Columnists Mona Charen and George Will continued a trend among conservative media of responding to comparisons between the current economic situation and that of the 1930s and between Barack Obama and FDR by attacking the New Deal. In separate columns, both Charen and Will cherry-picked unemployment figures to assert that the New Deal did not reduce unemployment. But historians and progressive economists have noted that unemployment fell every year of the New Deal except during the 1937-38 recession; further, Nobel-laureate Paul Krugman has said it was a reversal of New Deal policies, not a continuance of them, that contributed to rising unemployment in 1937 and 1938.
In recent weeks, several conservative media figures, echoed by Republican lawmakers, have responded to comparisons in the media of President-elect Barack Obama to FDR, or assertions in the media that a New Deal-level of government intervention will be necessary to resolve the current economic crisis, by asserting that the New Deal was a dismal failure, plunging the 1930s economy into a depression, an assertion that prominent progressive economists flatly reject.
On Late Edition, Wolf Blitzer and John King both cited an August 15-18 Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll in which 52 percent of Sen. Hillary Clinton's supporters said they will support Sen. Barack Obama, but neither noted that an August 19-22 Washington Post/ABC News poll found that 70 percent of Clinton supporters "back Obama," according to the Post.
The AP reported that Vice President Dick Cheney's office has acknowledged that "he was mistaken when he asserted that China, at Cuba's behest, is drilling for oil in waters 60 miles from the Florida coast" -- an assertion Cheney took from columnist George Will. Does Will plan to offer evidence in support of his claim, or will he issue a correction?
On Hardball, George Will described female pro-choice voters as "women who believe, in the words of Barack Obama, that they shouldn't be punished with a baby." As video of Obama's remarks shows, Obama was discussing sex education, not abortion, when he made the comment Will highlighted.
Newsweek has corrected George Will's false assertion in his Newsweek column that Social Security taxes are levied based on household income. Will made the same assertion on ABC's This Week, but ABC has yet to issue a correction on the show.
In his column, George F. Will claimed that "Hillary Clinton, 60, Illinois native and Arkansas lawyer, became, retroactively, a lifelong Yankee fan at age 52, when, shopping for a U.S. Senate seat, she adopted New York state as home sweet home." However, the idea that Clinton proclaimed herself a Yankees fan "retroactively" is a myth commonly repeated in the media and contradicted by the evidence.
In his Newsweek column, George Will falsely claimed that Social Security taxes are levied on household income. He had similarly falsely asserted on ABC's This Week that Sen. Barack Obama "wants to raise taxes on a lot of people, beginning with those earning about $100,000 a year, a household." In fact, Social Security taxes are levied based on individual income, and contrary to his assertion in Newsweek, a married couple with each spouse making less than $102,000 would not face a payroll tax increase if the income cap was raised, even if combined they made more than the current cap.
The Washington Post's George Will asserted that Sen. John McCain's admittedly false claim that Iran is training Al Qaeda is "[n]ot damaging at all" to McCain, "because people say it's a given that this man knows what he's talking about." Similarly, The Chicago Tribune's Jill Zuckman asserted that "I don't think many people believe" "the argument that McCain doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to foreign policy." But neither Will nor Zuckman noted that McCain has made that error more than once.
On ABC's This Week, George Will falsely asserted that "in the primaries," Sen. John McCain "has achieved more independent voters than [Sen. Barack] Obama." In fact, in calculations based on exit polls, in each of the nine states that have held open or semi-open primaries contested by both Obama and McCain, Obama received more votes from voters who identified themselves as "independent" than McCain.
George Will wrote that Sen. Clinton "stridently opposed" President Bush's "advocacy of personal accounts financed by a portion of individuals' Social Security taxes" and suggested that her recent proposal to offer a matching tax credit to families that invest in 401(k) retirement accounts reflects "an undisclosed epiphany," after which "she belatedly recognizes that 401(k) funds invested in equities are a foundation for security." But contrary to Will's suggestion, Clinton has long expressed support for tax credits for retirement investments, while opposing the diversion of Social Security payments into private accounts.
On This Week, George F. Will suggested that developing countries are "not interested" in climate change. In fact, during the recent United Nations General Assembly, numerous leaders from so-called developing nations said that their countries are particularly vulnerable to the impact of climate change and requested international cooperation to help mitigate its impact.
On ABC's This Week, The Washington Post's George Will asserted "What they [Republican primary voters] have learned about Giuliani is that he doesn't flip-flop. ... [H]e's taken exactly the un-Romney approach to his problem, which was to say, 'Look, this is me. Take it or leave it.' " But as NPR senior news analyst Cokie Roberts said, "[H]e equivocated on guns. He equivocated on abortion."