From the WSJ – By BRENT BAKER From the Media Research Center
On the one-year anniversary of the Obama administration’s “stimulus” spending bill, ABC, CBS and NBC all eagerly corroborated the White House’s claims about how it “saved or created” many jobs and staved off economic disaster, though they all offered a range of numbers and definitions (ABC: “800,000 to 2.4 million new jobs,” CBS: “about 1.8 million” jobs “saved or created” and NBC: “1.6 to 1.8 million jobs have been created so far.”)
ABC and CBS touted anecdotes about companies and government agencies which asserted the spending had prevented layoffs or allowed them to hire new staff. ABC’s Jake Tapper cited buses for Santa Monica, construction jobs in Baltimore, “63,000 green jobs” (with a solar panel-maker’s CEO declaring “it is working and we’re proof of that”) and a school system superintendent who told Tapper the funding ” helped save 61 jobs and create 73 new ones.”
On CBS, Chip Reid began with how “this highway paving equipment company in California canceled plans to lay off 40 workers because of demand created by stimulus projects,” before trumpeting how “in Washington, D.C. about 20 people are working on this road project” where “manager Matthew Johns calls the stimulus a lifesaver.”
Though “many independent economists put the number of jobs saved or created at about 1.8 million,” Reid relayed that “to the great frustration of the White House, most Americans simply refuse to believe it. In a recent CBS News/New York Times poll, a mere 6 percent said the stimulus has created jobs.” Reid’s culprit: “That skepticism due in part to a relentless campaign by Republicans who say the stimulus is a bloated, big-government failure.” (The online “Political Hotsheet” echoed Reid’s theme: “On Stimulus, Perception Doesn’t Match Reality.”)
But, have no fear, Obama’s team “admits” they “haven’t been tough enough” in discrediting critics. Reid concluded:
The White House admits they haven’t been tough enough in responding to critics of the stimulus so they’ve started an aggressive new campaign, calling out dozens of Republicans they say are hypocrites — Republicans who voted against the stimulus but then went home and attended ribbon-cutting ceremonies for projects in their states that create jobs.
As if the media haven’t been advancing Obama’s agenda. From the MRC’s Business & Media Institute: “Bias By the Numbers: Networks Celebrate Year of Strong Stimulus Support; ABC, CBS, NBC cite supporters of $787 billion bill nearly three times as often as critics,” which determined:
– ABC, CBS, NBC Still Biased in Picking Stimulus Spokesmen: All three broadcast networks promoted the stimulus prior to the vote. Afterward, ABC, CBS and NBC served as unofficial boosters of what NBC called “President Obama’s stimulus cavalry.” The networks favored pro-stimulus speakers 71 percent to 29 percent (269 to just 111).
– Nearly Half of All Reports Included Zero Criticism: Both NBC and ABC stories included no criticism roughly half the time. Overall, the networks cited criticism of the stimulus plan just 52 percent of the time (90 out of 172 stories). Instead government was depicted as fixing “rickety wooden bridges” and “performing much-needed maintenance on national parks.”
Only deep in their Wednesday night stories did CBS and NBC acknowledge any critics and how unemployment rose during 2009, with NBC’s Lisa Myers noting “critics also have ridiculed some projects as wasteful. $1.6 million for free water taxi rides, a million dollars to improve security on dinner cruises in eight cities and studies about how honeybees learn and the sex drive of rats on hard drugs.” She concluded, however, with how Obama has a solution — more spending:
The President acknowledged that despite progress, this doesn’t feel like a recovery to millions of Americans, so he’s pushing to spend another $100 billion this year to try to create more jobs soon.
The job success numbers cited by the three networks:
Jake Tapper on ABC:
The numbers are all over the map, but they all credit the stimulus with significant job creation: anywhere from 800,000 to 2.4 million new jobs. Where are those jobs? According to the White House, 354,000 are in manufacturing, such as building new buses for Santa Monica….262,000 jobs are in construction. Today, these workers are putting the finishing touches on a community health center in Baltimore….Then, there are 63,000 green jobs.
Chip Reid on CBS:
Many independent economists put the number of jobs saved or created at about 1.8 million.
Lisa Myers on NBC:
Many economists agree that the $787 billion package of infrastructure spending, tax cuts and aid to states has created jobs and helped pull the economy out of a deep recession. Three economic research firms estimate that 1.6 to 1.8 million jobs have been created so far, with more gains projected this year. And painful job losses have slowed dramatically.
The stories on the Wednesday, February 17 broadcast network evening newscasts:
ABC’s World News with Diane Sawyer:
DIANE SAWYER: One year ago today, the brand new President Barack Obama rolled out a $787 billion economic stimulus to put the brakes on a plummeting economy. Today, he marked the anniversary by saying it worked, that it spared the country a depression, and created millions of jobs. But we wondered, how many, and where? We asked Jake Tapper to delve into the numbers.
JAKE TAPPER: President Obama said today because of the stimulus package about 2 million Americans are working who otherwise would not be.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: So far, the recovery act is responsible for the jobs of about 2 million Americans who would otherwise be unemployed.
TAPPER: The numbers are all over the map, but they all credit the stimulus with significant job creation: anywhere from 800,000 to 2.4 million new jobs. Where are those jobs? According to the White House, 354,000 are in manufacturing, such as building new buses for Santa Monica.
STEPHANIE NEGRIFF, DIRECTOR TRANSIT SERVICES, BIG BLUE BUS: There’s going to be an immediate economic impact to our community by having these additional vehicles available.
TAPPER: 262,000 jobs are in construction. Today, these workers are putting the finishing touches on a community health center in Baltimore.
JOE HOLLAND, PRESIDENT, HOLLAND CONSTRUCTION COMPANY: It really allowed us to go out and hire people where we would have otherwise probably, you know, just would have stayed back and not done that.
TAPPER: Then, there are 63,000 green jobs. A year ago today, the President was looking at solar panels manufactured by Namaste Solar. Company President Blake Jones had been preparing for layoffs.
BLAKE JONES, CEO, NAMASTE SOLAR: We started cutting budgets, we started making plans for a bad 2009.
TAPPER: But in the past year, companies that received stimulus money have been ordering those solar panels and Namaste has hired 14 new employees.
TAPPER TO JONES, OUTSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE: What’s your message to all those Americans who are skeptical that the stimulus bill is creating jobs?
JONES: It is working and we’re proof of that.
TAPPER: In New York, Utica City school district got close to $12 million stimulus dollars. The superintendent tells us that helped save 61 jobs and create 73 new ones. But those new hires had to sign this document: “I am fully aware that the funding for this position will be eliminated in two years. Therefore, this position will end on June 30th, 2011.”
And Diane, about $166 billion stimulus dollars have not yet been officially committed to any projects. They’re going to go to, among other things, the Race to the Top education grant program, high speed rail and other transportation projects and health technology. Diane?
(Following Tapper, ABC ran a piece from Jonathan Karl on how “red tape” has slowed creation of jobs to weather-proof homes.)
CBS Evening News:
KATIE COURIC: One year ago today President Obama signed a law he said would help put Americans back to work. The price tag for the so-called stimulus bill was $787 billion. So far, nearly $300 billion of that has been spent. But did the stimulus do the job? Our chief White House correspondent Chip Reid has tonight’s “Reality Check.”