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Fox Special Report Pimps McCain GI Bill

Reported by Priscilla - May 27, 2008 -

When the road gets rocky for Republicans and their legislation, Fox is there to smooth things out. As the conduit from the White House to the public, Fox is willing and able to “explain” to its audience the virtue and practicality of the Republican “brand.” This was quite apparent in yesterday’s (May 26th) “Special Report” with Brett Baier filling in for Brit Hume. And it turns out that it wasn’t just Special Report. As noted by Think Progress, in their thread headline “Conservatives Spend Memorial Day Weekend Explaining Their Opposition To GI Bill,” the White House and some others have spent the weekend defending the McCain GI Bill. Fox also aided and abetted in “educating” their audience and communicating White House/John McCain talking points

During the “news” segment of the show, Baier showed McCain, at a campaign appearance, explaining how his GI Bill was better than the Jim Webb bill. Not surprisingly, this was the first topic of the panel discussion. Not surprisingly all three panelists (Jeff Birnbaum, Mort Kondracke, and Bill Kristol) supported the McCain bill because they felt that it only made sense to reward those who were in service longer. Webb’s bill allows for full educational benefits after three years of service and McCain and the war-loving right wing think that this will induce soldiers to leave the military earlier than they would if the carrot were not held out so soon. (Comment: that this benefit might induce young people to join the almost broken US Army was not mentioned.)

Baier began the discussion by saying that McCain was getting “hammered” about the bill and that despite Webb’s bill greatly increasing tuition benefits, “some worry about retention rates.” Baier said that “to see the coverage, you wouldn’t know that there are two plans.” (Comment: for some time now, there has been extensive coverage of the McCain bill as evidenced in this ABC report from early April). As if on cue, Baier then worked in a comment about the recent NY Times editorial which criticized President Bush for opposing the Webb bill (which was passed in the Senate with a veto proof margin). Baier’s nose grew longer when he told a little fib; i.e. that there was no mention of McCain’s bill. Obviously Baier needs a remedial reading course because the article states that “Mr. Bush — and, to his great discredit, Senator John McCain — have argued against a better G.I. Bill, for the worst reasons. They would prefer that college benefits for service members remain just mediocre enough that people in uniform are more likely to stay put.” The article then goes on to deconstruct, using information from the Congressional Budget office, the reasoning behind the McCain argument.

Bill Kristol said that the article, written for the paper for which he is now employed, made it look like McCain and Bush are “terrible” and that the alternate bill is “superior.” (Comment: Give me an M-C-C-A-I-N!). Kristol added that the “liberal media and Democratic leadership are making it tough for McCain.” (Comment: “boo-freaking- hoo.”) Baier added that Webb’s bill doesn’t have benefits that are transferable to spouses. (Comment: and that was all the “substance” that was given) and that the White House has put out a statement about the NY Times article.

Comment: Was it just coincidence that all three panelists marched in lockstep here? It seemed just too cute that there was agreement on an issue that McCain seems to be on the wrong side of. Was it just coincidence that White House spokesperson Dana Perrino attacked the NY Times editorial which said “As a long-term investment in human capital, in education and job training, there is no good argument against an expanded, generous G.I. Bill?” But that didn’t stop Fox and those McCain supporters from offering a weak defense of a bill that doesn’t “support the troops” on the weekend during which we honor them.