On its website and on Your World, Fox News has promoted the misrepresentation of a provision in the economic recovery bill to make false claims about restrictions on spending in the bill for religious activities in schools. In fact, the provision is nearly identical to provisions included in numerous other federal bills.
On Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer adopted the often repeated Republican talking point that some government spending in the recovery package currently being debated in the Senate is not stimulus. In fact, while testifying about the bill, CBO director Douglas Elmendorf said that CBO and "most economists" believe that "all of the increase in government spending ... provides some stimulative effect."
Many in the media have proclaimed the GOP the winner in the "stimulus message war" over President Obama and congressional Democrats. But they often do so with no self-reflection or acknowledgment of their cohort's role in advancing the Republicans' side in the debate through the credulous repetition of falsehoods and other Republican talking points.
Chris Matthews said that Republicans "got some of their blood thirst going here when they learned that they could score when John Boehner went after the condoms in the -- condoms in the -- in the House version" of the recovery bill, adding that "it was a lot of fun for the Republicans to say contraception shouldn't be one of the pieces of this stimulus package." But Matthews himself also repeatedly raised, criticized, and on at least one occasion misrepresented the section of the bill dealing with contraceptives on Hardball.
Fox News' Greta Van Susteren allowed Sen. Lindsey Graham to advance the myth that the economic recovery legislation would "reward ACORN." In fact, neither the House version nor the proposed Senate version mentions ACORN. The false claim is based on a misrepresentation of a provision that would appropriate $4.19 billion for neighborhood stabilization activities, but which would be distributed through competitive processes; ACORN has denied that it is eligible, or plans to apply, for those funds.
CNN's Lou Dobbs repeated the Republican talking point that the House-passed recovery bill "call[s] for more than $4 billion ... for something called 'neighborhood stabilization activities,' " adding, "That means funding for low-income advocacy groups such as ACORN." In fact, the recovery bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding; ACORN itself has said that it is ineligible for the funds and has no plans to apply for them.
In his Wall Street Journal op-ed, Karl Rove wrote of the House-passed economic recovery bill: "And it should not shock Americans that Democratic appropriators would funnel tax dollars to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now." In fact, the recovery bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding; ACORN itself has said that it is ineligible for the funds and has no plans to apply for them.
CNN's Lou Dobbs declared that, in recent comments about the state of the economy, President Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have been "fear-mongering" and "blatantly using the politics of fear to push for even more so-called stimulus measures." But Dobbs has repeatedly engaged in "fear-mongering" of his own, including stirring up baseless fears that the economic recovery bill would provide money for undocumented immigrants and ACORN -- two frequent scapegoats of Dobbs, Republicans, and conservative media figures.
While criticizing President Obama for saying that the economy is currently doing poorly, Steve Doocy purported to contrast what Obama has said with FDR's famous statement that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." In fact, in the very speech in which Roosevelt made that remark, he said of the economy at the time, "Values have shrunk to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income." Roosevelt later added: "Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment."