Tim Russert Adopts Democratic Complaint Bush First to Not Raise Taxes During War

The saying goes that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. Along the same vein, NBC’s Tim Russert never misses an opportunity to denounce a tax cut or pass along arguments in favor of raising taxes. And NBC anchor Brian Williams didn’t even have to mention taxes to lead Russert, a few minutes after President Bush finished his State of the Union address Tuesday night, to fret about how Bush hasn’t raised them. Williams noted how President Bush “is known to be very frustrated at what he sees as a large part of the population in the country, and in that chamber tonight, that doesn't seem to agree with his message that this is a nation at war.” Russert retorted: “Critics have responded by saying well, if that's the case, Mr. President, ask people for sacrifice. Democrats have pointed out it's the first war we've been involved in where the President hasn't raised the revenues or the taxes in order to pay for it.” (Transcript of the exchange follows.)

From NBC, about 10:07pm EST, shortly after Bush completed his speech:
Brian Williams: “Tim, it's also been noted the President is known to be very frustrated at what he sees as a large part of the population in the country, and in that chamber tonight, that doesn't seem to agree with his message that this is a nation at war. He's expressed frustration over and over on that.”

Russert: “He has. Critics have responded by saying well, if that's the case, Mr. President, ask people for sacrifice. Democrats have pointed out it's the first war we've been involved in where the President hasn't raised the revenues or the taxes in order to pay for it. The deficits have gotten bigger.”

A 2002 Media Reality Check by the MRC’s Rich Noyes, “Bias Blind Spot for Meet the Press Host; One-Sided Questioning: Russert Pushed Both Friends and Foes of Bush Tax Cut to Suspend Its Benefits,” documented his crusade against Bush’s tax cuts.

Another 2002 report, “NBC’s Russert on Personal Campaign to Repeal Bush’s Tax Cut: 44 Questions This Year About Repealing The Tax Cut, Zero Questions About Accelerating Or Expanding It,” provided numbers.

Russert’s intensity on the issue may have diminished, but not his viewpoint.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center