ABC Hypes 'Hypocrisy and Absurdity' of Lack of Hurricane Sandy Money, Skips Pork

Good Morning America's Dan Harris on Sunday hyped "allegations of hypocrisy and absurdity" against House Republicans, complaining about the amount of money New Jersey and New York will get for Hurricane Sandy. Harris and reporter David Kerley skipped mentioning pork stuffed into such legislation, money that (for example) could go to a new roof for the Smithsonian in Washignton D.C. 

Harris began the segment by touting, "And now to allegations of hypocrisy and absurdity as the recovery from Super storm Sandy becomes a political football." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] He asserted that "politicians from the northeast are outraged that Republicans want to give them much less than they're asking for."

Nowhere in the segment, did Kerley highlighted how attempts to get relief money to the impacted states have been thwarted by pork. The AP explained:

A $60.4 billion storm aid package passed by the Senate in December included $188 million for an Amtrak expansion project with an indirect link to Sandy.

...

The Club for Growth, a conservative group, complained the Senate bill was overpriced, full of pork and would swell the federal deficit because other government programs weren’t being cut to cover the costs of the legislation.

...

Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, two frequent critics of government spending, tried unsuccessfully to strip the Senate version of $125 million for an Agriculture Department program to restore watersheds damaged by wildfires and drought, $2 million for roof repairs at Smithsonian Institution museums in the Washington area and the $50 million in tree planting subsidies.

McCain also targeted $15 million to repair storm-damaged NASA facilities, saying the agency had called its Sandy damage "minimal."

It wasn't until the final seconds that Kerley conceded "Republicans want specifics." He noted, "We asked [Chris] Christie's office three times to explain their request. Nearly $5 billion for housing. Is that temporary housing, rebuilding homes or loans?... And $700 million for what is called individual assistance. Is that food, rent, actual payments or loans?"

Kerley gratuitously played a clip of comedian Jon Stewart mocking a Mississippi Republican who requested Hurricane Katrina money, but now has concerns about Sandy funds.

Republicans in the House are the only check on Democratic power. So, rather than fret about "absurdity" on this issue journalists should at least explain the pork concerns that conservatives have.

A transcript of the January 13 segment is below:


 8:09

ABC GRAPHIC: Sandy Relief: Lawmakers Set to Take Up East Coast Relief

DAN HARRIS: And now to allegations of hypocrisy and absurdity as the recovery from Super storm Sandy becomes a political football. This week, after much delay, Congress is going to vote on relief money for storm victims, but politicians from the northeast are outraged that Republicans want to give them much less than they're asking for. ABC's David Kerley is at the white house this morning.

DAVID KERLEY: Good morning, Dan. Some Republicans are saying, not so fast. So, for the third time, we're going to hear some northeast lawmakers hot under the collar as the House takes up the Sandy aid bill.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN TO CHRIS CHRISTIE: We need help so bad.

KERLEY: Two and a half months and the victims of Sandy and their representatives have had enough.

REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D-NY): They have suffered long enough! They need to hear from their government!

KERLEY: They are helping, but in chunks. Congress passed more than $9 billion in aid a week ago. But the states and the President have asked for another $50 billion. Instead, the House plan calls for just $17 billion for what it calls emergency aid.

REP. FRANK LOBIONDO (R-NJ): Absurd, absolutely absurd. We demand nothing less than we have given the rest of the country.

KERLEY: And surprisingly, some Republicans, who have opposed Sandy aid are from hurricane regions. One from Mississippi called for more help just last year for Katrina relief but opposed Sandy relief making him a target for skewering.

REP. STEVE PALAZZO (R-MI): Many of my constituents in Mississippi are still dealing with the effects of Hurricane Katrina.

JON STEWART: Let's pretend instead of your constituents in Mississippi, it's someone else's constituents in New York, and instead of seven years later, it's two months later.

KERLEY: That kind of talk sets off New Jersey governor Chris Christie.

CHRIS CHRISTIE: We sent them there to do the work for us, not to sit down there and play with each other.

KERLEY: But Republicans want specifics. We asked Christie's office three times to explain their request. Nearly $5 billion for housing. Is that temporary housing, rebuilding homes or loans? And $700 million for what is called individual assistance. Is that food, rent, actual payments or loans? Christie's office has not answered any of those questions. The House is back in session tomorrow night. But the real debate on the Sandy aid bill will happen on Tuesday. The vote is set for Wednesday. Dan and Bianna.

DAN HARRIS: Keep pushing for answers. Thank you, David.  

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