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.
Fox News' Trace Gallagher and Brian Wilson cited the "irony" of snowfall in Washington, D.C., and elsewhere in the U.S. on the day Al Gore testified on global warming before a Senate committee, which Bill Hemmer stated was "making for an inconvenient forecast." But climate scientists -- including at least one who has disputed aspects of the scientific consensus on global warming -- completely reject the notion that short-term changes in weather, let alone an individual winter storm in January, bear any relevance to the global warming debate.
Fox News' John Gibson and MSNBC's Joe Scarborough each asserted that if President Obama abandons Bush administration policies and procedures "which kept us safe for the last seven, eight years," in Gibson's words, Obama will bear responsibility for any future act of terrorism. However, neither mentioned evidence that President Bush's policies did not eliminate the terrorist threat to America and that some Bush policy decisions, such as the invasion and occupation of Iraq, may, in fact, have aggravated the threat.
On The Live Desk, Karl Rove advanced a falsehood he put forth in a recent Wall Street Journal column by suggesting that President-elect Barack Obama had "trashed the [Bush] administration" for supporting a 2008 stimulus bill. In fact, in remarks that Rove misrepresented in the column, Obama criticized the Bush administration for funding "[a] trillion dollar war in Iraq" with "deficit spending" and for exhibiting "[a] complete disdain for pay-as-you-go budgeting," but he did not criticize the administration for supporting the 2008 stimulus bill.
In recent days, Fox News anchors and contributors have falsely asserted, repeatedly, that people who don't pay taxes would be eligible for a $500 individual tax credit included in President-elect Barack Obama's proposed economic recovery plan, echoing an oft-repeated myth from the presidential campaign that Obama's proposed tax cuts would go to people who don't pay taxes. In fact, Obama has proposed a tax credit for working Americans, meaning they do pay Social Security and Medicare taxes.
On The Live Desk, Trace Gallagher falsely claimed that autoworkers for "the Big Three" earn "73 bucks in wages and benefits." In fact, according to General Motors, the $73-an-hour figure is based not only on current workers' hourly wages and benefits, such as health care and retirement, but also retirement and health-care benefits that U.S. automakers are providing for retirees.
On The Live Desk, Trace Gallagher falsely suggested that in 2001 comments about attempts to pursue "economic justice" through the court system, Sen. Barack Obama had advocated "chang[ing] the mission of the Supreme Court in some facet," a statement with which Bill Sammon agreed. Obama did not advocate changing the mission of the court; to the contrary, Obama said that "traged[y]" lies in the civil rights movement's overreliance on the courts to bring about political and economic justice, when the judicial system is not the appropriate vehicle to effect broad economic change.
The CBS Evening News, Fox News' The Live Desk, and the Politico's Jonathan Martin noted Cindy McCain's attack on Sen. Barack Obama that his "vote to not fund my son when he was serving sent a cold chill through my body." However, none of their reports pointed out that Sen. John McCain himself voted against legislation to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
On Fox News' The Live Desk, Trace Gallagher repeated a debunked oil drilling myth, claiming that "more oil seeps through the ground off the coast of California than is ever spilled out there. So you're going to have much more environmental damage." In fact, according to a County of Santa Barbara report, "The evidence is clear that, far from being invisible against a background of seeps, major spills can have far greater and qualitatively different impacts on the environment than do seeps."
On Live Desk, Griff Jenkins said of a recent photo of Sen. Barack Obama taking a bicycle ride: "Where is he going? And I was thinking, maybe to get a pocket protector for his nerd pencils. What is that?"
On his radio show, Mark Levin falsely asserted that Sen. Barack Obama "lied to" the American Israel Public Affairs Committee when he "told them today that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards should be designated a terrorist group after voting against a bill designating them a terrorist group a year ago." Similarly, Fox News' Martha MacCallum asserted that Obama "seems to be changing his tune on the significant issue." In fact, Obama has consistently supported designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, having co-sponsored a bill in 2007 to do that.
On The Live Desk, Martha MacCallum did not challenge the false assertion by Christine O'Donnell, 2008 GOP Senate candidate in Delaware, that Sen. Barack Obama "and my opponent [Sen. Joe] Biden are pushing for this global tax that would require America to pay tax to the U.N." In fact, the Global Poverty Act, a bill introduced by Obama, would not "require America to pay tax to the U.N.," and it would not commit the United States to any targeted level of spending.
Fox News' Steve Doocy asserted that Sen. John McCain "has not really talked much about his time in the Hanoi Hilton for five years, and what happened to him, and they are including some of that archival stuff in a [campaign] video. And now, Howard Dean says that that is 'blatant opportunism.' " In fact, Dean said: "John McCain can try to reintroduce himself to the country, but he can't change the fact that he cast aside his principles to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with President Bush for the last seven years. While we honor McCain's military service, the fact is Americans want a real leader who offers real solutions, not a blatant opportunist who doesn't understand the economy and is promising to keep our troops in Iraq for 100 years."
On Fox News' The Live Desk, Martha MacCallum, discussing with correspondent Major Garrett a report about Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign manager, Maggie Williams, stated that Williams "sat on the board of one of the nation's once-largest and now bankrupt mortgage lenders, Delta Financial." However, neither Garrett nor MacCallum mentioned Sen. John McCain's reported ties to the mortgage industry.
While discussing on Fox News' The Live Desk New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson's endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama, Philadelphia radio host Dom Giordano said of Richardson's beard: "I don't know if it's playing into the ethnic card, or whatever." Host Martha MacCallum stated, "[Richardson] said, you know, 'It's hard for me,' he said to me once, 'people don't even know I'm Hispanic,' " and then asked, "So is that part of what he is ... cultivating here?" Giordano replied, "I think so."