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     Media coverage of economic policy issues continues to be unbalanced and often fails to include the perspective of free market experts and conservative economists. Operation Audit the Media (ATM) is dedicated to documenting and exposing this deficiency. An ongoing example of this anti-free market bias is the coverage of President Bush's economic stimulus package as many of the links demonstrate. For more background on Operation ATM, go to related items on the left side of the page or to the Special Report section at the bottom of the page.


Dollars & Nonsense

Coverage of the Proposed Bush Tax Cuts

Today Again Urges Rejection of Bush’s Tax Cut Plan
Ann Curry cited the Bush tax cut as one of the things about which “a lot of people are very worried” because it will hurt the economy.

Lauer: Now’s the Time to Increase Taxes
Matt Lauer told CNBC’s Ron Insana that this is the idea time to be increasing taxes. Insana suggested that it would “be very difficult to increase taxes right now.”

A War President Would Raise Taxes
Newsweek’s Evan Thomas claimed a serious war President would raise taxes during a segment on Inside Washington.

Brokaw’s At It Again, Calls Tax Cuts Huge
NBC’s Tom Brokaw stressed how President Bush’s proposed budget “contains record deficits” and “huge tax cuts” even though the cuts represent less than 5 percent of the expected federal spending over the next ten years.

ABC’s State of the Union Analysis: Bush Favors the Rich
ABC’s Michel Martin complained that the President’s State of the Union address failed to address “the core complaints of his critics” and that “a strong majority of citizens believe that his plan strongly favors the rich.”

NBC Notes Republicans Are “Cool” to Tax Cuts
NBC’s Tom Brokaw and Tim Russert made sure NBC viewers realized that leading Republicans were cool to the dividend tax cut proposed by President Bush.

Bias Is Common Knowledge on Today
NBC’s Katie Couric asked a guest to confirm “everybody thinks” the dividend tax cut “does favor the rich instead of the working class, right?”

NY Times Finds Republicans to Trash Tax Cuts
The New York Times found two Republicans to condemn the proposed Bush tax cuts. They must have been liberal Republicans, because both attacked the proposal from the left.

NBC Highlights Clinton Attack on Tax Cut
NBC News hasn’t informed viewers that the Bush tax proposal provides a larger percentage cut for middle and lower income earners. But the network did showcase former President Bill Clinton, as he called the plan “a giveaway to the rich.” 

Poll: Bush Plan Unfair But Public Supports Every Element
According to a Fox News poll, the Bush tax cut is unfair in the opinion of 42 percent of the public while 38 percent believe it is fair. Every individual element of the plan, however, was favored, some by wide margins.

NBC Reality Check: True but Misleading?
NBC Nightly News ran a story on the Bush administration's claim that 92 million Americans will keep an average of $1,083 under the proposed tax cuts. Correspondent Lisa Myers said "the claim is true, experts say, but misleading." That's a good synopsis of the story as well.

A Freudian Slip?
ABC's George Stephanopoulos reminded Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle of previous arguments "when we were fighting the original Bush tax cut." Was the "we" phrase merely a slip of the former Clintonite's tongue or more evidence of his liberal bias? 

CBS Questions Evans From the Left, Gives Breaux a Pass
Here's a shocker. CBS's Face the Nation passed on the liberal spin that the Bush tax cut is geared to the rich. Panelist Dan Balz of the Washington Post provided a short, liberal interpretation of the plan and asked Commerce Secretary Don Evans “What's the equity in a plan like that?”

Hunt Calls Tax Cuts Another "Teapot Dome"
Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift called the economic stimulus package “class warfare” and the Wall Street Journal’s Al Hunt called it “crumbs for about 99 million, and then its caviar for the very top.” Hunt also claimed that the last “fleecing” this big was the Teapot Dome scandal.

Washington Times Catches NY Times Distortion
A New York Times story on a “typical” family of five with $88,000 in annual income focused on dividend reductions, as did the father quoted in the story, who called the Bush plan “trickle down” economics and dismissed it as “unimpressive.” The poor guy was uninformed. The Washington Times did the math and proved his family would save about $3,000 under the Bush plan.

Washington Post Hypes Left-Wing Numbers
A January 10 Washington Post story gave prominence to numbers from the left-wing Citizens for Tax Justice. The group’s numbers – they claimed three-fifths of the tax cut would go to the wealthiest 10 percent of taxpayers – were used in the story’s only table chart. Buried in the story were Treasury figures showing that the tax burden borne by those earning more than $100,000 would increase by nearly a full percent under the plan.

