Thursday's CBS This Morning stood out as the only Big Three network morning newscast to zero in on Education Secretary Arne Duncan's false assertion about the sequester – that "there are, literally, teachers now who are getting pink slips; who are getting notices they can't come back this fall". Correspondent Bill Plante noted that "Duncan conceded he knew of only one county nationwide where there had been notices", and underlined that "those notices weren't sequester-related."
CBS News political director John Dickerson also highlighted that "the Washington Post caught...Duncan in an exaggeration about those effects." Actually, "exaggeration" is an understatement on the part of Dickerson, as the Post's Glenn Kessler ripped the Cabinet official over several statements he's made on the sequester issue:
Hold the presses! The far-left blog Daily Kos is insisting that liberal reporter Bob Woodard, in doing his job as a journalist, has gone “full Breitbart” with his coverage of sequestration. Just a few short years ago, the Kossacks loved when reporters "spoke truth to power" in confronting Republicans in the White House. But now that Woodward has gone on record saying that he received threatening emails from senior Obama administration officials, well, that's a far different story.
On the February 27 broadcast of The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer on CNN, Woodward said:
Spinning the sequester in the New York Times. After weeks of cringing over the supposedly damaging federal cuts due to take effect tomorrow (even as the public shrugs them off) Jonathan Weisman made an 180-degree turn on the front of Thursday's paper: "Parties Focus On the Positive As Cuts Near." The text box: "An onerous possibility turns out to be not quite so onerous."
Suddenly the Times is seeing a win-win-win situation, for liberals, conservatives, and the White House.
How do you go from being a gutsy hero of the MSM to a wuss in one minute? Take on a Democrat president instead of a Republican. Using her most sarcastic scared-little-child voice, on today's Morning Joe Mika Brzezinski mocked Bob Woodward for saying the White House threatened him over his reporting on the sequester.
Mocked Mika: "is he really afraid of a little aide who said that to him? Really?" View the video after the jump.
On Saturday, Washington Post reporters Lori Montgomery and Paul Kane fretted, with the help of several leftists they quoted, that sequestration might not cause enough pain. Given that the so-called "cuts" under discussion are really "reductions in projected spending growth," that is a legitimate fear if your perspective is that government shouldn't ever shrink under any circumstances.
Rush Limbaugh was correct on Tuesday when he noted that the Post let the "sky is falling" mask slip in it report. Several paragraphs, followed by a bit of Rush's reaction, follow the jump.
On Monday, the Insitute for Illinois' Fiscal Sustainability (IIFS), an outfit associated with the Civic Federation, a "nonpartisan" organization which appears to have leftist instincts and funding, warned that the state government's $8 billion stack of unpaid bills will grow to $22 billion in five years. IIFS correctly blames out of control pension costs, and recommends several reforms which don't seem to match the urgency of the situation.
One thing the report doesn't do, concerning which the press appears to be completely incurious, is estimate how long it will take vendors in President Barack Obama's Democrat-dominated home state to get paid if the backlog of unpaid bills really becomes that large. The answer, in brief, is: "so long that no one with a brain will want to do business with the state, likely causing its government to completely collapse."
The Morning Joe panel was tough today on the Obama White House for threatening Bob Woodward by telling him he would "regret" his reporting that it was the Obama administration that had devised the sequester, In the course of the opening segment, various panel members described the Obama White House response as "mickey mouse," "pathetic" and "childish."
But at the same time, a theme emerged that there was nothing unusual about a White House trying to intimidate reporters. Mark Halperin said "the Bush White House regularly would engage in the same kind of tactics." And Joe Scarborough and Andrea Mitchell shared stories of having been threatened by the Bush and Reagan White Houses, respectively. Andrea named names. Scarborough did not. H/t readers Ray R. and cobokat. View the video after the jump.
I presume everyone remembers how when the New York Times published information about a classified program designed to track the movement of alleged terrorist funding through the international banking system Bush administration officials threatened to prosecute Times reporters and management over what they had done? No you don't, because although some conservatives and Republicans thought it might be a worth considering it didn't happen. You can guarantee that if it had, it would have become a TV-radio-newspaper-Internet establishment press obsession for days on end.
Tonight, Washington Post's Bob Woodward alleged that because he is sticking to his guns in insisting that sequestration was the brainchild of the Obama White House, that it was personally approved by Obama, and that bringing up tax increases now to try to resolve the current sequestration impasse is "moving the goalposts," he has been threatened by "a very senior person" in the White House. Woodward said so on CNN's Situation Room earlier today. What's even more troubling is that Woodward told two Politico reporters the same thing yesterday, and that they appear to have sat on the revelation until this evening when the CNN interview forced their hand. Relevant portions of the CNN transcript and Politico column follow the jump.
Federal government spending often falls after recessions and wars, but the current round of cuts in investment and spending on goods and services is unusually deep. Combined with cuts by state and local governments, the drop in government’s contribution to economic growth is the largest in more than 50 years.
