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Credit ABC's Jonathan Karl and Luis Martinez for taking the time to actually look into the details surrounding Judicial Watch's comical claims this week about Nancy Pelosi's air travel; claims the Noise Machine mindlessly repeated.
The ABC duo concludes [emphasis added]:
The treasure trove of documents obtained by Judicial Watch from the Department of Defense regarding Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi's use of military aircraft doesn't seem to prove the organization's allegation that Pelosi has made "unprecedented demands" for the flights. In fact, it appears that Pelosi uses military aircraft less often than her predecessor, former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.
ABC found that virtually none of the Judicial Watch claims stand up to the slightest bit of scrutiny. Oh, don't act surprised.
UPDATE: Newsbusters plays dumb, ignoring the fact that the Bush White House and Pentagon demanded, after 9/11, that the Speaker of the House fly on military planes. The only way the pointless Judicial Watch story works is if you pretend it was all Pelosi's idea, which Newsbusters eagerly does:
The mainstream media has completely ignored Pelosi's diva-like demand for a $38 million (in 1998 dollars) luxury aircraft in which to fly home.
There's nothing in that sentence that's factual.
MSNBC uncritically repeated a Twitter post by Newt Gingrich in which he attacked House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for "standing up to applaud the private jet line" in President Obama's address to Congress "while she flies around in a government jet at taxpayer expense." Gingrich has repeatedly attacked Pelosi over her use of the plane while also falsely claiming that her predecessor, Dennis Hastert, did not use one.
How long before some reporter points to this as evidence of insufficient bipartisanship on Barack Obama's part?
New York Republican Rep. John McHugh, the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, has turned down Barack Obama's invite to Monday's fiscal responsibility summit, his office tells my colleague Alex Isenstadt.
The New York congressman emerged as a tough critic of the economic stimulus package passed by Congress last week.
Citing a Congressional Quarterly article about the relationship between House members and lobbying firm The PMA Group, Sean Hannity falsely suggested that current or former House members who received PMA funds and inserted earmarks that benefited PMA clients into a 2007 bill are "all Democrats." In fact, according to CQ, 44 of 91 current or former House members who received campaign contributions from the PMA Group's political action committe or its employees from 2001-2008 and "secured earmarks for clients of The PMA Group in the fiscal 2008 defense appropriations law," are Republicans.
A couple weeks ago ABC News shanked one badly when it concocted the phony premise that it was somehow hypocritical of Obama to criticize executive pay on Wall Street (which often reaches into the tens of millions of dollars annually) because he made a lot of money as POTUS (i.e. $400,000). ABC News somehow saw a connection between the two sets of salaries.
Now ABC's Jonathan Karl returns with a similarly harebrained premise, which is this: Some members of Congress recently criticized CEOs for their use of corporate jets, but Congressmen are sometimes flown overseas for free by the Air Force while conducting official government business.
Period. That's it. Although ABC News treats it as a very big deal. Here's the unintentionally humorous headline, "Congress Travels Free on Taxpayers' Dime."
Honestly, does that come as news to anyone in America? Do voters actually think that Congressmen, and their wives, pay their own airfare and fly commercial flights when they're part of a Congressional delegation visiting, for instance, Afghanistan or Iraq or even Europe? I mean really, how dumb does ABC News think Americans are?
The sheer stupidity of the report is just jaw-dropping, though. Here's an example:
Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y., has taken four taxpayer-financed trips to nine countries over the past four years, despite criticizing corporate executives for flying on private jets to Washington and asking for taxpayer handouts.
Follow? Ackerman has taken four trips in four years (as a reader you're supposed to be outraged), even though Ackerman has criticized "corporate executives for flying on private jets to Washington and asking for taxpayer handouts."
But what's the connection? In an extraordinary move, CEO's of private companies recently turned to the federal government for billions in bailout assistance and caught flak for using corporate jets to fly to D.C. Ackerman though, is a Congressman paid by the government and approximately once a year takes government-paid flights overseas to represent the United States, just as Congressmen have done for decades.
How on earth are those two set of facts even remotely connected? And why did Karl embarrass himself by pretending he couldn't tell the obvious differences between the two?
P.S. Note that ABC reports the airfare practice is bipartisan, but for some reason only Democrats get mentioned by name in the report.
Remember how during the stimulus debate, the media kept insisting that Republicans had "taken control of the debate," were "driving the message" and all those other phrases journalists love to use in order to pretend that something is happening other than the media deciding to pay more attention to the GOP's arguments? How we kept hearing that congressional Republicans got their groove back by effectively painting the Democrats as big-spending coastal liberals?
Well, earlier today, Politico's Glenn Thrush noted a new Gallup poll that he thought showed that approval of congressional Democrats had spiked, while approval of Republicans had dropped. Turns out, Thrush misread the poll; it didn't measure approval of the two parties.
But it led me to wonder what the public does think of the two parties' congressional leaders. Is all that noise we've been hearing about Republicans having The Big Mo legitimate, or is it another case of the media being badly out of touch with the American people?
If you guessed "out of touch" -- and, really, why wouldn't you? -- you nailed it.