ABC Finance Expert Big Democratic Donor
ABC’s personal financial expert Mellody Hobson provided a critical review of President Bush’s tax plans, passing on critics’ concerns that it favors the rich. For the record, Hobson has donated more than $40,000 to Democrats over the last several years and $1,250 to Republicans.

Dividend Tax Cuts Just for Rich? Not Really
Nightline concentrated on how eliminating the dividend tax would only benefit the wealthy. A Tax Foundation report found 46 percent of those claiming dividend income earn less than $50,000 a year.

Real Stats: The Richer You Are the Smaller the Cut
Finally, a few facts entered the debate. Fox News Channel’s Steve Doocey noted that those getting the cuts pay most of the taxes and even CBS’s Harry Smith admitted that tax cuts by percentage are larger for low and middle income earners than for large taxpayers. Of course, Smith also got some liberal shots in.

Shocked by Plan to Cut Taxes for Taxpayers
The liberal media relentlessly portray tax cuts as if they were just Food Stamps for "the rich," but for all the hand-wringing there's been very little reporting about how a shrinking percentage of Americans are burdened with the costs of government.

Portraying the Tax Cuts Through a Liberal Prism
Peter Jennings was worried about tax cuts. “How much is this going to cost the government?” he asked. Jennings later pointed out an ABC News poll had found that 50 percent of the respondents thought the tax cuts favored the rich.

NBC Vaguely Concedes That Rich Pay More
NBC’s Tom Brokaw relayed a Democratic charge that the President’s economic stimulus package was “trickle down economics. Brokaw also noted that Democrats “were quick to say it favors the wealthy.”

CBS Poll: Cutting Taxes Not Top Priority But…
Dan Rather highlighted a CBS poll that found only 14 percent felt cutting taxes should be Congress’s top priority. Rather didn’t mention that 54 percent said helping the unemployed and creating jobs should be or that job creation is a goal of the stimulus package.

CBS Uses Democratic CPA As Expert Source
The CBS Evening News featured a CPA who supported the liberal premise that the rich are "winners" under the proposed Bush tax cuts. The story didn't bother to mention that the CPA had contributed money to a liberal Congressman and the Democratic National Committee.

Bush's Tax Plan "Give Most to the Rich"
CBS’s John Roberts insisted “the President’s plan would give the most to the rich” while colleague Byron Pitts highlighted a “middle class wife” who said the plan “won’t give much to most Americans.”

Good Morning America Finds a Millionaire to Oppose Tax Cuts
“I’ll take a reduction, but I’m also concerned…about deficits that we have to absorb in this country,” said the millionaire Chairman of the Atlanta Braves. His opinion was important to Good Morning America, who used him to claim that even wealthy investors are opposed to the Bush plan.

ABC and NBC Trumpet McCain’s Opposition to Tax Cuts
Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona was against tax cuts when he ran for President in 2000 and guess what? He’s still against them. McCain’s stance was news to ABC and NBC, however, who highlighted his opposition.

NY Times: Tax Cuts Favor the Rich
Hardly original and a little late, but the New York Times has also decided the Bush economic stimulus package favors the wealthy. A dividend tax cut means the benefits go “almost exclusively to the very wealthiest taxpayers,” according to the Times. The article didn’t note that a small percentage of taxpayers pay the vast majority of income and dividend tax.

Networks: Tax Cuts Unfairly Benefit Rich
ABC, CBS, CNBC and NBC all repeated claims that President Bush’s tax cuts are unfairly skewed toward the “rich.” None of the networks noted that the top 10 percent of taxpayers pay 67 percent of the income taxes collected and the bottom 50 pay only four percent.

AP’s Strange Poll Questions
An AP headline claimed that a poll had found Americans to be “wary” of tax cuts. Given the wording of the question, the response was no surprise.

Another Journalist Claims Tax Cuts Favor the Rich
There’s no dispute about it. Bush’s “big tax cuts” are “tilted toward the rich,” according to CNN’s Bruce Morton.

Tax Cuts Annoy Clift
Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift was unhappy with the Bush administration. Guess why?



Biased Coverage of Other Economic Issues

Networks Dismiss the Drop in Unemployment
ABC, CBS, NBC and CNBC declared the good news – a drop in unemployment from 6.0 percent to 5.7 percent – wasn’t good news at all.

A .3 Jump Is “Large”, A .3 Decrease is a Slight Decline
The Washington Post howled when unemployment jumped from 5.7 to 6.0 percent in November, claiming that the powers-that-be were taken by surprise. “Few expected so large a jump,” the Post claimed. A decrease of the exact same size in January was called slight.

