CNN anchor Campbell Brown began her No Bias, No Bull program Friday evening with only part of a major story. Reporting on Barack Obama's stimulus plan "saving" 25 police jobs in Columbus, Ohio, she overlooked an essential fact: the jobs Obama took bows for yesterday may well not be permanent. She started her broadcast:
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, everyone.
On a day when the number of Americans out of work reached a 25- year high, President Obama made a visit to a place where he could show just how in fact his stimulus plan really is saving jobs.
Bullet point number one tonight: the president in Columbus, Ohio, where two dozen police cadets whose jobs were saved as a result of the stimulus were sworn in as officers today. It's a story we have been following for some time now. The president insists today the nation is now on the right track.
Later, Brown invited CNN political analyst Roland Martin to expand on the narrative:
BROWN: Our political analyst Roland Martin first brought the Columbus story to our attention and he's joining us tonight from Milwaukee to talk about it.
And, Roland, you heard about the situation from the mayor of Columbus himself. What did he tell you?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I was in Columbus for several speeches over the court of three weeks. And he called me and he said -- he said, Roland, we're hurting. He said, and we're having to lay off people.
I was listen to the morning radio. And they were talking about the police class. But also what he talked about -- and this is very important -- that Columbus is a diversified economy. It's the state capital of Ohio. The Ohio State University is there.
But also they have a city income tax. So, when you lose jobs, they're losing their biggest source of revenue. So, he said, hey, we had to cut all kinds of different police. And so the police class was so important because you have to maintain public safety to give confidence in companies why they should continue investing.
And so it's a very difficult issue they had to confront that many other cities are confronting as well.
BROWN: Today's announcement, though, Roland, it saves 25 jobs. And I don't mean to undercut that because for those 25 families this is huge. It's great news for Columbus as well.
But for the president to go all the whole way to Columbus to tout 25 jobs, I mean, there are a lot of people who are going to say that's just a drop in the bucket.
MARTIN: Well, here is the deal. Whenever I talk to folks around the country and talk about how to save money, I say, look, you can't save a million bucks unless you start saving $1. And you can't get to 100 bucks unless you get to $10.
So the reality is the only way we're going to build this economy if you build it job by job, one by one. The 25 jobs, frankly, represents a microcosm in terms of how cities are being affected by this economy.
And so to say that, look, the stimulus package was able to affect these 25 jobs, here's what it means with public safety, here's what it means with building confidence, and so it's frankly giving you the example.
Whenever the president does these things, it's all a matter of saying here is an example of what happens when the government does something and has a much broader meaning. So, you are right, it is 25 jobs, but I will tell, you we can't replace any of those jobs unless we build it one by one. And so it may sound small, but in the long term, it all adds up.
Neither Brown nor Martin reported how much Obama's obvious PR stunt cost taxpayers. If he starts showing up to showcase every two dozen jobs he's "saved," he'll soon have a bigger carbon footprint than Al Gore.
More significantly, neither Brown nor Martin pointed out that the police jobs may well not be permanent. According to the Associated Press:
The recruits were rehired using money from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program. The stimulus bill included $2 billion for that program, and the money is being delivered to local departments by a predetermined formula.
Breann Gonzalez, a spokeswoman for Rep. Pat Tiberi, one of eight Ohio Republicans who voted against the stimulus, noted that the money that saved the recruits' job will run out next year. (Mayor Michael) Coleman hasn't said how he'll pay the officers' salaries after that.
No doubt the mayor will look to Washington for more tax dollars when the time comes. Maybe Obama can fly back to Columbus to take credit for that joyous example of all the jobs he's "saving."
In the meantime, Campbell Brown and her maternity leave replacement Roland Martin might want to amend their newscast's name. "No Bias, No Bull, Just Obama Talking Points" seems about right.