Hannity distorts article to smear administration on stimulus money distribution

››› ››› LILY YAN

Fox News' Sean Hannity and CNN's Kiran Chetry cited a USA Today article to claim or speculate that political favoritism played a role in the distribution of funds from the recovery act. However, the article itself stated, "Investigators who track the stimulus are skeptical that political considerations could be at work."

On the July 9 editions of Fox News' Hannity and CNN's American Morning, both Sean Hannity and Kiran Chetry cited a USA Today article headlined, "Billions in aid go to areas that backed Obama in '08," to claim or speculate that political favoritism played a role in the distribution of funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. However, the USA Today article itself stated, "Investigators who track the stimulus are skeptical that political considerations could be at work." USA Today also reported that "[t]he imbalance didn't start with the stimulus. From 2005 through 2007, the counties that later voted for Obama collected about 50% more government aid than those that supported McCain, according to spending reports from the U.S. Census Bureau."

After Hannity read from the USA Today article, he asked, "So is this a mere coincidence, or is there something more sinister at work?" Fox News anchor and analyst Kimberly Guilfoyle later stated, "[W]e're not born yesterday. Of course it's going to go to the blue states. It's called, like, you know, you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours. It's very simple." Conservative commentator S.E. Cupp later added, "I think the message is completely clear. If you want more of the taxpayers' money, vote Democratic. If you want a chance to actually earn your own, well you'll have to vote Republican," to which Hannity responded, "Yeah. And so he's punishing those areas that voted for McCain."

On American Morning, Chetry teased a segment by stating, "Where are your tax dollars actually going? A new report just breaking this morning says it may depend on how your county voted." She later noted that "the report also says that that imbalance didn't just start with the stimulus. From 2005 through 2007, counties that later voted for Obama collecting about 50 percent more government aid anyway, according to spending reports from the Census Bureau."

From the July 9 USA Today article:

The reports show the 872 counties that supported Obama received about $69 per person, on average. The 2,234 that supported McCain received about $34.

Investigators who track the stimulus are skeptical that political considerations could be at work. The imbalance is so pronounced -- and the aid so far from complete -- that it would be almost inconceivable for it to be the result of political tinkering, says Adam Hughes, the director of federal fiscal policy for the non-profit OMB Watch. "Even if they wanted to, I don't think the administration has enough people in place yet to actually do that," he says.

"Most of what they're doing at this point is just stamping the checks and sending them out," Hughes says.

The stimulus package Obama signed in February includes about $499 billion in new spending, and to date, the Obama administration has allocated about $158 billion to specific projects and programs. Most of that money has gone directly to state governments, which then disperse the money to prevent school layoffs, repair roads and fund social services. That contrasts with the $17 billion that Washington distributes directly to local communities.

Including the larger chunk of money given to state governments, the aid favors states that voted for Obama, which have received about 20% more per person [sic]

Not all of the money favors places that supported Obama. About a third of the $17 billion, or $5.5 billion, in contracts that the federal government has signed for projects ranging from repaving runways to cleaning up nuclear waste has gone overwhelmingly to counties that supported McCain.

Jake Wiens, an investigator with the non-profit Project on Government Oversight, says it's too soon to draw meaningful conclusions about whether the type of aid in the stimulus favors Obama's constituents.

But, he says, "it will be important to pay close attention as the data come in to ensure that political favoritism plays no role."

The imbalance didn't start with the stimulus. From 2005 through 2007, the counties that later voted for Obama collected about 50% more government aid than those that supported McCain, according to spending reports from the U.S. Census Bureau. USA TODAY's review did not include Alaska, which does not report its election results by county.

From the July 9 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

HANNITY: Seven hundred and eighty-seven billion dollars are being doled out as part of the federal stimulus, but where exactly are they going? Now, USA Today reveals a startling fact, quote: "Counties that supported Obama last year have reaped twice as much money per person from the administration's $787 billion economic stimulus package as those that voted for his Republican rival, Senator John McCain."

So is this a mere coincidence, or is there something more sinister at work? And joining me now to answer this question, Fox News anchor and analyst Kimberly Guilfoyle and conservative columnist S.E. Cupp. All right, what is this?

GUILFOYLE: Call on me. Call me. Sinister.

[...]

HANNITY: So billions in aid go to these areas that back Barack Obama.

GUILFOYLE: Correct.

HANNITY: Sinister?

GUILFOYLE: Absolutely, but definitely expected, right? I mean, come on, we're not born yesterday. Of course it's going to go to the blue states. It's called, like, you know, you scratch my back, and I'll scratch yours. It's very simple.

HANNITY: Only if you're wearing orange, obviously. All right, but --

GUILFOYLE: But, I mean, this is the way politics goes down. I mean, really, do you think it's just unique -- I don't know -- to the Democrats?

CUPP: But the stimulus was sold as completely altruistic, and when less than 1 percent of it is going to small businesses and 18 million of it is going to redesign the recovery.gov website -- I'm sorry, there's something going on here. It's not OK.

HANNITY: No, here's --

GUILFOYLE: It's inappropriate, that's for sure.

HANNITY: All right, but, wait a minute. Here's --

CUPP: It's dishonest.

HANNITY: But here's what I'm thinking. I'm taking it a little bit deeper.

GUILFOYLE: Go ahead.

CUPP: Dig deeper.

HANNITY: I think that Barack Obama -- every person out there -- the government doesn't have money. It comes from everybody watching and working really hard.

GUILFOYLE: Right. Yeah. Right.

HANNITY: OK, so Barack Obama, to shore up his re-election campaign --

CUPP: Yes.

GUILFOYLE: Right.

HANNITY: -- is basically buying votes in the areas where he got votes --

CUPP: Yes, I think --

HANNITY: -- with our money.

CUPP: -- the message is completely clear. If you want more of the taxpayers' money, vote Democratic. If you want a chance to actually earn your own, well you'll have to vote Republican.

HANNITY: Yeah. And so he's punishing those areas that voted for McCain.

GUILFOYLE: Well, it's very clear, if you look at the analysis and you break down the dollars and cents, it doesn't take the world's best accountant to realize that there is some funny, fuzzy math going on here in terms of who's benefitting from it, and it's not right.

HANNITY: All right, so --

GUILFOYLE: What about transparency in government, and what about taking care of the whole country, all of the United States, all of the taxpayers --

HANNITY: No, I agree.

GUILFOYLE: -- that are contributing?

From the July 9 edition of CNN's American Morning:

CHETRY: Where are your tax dollars actually going? A new report just breaking this morning says it may depend on how your county voted. Are parts of the country that are blue getting more of the stimulus cash?

[...]

CHETRY: Well, as that back and forth continues over whether or not the stimulus is working in Washington, a new report in the USA Today is claiming that the amount of money your county gets may depend on how you voted. The report says counties that President Obama won in last year's election have actually gotten twice as much money per person as those that voted for John McCain.

So breaking that down into raw numbers, the counties that supported Obama, the report shows, received about $69 per person on average. Counties that supported McCain on average received about $34 per person. But the report also says that that imbalance didn't just start with the stimulus. From 2005 through 2007, counties that later voted for Obama collecting about 50 percent more government aid anyway, according to spending reports from the Census Bureau.

Posted In
Economy, Budget
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel, CNN
Person
Sean Hannity, Kiran Chetry, Kimberly Guilfoyle, S.E. Cupp
Show/Publication
American Morning, Hannity
Stories/Interests
Economic Recovery Plan
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