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Greta Van Susteren Rehashes Old News That Just Happens To Coincide With New GOP Talking Point

Reported by Guest Blogger - November 24, 2009 -

Guest blogged by Nayef

On November 19, 2009, On The Record dug up an old story about the Recovery.gov website that helped polish the image of a Republican Congresswoman as she attacked the Obama administration over an old story with misinformation that was not corrected by the host conducting the interview. No view in support of the Obama administration was presented. With video.

ABC News reported on July 8, 2009 that $18 million is being spent to redesign Recovery.gov website and said they got that information from the General Services Administration. The next day, ABC clarified that the redesign will cost $9.5 million through January 2010 and "perhaps" an additional $18 million over the next 5 years. Edward Pound, spokesman for the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board that runs Recovery.gov, explained that the site will become more user-friendly, with enhanced security and expanded data capacity and that people who want to follow government spending will be able to download all the information for themselves. It will take more people, he said, but the project may not end up costing the full $18 million.

The GOP ran an ad in July criticizing the administration for this same issue.

Last week, Van Susteren interviewed Republican Congresswoman Ginny Brown-Waite who filed a complaint about the website. Van Susteren said chummily, “You made some news today.” Brown-Waite’s complaint may be news but the rest of the story has been known since July. In addition to rehashing an old story, misinformation was given to the audience in the rest of the segment.

Brown-Waite claimed that over $18 million has been spent. Van Susteren did not note that the contract was for $9.5 million through January 2010. She repeatedly accepted Brown-Waite’s $18 million figure, indicating that either Van Susteren never fact-checked Brown-Waite’s figure or else did not want to make her look bad by contradicting her.

On the other hand, Van Susteren added her own partisanship as she made sure to note that Recovery.gov is “a President Obama administration website.”

Brown-Waite presented a redacted version of the contract, suggesting that the redactions were somehow indicative of a cover up. Van Susteren asked sympathetically, "Why is it all blackened?" and then partially answered her own question by saying, "That can't be national security." Actually, the reason was already given by Pound, who was quoted in August by ABC News as saying, "The material redacted was business-sensitive material, proprietary information." But why let facts obscure propaganda?

Finally, Van Susteren asked the Congresswoman how she got the contract. The Congresswoman replied incoherently, "a good government group that tried to find out and they tried to get the contract and they supplied it to us." Brown-Waite may have been referring to ProPublica which has tried unsuccessfully to get an unredacted copy of the contract. But ABC News notes that the government had already released the contract last summer, albeit in redacted form.

The segment ended with Van Susteren promising to follow up on the story. Other than providing a showcase for Brown-Waite's complaint, there was no news value to this old story.