Media figures have claimed or suggested that President-elect Barack Obama is only now admitting that he may have to scale back his campaign agenda as a result of the weak economy. In fact, Obama repeatedly said prior to the November 2008 election that some policies he proposed on the campaign trail might need to be delayed because of economic conditions.
A Washington Post article repeated the Bush administration's assertion that "increased spending on counterterrorism, national security and the military after the Sept. 11 attacks" was an "unavoidable" cause of the large budget deficits the administration has run up since 2001. In fact, much of that spending was for the United States' avoidable war in Iraq, which played no role in the 9-11 attacks.
Fox News' Sean Hannity falsely claimed that President-elect Barack Obama's economic plan gives money to "people that don't pay any taxes," echoing the oft-repeated myth from the presidential campaign that Obama's proposed tax cuts would go to people who don't pay taxes. In fact, Obama has proposed giving the tax credit to "working families," which means they do pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.
Summary: A Wall Street Journal editorial opposing legislation to overturn the Supreme Court decision in Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber ignored the effect of the Ledbetter decision on employees who were unaware for long periods of time that they had received lower pay due to discrimination. As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg stated in her dissent in Ledbetter, a plaintiff's longtime lack of knowledge that discrimination has occurred is not unusual in pay discrimination cases, pointing out that in the case at hand, Goodyear "kept salaries confidential; [and] employees had only limited access to information regarding their colleagues' earnings."
The Washington Post purported to represent organized labor's argument for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act by reporting that "unions contend" employers exert "unfair pressure" on workers before elections. However, the word "pressure" inaccurately describes what the "unions contend" are the tactics used by employers to stop a union from organizing, which include intimidating workers, firing workers, and threatening to shut down factories and businesses.
In his column, MSNBC's Pat Buchanan cherry-picked unemployment figures to assert that the New Deal failed to reduce unemployment and that the program was a "bust," referring to unemployment figures that did not include government-relief employment created by New Deal programs. Buchanan also repeated the false claim that President-elect Barack Obama's proposed tax cuts will benefit "individuals who do not even pay taxes."
In recent days, Fox News anchors and contributors have falsely asserted, repeatedly, that people who don't pay taxes would be eligible for a $500 individual tax credit included in President-elect Barack Obama's proposed economic recovery plan, echoing an oft-repeated myth from the presidential campaign that Obama's proposed tax cuts would go to people who don't pay taxes. In fact, Obama has proposed a tax credit for working Americans, meaning they do pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.
The New York Times uncritically quoted opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act claiming that the bill would "eliminate ... the right" to a secret-ballot election to determine whether workers wish to unionize, but did not mention that supporters of EFCA counter by pointing out, as the Times itself previously has, that the bill would only "take away employers' right to insist on holding a secret-ballot election."
On the January 8 edition of MSNBC's Countdown, Keith Olbermann , echoing recent items by Media Matters for America, highlighted remarks by Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, Michelle Malkin, and Brit Hume:
In his Wall Street Journal column, Karl Rove falsely claimed that Rep. Barney Frank "labeled" President George W. Bush's "proposals" for reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as "inane." In fact, Frank's remark came in response to Bush's assertion that "Congress needs to get [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] reformed" by passing Bush's "robust reform package" before Fannie and Freddie could expand their mortgage portfolios. The New York Times reported that in an interview, Frank "said that the president's comments were 'inane.' 'Tell the Republicans to stop blocking the bill,' Mr. Frank said.''
Rush Limbaugh falsely asserted that Rep. Barney Frank "created the problem" of the subprime mortgage crisis, claiming that Frank's "definition of affordable housing was to make sure that people who couldn't pay the loans back got the loans, the mortgages. He forced Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to do this." In fact, Frank has advocated for policies that emphasize low-income home rentals as opposed to homeownership and supported legislation to strengthen oversight over Fannie and Freddie.
Brit Hume asserted on Your World that "the New Deal -- everybody agrees, I think, on both sides of the spectrum now, that the New Deal failed. The debate is over why it failed," later stating, "President [Franklin] Roosevelt waged what could only be called a jihad against private enterprise." In fact "everybody" doesn't "agree" that the New Deal failed; Nobel laureate Paul Krugman, among others, has said that Roosevelt did not go far enough to end the crisis and that his attempts to balance the budget hindered recovery.
In a column about the "coming war" over the Employee Free Choice Act, Portfolio's Matthew Cooper wrote that "[p]olitical veteran Mark McKinnon, a former media adviser to George W. Bush, says he's 'never seen business this fired up.' " But Cooper did not identify McKinnon as a spokesperson for the Workforce Fairness Institute, an organization opposing the legislation.
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue host David Shuster and Newsweek senior editor Dan Gross blast the conservative media-driven myth that Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal worsened the Great Depression.