In recent days, Fox News hosts and contributors have advanced the false claim -- pushed by Republican lawmakers -- that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid included a provision in the recovery bill directing that $8 billion be spent on a high-speed rail line between Southern California and Las Vegas. In fact, the bill does not direct high-speed rail funds to any specific project, and any funding would be allocated by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman.
CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight and Fox News' Hannity advanced the claim that the economic recovery bill contains $30 million to protect the salt marsh harvest mouse in San Francisco. In fact, the bill does not contain any language directing funds to San Francisco wetlands or the salt marsh harvest mouse in the San Francisco wetlands. Even the GOP aide who originated the claim has reportedly said that "[t]here is no language in the bill that says this money will go to this project."
Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh have repeatedly claimed that President Reagan's tax cuts were responsible for ending the recession in the early 1980s, suggesting that tax cuts, and not government spending, would be the best solution to the end the current recession. However, several economists have stated that while fiscal policy had some impact during that period, "[l]ower interest rates after mid-1982 permitted the recovery to begin," according to a 1983 CBO report. By contrast, a reduction in the federal funds interest rate is not available to the Federal Reserve today because the current rate is essentially zero.
A New York Times essay by Jason DeParle highlighted a resurgence of the use of the word "welfare" among conservatives, this time to attack President Obama's economy recovery plan. Indeed, while economists agree that provisions in the legislation targeting needy people are among the most economically stimulative, Media Matters documents below the pervasiveness of what DeParle called the "weaponiz[ation]" of the "very word, welfare," in the media, particularly, but not exclusively on Fox News, to denounce the stimulus bill.
On his radio and television shows, Sean Hannity again claimed that "[n]o other speaker had" a military plane "before" Nancy Pelosi and that she is the "first speaker to ever have that plane." In fact, following 9-11, the House sergeant-at-arms, the Defense Department, and the White House agreed that military planes should be made available to the speaker of the House for national security reasons, and the first speaker to use such a plane was Dennis Hastert in 2001.
In recent days, Sean Hannity has repeatedly claimed that Mark McKinnon is "a pollster for the Democrats," a "Democratic pollster," or a "Democratic strategist." In fact, McKinnon has described himself as a "moderate Republican" and served as a senior adviser to Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign and as former President Bush's chief media adviser.
Discussing the economic recovery bill, Sean Hannity falsely claimed that the Congressional Budget Office "say[s] it's not a stimulus bill." However, in analyzing the House and Senate versions of the bill, the CBO stated it expects that either version "would have a noticeable impact on economic growth and employment in the next few years."
Karl Rove falsely claimed that the economic stimulus bill would amount to spending "$206,000 for each new job that [President Barack Obama] wants to get," becoming the latest Fox News figure to repeat the false calculation. In fact, by calculating the per-job cost by dividing the estimated total cost of the recovery bill by the estimated number of jobs created -- and thus suggesting that the sole purpose of that package is to create jobs -- Rove ignored other tangible benefits stemming from the package, such as infrastructure improvements and investments in education, health, and public safety.
With a Democrat back in the White House, Rush Limbaugh has wasted no time in hurling false and baseless attacks against President Obama, echoing his slanders and smears of President Clinton, his family, and his administration during the 1990s.
Accompanying the appointment of Kirsten Gillibrand to the U.S. Senate is the return of comparisons in the media between a female public official -- previously Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin, and now Gillibrand -- and the character Tracy Flick from the book and movie Election -- a character who has been described as "one of those people who manages to get very far in life while being thoroughly unlikable."
Sean Hannity asserted that the economic stimulus bill would amount to spending at least $217,000 for every job created, echoing a false calculation from a press release issued by the Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee and repeated by numerous media figures. In fact, by calculating the per-job cost by dividing the estimated total cost of the stimulus package by the estimated number of jobs created -- and thus suggesting that the sole purpose of that package is to create jobs -- these media figures ignored other tangible benefits stemming from the package, such as infrastructure improvements and education, health, and public safety investments.
Discussing President Obama's executive order stating that a detainee in U.S. custody cannot be subjected to interrogation techniques not listed in the Army Field Manual, Karl Rove falsely asserted that "[t]he Army Field Manual ... prohibits you from using good cop-bad cop in interrogating." In fact, the Army Field Manual explicitly permits good cop-bad cop interrogations under the name of "Mutt and Jeff" interrogations, which involve two interrogators "display[ing] opposing personalities and attitudes toward the source."
While interviewing Rudy Giuliani, Sean Hannity repeated the false claim that "[s]ixty-one" Guantánamo detainees who have been released are "back on the battlefield" to support his assertion that President Barack Obama is "an ideologue." Hannity and Giuliani also repeated the claims that fiscal stimulus packages were ineffective during the Great Depression and during Japan's "lost decade," but both those claims have been challenged by economists.
Michelle Malkin, Rush Limbaugh, and Sean Hannity have falsely asserted or suggested that Robert Reich, speaking at a congressional forum, proposed that jobs created by the economic stimulus package should exclude white males. In fact, Reich has repeatedly stated that he favors a stimulus plan that "includ[es] women and minorities, and the long-term unemployed" in addition to skilled professionals and white male construction workers, not one that is solely limited to them.