Network News Shows Largely Skip President's $50 Billion Spending Request

Bill Weir, ABC News Anchor; & Jake Tapper, ABC White House Correspondent | NewsBusters.orgThe network morning and evening news shows have all but ignored President Obama's Saturday letter to congressional leaders asking for $50 billion in additional spending to prevent the "massive layoffs of teachers, police, and firefighters." Only Sunday's Good Morning America on ABC has covered the President's request so far.

The chief executive's June 12 letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and House Minority Leader John Boehner urged "swift action" on the multi-billion dollar proposal to prevent the public sector layoffs and "give our nation's businesses added impetus to hire and grow."

ABC anchor Bill Weir brought up the President's letter with White House correspondent Jake Tapper 13 minutes into the 8 am Eastern hour of Sunday's Good Morning America:
WEIR: And then, I guess, slightly more difficult than stopping the leak is keeping open the flow of federal stimulus money- I understand the President [is] asking for another $50 billion?

JAKE TAPPER: Another $50 billion, and this has been a tough sell for Democrats on Capitol Hill, not to mention, of course, Republicans. President Obama made the request in a letter yesterday. I will be sitting down today with House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and House Minority Leader John Boehner to see if they have any willingness to pass an additional $50 billion. The President says this is needed as emergency aid to state and local governments, to make sure there aren't massive layoffs of teachers and policemen and firemen. But, so far, Congress has shown no inclination to pass any more spending bills.
Neither Sunday's Today show on NBC nor CBS's Sunday Morning program mentioned the spending request. This omission continued on all three networks Sunday evening news programs.

The networks' morning shows on Monday also failed to mention the push for further spending by the President. By contrast, CNN's Christine Romans devoted an entire segment to it on American Morning:
Christine Romans, CNN Correspondent; John Robers, CNN Anchor; & Kiran Chetry, CNN Anchor | NewsBusters.orgJOHN ROBERTS: Twenty minutes now after the [7 am Eastern] hour- Christine Romans here 'Minding Your Business' this morning. And we heard mantras of 'drill baby drill'- now, I guess this one is 'spend baby spend,' right?

CHRISTINE ROMANS: Right, the President-

KIRAN CHETRY: But don't call it 'stimulus.'

ROMANS: Don't call it- whatever you do, do not call new spending in the economy 'stimulus' because we have mid-term elections coming up and Republicans and- you know, frankly, a lot of Democrats are not real keen on spending a lot more money. But the President this weekend sending a letter to congressional leadership, saying this is not the time to pull back on some important emergency spending measures because the economy is really at a critical juncture, he says, in the path to recovery.

The President, in this three-page letter to Nancy Pelosi, John Boehner, Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, saying basically, we cannot afford to slide backward, that we must take emergency measures. All told, maybe up to $50 billion in new spending for things like keeping teachers on the job, for helping people pay their premiums for health care insurance, for making sure that first responders have money so that they are out there actually being able to answer 911 calls and the like.

Here's the issue that the President points out in his letter. We have an economy that is in a recovery, but that recovery seems to be pretty fragile. You look at the number of people unemployed- it's still 9.7 percent. You look at the most recent retail sales number- retail sales fell 1.2 percent in the most recent month. That was a surprise to people. And you have you a 30-year fixed rate mortgage of an unbelievable 4.81 percent. Folks, that is so low for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. But you still have a lot of concerns with the housing market. It's just not going to recover until you see the job situation recover. So the President is asking for some- you know, solidarity behind some new spending. The letter went over like a lead balloon with Republicans-

ROBERTS: I'm sure.

ROMANS: And even some Democrats are concerned. Look, they can't support anything in the next few months that's going to turn up in a campaign ad against them as some kind of a new stimulus or spending money we don't have. So it's a tough fight the President has here.

CHETRY: All right. Christine Romans, thanks so much.

ROMANS: Sure.

CHETRY: Oh, what's your numeral? Sorry about that.

ROMANS: Oh, the numeral is 300,000. And this is one of the reasons why the President really makes it personal about this spending- 300,000.

CHETRY: This is how many people sign up for unemployment benefits each month?

ROMANS: This is- according to David Axelrod, if you don't spend more money, you're going to have 300,000 teachers out of work- 300,000. That means if you don't find the money to spend-

ROBERTS: That's true, yeah.

ROMANS: You're going to notice this in your school, in your classroom. This is something-

ROBERTS: State and local budgets.

ROMANS: It affects you, and the President noted that in his letter, that state and local people are really in big trouble here.

ROBERTS: Okay. And now it's time to say goodbye to all our company.

ROMANS: Or walk.

CHETRY: All right, Christine.
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center