How Fox News deceives its viewers: Brookings and home buyer credit edition

Yesterday, the U.S. Senate voted to renew the government's $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers. Fox News' America's Newsroom - mind you, one of the channel's very serious and straight news programs - bashed the program by claiming it's so inefficient, even liberals oppose it:

STU VARNEY: Question, is it effective, and at what price? I'm going to quote for you the Brookings Institution study. Now, Brookings is left of center, they would normally be in favor of this kind of government program. They found that if you look at the houses which were really sold because of this home buyer credit, it cost $43,000 per home. Repeat, $43,000 per home.

That figure, by the way, is from Brookings* economic studies co-director Ted Gayer, who:

  • Served in the Treasury Department under Bush.
  • Served on Bush's Council of Economic Advisors.
  • Was appointed to EPA committee posts by Bush.
  • Worked for the American Enterprise Institute

So in other words, your typical liberal policy wonk.

Now, you can certainly argue for and against the tax credit. (For what it's worth, the Senate voted to renew the program 98-0 - something left unmentioned by Varney.) But remember how Varney presented his criticism of the program: 'Hey viewer, I have ammunition against this big government program and it's even more powerful because it's from the liberals!'

Viewer deception, of course, is nothing new for Fox News hosts and reporters.

*Brookings has been ideologically described in a variety of ways - liberal, centrist, conservative - by news outlets. Indeed, Fox News' Shepard Smith has called Brookings “conservative leaning” (Studio B, 6/1/09). The L.A. Times wrote in response to the diverse ways it describes Brookings, “we should probably not be labeling” Brookings.