Media uncritically repeat McCain claim that Obama "will raise" taxes

››› ››› LAUREN AUERBACH & TOM ALLISON

In reports on Sen. John McCain's acceptance speech at the RNC, several media outlets uncritically reported McCain's claim that Sen. Barack Obama "will raise" taxes, without pointing out that McCain's own chief economic adviser has reportedly said the accusation is inaccurate or that Obama has in fact proposed cutting taxes for low- and middle-income families and raising them only on households earning more than $250,000 per year.

In their coverage of Sen. John McCain's September 4 acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, several media outlets, including ABC's Good Morning America, the Los Angeles Times, the Associated Press, and Reuters, uncritically reported McCain's claim in the speech that Sen. Barack Obama "will raise" taxes. None of these outlets pointed out that Obama has proposed cutting taxes for low- and middle-income families and raising taxes only on households earning more than $250,000 per year. Nor did they note that McCain's own chief economic adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, has reportedly said it is inaccurate to say that "Barack Obama raises taxes."

In its analysis of Obama's and Sen. John McCain's tax proposals, the Tax Policy Center concluded that "Obama would give larger tax cuts to low- and moderate-income households and pay some of the cost by raising taxes on high-income taxpayers. In contrast, McCain would cut taxes across the board and give the biggest cuts to the highest-income households."

In contrast with those outlets uncritically reporting the claim, Bloomberg reported that "[t]he Obama campaign rebutted the speech, saying the Democrat has pledged to cut taxes for middle-class families. Obama has said he would raise levies on the highest-income brackets by letting President George W. Bush's tax cuts expire."

From the September 5 edition of ABC's Good Morning America:

DIANE SAWYER (co-anchor): As for Barack Obama, there were gracious words.

McCAIN [video clip]: You have my respect and my admiration. Despite our differences, much more unites us than divides us.

SAWYER: But then, differences.

McCAIN [video clip]: I will keep taxes low and cut them where I can -- my opponent will raise them. I will open new markets to our goods and services -- my opponent will close them. I will cut government spending -- he will increase it. I have that record and the scars to prove it. Senator Obama does not.

SAWYER: As he ended, the former POW, memories of 35 years ago.

[...]

CHRIS CUOMO (co-anchor): Thank you, Diane. John McCain is campaigning in Wisconsin and Michigan today after vowing to bring change to Washington. McCain used his acceptance speech to compliment Barack Obama, then he made it clear they have stark differences.

McCAIN [video clip]: I will keep taxes low and cut them where I can -- my opponent will raise them. I will open new markets to our goods and services -- my opponent will close them. I will cut government spending -- he will increase it. I have that record and the scars to prove it. Senator Obama does not.

CUOMO: McCain recalled his experience as a POW and he urged Americans to fight for what's right.

Network/Outlet
ABC, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, Reuters
Show/Publication
Good Morning America
Stories/Interests
Barack Obama, John McCain, 2008 Elections
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.