Media Cast Obama as Budget Cutter Amid Debt Ceiling Debate
Reporters have repeatedly portrayed Barack Obama as a deficit hawk committed to "slashing" spending, as MRC Research Director Rich Noyes documented in April ahead of the president's much-anticipated budget speech.
While the media touted Obama's budget blueprint, which contained puny cuts, as "deeply painful," CBO Director Doug Elmendorf told Congress the president's framework lacked sufficient detail to be scored as a credible plan.
Since then, Obama still hasn't revealed a serious plan to cut spending, yet correspondents continue to paint the president as a budget cutter.
Echoing an earlier report in which he asserted that Obama's initial budget blueprint "promises pain," ABC News White House correspondent Jake Tapper framed Obama's latest plan on the July 15 edition of "World News," as a "big, painful deficit reduction package."
Tapper's counterpart at CBS, Bill Plante, on the July 18 "Early Show," trumpeted Obama's "push" for a deal to "slash" trillions from the deficit: "That's what President Obama continues to push for, a deal that would slash four trillion dollars from the federal deficit over the next decade and increase taxes on some corporations and wealthy Americans."
At the Washington Post, financial reporter Lori Montgomery claimed in a front-page story on July 7 that Obama sought to "defuse the biggest budgetary time bombs that are set to explode" by slashing the deficit.
On July 14, New York Times reporter Jackie Calmes insisted "President Obama wants deficit reduction." Later in the piece, she proclaimed "Obama has conceded to [Republicans] this year on spending cuts, including for those entitlement programs Democrats favor."
The next day, NYT White House reporter Mark Landler channeled his colleague in the latest edition of the paper's "Caucus" podcast: "It’s also worth pointing out that the president and Democrats are putting some very significant cuts on the table."
As Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) explained to CBS's Bob Schieffer on Sunday's "Face the Nation," Obama has paid lip service to the idea of deficit reduction, but hasn't put a serious plan to cut spending down on paper. Nevertheless, the media continue to advance the narrative that the president is a disciplined budget cutter.
--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.