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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.
In recent days, several media figures, including MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski and CNN's Tom Foreman and Campbell Brown, have either uncritically reported or echoed Dick Cheney's assertion that the Bush administration's anti-terrorism policies have kept the United States safe. These media figures did not note that a 2008 GAO report found that the U.S. "has not met its national security goals to destroy terrorist threats and close the safe haven" in Pakistan, or that many CIA analysts reportedly believe Al Qaeda leaders have declined to attack the U.S. again for strategic reasons, not due to the Bush administration's counterterrorism policies.
Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski did not challenge Sen. John Thune's claim that the creation of "government jobs" does not stimulate the economy. In fact, Congressional Budget Office director Douglas Elmendorf has stated that, "in terms of the short-term stimulus, either kind of job [government or private sector] works because the people who get those jobs and receive the paycheck go out and spend it, and that's -- or spend much of it, and that is the multiplier effect that economists talk about."
MSNBC's Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski continued their assault on the economic recovery package, misrepresenting New Deal unemployment figures to argue that government spending does not boost employment.
Morning Joe's Mika Brzezinski has relentlessly repeated the claim that funding for "welfare programs" and nutrition assistance included in the recovery bill is "not stimulus," even after CNBC's Erin Burnett cited economist Mark Zandi and said that "[f]ood stamps" and "[u]nemployment benefits" are some of the measures that "would increase spending." Other economists have also said that programs that provide aid to state governments and individuals, would, in the words of CBO director Douglas Elmendorf, "have a significant impact on GDP."
MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski echoed her disputed claim that funding for "welfare programs" included in the recovery bill, such as "food stamps and helping low income people pay for college," would not stimulate the economy. In fact, economists have said that programs that provide aid to state governments and individuals would, in the words of Congressional Budget Office director Douglas W. Elmendorf, "have a significant impact on GDP."
On Morning Joe, Mika Brzezinski suggested that funding for "welfare programs" included in the economic recovery bill would not stimulate the economy. However, economists have said that programs that provide aid to state governments and individuals would, in the words of Congressional Budget Office director Douglas W. Elmendorf, "have a significant impact on GDP."
On Morning Joe, shortly after Mika Brzezinski remarked that the weather was "so cold" that "[i]t'll freeze your car door shut," Joe Scarborough recounted, "I tried to turn the key, and it was ... locked." Then, in response to Brzezinski's comment, "Oh, American car. That's the problem," Scarborough declared: "The American car -- you know what? It's probably some Japanese engineer that made the key hold -- just sabotaged us. Kinda like blowing up things at Pearl Harbor."
On Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough again claimed that Al Franken "can steal" enough votes in the Minnesota Senate race to emerge victorious, marking at least the sixth time Scarborough has invoked "steal[ing]" votes since the recount began. Scarborough later denied that he was "saying Al Franken's stealing votes" but was instead "just saying how easy would it be for Al Franken to steal 150 [votes]." He added: "I'm like a scientist. This is a theory that I'm trying out there."
Previously having stated that Democrat Al Franken "only needs to steal 130 more votes to win" his race against Republican Sen. Norm Coleman for Minnesota's U.S. Senate seat, MSNBC's Joe Scarborough again raised the subject of "steal[ing]" votes on the December 16 edition of Morning Joe -- at least the fifth time he has made such comments since the recount began on November 19. After co-host Mika Brzezinski reported that Franken is behind Coleman by 188 votes, Scarborough asked Pat Buchanan, "Buchanan, can you steal 188 out of 1,500? That's easy, right?"
Debunking the false claim, advanced by many in the media, that autoworkers employed by U.S. auto manufacturers receive $70 or more per hour in wages and benefits, Bob Shrum said on Morning Joe that "there's this one crazy statistic" that autoworkers are "paid 70 bucks an hour." Mike Barnicle added: "The $77 an hour thing is not true. It's the compilation of all the benefits." Joe Scarborough later stated, "[J]ust so everybody knows, when we talk about $77 or $45, we're not only talking about the money, the benefits, everything else, retirement, we're also talking about the money to -- the legacy costs of the existing retirees."
MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski falsely claimed that "the average Big Three automaker union worker's compensation is $73/hour -- two and a half times the average for the taxpayer being asked to bail them out." In fact, the $73 figure includes not only future retirement benefits for current workers, but also benefits paid to current retirees, according to GM.
Discussing the possibility of Democrats gaining a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, Joe Scarborough stated, "So, with [Sen. Ted] Stevens losing, Democrats have 58 [senators and Senator-elects]. They've got this run-off in Georgia, which could get them to 59. ... If Al Franken steals enough votes in Minnesota, they get to 60. I'm not saying he stole any votes, I'm just saying, as a Republican from Florida, I mean, it's a close race. Steal some votes, you get over the top." In fact, Minnesota Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty has repeatedly said there is no actual evidence of fraud in the vote count of the state's Senate race.
On Morning Joe, Joe Scarborough falsely asserted that Sen. Barack Obama said during the October 15 presidential debate that Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) "drew appropriate comparisons" in a statement invoking George Wallace and a church bombing in criticizing "the negative tone of the McCain-Palin campaign." In fact, Obama said that Lewis "inappropriately drew a comparison between what was happening [at McCain-Palin rallies] and what had happened during the civil rights movement, and we immediately put out a statement saying that we don't think that comparison is appropriate" [emphasis added].