Baier ignores precedents, hypes cost of Obamas' NYC trip

››› ››› MATT GERTZ

Bret Baier reported "aircraft expenses for" the Obamas' trip to New York City "cost you at least $24,000" but did not note that such use of taxpayer funds for private travel by the first family is typical.

On the June 1 edition of Fox News' Special Report, reporting on the Obamas' May 30 personal visit to New York City, anchor Bret Baier stated that according to a May 31 New York Post article promoted by Internet gossip Matt Drudge, "aircraft expenses for the date cost you at least $24,000." Prior to his report, Baier promoted the story in two teasers, each of which highlighted the cost of the trip. But like Drudge and the Post, at no point did Baier note that such use of taxpayer funds for private travel by the first family is typical; former President George W. Bush, for example, reportedly used Air Force One for trips to his ranch in Crawford, Texas, which he reportedly visited 77 times over the course of his eight years in office.

As Kenneth T. Walsh noted in a June 1 U.S. News & World Report article about Republican criticism of the Obamas' trip, "For many years, presidents have used government transportation, and spent taxpayers' money, for personal trips." Walsh continued:

George W. Bush, for example, traveled frequently to his Texas ranch for vacations and R&R. Bill Clinton went to Martha's Vineyard for vacations in the summer. George H.W. Bush often traveled to his retreat in Kennebunkport, Maine, for breaks from Washington.

The opposition party sometimes jumps on these trips and argues that the president is being extravagant or sending the wrong signal of self-indulgence to the country. That's what's happening to [President] Obama now.

Similarly, during a discussion of Republican criticism of the Obamas' trip on the June 1 edition of MSNBC Live, New York Observer national correspondent Joe Conason said of the trip: "[T]his is what the presidency is." He continued: "When the president travels -- as George Bush did, as Bill Clinton did, as presidents have, you know, throughout history -- the government pays to keep them safe, to keep their communication secure. This is just -- this is part of the job."

As Media Matters for America documented, several media outlets and figures advanced false comparisons of the total costs of Obama's inauguration and Bush's 2005 inauguration, misrepresenting Obama's as more expensive. Those outlets used figures that excluded security, transportation, and other incidental costs to federal, state, and local governments incurred in conjunction with the events in 2005, while including them in the projections for the 2009 event.

From the June 1 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:

BAIER: From Wall Street to Broadway, and the money it took to pay for the first couple's date night.

[...]

BAIER: And the president takes the first lady out on the town, thanks to some help from you.

[...]

BAIER: President Obama delivered a campaign promise -- delivered on a campaign promise Saturday to, really, his most important constituency: his wife. He took the first lady to dinner and a Broadway show in New York. The cost of the meal and theater tickets were paid for by the president, but the White House has declined to say how much the rest of the trip cost taxpayers. The New York Post reports that aircraft expenses for the date cost you at least $24,000. The Obamas flew into JFK Airport on a smaller Gulfstream 500 plane instead of the larger version of Air Force One, and then took the Marine One helicopter to Manhattan. They dined at a Greenwich Village restaurant before taking in the play Joe Turner's Come and Gone.

Posted In
Government, The Presidency & White House
Person
Bret Baier
Show/Publication
Special Report with Bret Baier
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