Conservative media are selectively and deceptively quoting from an exchange between CNN's Dana Bash Senate and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) to make it appear as if he dismissed the plight of cancer-stricken children being denied access to clinical trials due to the shutdown of the federal government. In fact, Reid said that legislators should fully fund the government, rather than force different groups to fight over funding.
Specifically, conservatives are claiming that Reid replied to a reporter's question, "If you can help one child with cancer, why wouldn't you?" by saying "why would we want to do that?" In fact, Reid was responding to Sen. Chuck Schumer, who had interjected, saying "why pit one against the other?"
On October 1, the federal government was shut down after conservative Republicans refused to pass legislation funding operations unless that funding was tied to the defunding or delay of Obamacare. As part of an effort to avoid political damage from that unpopular decision, House Republicans have called for piecemeal bills that would fund some parts of the federal government, including the National Institutes of Health and national parks.
During a Senate press conference today, CNN's Dana Bash asked Reid if he would support a bill that would reinstate funding to the National Institutes of Health, including a program providing access to clinical trials for children with cancer.
In response, Reid decried the idea that legislators can "pick and choose" which parts of the government should be funded, reiterating his desire for legislation to fully fund the federal government without strings attached.
After that Bash asked, "if you can help one child who has cancer, why wouldn't you do it?"
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) responded to her question by asking "why pit one against the other?" and Reid chimed in, "why would we want to do that? I have 1,100 people at Nellis Air Force base that are sitting home. They have a few problems of their own."
In the conservative Free Beacon's write up of the exchange, Schumer's question has not been included, leaving the false impression that Reid is responding to Bash's question about helping a child with cancer. House Speaker John Boehner's website has provided a similarly false transcript of the exchange, including only Bash's question and Reid replying, "Why would we do that?"
Several media conservatives have repeated the Beacon's false version of events.
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough:
Commentary editor John Podhoretz:
Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt:
Washington Examiner columnist David Freddoso:
Townhall political editor and Fox News contributor Guy Benson:
HotAir editor and Fox News contributor Mary Katharine Ham: