CBS4 selectively reported Iraq spending bill earmarks

››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

During a May 25 broadcast, KCNC CBS4 co-anchor Tom Mustin misleadingly focused on the "money for dairy farmers, airlines, and salmon fishermen" included in the recently passed Iraq spending bill. As other media outlets have reported, the measure also includes funding for military housing, veterans benefits, children's health care, hurricane recovery, emergency aid to farmers, and an increase in the federal minimum wage.

Reporting on the latest Iraq spending bill that Congress passed, KCNC CBS4 co-anchor Tom Mustin stated on a May 25 broadcast, "In exchange for giving the president money to continue fighting in Iraq, Democrats have added billions of non-war-related spending." Mustin further reported, "That includes money for dairy farmers, airlines, and salmon fishermen." However, CBS4 failed to mention, as other news outlets have, that the bill also includes funding for military housing, veterans benefits, hurricane recovery, emergency aid to farmers, children's health care, and security improvements for ports and mass transit, as well as an increase in the federal minimum wage.

From the May 25 broadcast of KCNC's CBS4 News at 5:30 a.m.:

MUSTIN: The new Iraqi spending bill is on the way to the president's desk. Both the House and Senate passed the bill last night. It does not include a troop withdrawal deadline like the earlier bill that President Bush vetoed, but it does have goals for the Iraqi government to meet. In exchange for giving the president money to continue fighting in Iraq, Democrats have added billions of non-war-related spending. That includes money for dairy farmers, airlines, and salmon fishermen.

In contrast, co-anchor Mike Landess of KMGH 7News reported on May 24 that the bill included funding for "military housing," "health care for veterans," and "agricultural disasters."

From the May 24 broadcast of KMGH's 7News at 10 p.m.:

LANDESS: New tonight at 10, a 120 billion-dollar Iraq war funding bill is on its way to President Bush. The revised bill does not include a timetable for troop withdrawal; it's considered a compromise between the White House and congressional leaders. President Bush says he will sign the bill soon. Seventeen billion dollars included in that bill is not directly related to the Iraq war: 1.1 billion is earmarked for military housing; 4.8 billion set aside for health care for veterans; another 3 billion to be used for agricultural disasters like the severe snow storms that hit southeast Colorado this past winter. Bales of hay were dropped by Colorado National Guard helicopters. Cattle stranded by snow drifts as high as 10 feet.

Furthermore, as The Washington Post reported on May 25:

The bulk of the funding -- around $100 billion -- would continue military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. The nonmilitary spending includes $6.4 billion for Gulf Coast hurricane recovery efforts and $3 billion in emergency aid to farmers, for relief from drought and other natural disasters. An additional $1 billion would pay for port and mass-transit security upgrades. Children's health-care funding would increase by $650 million.

Other domestic beneficiaries include state HIV grant programs, mine safety research, youth violence prevention activities, and pandemic flu protection. About $3 billion would fund the conversion of U.S. military bases that are scheduled to close.

And as The New York Times reported on May 25, "Congress handed a major victory to low-income workers on Thursday night by approving the first increase in the federal minimum wage rate in a decade":

By a vote of 348 to 73, the House approved the measure as part of a deal on Iraq spending. Less than two hours later, the wage increase was approved in the Senate, where it was combined with a bill providing more money for the Iraq war. That vote was 80 to 14.

The measure would raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour from $5.15 in three stages over two years. The bill includes $4.84 billion in tax breaks for small businesses.

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