O'Reilly misrepresented Obama remark to falsely claim he "pledg[ed] ... to end earmarks"

››› ››› LILY YAN

Bill O'Reilly aired a clip of President Obama stating, "We are going to ban all earmarks, the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review," which he falsely characterized as "President Obama pledging last January to end earmarks in federal spending." In fact, 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."

On the March 4 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly aired a clip of President Obama stating, "We are going to ban all earmarks, the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review," which O'Reilly 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?" In fact, in the January 6 clip O'Reilly played, 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.

O'Reilly is the latest media figure to misrepresent Obama's statements regarding earmarks to then accuse Obama of breaking his promise. As PolitiFact.com and Media Matters for America 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 4 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly. Thank you for watching us tonight. Where your tax dollars are going -- that is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo." And we begin with this.

OBAMA [video clip]: We are going to ban all earmarks, the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review.

O'REILLY: Uh-oh. That's President Obama pledging last January to end earmarks in federal spending. But now the House has passed a new spending bill full of earmark pork. And if the Senate OKs the 400 billion-plus spending bonanza this week, Mr. Obama is expected to sign it into law.

Senator [John] McCain [R-AZ] is outraged.

McCAIN [video clip]: Not surprising the measure has over 9,000 unnecessarily and wasteful earmarks. So much for the promise of change, Mr. President, so much for the promise of change.

O'REILLY: Well, McCain should also be hammering his own party. Republican Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi is the biggest pork promoter on Capitol Hill. Now, the dumb spending of our money just never ends.

[...]

DICK MORRIS (Fox News contributor): You know, that speech clip you showed from McCain was pathetic. This is McCain trying to be forceful. You know, "Well, it's a sure thing." And, you know, "There's two bad earmarks." And then he slams his fist on the desk.

O'REILLY: But he was right.

MORRIS: He was right, but he was not a compelling spokesman.

O'REILLY: Well, I mean -- OK.

MORRIS: The Republican Party needs to develop some faces.

O'REILLY: They need some charisma. Absolutely. But I think --

MORRIS: [Gov. Bobby] Jindal [R-LA] bombed in the response.

O'REILLY: I don't know why President Obama, [White House chief of staff] Rahm Emanuel, and these people are wasting their time on this. See? I would rather have them looking out for me and trying to fix the economy and trying to figure out why Wall Street thinks they're a bunch of bozos.

MORRIS: Sure, sure.

O'REILLY: Wouldn't you?

MORRIS: Sure.

O'REILLY: Wouldn't you?

MORRIS: Let me just say this about the earmark thing that you're talking about. We're going to get to [House Speaker Nancy] Pelosi [D-CA] in the next segment.

O'REILLY: Right.

MORRIS: This is Obama surrendering the details to Pelosi. Pelosi is Obama's prime minister.

O'REILLY: Yeah, but -- wait, wait. I got all that. 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 --

MORRIS: Yeah.

O'REILLY: -- of them and signs it?

MORRIS: Sure.

O'REILLY: Come on.

MORRIS: Yeah. Well, he might make a show of vetoing it. But he can't because --

O'REILLY: He's not gonna veto it.

MORRIS: -- those earmarks are all of his members', all of his supporters'.

O'REILLY: He's not going to veto it.

MORRIS: Yeah.

O'REILLY: But he looks like -- what? A regular politician.

MORRIS: Barack Obama is going to be brought down by a drip, drip, drip of hot water and cold water. The cold water drip, drip, drip is going to be the bad employment numbers. The hot water drip, drip, drip will be just what you did in the "Talking Points" of the waste and the corruption and the ridiculous spending.

O'REILLY: OK.

Posted In
Economy, Budget
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Bill O'Reilly
Show/Publication
The O'Reilly Factor
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