Scott Pelley chided House Speaker John Boehner on Tuesday's CBS Evening News, indicating the Republican leader was largely to blame for the imminent sequester: "You said that the President didn't have the guts to do what needed to be done on the budget. Today, you said the Senate has to get off its ass. Those don't sound like the words of a man seeking to bring people together to compromise."
Pelley had already pointed the finger at Boehner for the impasse over the federal budget back on the February 12, 2013 edition of the evening newscast, mere hours before the State of the Union:
The Washington Post's Bob Woodward continues to break ranks with his Obama-loving colleagues by holding the President's feet to the fire concerning the looming budget sequester.
Just days after he wrote a piece in the Post exposing the inconvenient truth that it was indeed the White House that initially proposed sequestration during the 2011 debt ceiling debate, Woodward appeared on MSNBC's Morning Joe Wednesday saying that Obama's decision to not send the USS Truman to the Persian Gulf as a result of these deliberations was "a kind of madness that I haven't seen in a long time" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
The Washington Post has been around for more than 150 years and is the largest newspaper in the nation's capital. So there's absolutely no excuse why the paper recently commissioned and published a poll related to the looming sequester which failed to account for the Democrats controlling the upper chamber, even though Republicans were noted as controlling the House.
On Sunday's Reliable Sources, guest David Zurawik mocked "out of town reporters" who met with the White House about sequestration and simply repeated the administration's talking points back to their local channels, "like an Obama commercial."
However, CNN displayed that same uncritical journalism over and over on the sequester. Obama administration officials freaked out about looming budget cuts to their respective agencies and CNN simply relayed the hype to its viewers, comparing the cuts to the asteroid and calling them a "man-made disaster." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
The New York Times sent reporters scurrying around the country to deliver Tuesday's dire dose of sequestration fear -- a full page (with photos) of impending cuts to a range of federal programs starting Friday. Lead reporter Michael Cooper set the groaning board:
The owner of a Missouri smokehouse that makes beef jerky is worried about a slowdown in food safety inspections. A Montana school district is drawing up a list of teachers who could face layoffs. Officials at an Arizona border station fear that lines to cross the border could lengthen. And if Olympic National Park in Washington cannot hire enough workers to plow backcountry trails, they may stay closed until the snow melts in July.
NBC continued to sound the alarm over the impending sequester on Saturday’s Today show. On a day when the CBS and ABC morning shows questioned how bad the cuts would really be, NBC ran a highly unbalanced story that mostly propagated President Obama’s doomsday scenario. [Video below. MP3 audio here.]
Co-anchor Lester Holt set the scene with a dire metaphor: “There's a storm of another kind brewing in Washington today. We're less than a week now away from mandatory government spending cuts going into effect.” The story, presented by White House correspondent Kristen Welker, went on to focus almost entirely on Obama’s warnings from his most recent weekly address. Welker played a clip from that address in which the president attacked Congress for failing to compromise. She also featured a sound bite of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood warning of delayed commercial flights.
During a panel discussion on Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Matt Lauer urged the liberal Today's Professionals pundits to assign blame for the upcoming budget sequester: "I want you to complete the following sentence, 'And the blame goes to...' Almost by every analysis people agree this will hurt the economy, hurt the recovery, might even damage national security. And the blame goes to?" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Chief medical editor Nancy Snyderman ranted: "The American public for not being invested enough in the terms of what it means and firing every one of these SOBs the next time it comes around." Advertising executive Donny Deutsch agreed, arguing: "We are a country now of complete non-self sacrifice. You can't blame the politicians. Blame us, because nobody wants to give on anything."
Doing the kind of reporting the establishment press would be doing if it were something other than the collection of presidential supplicants it has become, an Investor's Business Daily editorial Monday evening completely refuted outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's claim that a $600 million "cut" (really "a reduction in projected spending") would hurt the Federal Aviation Administration so badly that flight delays would be an inevitable result. One suspects that similar analyses of other agencies would also reveal that the fears expressed by "President Armageddon" (the Wall Street Journal's recent nickname for President Obama) have little if any basis in fact -- if one bravely assumes that the administration isn't hell-bent on inflicting the maximum amount of visible pain if sequestration indeed comes to pass.
As I've said often, there's far more of what really amounts to legitimate fact-based reporting (as opposed to White House stenography) in IBD and Wall Street Journal editorials than you'll find in most of the establishment press's so-called "straight news reporting" on the same topics. As far as the FAA is concerned, IBD shows that all the agency would have to do is redeploy its existing resources -- something which obviously should have been done long ago -- and should ultimately privatize the entire operation, as Canada has successfully done (bolds are mine):
Al Sharpton joined the sequester scare-mongering squad on his MSNBC show this evening. Just one problem: the Reverend Al got one of his "facts" embarrassingly wrong. Sharpton claimed that the effect of the sequester would be to close Rep. Paul Ryan's hometown airport in Janesville, Wisconsin. Nuh-uh.
