- Running on empty: EPA slashes biofuel goals because of ethanol shortage
- ‘Gay Jeans’ that fade into rainbow-colored denim created
- Divided court strikes down big porn award
- Jimmy Carter: Don’t hurt Russian people with sanctions
- Oldest ex-MLB player dies in Cuba, 2 days shy of 103rd birthday
- ‘Top Gun’ for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy’s approval
- Bill Clinton to endorse Charlie Rangel for re-election
- Pfc. Bradley Manning is now Pfc. Chelsea Manning: Court says so
- Secret base U.S. special forces used to train Libyans now under terrorist control: report
- 9th suspect in N.C. kidnapping turns self in to FBI
HARPER: Media embrace Obama spin in sequester fight
Joe Vornehm of Simpsonville, S.C., pulled out his ruler to count the number of column inches his local newspaper, the Gannett-owned Greenville News, had written about the budget impasse in Washington.
He found 42.5 inches on the Obama administration’s position, 6.5 inches he described as neutral and 7.5 inches on the Republican position.
I think the coverage in The Greenville News would be roughly the same across the United States over the past week in a one-sided blame game against the GOP for bringing out the forced reductions in the federal budget in what has become known as sequestration. (See an explanation of sequestration at bit.ly/Y5qAmL.)
The press has taken up the administration’s strategy, generally known as “firemen first” in political terms. When a city or state government faces a budget shortfall, the politicians immediately wring their hands and say cops and firefighters will be the first to go if taxes aren’t raised or a bond issue isn’t passed. It’s the same kind of scare tactic the media are propagating about the sequester clash. In a recent Gallup poll, more than half of those questioned didn’t really know what to think. The poll represents an honest view; the media have pushed an agenda.
Here are a few of the scare tactics in the media:
The Philadelphia Inquirer blared: “Milk could be taken from babies.” Well, not exactly. The reality is, some low-income families may not receive a high-protein milk formula.
The New York Times picked up the scream meme: “[T]he sequestration cuts, as they are called, still contain billions of dollars in mandatory budget reductions in programs that help low-income Americans, including one that gives vouchers for housing to the poor and disabled and another that provides fortified baby formula to the children of poor women.” Well, not exactly.
A headline in The Chicago Tribune read: “FAA: Sequestration could force O’Hare tower, runway to close at times.” Highly unlikely.
The media also beat down those who disagreed. After legendary journalist Bob Woodward argued that President Obama was to blame for having “moved the goalposts” in the sequester debate with Republicans over spending and taxes, Mr. Woodward said a senior White House official — later revealed to be senior economic adviser Gene Sperling — said he would “regret” his stance. The press reported the confrontation and many determined that Mr. Woodward had overreacted to the threat.
Many journalists don’t understand numbers — a fact that is readily apparent from the reporting on the budget cuts. Fortunately, I do understand numbers after studying accounting and economics, and reporting on federal budgets and business for The Associated Press, Newsweek and ABC News.
The actual reduction in spending would be about $44 billion for this fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, rather than the $85 billion usually reported. That’s what the Congressional Budget Office says on page 11 in its February report (1.usa.gov/YUrA3u).
Defense expenditures take the biggest hit of $22 billion, or 3.3 percent. Nondefense spending gets a $22 billion cut, or less than 1 percent. No cuts will be made to Social Security, Medicaid, food stamps and a myriad of other nondefense programs.
Some people will be affected. But the scenarios in the media of financial Armageddon are simply over the top. Some of the programs may — and I emphasize may — be affected include:
Government workers may see unpaid furloughs of up to 30 days a year. Others may disagree, but I certainly would like to see fewer government workers.
About the Author
Christopher Harper is a professor of journalism at Temple University. He worked for The Associated Press, Newsweek, ABC News and “20/20” for more than 20 years. He can be contacted at email@example.com.
- HARPER: No need for truth panels to police campaign speech
- HARPER: Media whoppers misrepresent the GOP
- HARPER: Despite lousy reviews, media give Hillary Clinton a pass
- HARPER: Film will tell the Gosnell abortion doctor murder story that media didn't
- HARPER: A little late, media step up on Obamacare's woes
TWT Video Picks
By Andrew P. Napolitano
Obama's veil of secrecy is pierced
- Pentagon plans to replace flight crews with 'full-time' robots
- 'Top Gun' for drones: Squadrons of carrier-based killers have Navy's approval
- Texas is next! AG warns BLM wants 90,000 acres after Bundy ranch standoff
- America is an oligarchy, not a democracy or republic, university study finds
- Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy hailed as patriot, ripped as lawless deadbeat
- Obama avoids 'red line' for China, prepared to impose tougher sanctions on Russia
- CURL: Obama's foreign policy even worse than his domestic policy
- Ukraine claims torture by pro-Russian forces on the heels of Biden's stern warning to Moscow
- Sold out: Ukraine's leadership swapped best military weapons for cash
- Jimmy Carter: Dont hurt Russian people with sanctions
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.
Celebrity deaths in 2014