CNN conducted a poll just a little more than a week ago that found 60 percent approval for Democratic leaders in congress, and 39 percent disapproval, for a net of +21 points. Republican leaders in congress, however, had won the approval of 44 percent of the public, while 55 percent disapproved, for a net of -11 points.
That's a 32 point gap between the net approval for the Dems & the GOP. That's huge.
But the Republicans have produced a web video featuring a 32-year-old Aerosmith song, so get ready for several days of cable news pretending the GOP is, indeed, "back in the saddle again."
A Wall Street Journal article mischaracterized a section of H.R. 1, stating: "In a staff report describing the bill, the House said treatments found to be less effective and in some cases more expensive 'will no longer be prescribed.' " However, neither the House discussion draft nor the House bill implements federal requirements banning the use of "treatments found to be less effective and in some cases more expensive." In fact, the section of the bill the article referenced establishes a Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research and calls for funding to "be used to accelerate the development and dissemination of research assessing the comparative effectiveness of health care treatments and strategies."
CNN, along with much of the Beltway press, was busy yesterday hyping what might happen when Democrats in the House and Senate met to negotiate the final stimulus bill:
Now that the Senate has passed its economic recovery package, it's time for the really hard part -- trying to reconcile the differences between House and Senate versions of the plan without losing the support needed to pass the final version in both chambers. Senate Democrats are downplaying talk of a contentious battle ahead.
Well, so much for for bitter negotiations battle. Reminds me of how the press was hyping the "bruising" battle that was supposed to unfold around Eric Holder's AG confirmation hearing. That too, never materialized.
The press sure likes to stress how badly things might get for Dems, no?
NBC News' John Yang baselessly suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is rushing an agreement on the economic recovery bill because she "has a congressional delegation trip to Italy scheduled to leave on Friday, and of course, the speaker's maiden name is D'Alesandro, and she would dearly love not to miss that trip." In fact, Pelosi has said, "If we don't have [a bill] by the time of the Presidents recess, there will be no recess."
According to the Associated Press, the stimulus bill being passed by Congress contains "pork" because it might pay for a highway construction project in Indiana, which in turn might remind people of the Bridge To Nowhere. And that means Obama's a hypocrite because he's trying to have it "both ways." Boy, nothing like laying on the GOP talking points, eh?
From the AP's Calvin Woodward's latest misadventure in journalism:
President Barack Obama had it both ways Monday when he promoted his stimulus plan in Indiana. He bragged about getting Congress to produce a package with no pork, yet boasted it will do good things for a Hoosier highway and a downtown overpass, just the kind of local projects lawmakers lard into big spending bills.
But does Woodward have the slightest idea--proof--whether the vaguely referenced highway construction in Indiana would be some sort of wasteful boondoggle? No. Does the AP know if th project would be unneeded? No. Does Woodward know if the highway's a pet project of a local politician? No, he does not. But it sounds like it might be, so he used it to claim Obama's not being truthful about the stimulus bill.
Can the media's economic 'debate' get any dumber?
Rush Limbaugh repeated a falsehood in a Bloomberg "commentary" by Betsy McCaughey that claimed that under a provision in the House-passed economic recovery bill, "[o]ne new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and 'guide' your doctor's decisions." In fact, the provisions McCaughey referenced address establishing an electronic records system such that doctors would have information about their patients "to help guide medical decisions at the time and place of care."
Trying to make strained comparison between Congressional retreats and Wall Street pay. This is the same territory ABC News embarrassed itself yesterday. Idiotic premise: Wall Street execs who accepted billions in taxpayer bailouts were chastised for raking in seven and even eight-figure salaries, but it's hypocritical when politicians complain because they're living in the lap of luxury. Or something like that.
From the AP:
Members of Congress were quick to shame corporate executives for over-the-top extravagance during the economic crisis, flying private jets and taking luxury junkets. But some lawmakers are strolling fancy resorts spending tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars and mingling with lobbyists.
Details about the "luxury junkets"? [emphasis added]
Democrats spend taxpayer money on their retreat but do not permit lobbyists to accompany them. The public pays for a charter train from Washington to Williamsburg for many of the 200 members who attend, as well as conference rooms, security and catering. The round-trip fare on Amtrak is $90 or more. Catered dinners at Kingsmill cost at least $60 per person. Kingsmill's rooms at this time of year start at $119 a night.
See, that's just like CEOs pocketing tens of millions of dollars, right?
On MSNBC Live, The Hill's Susan Crabtree again stated that "Democrats have spent 500,000 -- half a million dollars" in "taxpayer money" on annual retreats "over the past five years" without noting that House Republican leadership committees have been appropriated amounts of taxpayer money for salaries and expenses that are comparable to the amount given to their House Democratic counterparts. Crabtree also did not address how the House Republican leadership committees spend their "taxpayer money."
In an article stating that the "thinnest chapter" of a book about Nancy Pelosi's term as speaker of the House might be "Bipartisanship and the 111th Congress," the Politico cropped Pelosi's statement on the passage of the House recovery bill, omitting comments supporting her statement that "we have reached out to the Republicans all along the way."