The NY Times: Hiring Slump Worst in 20 Years…But Employment’s Rising
The February 6 Times had a headline stating “U.S. Economy in Worst Hiring Slump in 20 Years.” Two days later: “Job Market Shows a Rise in January.”

NBC Highlights Distrust of Bush on Economy
According to an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll only 44 percent approve of the President’s handling of the economy and 49 percent disapprove, a point correspondent Campbell Brown was quick to point out. But, as Brown noted, the survey indicated that more prefer to have the President handle the economy than Democrats.

Bush Cuts Are Freezing People
A Republican is in office so it’s once again time to focus on the victims of phantom budget cuts. ABC’s Ron Claiborne claimed four million people are getting less money from energy assistance subsidies because of a “proposed cut” in the heating program.

NBC Uses Democratic Donor as Objective Expert
Now it's three for three. NBC followed the lead of CBS and ABC by using an "independent" expert who was also a Democratic contributor.

Time's Tax Table Disputes Story
Time's Bill Saportio wrote that "the tax-cut benefits will be concentrated heavily in the upper income brackets." A table accompanying the story, however, showed that those at the lower incomes would receive equal or greater percentage cuts than the wealthy.

ABC Worries Over State Budgets But Neglects Spending Increases
ABC’s Betsy Stark filed a World News Tonight report that claimed the Bush tax cuts were going to worsen the fiscal plight of the states. “President Bush’s plan to stimulate the economy is going to make matters worse for them,” the ABC correspondent said. Stark didn’t mention that spending by states increased a whopping 39 percent from 1996 through 2001.

NY Times Editorial Policy Reflected In Stories
The January 8 New York Times ran an editorial about the Bush tax cut headlined “The Wrong Stimulant.” Most of the day’s news articles reflected that spin.

The Market’s Up But There’s No Buyers
The day after Bush’s economic stimulus announcement, CBS’s Harry Smith claimed the Bush economic stimulus package wasn’t bringing out the buyers, despite the fact that the Dow Jones was up 178 and NASDAQ 34.

Katie from the Right, Diane from the Left
What’s going on here? Today’s Katie Couric asked tough questions of tax cut opponent John McCain, pointing out that a family of four making $39,000 will get an $1,100 tax cut. Over on Good Morning America, Diane Sawyer was telling Commerce Secretary Don Evans that “there will not be rejoicing in America by all of these middle-class taxpayers for $42.”

Russert Calls for Suspending Tax Cuts…Again
Tim Russert used his Meet the Press to advocate stopping the Bush tax cuts. Russert read a Concord Coalition ad that recommended stopping the tax cuts and not enacting a prescription drug plan but only asked Pennsylvania Republican Senator Rick Santorum about suspending the tax cuts. 

ABC Brands SEC Pick "Controversial"
President Bush's choice for the head of the Securities and Exchange Commission was "controversial" to ABC. The network used a sound bite from to question if a "Wall Street insider could ever become a true reformer."

Sawyer Claims Market Drops Because of Bush Appointee
ABC's Diane Sawyer interviewed CNN's Lou Dobbs and told him the markets were down because of President Bush's pick for Treasury Secretary. Not so fast, Dobbs said.

Jennings and Rather Bash Tax Cut Policy
ABC’s Peter Jennings and CBS’s Dan Rather displayed contempt for tax cut policies. Rather called them “controversial”—can’t he at least find a Democrat to say that? Over on ABC, Jennings suggested to former Clintonite George Stephanopoulos that tax cuts lead to deficits.

NPR’s Williams Advocates Double Taxation
Juan Williams argued for the double-taxation of dividends on a recent Fox News Sunday.

And That’s Why Rich People Shouldn’t Get Tax Cuts!
What does a federal pay increase have to do with tax cuts? Not a lot, unless you’re Wall Street Journal Executive Washington Editor Al Hunt, who never misses a chance to play the class warfare card.

Related Items:
CNBC Plugs Additional Tax Cuts
Jennings vs. NY Times on Greenspan’s View of Tax Cut
ABC Highlights Greenspan's Opposition to Tax Cut Plan
CNBC's Murray Chastises Tax Cut Plans
Earlier Reports On Anti-Free Market Bias in the Media
MRC Books on Anti-Free Market Bias in the Media
What Economists Say About the MRC

The Worst from Operation ATM:
Networks Champion California's New Tax for Paid Family Leave
NBC's Russert on Personal Campaign to Repeal Bush's Tax Cut

Special Report: A Summer of Skewed News
Executive Summary | Complete Study | Adobe PDF Version



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