Journalists Adopt Obama's Sequester Hysteria

Vol. 26, No. 5

As Predicted, Journalists Adopt Obama’s Panicky Hype

Host Chris Wallace:
“The White House has already put out — there’s going to be kids, thousands of kids thrown out of Head Start; we won’t have food safety inspectors to make sure our food is safe — you know, all kinds of dire things.... They are saying we will make it hurt.”
Panelist Juan Williams: “Oh, yeah. And I think the news media will play into that at every level.”
— Exchange on Fox News Sunday, February 17.


“Deadline day. Hours, now, until massive government cuts go into effect that could impact every American: jobs vaporizing, flights delayed, even criminals walking free.”
— Fill-in co-host Josh Elliot at the top of ABC’s Good Morning America, March 1. [MP3 audio (0:45)]

“Time is up. In just hours, President Obama will order $85 billion in cuts. The Army’s chief of staff tells us why he fears troops could pay with their lives.”
— Co-host Charlie Rose teasing an upcoming segment on CBS This Morning, March 1.

“It sounds like a disaster movie: Childcare canceled for tens of thousands of kids, long airport security lines, flight delays with a shortage of controllers, and military cuts that will leave us ‘second rate,’ according to the Defense Secretary.”
— ABC’s David Kerley on World News, February 24.

“Deep impact: The new fight over money in Washington. Another deadline rapidly approaching, along with deep budget cuts poised to have a major impact on the military, law enforcement, even food inspection....”
— Brian Williams opening the February 19 NBC Nightly News.

“Watch out! Like the asteroid headed to earth, they’re coming: $86 billion in automatic budget cuts. And don’t bother trying to duck....So we let these draconian budget cuts take place. You know who’s going to suffer the most? It’s not going to be Congress. It’s not going to be the President,... it’s going to be us.”
— CNN anchor Carol Costello on Newsroom, February 19. [MP3 audio (0:56)]

Say Bye-Bye to Beef Jerky

“For more than three decades, Western’s Smokehouse, a family-run meat processing operation in rural northeastern Missouri, has specialized in the art of jerky. Its varieties include smoked Mandarin teriyaki beef, smoked pepper beef and smoked original beef. But now, there is concern at the plant. The automatic federal spending cuts have raised the possibility that the United States Department of Agriculture will have to furlough some of its meat inspectors.... ‘I’m nervous about it,’ said Kevin Western, the owner of the company, which is based in Greentop, Mo., and was started by his father, Sam, in 1978. ‘The livelihood of our business depends on meat inspection.’”
New York Times reporter John Eligon, February 26.

Math-Challenged Ed Fumes: You Can’t Cut “Damn Near a Third” of the Budget

“Now you’ve got a budget of three and a half trillion dollars in this fiscal year. This will take $85 billion out of it. That’s damn near a third....You can’t take 30, you can’t take 30 percent of operational money out and expect to have the same product. You can’t do it! It’s impossible!”
— Radio host and MSNBC anchor Ed Schultz on his February 25 radio show. In fact, $85 billion is a puny 2% of the $3.5 trillion annual federal budget, not 30%. [MP3 audio (0:56)]

It’s “Dumb” to Investigate Who Proposed the Sequester


Anchor Chuck Todd: “So Republicans, they spent the day yesterday passing around this video of a Montana Democratic Senator, Max Baucus, by the way who’s up for reelection in 2014, who was saying this about the sequester.”
Clip of Senator Max Baucus: “The President is a part of this. The White House recommended it, frankly, back in August of 2011. And, so, now we’re feeling the effect of it.”
Todd: “Of all the dumb things Washington does, this ‘who started it’ argument has proven to be one of the dumber ones, especially since we’re so close to the actual cuts going into place.”
— MSNBC’s The Daily Rundown, February 21. [MP3 audio (0:45)]


Blame Boehner’s Language, Not Obama’s Obstinance

“A few weeks ago, you said that the President didn’t have the guts to do what needed to be done on the budget. Today, you said the Senate has to get off its ass. Those don’t sound like the words of a man seeking to bring people together to compromise.”
— Anchor Scott Pelley to House Speaker John Boehner in an interview shown on the February 26 CBS Evening News.

Fantasizing About Obama on Mount Rushmore

“Is Barack Obama going for it? Is he set on becoming one of the great presidents in history? I’m not talking about Mount Rushmore, but perhaps the level right below it. I’m talking, to use his word, ‘transformational.’... If he [Obama] were hearing us talking about him, maybe, mounting Mount Rushmore, getting up there with the great presidents, secretly, not what he would say to other people, what would he be thinking — ‘that’s exactly what I’m doing’?”
— MSNBC host Chris Matthews on Hardball, February 18.

