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 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.
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.
Numerous media figures have cited Japanese fiscal policy during the "lost decade" of the 1990s to criticize President-elect Barack Obama's plan to undertake a large-scale stimulus program. These media figures ignore evidence that, according to prominent economists, economic conditions were improving in Japan before the Japanese government temporarily abandoned stimulus spending in an attempt to reduce the deficit.
Fox News' Neil Cavuto contradicted reporting by Fox News by suggesting that the financial bailout bill would not have failed if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "had just shut up earlier and not characterized it one way or the other" in a speech she gave before the vote. However, Fox News producer Chad Pergram reported before Pelosi spoke that Republicans "may only have 40 to 60 of their members" supporting the bill, a number that Pergram said "leaves us very short there." Additionally, several GOP House members have said that Pelosi's speech did not cause Republicans to switch their votes.
On September 18, Fox News' Neil Cavuto conflated giving home mortgages to minorities with risky lending practices, suggesting that there should have been "a clarion call that said, 'Fannie and Freddie are a disaster. Loaning to minorities and risky folks is a disaster.' "
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On Your World, Neil Cavuto did not challenge Rep. Michelle Bachmann's false claim that "[w]e didn't have any spillage whatsoever from the oil rigs during Katrina." In fact, a report prepared for the federal government by an international consulting firm identified damage from Hurricane Katrina to 27 platforms and rigs that resulted in the spilling of approximately 2,843 barrels of petroleum products into the Gulf of Mexico.
Since Sen. John McCain named Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, media outlets including the Associated Press, MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, the Detroit Free-Press, and the washingtonpost.com blog The Fix have taken the "maverick" label the media have frequently and uncritically applied to McCain and affixed it to Palin as well.
Fox News' Neil Cavuto interviewed "anti-feminist attorney" Roy Den Hollander, who discussed his lawsuit against Columbia University for offering a women's studies program "but not a men's studies program." Den Hollander said: "[C]ut out the feminazi, feminist women's studies programs and bring back varsity sports, and you're going to do a lot better for the university." Den Hollander later said that women "are a suspect class. Every time they open their mouths, I begin to suspect something."
Echoing The Washington Post's Dana Milbank, Fox News' Neil Cavuto repeated as fact a disputed version of a comment Sen. Barack Obama reportedly made in a closed-door meeting with congressional Democrats, citing it as purported evidence that Obama's "messianic thing is getting a little over the top."
Fox News' Neil Cavuto left unchallenged a false claim by Vets For Freedom chairman Pete Hegseth that Sen. Barack Obama has "never met with General Petraeus." In fact, as recently as April 8, Obama questioned Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker at a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing on Iraq.
On Fox News' Your World, Neil Cavuto reported on Sen. John McCain's rejection of Rev. John Hagee's endorsement, but he didn't note Hagee's remarks about Adolf Hitler and Zionism or that McCain admitted he sought Hagee's endorsement.
Fox News' Neil Cavuto misrepresented the projected cost of a federal "housing rescue package" by saying it was going to cost "300 billion bucks," while an on-air graphic read, "House lawmakers set to pass $300B housing bill; bailout?" In fact, while the legislation would authorize the FHA to insure up to $300 billion in homeownership retention loans, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the program would cost the government $2.7 billion between 2008-2013.
On Your World, Neil Cavuto said of Sen. Barack Obama: "Well, one of the reasons why he espoused talking to our enemies -- much as Jimmy Carter has with his recent meeting with Hamas and all that -- is that we can't make things worse, so what's the harm in talking to them?" Contrary to Cavuto's suggestion that Obama has expressed a willingness to meet with Hamas, Reuters reported on March 3 that Obama "has said he would break with President George W. Bush's stance of declining to talk to some other international adversaries but that stance does not apply to Hamas."
While discussing Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign strategy for the March 4 Democratic primary in Texas, Neil Cavuto said of Clinton: "[S]he's trying to run away from this tough, kind of bitchy image."
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