Conservative and other media figures -- echoing a reported strategy on the part of Republicans -- have attempted to lay blame for the financial crisis on proponents of the expansion of affordable housing. Those attacks are premised on several myths and falsehoods.
On Hannity & Colmes, The Wall Street Journal's John Fund falsely claimed that ACORN "almost got a slush fund in the housing bailout bill a few weeks ago." In fact, neither the September draft proposal nor the final version of the bill contained any language mentioning ACORN.
On his radio show, Neal Boortz baselessly suggested that Rep. Barney Frank "was protecting Fannie Mae for about seven or eight years in the 1990s because his lover, his boyfriend was working for Fannie Mae, pushing out these subprime mortgage packages." Boortz provided no evidence to support his suggestion that Frank allowed his personal relationship to affect his work in Congress. In fact, Frank repeatedly took actions over the years to strengthen oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
The New York Times uncritically quoted Sen. John McCain saying of Sen. Barack Obama: "[A]s recently as September of last year he said that subprime loans had been, quote, a good idea." The article did not mention that McCain was distorting Obama's comments from a September 2007 speech, as several media outlets -- including the Times -- noted when McCain previously made the same accusation against Obama.
On The O'Reilly Factor and in a FoxNews.com article, Bill Sammon suggested that Rep. Barney Frank allowed his relationship in the 1990s with Herb Moses, a Fannie Mae official at the time, to improperly influence his conduct as a member of the House Financial Services Committee. However, in his article, Sammon cited only an anonymous Republican congressional staffer and a member of the conservative Media Research Center. Sammon also misrepresented Frank's record by reporting that Frank "spent years blocking GOP lawmakers from imposing tougher regulations" on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac without noting that during the period in question, Frank supported legislation to increase regulation of Fannie Mae and create a government regulatory agency that would oversee some aspects of the company.
The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder reported that Judy Black, whom he identified as "a policy director (read: lead lobbyist) for Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck's DC arm" and "the wife of McCain strategist Charlie Black," forwarded a PowerPoint presentation on the "campaign contributions that Fannie and Freddie provided to leading Democratic members of Congress." But Ambinder did not point out that Charlie Black has lobbied for Freddie Mac.
On the Fox News special Saving Our Economy, Bret Baier repeated or failed to challenge numerous false assertions about the role of affordable housing initiatives in the financial crisis and Democratic responses to the crisis.
Brokaw: "Senator, we have one minute for discussion here."
One minute? To discuss how to fix the economy? Seems like maybe they'll need more time ...
Well, not no audience, technically. But given the unfolding blockbuster business news story, you'd think FBN would see a nice extended spike in viewers. Y'know, like CNBC.
Instead, FBN's viewership remains stuck in the mid-five figures while CNBS has flirted wtih 1 million viewers during key moments in the bailout crisis.
NBC correspondent John Yang falsely asserted, "At current rates, analysts say Social Security will run out of money by 2041." Later, Yang uncritically aired a clip of Sen. John McCain claiming, "The Social Security system is going to go broke; it will not be there for present-day men and women who are working." In fact, the Social Security program will not "run out of money" in 2041; after that point, it is projected that without a change in the law, the program will be able to cover 78 percent of scheduled benefits immediately thereafter, according to the 2008 Social Security trustees' report.
Yesterday we noted Pearlsteain, during a Post online chat with readrs, mocked liberal bloggers for not understanding the Wall Street bailout story. He said thank God the mainstream media was around to explain it to everyone.
Greenwald took issue with that (and this was just Greenwald's warm up):
Nothing is easier and cheaper -- or more worthless -- than making sweeping, categorical criticisms of large groups without bothering to identify a single specific. Who specifically are the "left-wing bloggers" spouting ill-informed and misleading statements in opposition to the bailout? Specifically, what have they said that isn't true, and which "mainstream media" reporters have "actually do[ne] reporting" and "understand things" and thus saved the country from being misled by the blogging-morons who dare to oppose the bailout?
On his radio show, Michael Savage said: "[Y]ou may say, 'Why should we care about homosexuals trying to destroy families through the mock marriage that they perform in order to mock God, the church, the family, children, the fetus, the DNA of the human species? Why should we care about it while we have a financial meltdown?' Because the spiritual side of the downturn on Wall Street is directly related to the moral downturn in the United States of America."
The first AP article about tonight's debate notes that "Palin said Obama had voted to raise taxes 94 times" -- but fails to mention that number has beed widely debunked. Factcheck.org, for example, calls it "inflated and misleading" and "padded" and noted the figure includes "Double, Triple and Quadruple Counting."
But the Associated Press uncritically reports Palin's charge. Rather than fact-checking Palin, the AP touted her folksiness:
As is her custom on the campaign, she spoke in familiar terms, saying "betcha" rather than "bet you" and "gonna" rather than "going to."
On Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity and Mary Matalin falsely claimed that cutting taxes raises revenues. In fact, several former and current Bush administration economists have stated that tax cuts -- including those passed under President Bush -- produce a net decrease in revenue. For example, Treasure Secretary Henry Paulson said during his confirmation hearing, "As a general rule, I don't believe that tax cuts pay for themselves."
Steven Pearlstein piles on the disdain regarding the unfolding financial crisis:
Other than not really understanding the problem and not really having studied the proposal, you guys are doing just great! Thank God there is a mainstream media out there that actually does reporting and has people who understand thing, because if the flow of information and news to the American people were left solely to bloggers, we'd be in a big mess.
Yes, thank God the mainstream media cast such a skeptical eye on Wall Street over the years. We can't thank Pearlstein's pals enough.