NPR Trumpets Obama's 'Modesty About What Government Can and Can't Do'

Scott Horsley's report on Wednesday's All Things Considered could have mistaken for a three-and-half minute ad from a pro-Obama super PAC. Horsley played up how "Mr. Obama often tempers his speeches with a dose of modesty about what government can and can't do" and how the President "pushes back strongly against the anti-government rhetoric of his GOP opponents."

The NPR correspondent also sympathetically noted that "part of the President's challenge...is persuading Americans that the people government is taking care of really are our own." Horsley filled the segment with talking points from Obama's campaign and with soundbites from the Democrat and his campaign, and failed to include any from his opponents.

Host Melissa Block introduced Horsley's report by zeroing in on the fight between the Obama and Romney camps on the issue of welfare reform. Block slanted towards the liberal politician: "This fight over welfare underscores a fundamental difference in how the two candidates and their supporters see the role of government. While Mitt Romney suggests government is giving handouts to the undeserving, President Obama stresses more popular programs that benefit students, seniors, and frustrated commuters."

The journalist sounded like a stenographer for the President as he detailed some of the executive's campaign stops in swing states:

Scott Horsley, NPR Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgHORSLEY: President Obama held a roundtable with schoolteachers in Nevada this morning. Like the firefighters he visited in Colorado in June, Mr. Obama sees teachers as a popular and recognizable face of what government does.

OBAMA: I see how hard you guys work, and I know that you don't do it for the money. (audience laughs) You're doing it 'cause you really deeply care about these kids.

HORSLEY: Teachers in Nevada and elsewhere have seen their class sizes balloon, as cash-strapped state and local governments cut back. Mr. Obama has proposed additional federal funding to help keep more teachers on the payroll. In Ohio yesterday, Mr. Obama talked about the larger Pell Grants and tax credits he pushed through, to make college more affordable. He calls that an investment in young people, and says the benefits don't stop with them.

OBAMA: Now more than ever, your success is America's success, because when we invest in your future, we're investing in America's future.

HORSLEY: Mr. Obama's campaign is built around the message that government is not just a distant tax collector, showering favors on undeserving strangers. Rather, it's the schools that teach our children, and the doctors and drugs that treat our parents.

OBAMA: I have made reforms that have saved millions of seniors with Medicare hundreds of dollars on their prescription drugs. (audience cheers and applauds)

HORSLEY: Even the roads we drive on are a government project, Mr. Obama reminds voters. A new radio ad in Virginia warns that project could suffer under the big spending cuts proposed by Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1 (from Obama campaign ad): As usual, traffic in Northern Virginia is backed up again with long delays on 66 and 395.                        

UNIDENTIFIED MAN 1: Could things get any worse?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN 1: Actually, traffic and our roads could get worse with the Ryan-Romney budget plan.

HORSLEY: On the stump, Mr. Obama often tempers his speeches with a dose of modesty about what government can and can't do, and whoever's President will have to wrestle with a budget deficit that demands some combination of reduced spending and higher taxes. Still, the President pushes back strongly against the anti-government rhetoric of his GOP opponents.


 OBAMA: Government can't solve every problem and it shouldn't try, and it certainly can't help folks who aren't willing to help themselves. But there are some things that we can do together as a people that makes us all better off, that makes our country strong.

HORSLEY: Every Obama rally ends with the Bruce Springsteen anthem, 'We Take Care Of Our Own.' Part of the President's challenge in responding to Romney's welfare attack is persuading Americans that the people government is taking care of really are our own. Scott Horsley, NPR News, Las Vegas.

This is just the latest in a series of reports from Horsley during 2012 that have slanted towards Obama. Over a month earlier, on July 13's Morning Edition, the correspondent favored supporters of the President by a three-to-one margin, and played up how "the demographics are shifting in the Democrats' direction" in Virginia. In April, he defended the incumbent's economic record and tried to place more of the blame on Congress: "The President has been pushing for billions of dollars in additional aid to keep teachers in the classroom, but Congress has not been willing to go along."

Back in June, Horsley even went so far to single out an Obama supporter who attributed the change in the weather for the better at campaign event in New Hampshire to the President: "See what his voice does? It clears up the weather, too. It clears up the economy, creates jobs, helps education, and straightens out the weather."

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center