Media outlets largely focused on criticizing Vice President Joe Biden's demeanor during the October 11 vice presidential debate, ignoring the substantive arguments being addressed in the discussion. Meanwhile, fact-checkers were busy pointing out the inaccuracies in Congressman Paul Ryan's claims.
Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer obscured Mitt Romney's stance on abortion by claiming that his October 10 remarks about pursuing a pro-life agenda as president do not contradict his earlier suggestion that he would not enact abortion legislation if elected. In fact, Romney's October 10 statements were "an abrupt about-face" that dovetailed with his long history of shifting his stance on abortion.
Fox News regular Stephen Moore, a Wall Street Journal editorial board member, today argued in favor of Mitt Romney's stated plan to end federal funding for PBS, by claiming that Sesame Street character Big Bird "has made more money than a lot of Wall Street firms." In fact, records show that the show's production company loses money annually.
As a Slate article explained in January, "Sesame Street and its production company the Sesame Workshop do make a lot of money from product licensing, but not nearly enough to cover expenses." Indeed, according to the company's most recent available federal tax returns, Sesame Workshop lost $6 million in 2010: Total revenue that year was about $133 million, but expenses added up to more than $139 million.
Though that may seem like a significant figure for a children's program, Sesame Street is a "relative bargain" compared to other TV shows. As Slate noted, "The production budget for Sesame Street domestically is about $16 or $17 million per year, which produces about 26 episodes." This works out to less than a million dollars per episode, whereas "a cable show like The Walking Dead can cost $3 million per episode," reported Slate.
According to a recent audit of the program, the remaining revenue Sesame Workshop gains is spent on expenses such as "education, research and outreach," "Sesame Street in schools," and content distribution.
The New York Times reported that to make up for the losses, PBS hopes prime-time hits like Downton Abbey and Sherlock, which attract significantly more donations, will in turn help "finance other programs like 'Sesame Street.'"
But on Fox News' Your World, Moore cheered Romney's decision to end PBS' federal funding, saying that "Big Bird is big enterprise in fact." He went on to argue that "people who listen to it, and watch it, and like the programming, they should pay for it," adding:
MOORE: My feeling is look, if people like Warren Buffet and people like, you know, people like Ted Turner feel that this is such an important programing, why shouldn't they pay for it?
In fact, people who think the programming is important and want to keep it on-air already do pay for it.
Media figures are creating false balance in their coverage of the presidential debate by claiming both candidates lied. But the statements from President Obama they are pointing to are true.
John Fund of National Review and Jonathan Karl of ABC News both used factual statements made by President Obama as examples to claim that he "stretched the truth" during the October 3 presidential debate. Fund cited Obama's comments about the power of an advisory board created by the health care reform law, while Karl pointed to Obama's statement that he has proposed a $4 trillion deficit reduction plan. In fact, both statements by President Obama during the debate were true, and have been supported by independent fact-checkers.
As a guest on CBS' Face the Nation Fund claimed "both candidates, I think, told things that stretched the truth." Fund specifically criticized Obama for saying in the debate that the Independent Payments Advisory Board instituted by the health reform law "wasn't going to make any decisions on treatment." According to Fund, that board "has unilateral power, unless Congress overrides it with a supermajority, to basically tell all doctors and hospitals this is how much money you have to treat people. That is incredible power. That is effectively the power to ration health care. So I think the President was stretching the truth in a big part of Obamacare."
During the debate, President Obama disputed Mitt Romney's statement that the health reform law "put in place a board that can tell people ultimately what treatments they're going to receive." Obama described the advisory board as "a group of health care experts, doctors, et cetera" who work "to figure out, how can we reduce the cost of care in the system overall? ... [W]hat this board does is basically identifies best practices and says, let's use the purchasing power of Medicare and Medicaid to help to institutionalize all these good things that we do."
Obama's description is accurate. The health reform law forbids the board from submitting "any recommendation to ration health care ... or otherwise restrict benefits," and multiple fact-checkers have made clear the board "wouldn't make any health care decisions for individual Americans" and "cannot by law make recommendations about what treatments people get." Instead, according to Politifact, "it would make broad policy decisions that affect Medicare's overall cost."
Media figures have rushed to discredit the newly released jobs numbers, claiming that the drop in the unemployment rate to 7.8 percent has been manufactured to help President Obama's reelection chances. In fact, experts dismiss the claims as unfounded conspiracy theories and agree that the numbers are accurate.
Conservative media have a history of dismissing newly released jobs numbers, claiming the government "cooks the books" and "manipulates" the numbers to paint a favorable picture of the Obama administration. In fact, conservatives base their attacks on discredited and faulty claims, and no hard evidence exists to suggest the government's numbers are manipulated.
Fox News repeated the conservative myth that there is an emerging "culture of dependency" and a "culture of entitlement" because of the supposed notion that people would rather collect food stamp benefits than work. In fact, most beneficiaries of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are working-class Americans who already have jobs, and most leave the program after one year.
Media figures cheered Republican Mitt Romney's performance in the first presidential debate, claiming he offered specifics and an economic plan to contrast with that of President Obama. In fact, independent analysis shows Romney provided vague details at best.
Daily Caller editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson put aside his past reverence of Newt Gingrich to lash out at Gingrich's criticism over the Caller's so-called "bombshell video" showing then-Sen. Barack Obama talking about race issues in front of African-American clergy members in 2007. Carlson and others hyping the five-year-old video claimed it was evidence of "divisive class warfare and racially-charged rhetoric."
During an appearance on Fox News' America Live, while attempting to defend his decision to release the video, Carlson was made aware of Gingrich's criticism. Carlson responded: "Who cares what Newt Gingrich said?"
Gingrich yesterday discounted the video, agreeing that Obama's record as president has a "far greater impact" on the election. Gingrich said: "I don't think this particular speech is definitive."
Other conservatives have also questioned the video's importance, saying the 2007 speech holds little significance in the current presidential race.
Carlson's dismissive response is in contrast with his past comments praising Gingrich. In 2009, he referred to Gingrich as "the soul" of the GOP and "the intellectual center of the Republican Party -- the smartest, most energetic guy." More recently, Carlson praised Gingrich for the "great job" he did calling Obama the "food stamp president."
Right-wing media are offering GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney advice for the upcoming presidential debate. They suggest Romney should push economic myths to attack Obama's record, "smack the president," and get under Obama's skin.