How bad is WH reporting?

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

Let Sheryl Gay Stolberg at the New York Times provide today's answer. (Hint: It's really bad):

On the theory that every little bit helps, Mr. Obama convened the first cabinet meeting of his presidency on Monday and said that in an effort to make the government "as efficient as possible" and to ensure that "every taxpayer dollar is being spent wisely," he was challenging department heads and agency chiefs to come up with ways to save $100 million over the next 90 days.

Budget analysts promptly burst out laughing. A reporter declared at the White House briefing that the initiative would become fodder for late-night talk show hosts. The Republican Study Committee, a group of fiscal conservatives, put out a news release with the headline "Obama's 0.0025% spending cut."

The key is that second paragraph, so let's walk through it and see how dreadful the journalism is being produced at the WH.

A) You'll note Stolberg used the plural in her reporting, claiming "analysts" were "laughing" at the Obama plan. Yet Stolberg only quoted one analyst in the entire article and that analyst is a conservative from the hyper-partisan Heritage Foundation. So to be accurate, Stolberg should have reported, "A Republican budget analyst" promptly burst out laughing. (Even though there's no evidence he did.) Instead of doing that, Stolberg just made stuff up about lots of analysts ridiculing the Obama plan.

B) Who cares if a WH reporter predicted late-night comedians might make fun of the initiative? I mean that literally; who cares? And on what planet would that kind of pointless WH press room chatter possibly qualify as news? Just amazing.

C) The GOP press release gives away the whole story. i.e. Odds are it was their mocking press release that set in motion the WH press chatter about the $100 million initiative (all the cool kids in the press room thought it was lame), which then lead to Stolberg making stuff up about "analysts" laughing at Obama and turning that into her belittling lead.

Behold your liberal media.

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