ABC’s Jon Karl Touts Liberal Advocacy Group’s Claim That ‘Tea Party Darlings’ Are 'Hypocrites'

Good Morning America’s Jon Karl on Thursday used a new study by the liberal Environmental Working Group [EWG] to deride the calls of spending cuts by certain Tea Party Republicans as "hypocritical."

Karl didn’t raise any concerns about hyping the claims of the EWG, an organization that, as Michelle Malkin pointed out in 2002, has railed against hair spray, playgrounds and the conservative journalist John Stossel. Instead, Karl chided these House GOP members for receiving federal money for farm subsidies.

Co-anchor George Stephanopoulos excitedly introduced “[Karl] joins us now with a discovery that may cause some discomfort for some of those members of Congress and their supporters in the Tea Party.”

Rather than inform viewers of the EWG’s activist leanings, the ABC reporter blandly explained, “According to a new study by the Environmental Working Group, [Tea Party Republican, Representative Stephen] Fincher's family farm has received more than three million dollars in federal subsidies since 1995.”        

An ABC graphic dismissed, “Tea Party Darlings on the Dole: Taking Millions in Government Money.” A second graphic read, "Hill 'Hypocrisy.'"

Karl played a clip of the EWG’s President, Ken Cook: “This is a group of people coming into Congress with Tea Party support who, in fact, are partaking in big government.”

Malkin, in a March 11, 2002 column, clarified that EWG is no friend of conservatives:

But conservative opponents of farm subsidies should perhaps be a little more wary of jumping into bed with these radical greens. The EWG is not just a humble "nonprofit research outfit," as it is being described by the mainstream press. It is a savvy political animal funded by deep-pocketed foundations with a big-government agenda of their own. And it is engaged in aggressive eco-lobbying that belies its image as an innocuous public charity dedicated to "educating" citizens.

...

The EWG--a nonprofit, Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) charity--thrives on funding from an array of extremely liberal foundations. One of its leading benefactors was the W. Alton Jones Foundation, which failed miserably a few years ago in its widely publicized attempt to scare people out of using plastic sandwich bags by claiming they contained endocrine-disrupting chemicals. The group continues to tout the foundation's efforts and plug its alarmist junk-science book, Our Stolen Future, on the EWG Website.

In fact, in 2000, EWG went after John Stossel, hardly a fan of subsidies and spending, for attacking organic food.

A transcript of the March 31 segment can be found below:

ABC GRAPHIC: Hill 'Hypocrisy': Tea Party Darlings on the Dole: Taking Millions in Government Money

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We’re going to go back to Washington now where Tea Party forces are rallying at the capitol today, demanding that the Republicans they helped elect last November follow through on big budget cuts. Jon Karl will be there for all the action. He joins us now with a discovery that may cause some discomfort for some of those members of Congress and their supporters in the Tea Party. Hey, Jon.
               
JON KARL: That’s right, George. You know, the Tea Party movement swept Republicans into power in the House with promises of making those big spending cuts. But a new report out this morning says that some of them have been on the government dole for years. The Tea Party movement is all about slashing federal spending. But, at least five House members with Tea Party connections have themselves collected more than $100,000 each in federal farm subsidies, totaling more than eight million dollars since 1995.

One of them, Congressman Stephen Fincher of Frog Jump Tennessee. [Talking to Congressman] You, directly have about $10,000 in subsidies. [Back to report] According to a new study by the Environmental Working Group, Fincher’s family farm has received more than three million dollars in federal subsidies since 1995. More than $100,000 of those taxpayer dollars going directly to Fincher himself. Are you willing to see all your subsidies go away?

REP. STEPHEN FINCHER (R-TN): We need a better system than we have now.

KARL: But, are you willing to stand up now and say, “look, me, no more. I’m not going to take any more of these subsidies”?

FINCHER: We need a good, better, we need a better farm program and we need to streamline it. That’s what we need to do.

KARL: So, that’s not a yes?

FINCHER: We need, we need to look at many, many options and that’s a long way off.

KARL: All told, more than 23 members of Congress have been on the agricultural dole for more than 15 years. They or their families receiving more than $12 million. Most of that money went to Republicans.

KEN COOK (President, Environmental Working Group): This is a group of people coming into Congress with Tea Party support who, in fact, are partaking in big government.

KARL: But one of them, Congressman Marlan Stutzman of Indiana, says that he wants the subsidies, all of them, eliminated. So, you want the agriculture subsidies cut?

REP. MARLAN STUTZMAN (R-Indiana): There’s no reason for direct payments, adding to our burden of debt. And it also, it manipulates the market.

KARL: Eliminating all farm subsidies would save real money. In 2009 alone, federal farm subsidies totaled more than $16 billion and almost a quarter of a trillion dollars in the last 15 years. So, will farm subsidies be cut? Well, they might be, George. But so far, they have not been a big target of Republican budget cutters.

STEPHANOPOULOS: In the meantime, this all comes as we’re approaching this potential government shutdown. The government runs out of money next Friday, April 8. But, there was some progress last night. Vice President Biden up on Capitol Hill saying that Republicans and Democrats should split the difference on the amount of cuts there going to be going for. So, that’s a tentative deal, Jon, but their still a long way away from writing the final bill and they don’t know if it’s going to fly in the House.

KARL: Yeah, but it is a significant breakthrough. These talks had all but reached an impasse. Vice President Biden got involved. As you said, he was here, he was also negotiating directly with Speaker of the House John Boehner. The deal would do $33 billion in spending cuts over the next six months. But, you know, they haven’t worked out the specifics of those cuts. And as you said, the big question here is whether or not John Boehner can sell that compromise to members of the House who have been demanding bigger cuts.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And that’s going to tough. I was getting a lot of rumblings from House Republicans who said that’s not enough for them.

KARL: Yeah. No doubt. It’s a classic Washington compromise. It’s more cuts than Democrats want, not as much as Republicans were demanding. And the guys who just got elected don’t like classic Washington compromise.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Okay, Jon Karl.

— Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org