Damage control: Fox News reacts to latest CBO estimate

Blog ››› ››› BEN DIMIERO

For the past few days, our political media has been waiting with bated breath for the latest CBO score of the health care bill (or, as Glenn Beck calls it, "a bloodstream disease" that "will be incurable.")

Well, the numbers finally came in this morning, and the news is good for Democrats and those who support health care reform. Here's Ezra Klein reporting the estimate:

According to a Democratic source, CBO has finished its work and will release the official preliminary score later today. But here are the basic numbers: The bill will cost $940 billion over the first 10 years and reduce the deficit by $130 billion during that period. In the second 10 years -- so, 2020 to 2029 -- it will reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion. The legislation will cover 32 million Americans, or 95 percent of the legal population.

To put this in context, that's more deficit reduction than either the House or Senate bill, and more coverage than the Senate bill.

Uh-oh -- that's not going to go over well with Fox News. So, how did they cover it?

In breaking the news of the score, Bill Hemmer (and the Fox chyron) stressed the $940 billion "cost" of the bill over the first ten years. He vaguely mentioned the deficit reductions by saying that the CBO "talks about reducing the deficit over a period of ten years, and compares that to reducing the deficit over a period of twenty years."

Hemmer was careful not to mention specific numbers, likely due to fear of giving Fox viewers accurate information that might derail a lot of the Fox fearmongering about reform. Unfortunately for Hemmer, his guest Juan Williams then read the numbers on air. Hemmer's reaction? Asking Williams if he "believe[s]" that. No, really:

The damage control continued later in the hour, when Hemmer discussed Democrats' reaction to the bill. He introduced a statement by Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC), who described the Democrats as "giddy" over the estimated deficit reductions. Hemmer's reaction to this uncomfortable reality belongs in the Fox News Hall of Fame:

So, Rep. Clyburn discusses how the Democrats are giddy over the deficit reductions in the bill, which Hemmer ignores to assert they are happy about the $940 billion "price tag." That's not what he was referencing, Bill!

As an aside, it should be noted how blatantly dishonest Fox's focus on the "cost" of the bill is. The bill could "cost" $5 billion dollars or "cost" $5 trillion dollars - the net impact on the deficit is a more accurate assessment.

How many ways can Fox obscure the deficit reductions in the bill in order to stress the $940 billion "cost"? This should be fun to watch over the course of the day...

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