Fretting Obama’s Moved Too Far to Right, Tea Party Like Reckless Teenagers, Journalists ‘Scared of Being Labeled Liberal’

Three noteworthy spins, charges and/or claims made on the Sunday morning interview shows.

> ABC’s This Week, with “ALL CUTS, NO TAXES?” on screen: George Stephanopoulos hit White House senior adviser David Plouffe from the left on how “this enforcement mechanism would not include revenue increases, would be just across the board spending cuts.” He fretted the deal “all but guarantee that the final product is all spending cuts and not the balanced approach the President wants.” Christiane Amanpour despaired President Obama “has moved all of the way to the language and the ideals that the Republicans espouse.”

> CBS’s Face the Nation: Bob Schieffer insisted “some people say that the Republican Party has been held hostage by the Tea Party” and he discerned “some truth” in an allegation he saw on Facebook that allowing House freshmen “‘to control this debate’” is “‘like letting the teenager in the family run the family budget.’”

> CNN’s Reliable Sources: Host Howard Kurtz wondered why the media have failed to portray “this as a crisis largely created by one party” – the Republicans -- and “instead has developed this narrative that the two sides are just, you know, a bunch of clowns?” Chrystia Freeland, digital editor for Thomson Reuters, blamed/credited conservatives. Despite much evidence to the contrary, she maintained “mainstream journalism is averse to making judgments,” then asserted:

Mainstream journalists are particularly scared of being labeled as liberal. We all want to be sort of seen as objective. And I think sometimes there's a little bit of bending over backwards to be seen as objective by the right because that’s where a lot of the criticism comes from.

Kurtz agreed: “I think you’ve hit on an excellent point.”

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More about these three items:

From ABC’s This Week, George Stephanopoulos, returning to the show Amanpour took over a year ago, lectured Plouffe:

Let m me press you on the details here because the details of this enforcement mechanism are all important. This is what the whole negotiation is coming down to, right now. The President has said time and time again, he wants a balanced approach that includes tax reform, revenue increases. Everyone I’ve talked to on Capitol Hill says this enforcement mechanism would not include revenue increases, would be just across the board spending cuts: Domestic spending, Medicare, perhaps and defense and would not include revenues. So if the enforcement mechanism doesn't include revenues, what incentive would Republicans have to consider revenue increases and wouldn't it all but guarantee that the final product is all spending cuts and not the balanced approach the President wants?

Stephanopoulos followed up:

Let me press this. Can the President accept an enforcement mechanism that is spending cuts only, automatic spending cuts only, that does not include revenues?

Amanpour soon joined in to relay far-left upset with Obama:

Frustrated members of your own party, they are saying, look, why doesn't the President who has his principles stand up for them, rather than spending so much time wanting to be bi-partisan, a conciliator. I mean, they’re saying the Republicans are driving a harder bargain. And as George has just described, the President has moved all of the way to the language and the ideals that the Republicans espouse. Yes, because he wanted a clean bill, then a bill with cuts on spending and now as George is talking about, it's all cuts for the moment.

Bob Schieffer, on Face the Nation, to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell:

Some people say that the Republican Party has been held hostage by the Tea Party. One of our Facebook followers sent in an interesting analogy and said, "why are Republicans allowing freshmen Congressmen to control this debate?" and this person said, "it's like letting the teenager in the family run the family budget." I mean, there's some truth in that.

From the July 31 Reliable Sources:

HOWARD KURTZ: But if you buy the Paul Krugman analysis, do you also agree with his point that this whole mess -- I can't think of a better word -- this whole mess has been portrayed as a bunch of immature, squabbling, narrow-minded politicians who just can't get in the room and agree when the alternative analysis, and certainly one that Krugman embraces, is that it's the Republicans and particularly the Tea Party faction that has been intransigent, that has said no to trillions in spending cuts and the Democrats and Obama have moved quite a ways toward the GOP position?

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, THOMSON REUTERS: I think that that conclusion, that actually the terms of the debate have been shifted far to the right is objectively the case. And what's interesting to me is, and you referred to this earlier – we already saw that on the front page of the New York Times today, and this was alluded to in your panel, people are now saying, well okay, in the post mortem phase, we're going to talk about how Obama shifted pretty far to the right. That's a little bit too late. The decisions will already have been taken.

KURTZ: But just briefly, why has mainstream journalism not portrayed this as a crisis largely created by one party, and instead has developed this narrative that the two sides are just, you know, a bunch of clowns?

FREELAND: Because I think mainstream journalism is averse to making judgments. And I also think that mainstream journalists are particularly scared of being labeled as liberal. We all want to be sort of seen as objective. And I think sometimes there's a little bit of bending over backwards to be seen as objective by the right because that’s where a lot of the criticism comes from.

KURTZ: I think you’ve hit on an excellent point, which is why we have you on.

Brent Baker
Brent Baker
Brent Baker is the Steven P.J. Wood Senior Fellow and VP for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center