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.
A Washington Times "analysis," promoted by the Drudge Report and ABCNews.com's The Note, quoted only Republicans to make the claim that President Obama's purported language of "doom" regarding the economy has been deemed "not presidential."
The Washington Times falsely claimed that the House-passed economic recovery bill "allows payment of checks to undocumented immigrants," and repeated the falsehood that "much" of the $4.19 billion allocated for a Neighborhood Stabilization Program in the bill "might go to ACORN." In fact, under the bill, undocumented immigrants without Social Security numbers are not eligible for tax credits, and the bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for funding.
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.
The Washington Times has recently published several articles noting* a partial Congressional Budget Office analysis of the stimulus bill to support claims that most of the money in the bill would not be spent quickly. But in an article reporting former comptroller general David Walker discussing CBO's analysis of infrastructure spending and a separate article reporting that "[c]ritics say Obama's economic bill lacks stimulus," the Times ignored the conclusion of a more recent CBO analysis of the entire bill that 64 percent of the combined cost of the spending increases and tax cuts in the bill would occur by September 30, 2010.
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."
In an article about President Obama's economic stimulus package, The Washington Times reported that Rep. John Boehner "called for 'fast-acting tax relief, not slow-moving government spending,' in a ... response to Mr. Obama's weekly address." But the Times did not note that Obama's stimulus package proposes several tax credits and that according to the director of the Office of Management and Budget, "at least 75 percent of the overall package ... will be spent over the next year and a half."
The Washington Times' Donald Lambro falsely claimed that in a January 2008 paper, President Barack Obama's campaign economic adviser Jason Furman "doubted any infrastructure spending 'would generate significant short-term stimulus.' " In fact, in that paper, while stating that infrastructure projects are "difficult to design in a manner that would generate significant short-term stimulus," Furman also said that infrastructure spending "might be more useful if policies could be designed to prevent cutoffs in ongoing infrastructure spending (such as road repair) that would exacerbate an economic downturn."
A Washington Times editorial asserted that "[j]ust as a few MPs at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq acted disgracefully ... there may be legal wrongs and/or morally questionable acts that interrogation personnel conducted at Gitmo or other sites." But in suggesting that responsibility for detainee abuse at those detention facilities was limited to "a few MPs" at Abu Ghraib and "interrogation personnel" at Guantánamo, the Times ignored the conclusions of a Senate Armed Services Committee report that found: "The abuse of detainees in U.S. custody cannot simply be attributed to the actions of 'a few bad apples' acting on their own. The fact is that senior officials in the United States government solicited information on how to use aggressive techniques, redefined the law to create the appearance of their legality, and authorized their use against detainees."
On Fox News' Special Report, reporting on reactions to the disclosure that Treasury Secretary-designate Timothy F. Geithner failed to pay certain taxes while employed at the International Monetary Fund, Major Garrett asserted: "Senate Democrats are closing ranks ... and Senate Republicans are keeping their powder dry." In fact, less than two hours before Garrett's report, Republican Sen. Judd Gregg made statements in support of Geithner on Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto.
A Washington Times article about President-elect Barack Obama's choice of Bishop Gene Robinson to deliver a prayer as part of the inauguration ceremonies quoted Catholic League president Bill Donohue criticizing the choice as "polarizing" but did not note Donohue's own "polarizing" comments regarding gays and lesbians, Muslims, Jews, and others.
Articles by The Washington Times and CNN.com reported that Attorney General-designate Eric Holder has come under criticism from Senate Republicans and that Holder's confirmation hearings will be "bruising" and "grueling," respectively, without noting that Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, a senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has reportedly said he will support Holder's confirmation.
The Washington Times reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "back a card-check bill that would allow unionization of a workplace if the majority of employees sign union cards, eliminating the secret ballot that workers cast to decide whether to allow a union." In fact, the Employee Free Choice Act does not eliminate employees' rights to a secret ballot; as The New York Times reported, "Business groups have attacked the legislation because it would take away employers' right to insist on holding a secret-ballot election to determine whether workers favored unionization."
The Washington Times' Tara Wall said regarding the selection of Rev. Rick Warren to deliver the inaugural invocation: "The fact is most Americans, most Californians, oppose gay rights. This is reflective of the nation." Wolf Blitzer interjected: "Not gay rights, but same-sex marriage." Wall responded: "Excuse me, same-sex marriage. This is reflective of the nation as a whole." But simply characterizing Warren's position on same-sex marriage as mirroring that of most Americans, Wall and Blitzer ignored Warren's degrading comments about same-sex marriage and his mischaracterization of Proposition 8.
In the absence of any actual allegations of wrongdoing by President-elect Barack Obama or his staff in connection with the scandal involving Gov. Rod Blagojevich, several media figures have in recent days ominously asserted that a "cloud" hangs over Obama because of the Blagojevich scandal, or that the scandal threatens to cast a "cloud" over Obama's presidency.