Fox News' Sean Hannity repeated the false claim that an amendment Sen. Chris Dodd added to the recovery bill "protected" AIG bonuses. Fox & Friends' Steve Doocy further advanced this falsehood by asserting that Dodd "inserted into the stimulus package specific language that kept these bonuses in." In fact, the relevant provision in the recovery act, which was based on an amendment by Dodd, actually restricted the ability of companies receiving funds under the act to award bonuses; it did not create a right for executives at AIG -- or anywhere else -- to receive bonuses.
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On the March 17 edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity falsely asserted that Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) "slipped an amendment into the stimulus package last month that protected bonuses" for the American International Group (AIG). During the March 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy further advanced this falsehood, claiming that Dodd "inserted into the stimulus package specific language that kept these [AIG] bonuses in. Chris Dodd is the reason they are getting these particular bonuses." In fact, the relevant provision in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was based on an amendment by Dodd, actually restricted the ability of companies receiving funds under the act to award bonuses; it did not create a right for executives at AIG -- or anywhere else -- to receive bonuses.
Hannity's and Doocy's claims echoed the false headline of a March 17 FoxBusiness.com article -- subsequently posted by the Drudge Report -- which read: "Amid AIG Furor, Dodd Tries to Undo Bonus Protections He Put In." In fact, as the article itself noted, "[w]hile the Senate was constructing the $787 billion stimulus last month, Dodd added an executive-compensation restriction to the bill" [emphasis added]. Indeed, Dodd's amendment as introduced directed the Treasury secretary to require each Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) recipient to "meet appropriate standards for executive compensation and corporate governance": "a prohibition on such TARP recipient paying or accruing any bonus, retention award, or incentive compensation during the period that the obligation is outstanding to at least the 25 most highly-compensated employees, or such higher number as the Secretary may determine is in the public interest with respect to any TARP recipient."
The Senate adopted Dodd's amendment by voice vote. Subsequently, the conference committee assigned to work out the differences between the Senate version of the recovery bill and the House version -- included Dodd's amendment "with several modifications" in its version of the bill. Among those modifications, the bill adopted by the conference committee included the following language:
The prohibition required under clause (i) shall not be construed to prohibit any bonus payment required to be paid pursuant to a written employment contract executed on or before February 11, 2009, as such valid employment contracts are determined by the Secretary [of the Treasury] or the designee of the Secretary.
The amendment as modified by the conference committee was included in the final recovery bill passed by Congress and signed by President Obama.
As Media Matters for America documented, Fox News' Trace Gallagher and conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh have also misrepresented Dodd's amendment.
From the March 18 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
DOOCY: Chris Dodd, by the way, who -- you know, he's been at the circle of the storm involving a lot of our banking system -- he inserted into the stimulus package specific language that kept these bonuses in. Chris Dodd is the reason they are getting these particular bonuses. And now, he's faking like, "Hey, wait a minute. Why didn't we get -- why didn't we know about this?" He knew about it. He put the language in.
Also, Chris Dodd received $103,000 when he was running for president from AIG. Barack Obama --
KILMEADE: Sure. Everyone did.
DOOCY: -- Barack Obama wound up with $100,000 from AIG as well. And Barack Obama saying, "We didn't know anything about it until last week." That is not true.
Tim Geithner ran the Federal Reserve of New York. The Federal Reserve and Tim Geithner were the architect of the particular bailout. How can he say he didn't know about it until he got the phone call?
From the March 17 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
HANNITY: Now, first, we learn today that Connecticut Democratic Senator Chris Dodd slipped an amendment into the stimulus package last month that protected bonuses agreed to before February 11, 2009, meaning the AIG bonuses that Senator Dodd tells Fox News this evening that he wasn't responsible for -- well, the February deadline.