Mere hours after the Gridiron Dinner -- an annual gathering of the political press in which everyone soberly bonds over their concern for the state of the world and offers the plucky and trembling Ed Henry advice on being a newsman -- President Barack Obama appeared on 60 Minutes for an interview with Steve Kroft, and while the session, to the untrained eye, might have looked like a ranging and substantive interview, media figures with more discernment and savvy saw it for what it was: Obama laughing at the hardships of America, forever and ever.
And so, as the keepers of the public trust, they grimly went to work, warning America about Obama's reckless demonstration of "emotion" and "brief levity" and "humor," because HOW DARE HE. What sort of rat bastard President would force the cast of MSNBC's commedia dell'arte show Morning Joe suspend their pleasing lazzi, about sex toys -- the important issues of the day -- to discuss his loathesome laughter! In this new video by Media Matters, you can see just how this important topic was relentlessly pursued, like the icy grip of death.
On CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, Ed Henry falsely suggested that President Obama's proposals to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire and to increase the capital gains tax rate would affect taxpayers in all income brackets. In fact, Obama has proposed allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire -- and increasing the capital gains tax rate -- only for individuals earning more than $200,000 in income and for joint filers earning more than $250,000 per year.
In numerous instances, the media have falsely stated or suggested that a CBO analysis of less than half of the economic recovery bill examined the entire bill, resulting in the false suggestion that the analysis, in the words of the Politico, "shows very little money will be spent in the first six or so months after enactment" of the recovery plan. But as the AP noted, the CBO analysis did not "cover tax cuts or efforts by Democrats to provide relief to cash-strapped state governments to help with their Medicaid bills." Six days later, some outlets were still making the false suggestion.
On CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, Ed Henry asserted that the Congressional Budget Office's cost estimate of the economic stimulus bill "basically says that 52 percent of the money will be spent out over the next 18 months, that some 64, 65 percent of the bill will be paid out over the first two years." However, Henry's calculations are based on outlays only, excluding the plan's tax cut provisions. Including both outlays and tax cuts, the CBO estimated that about 64 percent of the recovery bill would be paid out within 19 months, and about 86 percent by the end of fiscal year 2011.
On his CNN show, Lou Dobbs falsely claimed that in an item criticizing a report by Ed Henry on President Obama's economic recovery package, Media Matters "tr[ied] to conflate the Office of Management and Budget numbers as somehow superior with the Congressional Budget Office." In fact, Media Matters merely pointed out that according to the OMB director, the CBO conducted only a partial analysis of the bill, which Henry did not report.
On Lou Dobbs Tonight, Ed Henry reported that a "study" from the Congressional Budget Office "was suggesting that a lot of the spending proposals in the original [economic stimulus] plan would not really take effect for a couple of years, so it wouldn't clearly help create jobs in the first two years of the president's administration." However, the director of the Office of Management and Budget stated in a letter that his agency's "analysis indicates that at least 75 percent of the overall package ... will be spent over the next year and a half" -- which Henry did not report.
NBC and CNN uncritically reported Sen. John McCain's charge that Sen. Barack Obama voted for an energy bill in 2005 that was "full of goodies and breaks for the oil companies," while McCain voted against it. Neither provided a response from the Obama campaign, which says that Obama voted for the bill because it included extensive investments in renewable energy. Nor did either report note that the bill actually resulted in a net tax increase for the oil and gas industry.
CNN's Carol Costello and Ed Henry, and Fox News' Brit Hume falsely suggested that only the Democratic members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence approved the committee's June 5 "Report on Whether Public Statements Regarding Iraq by U.S. Government Officials Were Substantiated by Intelligence Information." In addition to the committee's Democrats, Republican Sens. Chuck Hagel and Olympia Snowe endorsed the report and stated that it "accomplished its primary objective."
Ed Henry and Jessica Yellin joined the growing list of CNN anchors and reporters who have embraced the lexicon of social conservatives, characterizing Christian conservative voters as "values voters" and equating an opposition to abortion rights with "family values." Henry suggested that support for reproductive choice is not a "family value" and that being pro-choice is inconsistent with being "pro-family," while Yellin suggested that those who are not "white evangelical voters" vote on something other than values.
Reporting on a speech by President Bush, CNN's Ed Henry asserted: "The president touted the fact that more than 20,000 U.S. troops will be coming home from Iraq by July." However, Henry made no mention of his reporting for CNN in September 2007, when he noted Bush's attempt to "get some political credit for bringing these troops home" and said: "[I]t's important to stress, as you know, that military officials have already suggested that they're stretched and these surge troops would have to come home by next spring -- next summer anyway."
On CNN, Ed Henry reported that "Democrats ... like Congressman John Murtha ... are now saying that the surge is working," and suggested that, as a result of such comments, it "is going to be more and more difficult for Democrats" to argue that President Bush should sign a war funding bill that includes a provision for troop redeployment. But Murtha, who voted in favor of the bill, actually said, "I think the surge is working, I think -- but that's only one element. ... [T]he thing that has to happen, the Iraqis have to do this themselves." In a subsequent statement, Murtha added: "The fact remains that the war in Iraq cannot be won militarily, and that we must begin an orderly redeployment of U.S. forces from Iraq as soon as practicable."
CNN's Ed Henry uncritically reported that "local Republicans hammered the point that, unlike in Louisiana, California officials only relied on the feds for the secondary help," quoting Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray as saying, "I think that's how the system's actually designed, and it's worked great." But the House Select Bipartisan Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina found that Katrina was not a "normal" disaster, but a "catastrophic" one; thus, federal officials should have "clearly and forcefully instruct[ed] everyone involved with the federal response to be proactive, anticipate future requirements, develop plans to fulfill them, and execute those plans without waiting for formal requests from overwhelmed state and local response officials."
In airing President Bush's assertion that "[s]ectarian violence has sharply decreased in Baghdad. The momentum is now on our side," CNN's Ed Henry gave no indication that he attempted to verify Bush's assertion. By contrast, recent articles by the Associated Press and McClatchy Newspapers have challenged claims about decreases in violence in Iraq.