MSNBC Brain Trust Volunteers for Hillary 2016


Salon’s Joan Walsh: “I think if she [Hillary Clinton] runs again, she really can’t run as that front-runner. It cannot be that inevitability campaign that she ran in 2007, and she knows that. She’s got to be about the future.”
Host Chris Matthews: “If you’re watching, Madam Secretary, all three of us have brilliant ideas. All of us have great ideas. And I especially put myself in that group with Joan and David [Corn]. We know how to do this, we’ll get you in there.”
— MSNBC’s Hardball, February 25.


“Red-Baiting” at the Hagel Hearings

“Do you have any regrets about the way that [Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s] confirmation battle was undertaken by his critics?...I mean, wasn’t there a lot of Red-baiting and other kinds of, really unfair questions asked in a public forum?”
— Anchor Andrea Mitchell to GOP Senator Roger Wicker, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, February 27.

Scolding Ted Cruz: A “Potentially Dangerous Demagogue”

NPR’s Nina Totenberg: “I actually know Cruz because he, for many years he argued cases for Texas in the United States Supreme Court. He is very smart. He is very glib, and he made sure that the attention was focused on him. This was not a distraction. This was Ted Cruz doing this [going after Chuck Hagel].”
Politico’s Evan Thomas: “You need to watch this guy, because there are a lot of demagogues out there, but not that many who are that smart. He is really, really smart, and that makes him potentially dangerous.”
— Exchange on Inside Washington, February 22.

Can’t Confuse Him With a “Fair and Balanced” Journalist

“That’s not my slogan, to be ‘fair and balanced.’ My thing is about accuracy and the truth. Just because someone has another point of view or opinion, I don’t believe in false fairness. I just believe in the truth.”
— CNN anchor Don Lemon in a January 25 interview with the Dallas Voice.

Dumb Conservatives Actually Believe Liberal Bias “Myth”


“There are fewer and fewer Republicans who will go on non-Fox shows....I think that the mythology of the big, bad non-conservative media has gotten into some offices...and then these guys, they actually believe the spin that’s out there, ‘Oh, my God, that’s what the mainstream media does, they do anything to disrupt the conservative agenda.’ And so literally, you only — Lindsey [Graham], John McCain, you know, that’s been my — I just fear that it’s sort of like this whole — there’s this whole sort of this, the mythology of this, the media’s out to get conservatives is believed among more and more actual staffers.”
— NBC political director Chuck Todd on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, February 19, talking about why so few conservative members of Congress are willing to go on liberal talk shows.


Obama vs. “Hard Right,” “Hamas” Republicans


“It is the hard right. Every time the President — you talk to people at the White House. They say, ‘This President, whatever you think of the politics, doesn’t know who to talk to on the Hill.’ There is no Boehner, he’s just a front man. Eric Cantor has his got wet finger in the air trying to figure out which way the wind is blowing. Who is the President talking to? Is it just a clique of, a bunch of right-wingers who don’t want to talk to anybody? Are they Hamas? Who are they out there?”
— Host Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball, February 20. [MP3 audio (0:36)]


You’re Either With Obama, or With the Killers


“I personally don’t want to be part of a movement to keep those semi-automatics flying into the hands of all sorts of people as they are today, the hoarders, the survivalists, the paranoid, the criminal and downright politically nutty. Why? Because the next mass shooter could well emerge out of this pack. Check the shooters of John F. Kennedy and Jerry Ford, who got shot at twice. Look at the men that shot Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and George Wallace. They all had political motives and they all had guns. Got them easy and put them easily to use. And if you’re not against this movement, you’re with it.”
— Chris Matthews on MSNBC’s Hardball, February 27. [MP3 audio (0:46)]


Imaginary Conservative on Reagan: “I Hope the Bastard Bleeds to Death”


“Frankly, I hope the bastard bleeds to death on the operating table.”
— “Charles Duluth” of the Conservative Statesman magazine, who is a KGB operative in Washington, DC, in the February 20 episode of FX’s The Americans drama, set on the 1981 day when President Reagan was shot.


A “Frightening” Return to “Psychotic” Reagan-Era Values

“So you have people like these Tea Party people protesting government and then asked if they really want to give up their Social Security payments. And they don’t seem to know that, that is actually part of what government is. There’s a rejection of the sort of basic idea of human community behind the Reagan, behind Reagan-era ideology that is really frightening. And it leads us to terrible, terrible places. And now that we’re facing challenges like climate change that absolutely demand a global collective response, an organized global collective response. We have no hope for survival as a species if we continue down the path of this kind of psychotic individualism.”
Lincoln screenwriter Tony Kushner on PBS’s Charlie Rose, February 14.

PUBLISHER: L. Brent Bozell III
EDITORS: Brent H. Baker, Rich Noyes, Tim Graham
NEWS ANALYSTS: Scott Whitlock, Brad Wilmouth, Matthew Balan, Kyle Drennen and Matt Hadro
INTERNS: Jeffrey Meyer, Matt Vespa and Paul Bremmer