ABC, NBC Ignore Biden's Savings Account Fib, While CBS Hosts Dismiss Its Importance

It turns out that Vice President Joe Biden’s claim that he’s not wealthy and does not own any stocks, bonds, or a savings account isn’t entirely true. Unfortunately, only one network did the work to debunk his statement from a speech at the White House Summit on Working Families yesterday.

CBS This Morning was the only broadcast network show on Monday evening or Tuesday morning that looked into Biden’s claims, which CBS News Senior White House correspondent Bill Plante found to be partially false. [MP3 audio here; Video below]

In speaking about the most recent comments made by Biden and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about their economic standing, Plante took the rare step of warning viewers that two of the possible Democratic nominees for president in 2016 “are already trying to convince you that they identify with the concerns of middle class voters. But, so far, it’s only serving to remind voters of their relative wealth.”

After playing a clip of Biden telling a giggling audience to not hold it against him that he does not “own a single stock or bond” or a savings account, Plante dropped the real state of Biden’s financial situation.

PLANTE: But according to Biden's disclosure, he has money in 11 different investment funds and as much $15,000 in a savings account. His office says the Vice President was telling the truth because the investments belong to his wife. 

Plante then went through four additional examples of previous presidential and vice-presidential candidates that tried to appeal to middle class voters. However, from there, all three co-hosts downplayed the importance of how much money an elected official makes so long as they are, in the words of co-host Charlie Rose, “doing something remarkable for the middle class and income inequality. It’s the quality of their ideas, not their bank account.”

It’s interesting how they essentially dismissed Plante’s argument when they and other members of the news media hammered Mitt Romney and his level of wealth in the 2012 presidential election for being out of touch when few Democrats are willing to be truthful about their own financial security.

You can find examples of the news media criticizing Romeny’s wealth and his ability to relate to voters here, here, and here.


The relevant portions of the segment are transcribed below. 

CBS

CBS This Morning

June 24, 2014

8:06 a..m. Eastern

NORAH O’DONNELL: And income inequality is a big topic for Democrats right now. On Monday, Vice President Joe Biden tried to show that his finances are like the average Americans'. 

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINES: The News Journal - “Joe Biden: I’m Not Rich,” TIME - “Biden Gets Humble About His Wealth,” The Washington Post - “Joe Biden Said He Has ‘No Savings Account’,”]

But the evidence is not entirely on his side and Biden is not alone. Bill Plante is at the White House and he's seen other politicians do this. Bill good morning. 

BILL PLANTE: Good morning. Well, heads-up for 2016. Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, the most visible Democrats to run for serving in this house the next time around, are already trying to convince you that they identify with the concerns of middle class voters. But so far, it's only serving to remind voters of their relative wealth. Speaking to a White House summit on working families, Vice President Biden admitted that he makes more money than most, before playing up his every man roots. 

VICE PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Look at Biden, man, he's got a mildly expensive suit on. 

[Laughter] 

He’s Vice President of United States of America. He makes, notwithstanding, he's listed as the lowest man in Congress he still makes a lot of money. 

PLANTE: But wait -- 

BIDEN: Don't hold it against me that I don’t – that I don’t own a single stock or bond. Don’t hold it I have no savings account, but I got a great pension and I got a good salary. 

PLANTE: But according to Biden's disclosure, he has money in 11 different investment funds and as much $15,000 in a savings account. His office says the Vice President was telling the truth because the investments belong to his wife. 

(....)

CHARLIE ROSE: We were having a conversation about this idea. The point is, more importantly, it's not how much they make or how much they have. The point is what can they do in terms of solving the nation's problems. 

O’DONNELL: Right. 

ROSE: And doing something remarkable for the middle class and income inequality. It’s the quality of their ideas, not their bank account.

KING: Yeah, not their salaries.

O’DONNELL: Vice President Biden was long known as one of the poorest members of Congress. He makes $230,000 as Vice President, but I think more importantly than nitpicking on what people say is the policy is what they care and we've got to be, as journalists, more serious about examining –  

ROSE: Income inequality. 

O’DONNELL: – the policy.

KING: Yeah. Yes, yes.

ROSE: The point is that FDR and JFK both came from very wealthy families.

O’DONNELL: Yeah.

KING: I get it.

Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck
Curtis Houck is a news analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division