.S. military bases, including the base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, $5.2 million for the Justice Department, $4 million for the Kennedy Space Center, $3.5 million for Homeland Security, and $2 million for the Smithsonian Institution in DC -- is directly related to Sandy. The fisheries money is slated to provide aid in wake of other disasters.

For instance, the White House request for money for military bases specifically states that it “would provide $41.2 million in response to Hurricane Sandy to fund repairs of damaged facilities and equipment as well as debris removal.”

The White House request for the Kennedy Space Center states: “This request would provide $4 million to repair damaged and eroded sand berms and dunes that protect launch sites at Wallops Flight Facility and Kennedy Space Center, due to Hurricane Sandy.”

According to the Senate Appropriations Committee, the bill also includes "$150 million for fishery disasters declared by the Secretary of Commerce in 2012." The Commerce Department has declared fishery disasters in New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and Alaska, and the money will be available to deal with the disasters in all of these states. Furthermore, Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski has stated that she strongly supports the inclusion of fishery disaster money in the draft bill.