All three morning shows on Wednesday skipped a startling claim by Senator Barack Obama during the previous night's presidential debate. During a discussion on spending, he bizarrely asserted, "Actually I'm cutting more than I'm spending so that it will be a net spending cut." However, according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, that statement doesn't even close to being true.
Their numbers show an increase in spending of $425 billion over four years of an Obama administration and only a decrease of $144 billion. And this is factoring in Obama's tax increases as a way of "saving" money. And yet, ABC's "Good Morning America," CBS's "Early Show" and NBC's "Today" all failed to report on the discrepancy or the math oddity of including more taxes as a cut. GMA reporter John Berman even filed a "fact check" segment on the debate, but ignored the Obama claim, which was picked up the AP.
Instead, Berman focused on other issues and critiqued the town hall format, rival network NBC and debate host Tom Brokaw: "And finally, with more questions coming from the moderator than the audience, it's safe to say the biggest factual error in the debate last night, was calling it a town meeting to begin with."
A transcript of ABC's fact check, which aired at 8:03am on October 8, follows:
CHRIS CUOMO: The economy did play a big part in last night's presidential debate as well. The candidates made many charges against each other, on everything from taxes to health care. The question is, did they get it right? Here's John Berman within the fact-check.
JOHN BERMAN: The boldest, most strangely-worded charge was that one on energy.
SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN: There was an energy bill on the floor of the Senate, loaded down with goodies. Billions for the oil companies. And it was sponsored by Bush and Cheney. You know who voted for it? You might never know. That one.
BERMAN [Big red "True" is stamped across screen.]: That's true. Obama did vote for the Bush plan. Obama aides say it was because it was the largest investment of renewable energy in our history. McCain didn't get it so quite right on Pakistan.
MCCAIN: Senator Obama likes to talk loudly. He says he likes to announce he's going to attack Pakistan.
BERMAN [Big red "False" is stamped across screen.]: That's false. Obama is not mustering troops. What he said is that if, if there are high-value terrorist targets in Pakistan and Pakistan won't act, he would. Then, there was tax policy.
MCCAIN: His tax increases will increase taxes on 50 percent of small business revenue.
SENATOR BARACK OBAMA: Only a few percent of small businesses make more than $250,000 a year. So, the vast majority of small businesses would get a tax cut under my plan.
BERMAN [Big red "True" is twice stamped across screen.]: Remarkably, that's true and true. McCain is right. According to IRS data ,about 57 percent of small business income is earned by businesses making more than $250,000. Obama would raise taxes on them. However, that income is made by a tiny present of businesses. About 95 percent of them make less than$250,000 and would actually get a tax cut. So, Obama is right, too. It should be noted that the energy plan Obama voted for, most analysts agree resulted in a net tax increase on oil companies, not a decrease, as McCain said. And finally, with more questions coming from the moderator than the audience, it's safe to say the biggest factual error in the debate last night, was calling it a town meeting to begin with. Chris?