Ignoring Bush Treasury role, Politico reported that Republicans "feel they have a free shot at the Democrats" over AIG

››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

The Politico uncritically quoted top congressional Republicans criticizing the Obama administration over AIG bonuses, reporting that "[h]aving mostly opposed Obama's stimulus plan, the second half of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds and the omnibus spending bill, Republicans feel they have a free shot at the Democrats for anything that goes wrong now." The article did not point out that it was the Bush Treasury Department that worked with the Federal Reserve in carrying out last year's bailouts and bought AIG stocks notwithstanding the existence of these bonus contracts.

In a March 17 Politico article, staff writers Lisa Lerer and Victoria McGrane uncritically quoted top congressional Republicans criticizing the Obama administration over American International Group's (AIG) employee retention bonus packages, reporting: "Having mostly opposed Obama's stimulus plan, the second half of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) funds and the omnibus spending bill, Republicans feel they have a free shot at the Democrats for anything that goes wrong now." At no point did Lerer and McGrane point out that it was the Bush Treasury Department that worked with the Federal Reserve in carrying out last year's bailouts and bought AIG stocks notwithstanding the existence of the publicly disclosed employee retention bonus packages. Moreover, the Politico article's headline, "Fallout: Dems in disarray over AIG," resembled a remark by Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) included in the article: "What's going on in this administration? It seems like an administration in disarray."

By contrast, in a Politico article posted earlier on March 17, executive editor Jim VandeHei wrote that "[t]he bonuses were essentially a nonissue when AIG got its initial bailout money, almost $150 billion under President Bush in the two months surrounding the presidential election." As Media Matters for America has noted, The Washington Post reported on March 17 that "AIG disclosed its retention-payment program more than a year ago, and the amount of the bonuses -- more than $400 million for Financial Products alone -- had been widely reported."

In a September 16, 2008, article on the initial bailout of AIG, The New York Times reported: "Fearing a financial crisis worldwide, the Federal Reserve reversed course on Tuesday and agreed to an $85 billion bailout that would give the government control of the troubled insurance giant American International Group." In a November 10, 2008, article, the Times reported that the Bush Treasury Department and Federal Reserve announced a "revised bailout" of AIG, under which "the Treasury Department will use the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the $700 billion financial system rescue plan, to buy $40 billion of newly issued A.I.G. preferred shares." Both Cantor and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who was also quoted by Lerer and McGrane criticizing the Obama administration's handling of AIG, voted to pass the October 2008 TARP legislation -- a fact missing from Lerer and McGrane's article.

From Lerer and McGrane's March 17 Politico article:

For the second day in a row, the AIG bonuses were just about the only subject of conversation at the Capitol. At press conferences throughout the day -- and as members filed in and out of a St. Patrick's Day lunch -- outrage over bonuses was on everyone's lips.

And that suited long-suffering Republicans just fine.

"This latest flap involving AIG, I think, is very troubling," crowed House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.). "What's going on in this administration? It seems like an administration in disarray."

Having mostly opposed Obama's stimulus plan, the second half of the Troubled Asset Relief Program funds and the omnibus spending bill, Republicans feel they have a free shot at the Democrats for anything that goes wrong now.

On Tuesday, they took it again and again. "This administration could have, and should have -- through the process of providing for [AIG] another $30 billion two weeks, just two weeks, ago -- prevented this from happening," said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. "They had a lot of leverage prior to that infusion of $30 billion."

House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said that "the American people are rightly outraged that their tax money is going to pay bonuses to the very people that got this company in trouble."

Posted In
Economy
Network/Outlet
The Politico
Stories/Interests
Propaganda/Noise Machine
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.