CNN's Quijano and Phillips uncritically reported Bush charge that Democrats are denying troops' pay increase

››› ››› JULIE MILLICAN, JEREMY HOLDEN & MATT GERTZ

On the July 20 edition of CNN Newsroom, during the 11 a.m. ET hour, correspondent Elaine Quijano uncritically reported that President Bush "essentially admonished lawmakers for failure to come to an agreement on the defense authorization bill," and aired Bush's statement, "Even members of Congress who no longer support our effort in Iraq should at least be able to provide an increase in pay for our troops fighting there." Quijano did not mention Bush's strong opposition -- asserted merely two months ago -- to any pay increase above 3 percent. Nor did she note that the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 itself does not take effect until October 1 and the pay raise provision, not until January 2008, as Media Matters for America noted.

During the 2 p.m. hour of CNN Newsroom anchor Kyra Phillips similarly uncritically reported Bush's remarks, stating only that Bush "challeng[ed] lawmakers who don't support him on his Iraq war policy to at least support the troops with money, resources, and time" before airing a video clip of Bush criticizing Congress for not "provid[ing] an increase in pay for our troops fighting there." In addition, during the 3 p.m. ET hour of CNN Newsroom, anchor T.J. Holmes reported that Bush "says lawmakers who don't support the war should at least provide the money and resources needed there" because, in Bush's words, "[I]t is time to rise above partisanship, stand behind our troops in the field and give them everything they need to succeed." Holmes did not mention Bush's suggestion that "members of Congress who no longer support" the war in Iraq are denying "an increase in pay for our troops fighting there."

By contrast, the Associated Press reported that "Democrats said Bush's comments were ironic because he opposed the 3.5 percent pay raise included in the bill. Bush requested a 3 percent raise and has said previously the extra .5 percent added by Democrats was unnecessary."

As the blog Think Progress has noted, on May 16 the White House Office of Management & Budget (OMB) released a statement that said, "The Administration strongly opposes" section 601 of the House version of the defense bill -- providing for a 3.5-percent increase in basic pay -- and called the "additional 0.5 percent increase above the President's proposed 3.0 percent across-the-board pay increase ... unnecessary."

From the July 20 edition of CNN Newsroom:

HEIDI COLLINS (anchor): President Bush appealing for more time in Iraq. The president spoke just moments ago in the Rose Garden. White House correspondent Elaine Quijano is joining us now live. Good morning to you, Elaine.

QUIJANO: Good morning to you, Heidi. Well, just days after Democrats in the Senate orchestrated that all-night session, complete with cots, you'll remember, to talk about Iraq, President Bush a short time ago engaging in some pushback of his own in the Rose Garden. The president today surrounded himself with members of organizations that support the United States military, and the president essentially admonished lawmakers for failing to come to an agreement on the defense authorization bill.

BUSH: [video clip] The House and Senate are now scheduled to leave for their August recess before passing a bill to support our troops and their missions. Even members of Congress who no longer support our effort in Iraq should at least be able to provide an increase in pay for our troops fighting there.

QUIJANO: Now what the president did not mention in his Rose Garden appearance is the fact that the Iraqi Parliament itself is scheduled to take its own recess during the month of August, a move that has been criticized by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who are looking for some demonstration that the Iraqis have the political will necessary to move forward on some key political benchmarks. Heidi.

COLLINS :All right. Elaine Quijano at the White House for us this morning. Elaine, thank you.

[...]

PHILLIPS: President Bush kept it short and sweet today in the Rose Garden, challenging lawmakers who don't support him on his Iraq war policy to at least support the troops with money, resources and time.

BUSH [video clip]: The House and Senate are now scheduled to leave for their August recess before passing a bill to support our troops and their missions. Even members of Congress who no longer support our effort in Iraq should at least be able to provide an increase in pay for our troops fighting there.

PHILLIPS: Now we're about to show you what's being called the ugly side of the war.

[...]

HOLMES: And, President Bush today pleading with Congress once again to show patience in Iraq. He says lawmakers who don't support the war should at least provide the money and resources needed there. He repeated a familiar reason why.

BUSH [video clip]: It is time to rise above partisanship, stand behind our troops in the field and give them everything they need to succeed.

HOLMES: Well, the White House is sticking by its September timetable for a formal assessment on the war, thought the gap between U.S. politics and Iraq prospects now seem wider than ever.

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