Todd Corrects Romney, Not NBC's Own Distortion on Cuts to Medicare; Tapper Corrects Stephanopoulos

Chuck Todd has chutzpah. Jake Tapper has some integrity. For decades, journalists have aided liberals by mischaracterizing proposed slight reductions in the rate of spending hikes on a program as a “cut” or “slash” to it, so many trusting people, naively presuming the words have meaning, thus assumed there’d be an actual reduction.

NBC’s Peter Alexander repeated this fallacy on Monday’s Today when he described Paul Ryan as “the architect of a politically polarizing budget plan to slash trillions in federal funding, including cuts to Medicare...” NBC’s chief political correspondent, Chuck Todd, however, had the gall to correct Mitt Romney over a “cut” claim while ignoring Alexander’s falsity.

Around a Romney soundbite in which the GOP candidate maintained President Obama had enacted a $700 billion “cut” to Medicare, Todd pounced on Monday’s (August 13) NBC Nightly News:

For now, the Republicans are pushing back by attacking the President for what they say were his cuts to Medicare in 2010 to pay for his health care overhaul [Romney soundbite] But Medicare was never cut. The cost of the program continues to rise, just at a slower pace.

On ABC, Jake Tapper – inadvertently? – corrected George Stephanopoulos who, on Sunday’s (August 12) Good Morning America, had erroneously cited “deep cuts in entitlement programs, like Medicare and Medicaid, that Romney and Ryan are calling for...” Monday night, Tapper accurately relayed how “Ryan has proposed slowing the growth of Medicare...”

Audio: MP3 clip

Saturday morning (BiasAlert post by Rich Noyes) on GMA Bianna Golodryga relayed the common media canard on Ryan: “He’s pushing for sharp cuts in federal spending, including programs like Medicare.”  

The next day, Stephanopoulos came aboard GMA to give legitimacy to the Democratic line by describing “deep cuts” as a reality:

What the Democrats are going to this idea that  the deep cuts in entitlement programs, like Medicare and Medicaid, that Romney and Ryan are calling for, along with the deep cuts in the rest of government spending, is going actually to cripple the American economy.”

Monday evening on World News, looking at the battles over the years between Obama and Ryan, Tapper summarized: “Ryan has proposed slowing the growth of Medicare and providing future retirees with something like a voucher to pay for private health insurance.”

Meanwhile, anchoring Monday’s CBS Evening News, Bob Schieffer echoed the same “deep cuts” distorted formulation he conveyed on Monday’s This Morning (“he really slashes into social programs”). BiasAlert post by Matthew Balan. On the Evening News, he asserted: “In choosing young Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan, Romney has picked a budget expert whose plan to put the nation on a sound financial footing includes deep cuts in social programs and a reform of Medicare.”

-- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow Brent Baker on Twitter.