On his Fox News program, Sean Hannity falsely claimed that President Obama made a "campaign promise" to allow "no earmarks." Hannity then aired a clip of Obama stating his desire to "ban all earmarks" from the economic recovery package, falsely suggesting that Obama was referring to banning all earmarks in general.
On the March 6 edition of his Fox News program, Sean Hannity falsely claimed that President Obama made a "campaign promise" to allow "no earmarks." As purported evidence, Hannity aired several clips of Obama referring to earmarks, including a January 6 clip of Obama stating his desire to "ban all earmarks" from the economic recovery package, which Hannity, like Fox News colleague Bill O'Reilly, misrepresented to claim Obama was breaking his word by signing the omnibus appropriations bill.
After purporting to "go to the videotape" and "show the audience at home" Obama's "campaign promise" of "no earmarks," Hannity aired a number of clips from the 2008 presidential campaign in order to claim that Obama was breaking his promise of "no earmarks," when, in fact, in three of the clips, Obama was referring to reforming the earmark process, and in a fourth, he was asserting that an opponent was being hypocritical for taking earmarks and then advocating against them. In the fifth clip, which was actually taken from a January 6 media availability -- not during the presidential campaign as Hannity suggested -- Obama stated: "We are gonna ban all earmarks -- the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review." However, Obama was referring to his desire to "ban all earmarks" from his "recovery and reinvestment plan," which he specifically distinguished from "the overall budget process."
During his January 6 media availability, Obama stated:
OBAMA: But we're not going to be able to expect the American people to support this critical effort unless we take extraordinary steps to ensure that the investments are made wisely and managed well. And that's why my recovery and reinvestment plan will have -- will set a new higher standard of accountability, transparency, and oversight.
We are going to ban all earmarks, the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review. We will create an economic recovery oversight board made up of key administration officials and independent advisers to identify problems early and make sure we're doing all that we can to solve it. We will put information about where money is being spent online so that the American people know exactly where their precious tax dollars are going and whether we are hitting our marks.
But we're not going to be able to stop there. We're going to have to bring significant reform not just to our recovery and reinvestment plan, but to the overall budget process, to address both the deficit of dollars and the deficit of trust. We'll have to make tough choices, and we're going to have to break old habits. We're going to have to eliminate outmoded programs and make the ones that we do need work better.
As Media Matters for America documented, on the March 4 edition of his Fox News show, O'Reilly aired the same January 6 clip, which he falsely characterized as "President Obama pledging last January to end earmarks in federal spending." Later in the show, referring to earmarks included in the omnibus appropriations bill, O'Reilly stated, "But Obama's on record -- we just played the clip -- that he's going to do away with this. And then he takes 9,000 of them and signs it?" Numerous media figures have similarly misrepresented Obama's statements regarding earmarks to accuse Obama of breaking his promise. As PolitiFact.com and Media Matters have noted, during his presidential campaign, Obama actually promised to reform the earmark process and cut wasteful spending, not eliminate earmarks altogether.
From the March 6 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
HANNITY: People are getting very worried, nervous, concerned. And I'll tell you one other thing that's emerging, Governor, is anger. Eight point one percent unemployment, all the earmarks galore, massive spending, 8 percent increase in this budget. People are getting angry. I don't blame them -- because, you know what? They're watching half their retirement go away, and they seem like they're helpless at this point. Do you see anything that they can do to maybe get Barack Obama to, you know, live up to his promise of no earmarks?
HUCKABEE: They've got to melt this phone lines at the Senate and the House. They have to let their representatives know that this is gonna be an intolerable situation, and they need to let the president know that his credibility is on the line. He was adamant that he would not sign a larded-up pork bill, and he's about to put his signature on it if we're not careful. He --
HANNITY: Let's go to the videotape, and let's show our audience at home -- now, maybe it's just a campaign promise -- no lobbyists in his administration -- no earmarks.
[begin video clip]
OBAMA [8/28/08]: I will also go through the federal budget line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work.
OBAMA [9/06/08]: When you've been taking all these earmarks when it's convenient, and then suddenly, you're the champion anti-earmark person, that's not change. Come on.
OBAMA [9/22/08]: The truth is, our earmark system -- what's called pork-barrel spending -- in Washington is fraught with abuse. It badly needs reform.
OBAMA [9/26/08]: Absolutely, we need earmark reform, and when I'm president, I will go line by line to make sure that we are not spending money unwisely.
OBAMA [1/06/09]: We are gonna ban all earmarks -- the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review.
[end video clip]
HANNITY: Why does he get --
HUCKABEE: It's the tale of the tape.
HANNITY: No one's -- no outrage.
HUCKABEE: You have to say that if Barack Obama doesn't veto this bill -- and it is a bill that has 8,500 earmarks -- then he has a lot of 'splaining to do to the American people. And a campaign promise ought to be something that you fulfill, or else you start giving away your political capital. It's early in his administration, and I think it would be a huge mistake. This is not his bill. This is Nancy Pelosi's bill, and he's got to stand up to her. Otherwise, we might as well be talking about President Pelosi.