For Immediate Release
Media Myths on Economic Recovery Package Continue
Coverage of economic recovery package favors falsehoods over facts
WASHINGTON - In response to media
coverage of President Obama's
economic recovery plan, Media Matters released
a comprehensive list of "myths and falsehoods" surrounding the
issue. Media Matters has
documented these falsehoods, including, most recently, media figures falsely
suggesting a partial Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis examined the
entire bill and falsely claiming that community organization ACORN would
receive $4.19 billion as part of the stimulus.
"From misrepresentations of a partial CBO analysis to
falsely claiming ACORN will receive $4.19 billion from the stimulus, the media
has continuously misled the American people about the economic recovery package,"
said Karl Frisch, Senior
Fellow at Media Matters. "Upon taking the oath of office, President Obama was
tasked with fixing what is perhaps the worst economic crisis since the Great
Depression. Instead of giving the public
a fair and accurate view of his economic recovery package, many in the media
have chosen to parrot conservative fallacies and distortions."
- Several media
outlets and figures falsely suggested that a partial analysis of the
economic recovery plan by the CBO was an examination
of the entire bill, ignoring a January 22 letter from Office
of Management and Budget director
Peter Orszag that
refuted this claim.
- In comparing the
economic recovery plan to the New Deal, several conservative media figures
have misrepresented or cherry-picked unemployment figures from 1937 and 1938 to assert that
New Deal stimulus programs did not reduce unemployment.
- Citing Japan's fiscal stimulus during its "lost decade," media figures
have argued against a large-scale stimulus plan to combat the current
recession, ignoring several prominent economists who have said that
economic conditions were improving in Japan before the Japanese
government temporarily abandoned fiscal stimulus policies.
- Numerous media
figures have asserted that the proposed economic recovery bill would
amount to spending at least $217,000
for every job created. But by calculating the per-job cost by simply dividing
the cost of the package by the estimated number of jobs created, these
media figures ignore all other tangible benefits of the package including
investments in education, health and public safety.
- Echoing "fast
facts" released by House Minority Leader John Boehner's
office, Rush Limbaugh and the San
Francisco Chronicle falsely suggested that $4.19 billion of the
stimulus would go to ACORN. In fact, the bill does not mention the group or otherwise
single it out for funding.
- Limbaugh, Michelle
Malkin, and Sean Hannity all falsely asserted that former Labor Secretary
and Obama economic adviser Robert Reich proposed that jobs created by the
economic recovery package should exclude white males. Reich, in fact, said
he favors a stimulus plan that "include[es] women and minorities,
and the long-term employed"
in addition to skilled professionals and white male construction workers.
- CNN's Campbell
Brown and Ali Velshi repeatedly claimed that provisions in the bill that
extend food stamps and unemployment insurance are "not
stimulus," ignoring testimony from CBO director Douglas W. Elmendorf
stating that both would "have a significant impact on GDP by early
THE MEDIA'S COVERAGE OF THE ECONOMIC
Summary: The Washington
Times has recently published several articles misrepresenting a
partial Congressional Budget Office analysis of the stimulus bill to support
claims that most of the money in the bill would not be spent quickly. But in an
article reporting former comptroller general David Walker discussing CBO's
analysis of infrastructure spending and a separate article reporting that
"[c]ritics say Obama's economic bill lacks stimulus," the Times ignored the conclusion of a more
recent CBO analysis of the entire bill that 64 percent of the combined cost of
the spending increases and tax cuts in the bill would occur by September 30,
Summary: The Hill's Jared Allen repeated the false claim that ACORN
is, in Allen's words, a "beneficiar[y] of the stimulus package," and
uncritically reported NRCC communications director Ken Spain's false suggestion
that the stimulus bill includes "a $4.2 billion bailout" for ACORN.
In fact, the bill does not mention ACORN or otherwise single it out for
funding. Additionally, the bill requires that the $4.19 billion it allocates
for "neighborhood stabilization activities" be distributed through
Summary: Fox News' Carl Cameron falsely claimed of the
economic recovery bills: "In both the House and Senate packages, more than
half of the money is reserved for at least two years from now, and Republicans
argue that that's simply not good enough." In fact, the Congressional
Budget Office has estimated that about 64 percent of the House version of the
recovery bill would be paid out within 19 months, and about 86 percent by the
end of fiscal year 2011.
Summary: On his radio show, Rush Limbaugh allowed Rep. Eric
Cantor to falsely claim of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009:
"Even the Congressional Budget Office ... says it is not a stimulative
bill." In fact, the CBO stated in its January 26 report: "CBO
anticipates that implementation of H.R. 1 would have a noticeable impact on
economic growth and employment in the next few years," while the CBO
director said that the bill would "provide massive fiscal stimulus."