MRC director of media analysis Tim Graham appeared on Neil Cavuto's prime-time show on Fox Business on Thursday night to discuss how the media rained down critiques of House Speaker John Boehner for delaying more federal aid for Hurricane Sandy victims. Cavuto said they tried to turn Boehner into "Satan" as the New York Daily News ran the headline "STABBED IN THE BACK: N.Y. pols blast Sandy betrayer Boehner."
This bias in favor of ever more federal subsidies reminded Graham of the old Daily News headline: "Ford to City: Drop Dead." (Video and transcript below)
GRAHAM: It's just another one of these things where it's, you know, we all remember, those of us of a certain age, of “President Ford to New York, drop dead.”
GRAHAM: I mean, it's just another one of those, the news media tries to take a Republican apart because somehow, they can make him look cruel and uncaring, even if it's for 48 hours. And then they do these stories where they say, “oh, I'm sorry, Speaker Boehner. We think the damage is done,” you know. They try to create public relations damage. They're not doing what you're suggesting which is let's look at all the pork that's in this bill.
The New York Times puts it on page 23, which basically tells networks “don't bother.” And yes, the whole point of this is to separate the Republicans to cause what NBC was calling a “civil war.” That's what they're interested in. That's what Obama White House wants. So that's what the networks want.
CAVUTO: But you know, you're right, Tim. I'll tell you what, I don't see the same thing with Democrats. I don't see that there's a greater zeal with the wars going on in the Middle East, in Iraq, what have you, to question every penny and every abuse and every piece of waste, which is fine.
The question, however, money is spent and whether it goes to the wrong tank at the wrong time to the wrong regiment -- all fine. But then you've got to be level and fair about it. And you've got to look after abuse and waste wherever it's going. And you know, God forbid, in a $60 billion package, how they came up with that sum for the largely, the tri-state area, is beyond me. Then you've got to say, all right, well, where are you going to spend this money on?
But it's like heaven forbid, you question where the dough is going. And heaven really forbid, if you discover in this process that it's going to places and events and localities that were not even remotely affected by Sandy, you're not a villain for doing that. You're helping the people who -- who really needed the money because they're getting screwed out of that.
GRAHAM: Well, it's a nice civics textbook idea that the news media would actually look into a bill and see what's in it and tell us what's in it..
GRAHAM: And ask whether it's too much, and would ask, how much of this bill is going to be paid by private insurance. But they're not doing that. Again, we have a very politicized news media that isn't thinking about what we call facts. They're interested in creating a narrative. The facts are secondary or just not even important. The narrative is the Republicans are waging war on each other.
So you have somebody like Congressman Peter King who can't scare up a camera when he's doing something like “let's investigate the Muslim threat.” But if he is going to say mean things about Speaker Boehner, he gets a big profile in The Washington Post.
Cavuto was upset that “some thieving bastard” is taking Sandy aid away from victims for pork-barrel items like roof repair at the Smithsonian museums. Graham complained the TV news stories are stacked up unanimously:
GRAHAM: The way these stories are stacked up – outraged Republican. It's outraged Obama. It's outraged Schumer, then it's an outraged Sandy victim. And there's no discussion --
GRAHAM: -- or debate whatsoever. Nobody is going to be able to even get up and make the point, why would -- why does a taxpayer in North Dakota or Wyoming have to send their tax dollars to Manhattan, for disaster relief? You know, it's just not a question that they allow people to ask or discuss.
CAVUTO: No, no. It becomes verboten. And yet the waste goes on and the parade goes on. Tim, excellence always, my friend. Thank you very much.