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FOX News Enables Republicans In Denying Their Earmark Addiction

Reported by Ellen - March 15, 2009 -

Guest blogged by Julie

Just when I thought Fox News (and the Republicans) could sink no lower, they sank lower. The most recent babble from the Right (which, of course, includes Fox News, the Official Conservative Network) over those evil earmarks is stunning in its absolutely circular logic – or wait, not even circular – lack of logic altogether. Anyone tuned in probably knows that the Congressional Righties have quite an aversion to the earmarks in the $410 billion dollar spending bill just signed by President Obama – such an aversion, in fact, that they took all of theirs out, right? Not quite – 40% of the earmarks in this bill belong to the Republicans.

The striking thing about some Republicans’ attitude on the earmark debate – including their defiant attitude about removing their own from the bill – is not that they have them in there. The WTF moment is that their message, aided by Fox News non-reporting, seems to be, yes, we have our own earmarks in there, but it’s STILL PRESIDENT OBAMA’S FAULT for not making us take them out! Oh, and let’s not forget that other little distortion, you know, how they continue to claim, with the help of Fox News, that President Obama promised on the campaign trail to eliminate earmarks altogether.

First up, on March 3rd, the Republican spin machine, with the help of Fox News business guy Neil Cavuto, cranked up. His guest was losing-candidate John McCain, to discuss the earmarks.

Cavuto said, “Well, you tried, and the President is going to sign this thing anyway.”

“Well, I think it’s disgraceful,” McCain commented, correctly pointing out that 40% were Republican earmarks, and that it’s a “bipartisan disease.”

But Cavuto (he got the memo), said, “The President said he would get rid of it, though, and would stomp it, and would stop the Senate’s fixation with it.” Stop me before I earmark again! Cavuto never asked the million-dollar question: Why did Republicans include the earmarks in the bill at all? Strike one for Fox News.

Next up, On The Record with "liberal"
Greta van Susteren hosted Newt Gingrich on March 10th, at which time he said, “I think it's a tragedy that this president is not going to keep his word and veto a bill that has 9,000 earmarks.” Yes, veto it, veto it, save us from ourselves! “Look, this president has made the decision that he's going to govern with the left wing of the Congress . . . He's going to do it even if it breaks all of his campaign promises . . . not to sign earmarks.”

As has been established, President Obama did not say he was not going to sign earmarks. His pledge was to reform the earmark process and eliminate wasteful spending. Van Susteren, of course, during this discussion never disputed Gingrich's inaccuracy, and never questioned why, if the Republicans were so opposed, they inserted their own -- numerous -- earmarks? Strike two for Fox News.

On March 11th, Bret Baier had a Special Report on the Omnibus spending bill (making a point of the fact that the President signed the bill without the "usual ceremony"). The report went on to say that the President did not call for "an end" to earmarks (implying that he should have) or set a target to reduce their number or the amount of tax dollars they consume. Special Report showed a clip of McCain spouting his now-familiar sour grapes: “You voted for change but you’re not getting any change today.”

Reporter Major Garrett noted that Republican leaders have many earmarkers in their own ranks before showing Republican Minority Leader Rep. John Boehner saying, “The question I have is, where’s the beef? Where’s the reform?”

Indeed, Boehner, where? At another time, Boehner said, “This legislation is loaded with 9,000 unscrutinized earmarks – the kind of secretive spending the president promised to oppose . . . .” Mr. Boehner forgot to mention that many of those “unscrutinized earmarks” were for Republicans.

Again, not a word from either Baier or Garrett asking why, if the Republicans were so opposed, their ranks claimed 40% of the overall number. Strike three, you’re out. Well, not actually, because there’s more.

Also on March 11th, Baier held a panel discussion with Jim Vandehei, executive editor of The Politico, Mara Liasson, national political correspondent of National Public Radio, and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer. Though Krauthhammer was completely happy to say that the spending bill full of earmarks was [President Obama‘s, presumably] “hypocrisy squared,” not one word -- from any of the panelists -- about the Republicans’ own earmarks. Should we start over with strike one, or call the season?

Even the local Foxies got into the act. On March 11th, Fox4KC.com – the Kansas City Fox Network - reported that “there is controversy surrounding the bill.“ It noted, incorrectly, that “President Obama had promised during the campaign to get rid of earmarks." It continued by saying, "But, earmarks abound in the new bill. And, the administration had blamed these earmarks as being old business.” Mentioning only KC’s Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver’s earmarks, there was no reference to Republican earmarks at all.

On March 12th, the Washington Post reported some of the big-ticket items Republicans got for their states. Here are some highlights:

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) - Total earmarks co-sponsored: $75.6 million
Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (Ariz.) - $25.8 million
Senate Republican Conference Chairman Lamar Alexander (Tenn.) - $32 million
Rep. Jerry Lewis (Calif.), ranking GOP member of House Appropriations Committee - $18.8 million
Rep. John M. McHugh (N.Y.), ranking GOP member of House Armed Services Committee - $5.4 million
Sen. Thad Cochran (Miss.), ranking GOP member of Senate Appropriations Committee - $470.9 million (the largest dollar amount of earmarks for any member of Congress)
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (Iowa), ranking GOP member of Senate Finance Committee - $199.1 million
Sen. John Cornyn (Tex.), chairman of National Republican Senatorial Committee - $86 million
Rep. David Dreier (Calif.), ranking GOP member of House Rules Committee - $17.2 million
Rep. Lamar Smith (Tex.), ranking GOP member of House Judiciary Committee - $24.6 million.

So, yeah, I guess the next spin excuse ridiculousness reason we’ll hear is that this was only a test for our new President -- yeah, we put ‘em in there to trick him, just to see if he‘d take ‘em out.

The bill was written sometime last year, the bill was filled with pork, the Republicans are railing against earmarks but they still left their 40% handprint on the bill.

FOX News is helping the Republicans divert attention away from that handprint -- and hey, if anyone notices, well, President Obama said he’d eliminate earmarks (even though he didn‘t), so it’s his fault Republican earmarks are left in there and that‘s a broken campaign promise (even though it isn‘t).

The earmarks make up a measly 2% of the budget. But Fox News seems to be on a mission, a mission to aid the right-wing finger-pointers in shooting slings and arrows at the Democrats while blatantly violating the very tenets they espouse.