Several conservatives in the media have recently blamed the Community Reinvestment Act for the current financial crisis -- when, in fact, the CRA does not apply to institutions making the vast majority of troubled loans underlying the crisis. It applies only to depository institutions, such as banks and savings and loan associations. Experts have estimated that 80 percent of high-priced subprime loans were offered by financial institutions that are not subject to the CRA.
In a column, Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that Rep. Barney Frank "sat by as mortgage brokers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac made bad loans." Also, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace did not challenge a similar claim by Sen. Jon Kyl that efforts by the Bush Administration and Republicans in Congress to regulate Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae "were stopped at every turn by Democrats." In fact, more than a year ago, Frank sponsored a bill to create the Federal Housing Finance Agency, granting that agency "general supervisory and regulatory authority over" Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and directing it to reform the two companies' business practices and regulate their exposure to credit and market risk.
Fox News' Stuart Varney misrepresented the cost of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, falsely asserting that the "House, right now, [is] voting on that $300 billion housing bailout bill." During the segment, on-air captions read "$300B Bailout Bill," and "House Voting On $300B Housing Bailout Bill." In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the bill "would increase budget deficits (or reduce future surpluses) by about $24.9 billion over the 2008-2018 period."
CNN's Wolf Blitzer made the misleading assertion that "the House of Representatives just passed a $300 billion plan to help struggling homeowners." In fact, while the bill to which Blitzer referred would authorize the FHA to insure up to $300 billion in homeownership retention loans for qualified homeowners, the Congressional Budget Office estimated a total cost of $2.7 billion for the program.
Fox News' Neil Cavuto misrepresented the projected cost of a federal "housing rescue package" by saying it was going to cost "300 billion bucks," while an on-air graphic read, "House lawmakers set to pass $300B housing bill; bailout?" In fact, while the legislation would authorize the FHA to insure up to $300 billion in homeownership retention loans, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the program would cost the government $2.7 billion between 2008-2013.
Responding to an ad by John McCain's campaign, which asserts that in response to "home foreclosures mounting, markets teetering," "[Hillary] Clinton and Barack Obama just said they'd solve the problem by raising your taxes -- more money out of your pocket," Joe Scarborough said the ad would "probably work." But Scarborough didn't note that the ad's central claim is false: Neither Clinton nor Obama has asserted that she or he would respond to "home foreclosures rising" by raising taxes.
On Fox News' The Live Desk, Martha MacCallum, discussing with correspondent Major Garrett a report about Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, Maggie Williams, stated that Williams "sat on the board of one of the nation's once-largest and now bankrupt mortgage lenders, Delta Financial." However, neither Garrett nor MacCallum mentioned Sen. John McCain's reported ties to the mortgage industry.
A link on BillOReilly.com, the website of Fox News and conservative radio talk-show host Bill O'Reilly, was titled "Those weren't veterans John Edwards, they were sex offenders," and linked to an Associated Press article about Florida's efforts "to dissolve a community of sex offenders living under a bridge." Media Matters for America has documented the back-and-forth between O'Reilly and former Sen. John Edwards over homelessness and homeless veterans.
On Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity stated that "The Wall Street Journal reported that John Edwards had invested in and worked for a company that is foreclosing on residents of New Orleans," adding: "The Edwards campaign has since announced that the senator will divest from the company." However, Hannity did not note that the Journal also reported that Edwards "pledged that he would personally provide financial assistance to New Orleanians who are facing foreclosure by [the company] or have lost their homes already."