LA Times repeated GOP claims blaming Pelosi's speech for bailout failure without noting contrary evidence
Research ››› ››› ANDREW WALZER
The Los Angeles Times reported that "Republican leaders said they lost 12 votes at the last minute" for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 because of a "partisan speech" given by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and quoted House Minority Leader John Boehner asserting that "we could have gotten there today had it not been for this partisan speech that the speaker gave." However, the Times did not note statements by members of Congress, including Republicans, that Republicans did not have the votes to pass the legislation.
In a September 30 Los Angeles Times article, staff writers Maura Reynolds, Richard Simon, and Nicole Gaouette uncritically reported that "Republican leaders said they lost 12 votes at the last minute" for the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 because of a "partisan speech" given by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) despite statements by members of Congress, including Republicans, who dismissed that notion.
In a September 29 post to the Politico blog The Crypt, Ryan Grim reported that Republican Rep. Darrell Issa (CA), a "lead opponent" of the bill, dismissed claims that Pelosi's speech changed votes:
"To be honest, somebody finding out that Nancy Pelosi made a partisan speech? I'm shocked," said Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), a lead opponent of the bailout package, who tells the Crypt that the idea that her speech shifted votes is "nonsense."
Additionally, in a September 29 article (registration required), Roll Call reported:
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) threw cold water on a key rationale House Republican leaders have been employing this afternoon to explain why they couldn't deliver more GOP votes for the Wall Street bailout package.
At a Monday afternoon press conference, GOP leaders argued that Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) cost the measure a dozen Republican votes by delivering an overly partisan floor speech in support of it.
But Bachmann, speaking at a Republican Study Committee press conference, told reporters, "I want to assure you that was not the case. We are not babies who suck our thumbs. We have very principled reasons for voting no."
Bachmann was responding to comments Democratic leaders made dismissing the GOP leaders' claims. But she apparently confused the Democratic response with the initial charge by Republicans, and her comments mirrored those of the Democratic leaders.
Since the publication of the Times article, on the September 30 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, Rep. John Shadegg (R-AZ) asserted that Pelosi's speech "didn't move any votes." Shadegg responded to host Joe Scarborough's question, "Well, Boehner said it moved votes. Is Boehner wrong?" by stating: "Yeah. I think their feelings were hurt. It was embarrassing for the leadership of both parties to lose the bill, so they went out and made a stupid claim, but I don't know a single person who changed their vote on the basis of that or would have."
Furthermore, Fox News senior House producer Chad Pergram reported nearly an hour before Pelosi's speech began that he was "hearing from the Republican side of the aisle, they may only have 40 to 60 of their members" supporting the bill, a number that Pergram noted "leaves us very short there." Sixty-five Republicans and 140 Democrats ultimately voted for the bill -- 12 votes short of the number needed for passage.
In addition, The Washington Post's Jonathan Weisman reported that while Republican leaders "initially blamed Pelosi," they "backed away within hours, conceding they never had the votes they had promised":
In the thick of the presidential campaign, the collapse of the deal left Washington buzzing with recriminations. Republicans -- from Sen. John McCain's top economic aide to the House GOP leadership -- initially blamed Pelosi, saying her floor speech castigating Bush administration "policies built on budgetary recklessness, on an anything-goes mentality, with no regulation, no supervision, and no discipline in the system" poisoned the atmosphere and invited partisan retribution.
In truth, few Republicans were on the floor to hear that speech, and those who were there showed no signs of discomfort, as they often do. Republican leaders backed away within hours, conceding they never had the votes they had promised.
In comments made after the vote on the bill, Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) accused Republicans who blamed Pelosi of "covering up the embarrassment of not having the votes" needed to pass the bill:
QUESTION: At the Republican press conference, Leader Boehner [inaudible] and Minority Whip [Roy] Blunt [R-MO] specifically pointed to your speech on the floor, saying that they thought they had an extra dozen Republican votes, and [inaudible] your speech and said this is the reason why they lost [inaudible]. Could you address that?
FRANK: I will address that. I am appalled. Frankly, that's an accusation against my Republican colleagues I would never have thought of making.
Here's the story: There's a terrible crisis affecting the American economy. We have come together on a bill to alleviate the crisis. And because somebody hurt their feelings, they decide to punish the country. I mean, I would not have imputed that degree of pettiness and hypersensitivity.
I mean, we also have, as the leader will tell you, who's been working with them, we don't believe they have the votes, and I think they are covering up the embarrassment of not having the votes.
But think about this: Somebody hurt my feelings so I will punish the country. I mean, that's hardly plausible. And there are 12 Republican members who were ready to stand up for the economic interests of America, but not if anybody insulted them. I'll make -- I'll make an offer. Give me those 12 people's names, and I will go talk uncharacteristically nicely to them and tell them what wonderful people they are, and maybe they'll now think about the country.
From the Los Angeles Times article:
Republican leaders said they lost 12 votes at the last minute and blamed what they described as a partisan speech by Pelosi.
"I do believe that we could have gotten there today had it not been for this partisan speech that the speaker gave on the floor of the House," Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) said. "We put everything we had into getting the votes to get there today."
In the speech, Pelosi said the bailout was a result of the Bush administration's failed economic policies, which she described as being "built on budgetary recklessness, on an anything-goes mentality, with no regulation, no supervision, and no discipline in the system.
"Democrats believe in the free market, which can and does create jobs, wealth and capital," she said. "But left to its own devices, it has created chaos."