On his radio and Fox News shows, Glenn Beck promoted the false claim that the Obama administration plans to spend $2 billion on a ten-day presidential trip to Asia, before eventually acknowledging that he doesn't know if that figure is accurate. The White House says the reported figure is "wildly inflated" and the Secret Service says it is "significantly exaggerated."
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Beck promotes erroneous Asia trip cost, then says "Is that true? I don't know"
Beck on the radio: Trip "costing $2 billion for 10 days." On his November 4 radio show, Beck said Obama was taking a trip "costing $2 billion for 10 days so he can go see the festival of lights," adding, "It's called the phone!"
Beck at 5:02 p.m.: "[I]t could cost up to $2 billion to make sure he's safe." From the November 4 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
BECK: In the middle of these desperate times, the president now has decided to take a trip overseas. But not just any trip; he's going to India. Ooh, exotic India and Asia. What is being reported as possibly the largest scale presidential trip of all time.
All on the heels of his wife's lavish trip to Spain, now our president is planning another lavish trip. And our dollar is losing value and the Chinese are warning us. The media again is missing it. The bickering today back and forth about how many hundreds or maybe -- maybe billions of dollars this is going to cost to insure the president's security but no one is asking, "Wait a minute, it could cost up to$2 billion to make sure he's safe? Then why is he -- has he seen the Grand Canyon?"
Beck at 5:25 p.m.: "Some people say that it is up to $2 billion for 10 days. Is that true? I don't know." From the November 4 edition of Glenn Beck:
BECK: A report came out that has made the rounds on the Internet about the high cost of this trip. Some people say that it is up to $2billion for 10 days. Is that true? I don't know. The media is bickering back and forth about what the real cost is and how many ships will be there. Thirty-four warships, possibly. I don't know. Two hundred million dollars a day while in India. I don't know. president has blocked off eight hundred hotel rooms. Do we even know if he's traveling with 3,000 people? Do we know if that's true? No one knows any of the details of this trip, the real cost of the trip. One thing we can say for certain is it's going to be quite expensive.
$200 million per day figure spread through conservative media, based on anonymous source in Indian paper. In a November 2 article headlined, "US to spend $200 mn a day on Obama's Mumbai visit," the Press Trust of India reported that "The US would be spending a whopping $200 million (Rs. 900 crore approx) per day on President Barack Obama's visit to the city," citing an anonymous "top official of the Maharashtra Government." The story was promoted by the Drudge Report and spread to numerous conservative websites, Rush Limbaugh, and Fox News.
White House, Secret Service deny "exaggerated" and "inflated" costs of trip
Secret Service: India trip cost is "significantly exaggerated." Asked about the $200 million per day figure, Secret Service spokesman Edwin Donovan told Media Matters that the costs of the India trip have been "significantly exaggerated" but due to security concerns the service doesn't comment on the specific costs of presidential trips.
White House calls cost "wildly inflated." Asked about the Press Trust of India article, White House spokesman Matt Lehrich told Media Matters, "The numbers reported in this article have no basis in reality. Due to security concerns, we are unable to outline details associated with security procedures and costs, but it's safe to say these numbers are wildly inflated."
Pentagon reportedly calls "34 warships" claim "absolutely absurd." Beck claimed that "The media is bickering back and forth about what the real cost is and how many ships will be there. Thirty-four warships, possibly. I don't know." But Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell reportedly addressed this claim during a press conference today, saying: "I will take the liberty this time of dismissing as absolutely absurd this notion that somehow we were deploying 10 percent of the Navy -- some 34 ships and an aircraft carrier -- in support of the president's trip to Asia... That's just comical. Nothing close to that is being done."