Yes, Southern Wisconsin Regional in Janesville is on a list of 200 airports, 100 of which would have their towers closed under the sequester. So for starters, contrary to what Sharpton suggests, the odds are only 1-in-2 that even if the sequester hits, there will be any effect whatsoever on the Janesville airport. But in any case, closing a tower by no means closes an airport. Is Al unaware that of the roughly 20,000 airports in the USA, only about 500—less than 3%—have towers? Even if the tower closes, flights will continue to flow in and out of Janesville. There are well-established FAA procedures that pilots follow to communicate with each other at non-towered fields. Shame on Sharpton for his false scare-mongering. View the video after the jump.
Faux conservative David Brooks of the New York Times used his Friday appearance with Mark Shields on the PBS NewsHour to bash Republicans over sequestration, comparing GOP tactics in dealing with spending to a trite circus act. Either Mr. Brooks forgot that sequestration was the president’s idea or doesn't care about facts getting in the way of cozying up to his liberal media buddies. Even liberal Democratic Sen. Max Baucus (Montana) admitted to that, and it’s explicitly mentioned that sequestration was the White House’s idea in Bob Woodward’s new book about the 2011 debt ceiling fiasco.
Shields piggybacked off of Brooks’ remarks, and said that the GOP’s fallback position is blaming the president, as if Obama is blameless in this dismal situation.
Over the weekend the New York Times painted the $85 billion in budget cuts that will start kicking in Friday – known in Washington-speak as sequestration -- in dramatic terms, falsely heralding a new age of "government austerity" (since when?) and passing along stories of budget-cut fear-mongering from the state level.
Charlie Rose led Monday's CBS This Morning by hyping the allegedly catastrophic effect of the sequester during a promo for a report from correspondent Major Garrett: "Kids without vaccines; schools without teachers; and massive airport delays – we'll show you the worst-case scenario for government spending cuts."
Garrett himself could have been mistaken for an Obama administration flack as he devoted much of the segment to publicizing the White House's bombast about the impending $85 billion in spending cuts. He uncritically forwarded the administration's hype about the general and local effect of the cuts, which are set to take effect on March 1:
Acting like an extension of the White House press office on Monday's NBC Today, correspondent Peter Alexander promoted Obama administration talking points on the upcoming budget sequester: "This morning, the White House is picking up the pace of its PR offensive, they are rolling out reports for each of the country's states and how they will be affected by these automatic budget cuts." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Alexander listed the "dire warnings" coming from the executive branch: "In California, 9,600 low-income students could lose their college financial aid. In Florida, nearly $4 million could be slashed to provide meals for needy seniors. And in Texas, nearly 10,000 fewer children will receive vaccines for diseases like whooping cough and the flu."
At the end of 1995 and stretching into January 1996, the federal government "shut down" because of an impasse between President Bill Clinton and House Republicans led by then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich. The issue was increased taxes vs. less spending. Sound familiar? The government re-opened when a bipartisan agreement was reached to balance the budget by 2003. It wasn't for reasons that included, but were not limited to, two wars. Now the national debt is racing toward an unsustainable $17 trillion.
This time around it isn't about closing government. It's about "sequestration," which President Obama, the Democrats and their big media toadies are styling as economic Armageddon.
Call her MoveOn.Mika . . . Bob Woodward has demonstrated that President Obama was not telling the truth during the third presidential debate when he flatly stated that "the sequester is not something that I've proposed. It is something that Congress has proposed.” In fact, it was two Obama aides who devised the plan, and Obama himself who approved it.
But when Joe Scarborough wanted to get those facts on the record this morning, Mika Brzezinski repeatedly declared that discussing Obama's failure to tell the truth was "silly." Things got heated between the co-hosts at one point as Mika cut Joe off, saying "I need to talk." And trying to end the uncomfortable discussion, Mika actually announced "I'm moving on." View the video after the jump.
You've got to hand it to the headline writers at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press. They sure know how to abuse their power to shape public perceptions.
The headline at Martin Crutsinger's report this morning on projected economic growth for 2013, which the wire service is treating as this morning's "Big Story," reads: "ECONOMISTS PREDICTING MODERATE GROWTH IN 2013." Many people using computers, tablets and smartphones will see that headline, conclude that the economy's not so bad, and move on without clicking through. Too bad Crutsinger's first two paragraphs directly contradict that headline.
CNBC's Maria Bartiromo made a statement Sunday about all of the fearmongering concerning the looming budget sequester that people on both sides of the aisle should pay attention to.
Appearing on NBC's Meet the Press, Bartiromo said, "I think Wall Street is seeing this as scare tactics because if the market really believed that the economy was going to be paralyzed on March 1 we would not be trading near record highs" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
As NewsBusters has been reporting this weekend, some media members have been surprisingly breaking ranks with President Obama concerning administration claims that the world will come to an end if budget sequestration goes ahead this coming Friday.
NBC's David Gregory also appears to be feeling the White House's position is overblown and asked Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Sunday's Meet the Press, "Do you really think Americans think that government can't tighten up a bit?" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
Rather than take Woodward head-on, Klein gutlessly goes after three words in his Friday piece: "moving the goalposts." What Woodward wrote, followed by a portion of Klein's clunker, appear after the jump.