WashPost, please define "modest"

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

The paper continues to take an overtly political stance with its coverage of the just-announced Obama budget. Yesterday we noted that unlike most other news orgs, the Post, right in its headline, announced that Obama's proposed budget cuts were "modest," and the entire article seemed to flow from GOP talking points about the WH was not cutting enough spending.

Today, the Post hits that angle again on A1, and hard [emphasis added]:

President Obama's modest proposal to slice $17 billion from 121 government programs quickly ran into a buzz saw of opposition on Capitol Hill yesterday, as an array of Democratic lawmakers vowed to fight White House efforts to deprive their favorite initiatives of federal funds.

The implication is clear: Obama didn't even ask for that many cuts and already Dems are complaining. Indeed, the Post stressed that the "proposed reductions represent just one-half of 1 percent of next year's budget," and dismissed the cuts as "small."

Keep in mind, the Post didn't have to quote Republicans as saying those things. The daily simply asserted that as fact, which saved Republicans the time of having to say it themselves. But what's interesting is that in Thursday article, the Post pointed out that Obama's small cuts were about the same as the cuts Bush asked for in his 2008 budget. So. if you went back and looked at the newspaper's coverage of Bush's 2008 proposed cuts, those articles would read just like the Post's Obama budget articles, right? Since both president's asked for similarly "small" savings.

Wrong. I went back and read the early 2008 Post coverage of Bush's announced budget and couldn't find references to how "modest" or "small" the suggested cuts were. And certainly couldnt' find references in consecutive front-page Post articles. But in 2009, when a Democrat put forward a proposal similar to Bush's, suddenly the Post wants to tell readers how inadequate it is.

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