NBC's Williams Omits Charge That Bush Cooked the Books

     With a second-straight reduction in the size of the 2006 federal deficit, NBC’s Brian Williams again sounded a pessimistic note to taxpaying viewers of his October 11 program, while ignoring arguments that shrinking deficits point to a growing economy.


     But at least he dropped the conspiracy theory he entertained just three months earlier.


     On the July 11 “Nightly News,” Williams cynically conjectured that a downward revision in the budget deficit resulted from what “many economists and administration critics say” was White House manipulation of “its own deficit projections.” At that time, the budget deficit projection for fiscal year 2006 was revised downward from $423 billion to $296 billion.


     With October 1 came the end of fiscal year 2006, and as the government crunched its end-of-year calculations, it found the deficit to have shrunk even more.


    “The federal government today released its official budget figures for the fiscal year just ended, and the good news is the deficit fell to its lowest point in four years,” at $248 billion, Williams told his October 11 audience.


     As the Associated Press’s Martin Crutsinger noted in an October 11 story, 2006 saw a “second consecutive big jump in revenues, propelled by strong economic strength” as the “11.7 percent increase in revenues was the second biggest percentage gain in history.”


     Williams instead took a negative tack, saying that “next year the deficit is expected to rise again, and long term, the budget will be strained” by Baby Boomer retirements.


     Also in contrast to other media reports, the NBC News anchor left out President Bush’s argument that tax cuts have helped spur economic growth, resulting in higher tax revenues than last year, despite the economic blow from Hurricane Katrina.


     “Tax relief fuels economic growth and ... when the economy grows, more tax revenues come to Washington. And that's what's happened,” the Los Angeles Times’ Molly Hennessy-Fiske quoted Bush from his October 11 afternoon press conference with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.