NBC Frets Over Sequester Taking 'Butcher's Knife' to Budget; Promoted 'Bold' Trillion-Dollar Stimulus
On NBC's Wednesday Today, White House correspondent Peter Alexander wrung his hands over the possibility of sequester budget cuts happening next month: "If you think of the federal budget as a t-bone steak, the sequester is like a butcher's knife loping off a big piece, roughly a trillion dollars worth in defense and domestic spending. What experts call the worst way to deal with a budget." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In contrast, back in February of 2009, when President Obama was pushing the nearly trillion-dollar stimulus package, Today co-host Matt Lauer grilled former Bush advisor Karl Rove about Republicans daring to oppose the massive government spending: "Doesn't it seem that quick and bold action was necessary?...216 Republicans [who voted against the stimulus] seem to have placed a bet on failure. Isn't that safe to say?"
According to the 2009 Media Research Center special report, Cheerleaders for the Revolution: Network Coverage of Barack Obama's First 100 Days, 60% of NBC's news coverage at the time was pro-stimulus.
On Wednesday, Alexander touted Obama pressuring the GOP on the sequester cuts: "With billions of dollars in crippling budget cuts set to go in effect March 1st, President Obama on Tuesday urged Congress to act."
Following Alexander's report, co-host Savannah Guthrie worried to chief White House correspondent Chuck Todd:
...the sequester, those automatic spending cuts set to go into effect in a few weeks. For a while, both sides seemed to fear them equally, that was supposed to push them to the bargaining table. Now you hear Republicans saying, "Well, maybe these defense cuts, we can live with." Is that a negotiating tactic or is that possibly going to happen when the sequester goes into effect?
Todd laid the blame on conservatives in Congress:
Republicans are a bit divided. Sort of old guard Republicans, they've been around Washington a while, they do not want to see these cuts go through at all. Think of the divide as sort of the Senate Republicans versus the House Republicans. But you have a lot of newer members, the newer conservatives, Tea Party conservatives...
He then warned: "I don't see how it is stopped. I don't see how, if House Republicans decide to let them go, not sure where the President has leverage here. But we'll see, as March 1st comes, they may be more motivated to do something."
The Today show coverage never suggested the sequester cuts might be "quick and bold action" needed to address the nation's ballooning debt.
Here is a portion of Alexander's February 6 report:
PETER ALEXANDER: Meanwhile, with billions of dollars in crippling budget cuts set to go in effect March 1st, President Obama on Tuesday urged Congress to act.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: From Fiscal Cliff to Sequester; President Warns of New Budget Cuts Come March]
BARACK OBAMA: They should at least pass a smaller package of spending cuts and tax reforms that would delay the economically damaging effects of the sequester for a few more months.
ALEXANDER: What exactly is the sequester? If you think of the federal budget as a t-bone steak, the sequester is like a butcher's knife loping off a big piece, roughly a trillion dollars worth in defense and domestic spending. What experts call the worst way to deal with a budget.
Republican leaders want to avoid the cuts, but dismissed the President's proposed solution outright.