In a time when fiscal responsibility from politicians seems to be a thing of the past, NBC’s “Today Show” and ABC’s “World News with Charles Gibson” criticized California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger for his proposed budget cuts in his effort to save California from reaching total financial ruin.
The June 3rd “Today Show” featured numerous opponents of Schwarzenegger’s budget cuts, but nobody supporting or defending them.
The segment began with a clip of the governor stating: “Our wallet is empty. Our bank is closed, and our credit is dried up,” a fact that does not seem to bother NBC, as they mourn the proposed solution to this problem: the cutting of what they deemed “essential services.”
“The governor is talking about slashing programs to help the poor, including health coverage for 1 million children,” NBC reporter George Lewis lamented after the chair of the state legislature's joint budget committee, Democrat Noreen Evans, claimed that “what the governor's proposing is really eliminating the safety net for Californians at a time when they need it most.”
Lewis made no attempt to press Evans for what she or other Democrats proposed to do to save the state from “running out of cash” as Schwarzenegger warns.
Amidst video of state health workers chanting “No more cuts!” Lark Galloway Gilliam of the Community Health Council told Lewis the budgets were “unheard of, unreasonable, and borderline irresponsible.” As strong as those charges were, once again, NBC didn’t provide anyone in rebuttal.
“Today” then played the empathy card with a family who, under the proposed cuts, would not be able to pay for their son’s ADHD treatment.
Reporting that “other essential services will suffer,” Lewis turned to Lou Paulson, the president of California Professional Firefighters. Paulson claimed that “we are going to be putting folks in potentially dangerous situations with less resources.”
Lewis explained that “In last month's Santa Barbara fire, local fire departments contributed 400 extra trucks to the battle. But in the future, with department budgets cut, that aid probably won't be available” without offering any proof of that claim.
NBC was not the only network offering sympathy for California. ABC’s “World News with Charles Gibson” on June 2nd, teased: “Governor Schwarzenegger's dire warning to California. The poor, the hungry, the very young, all facing painful cuts,” and “the harsh new reality facing 37 million people in California.”
Reporter Laura Marquez called the proposed budget cuts “extremely painful,” and then used verbs to match: “$5 Billion stripped from education. 1 Million low income children dropped from public health care. 500,000 Families thrown off welfare.”
The reasoning these services were “on the chopping block” was the “virtual impossibility” of raising taxes in California due to Proposition 13, which requires the approval of two-thirds of the legislature in order to raise taxes in the state.
Marquez gave no other reasons for the budget cuts, nor any defense of them. In fact, the only guest on the segment was Political Science professor at UC Berkley, Bruce Cain, who brought up the possibility of a federal bailout for the state: “I don't think the federal government can turn its back on California, because it's so large.”
His assertion was let stand, without counterpoint or mention of possible negative effects that would come with federal bailout.