CNN's Malveaux failed to challenge DeLay's assertion that Bush "held the line on spending"


During a CNN interview about the effect of Karl Rove's resignation, Suzanne Malveaux did not challenge Tom DeLay's claim that "[t]he president held the line on spending," despite the fact that, even though President Bush assumed office with a $125.3 billion surplus, the Bush administration has run a deficit in every fiscal year of the Bush presidency. Additionally, Malveaux did not note Rove's reported assertion that his "biggest error" of the 2006 election cycle was "not working soon enough to replace Republicans tainted by scandal," or point out that DeLay himself remained in the House for several months following his indictment on money laundering and conspiracy charges.

During an interview with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) on the August 14 edition of CNN's The Situation Room about the effect of Karl Rove's resignation as White House deputy chief of staff, CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux did not challenge DeLay's claim that "[t]he president held the line on spending and was very good at it." In fact, as Media Matters for America has noted, on August 10, 2005, Bush signed into law a $286 billion, six-year transportation bill despite his earlier pledge to veto any bill that exceeded $256 billion. He later raised the limit to $284 billion -- still $2 billion lower than the final cost of the bill. Moreover, according to the Congressional Budget Office's Historical Budget Data, discretionary outlays rose to 7.8 percent of the gross domestic product in 2006, up from 6.3 percent in 1999 and 2000, and 6.5 percent in 2001, under the Clinton administration. As Media Matters has previously documented, Bush assumed office with a $125.3 billion surplus for fiscal year 2001 (which began October 1, 2000). According to the standardized budget, which includes adjustments such as cyclical fluctuations, the government has run a deficit in every fiscal year of Bush's presidency, including $318 billion in 2005 and $248 billion in 2006. Nevertheless, Bush did not veto a single spending bill during the first six years of his administration, a period in which the House was controlled by Republicans and during which the Senate was controlled by Republicans for all but 18 months.

Additionally, Malveaux did not ask DeLay about Rove's reported assertion (subscription required) regarding the 2006 election, in which Democrats regained control of the House and Senate, that, as Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot paraphrased, his "biggest error" was "not working soon enough to replace Republicans tainted by scandal," even though DeLay himself remained in the House of Representatives for several months following his indictment on money laundering and conspiracy charges. Malveaux also did not mention DeLay's indictment.

From Gigot's August 13 commentary discussing his interview with Rove:

A big debate among Republicans these days is who bears more blame for 2006 -- Messrs. Bush and Rove, or the behavior of the GOP Congress. Mr. Rove has no doubt. "The sense of entitlement was there" among Republicans, he says, "and people smelled it." Yet even with a unified Democratic Party and the war, he argues, it was "a really close election." The GOP lost the Senate by its 3,562 vote margin of defeat in Montana, and in the House the combined margin in the 15 seats that cost control was 85,000 votes.

A prominent non-Beltway Republican recently gave me a different analysis, arguing that the White House made a disastrous decision to "nationalize" the election last autumn; this played into Democratic hands and cost numerous seats.

"I disagree," Mr. Rove replies. "The election was nationalized. It was always going to be about Iraq and the conduct of Republicans." He says Republican Chris Shays and Independent-Democrat Joe Lieberman survived in Connecticut despite supporting the war, while Republicans who were linked to corruption or were complacent lost. His biggest error, Mr. Rove says, was in not working soon enough to replace Republicans tainted by scandal.

DeLay was indicted on charges of conspiracy to violate the Texas election code on September 28, 2005, and on money laundering and conspiracy charges on October 3, 2005. A December 6, 2005, New York Times article reported that an appellate judge "left standing charges of money laundering and conspiracy to launder money" against DeLay and his two alleged co-conspirators, "Republican fund-raisers John D. Colyandro and James W. Ellis," but threw out a separate charge against the three of conspiracy to violate the election code. The state appealed the decision, and on June 27, 2007, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (the state's highest court for criminal cases), in a 5-4 vote, upheld the decision to throw out the election code conspiracy charges, the subject of the September 2005 indictment. Despite his indictment in 2005, DeLay waited until April 4, 2006, to announce his resignation from the House and served his last day on June 9, 2006.

As Media Matters has noted, the media, including CNN and The Politico, have a record of ignoring DeLay's indictment despite the seeming relevance of the issue to their reports.

From the August 14 edition of CNN's The Situation Room:

MALVEAUX: As we know, Karl Rove resigned yesterday, announcing that he was stepping down -- clearly, a good friend of yours, a good colleague. About a year ago, he said he was considering, with the president -- they sat down and talked about the right time for him to leave.

Around that time, as well, there have been a lot of things that have not worked well for Karl Rove: the CIA leak investigation -- found to be one of the leakers, not legally charged, obviously -- and losing control of Congress to the Democrats. Was there a point where he was more of a political liability to the administration?

DeLAY: Well, Suzanne, you can't put all that on Karl Rove.

I think we all had a part to play in the losses in 2006. And Karl Rove -- this whole CIA leak thing has proven to be nothing. No one was charged with a crime. Libby was found guilty of something that had nothing to do with the crime of leaking the identity of a CIA operative.

MALVEAUX: But one of the things that some White House officials were saying at the time is that he had become a distraction, that perhaps he wasn't charged with anything -- obviously, you're right -- but that he had become somewhat of a distraction.

DeLAY: Well, that's the strategy of the Democrats. This whole criminalization of politics, that's the new level of politics now that the Democrats have exhibited.

They can't beat you at the ballot box, so they try to beat you in a jury box. They have no ideas and no agenda, so they try to destroy you and put you in jail. That's the new strategy of the Democrats.

And Karl Rove, being the strong individual that he is, stood up to them, stood for what's right and what's good for the country and for his president.


MALVEAUX: Want to go -- quick wrap-up here -- back to Karl Rove: obviously, a lot on his plate. He was really at the center of a lot that happened at the White House.

But, also, immigration reform died. Social Security reform died. What kind of grade would you give Rove walking out of the White House?

DeLAY: Well, you have got to point to successes, too, you know.

MALVEAUX: Obviously.

DeLAY: The president held the line on spending and was very good at it. The president cut taxes without one Democrat vote and spurred this economy.

Posted In
Economy, Budget, Government, Ethics
Suzanne Malveaux
The Situation Room
Tom DeLay Scandal
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