NPR Leans Toward Democrats 7 to 3 on Federal Budget Showdown

NPR's Ari Shapiro slanted towards President Obama and two of his Democratic allies in Congress on Thursday's Morning Edition on the continuing battle over the federal budget, playing seven sound bites from them versus only three from Republican House Speaker John Boehner.

Shapiro highlighted the late night negotiations over the budget on Wednesday during his report, playing three clips from the President and one from Senator Harry Reid before even getting to his first one from Speaker Boehner:

SHAPIRO: It was nearly 11 pm when President Obama walked into the White House briefing room. Vice President Biden, the chief of staff, and other senior officials came in right behind him. They had been meeting with congressional leaders for more than an hour. According to the press secretary, President Obama called the meeting because negotiators didn't make enough progress on their own earlier in the day. So as the President stood behind the lectern, the straggling reporters wondered, deal or no deal?

OBAMA: I thought the meetings were frank, they were constructive, and what they did was narrow the issues and clarify the issues that are still outstanding.

SHAPIRO: Still outstanding, no resolution: the shutdown still looms.

OBAMA: A shutdown could have real effects on everyday Americans.

SHAPIRO: That has been President Obama's line for several days now, but his words have not been enough to bring about a resolution.

OBAMA: It would be inexcusable, given the relatively narrow differences when it comes to numbers between the two parties, that we can't get this done.

SHAPIRO: He did not take questions and he would not describe what those remaining differences are that he describes as narrow. Neither would Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who spoke in front of clicking cameras on the White House driveway a few minutes later.

REID: It was very honest. We've narrowed the issues significantly, and we're going to continue working.

SHAPIRO: Reid stood next to House Speaker John Boehner on the warm spring night. The air between them, though, seemed frosty.

BOEHNER: We do have some minor differences, but I do think we made some progress. But I want to reiterate, there's no agreement on a number and there's no agreement on the policy riders.

The NPR reporter highlighted the more partisan component to the showdown during the second half of his report, but ended up lining up a sound bite each from Mr. Obama, Senator Reid, and Senator Barbara Mikulski, versus two from Boehner:

SHAPIRO: Neither side named anything specific that had been accomplished. But at least there was less outright finger-pointing than earlier in the day. During an afternoon town hall meeting outside of Philadelphia yesterday, President Obama accused Republicans of putting ideology above the good of the country.

OBAMA: I mean, they're stuffing all kinds of issues in there: abortion, the environment, health care. You know, there are times to have those discussions, but that time is not now. Right now, we need to just make sure that we pay our bills and that the government stays open.

SHAPIRO: Back in Washington, Speaker Boehner suggested that President Obama was negligent to leave Washington at such a crucial time.

BOEHNER: The President isn't leading. He didn't lead on last year's budget, and he clearly is not leading on this year's budget.

SHAPIRO: Boehner says Republicans don't want to shut the government down either. They just want the largest spending cuts they can get for the last half of this fiscal year.

BOEHNER: We're going to be prepared to move forward with our troop funding bill that would fund our troops, keep the government open for another week, and cut $12 billion in spending.

SHAPIRO: That one-week extension remains on the table, but Democrats say they're done with short-term stop-gap measures. Senate Majority Leader Reid accused Republicans of moving the finish line every time a deal seems within reach.

REID: We meet them halfway. They say no. We meet them more than halfway. They still say no. We meet them all the way. They still say no. If Republicans were serious about keeping the country running, all they would have to do is say yes.

SHAPIRO: But a yes from Speaker Boehner could still get a no from Republican freshmen and those who align with the Tea Party. This is the biggest test yet of the Tea Party's political clout in Congress. It's a test Speaker Boehner does not want to fail. At the same time, neither Boehner nor Democrats, such as Senator Barbara Mikulski of Maryland, want the blame for a shutdown.

SENATOR BARBARA MIKULSKI: This is a situation of enormous negative consequences, and I think we're going to rue the day at the way we're functioning here.

SHAPIRO: They have a day and a half left to pull it back from the brink. Ari Shapiro, NPR News, Washington.

Exactly a week earlier, on March 31, Shapiro acted as a stenographer for the President in the area of his energy policy. Just chalk this up as another example of the liberal bias at NPR.

— Matthew Balan is a news analyst at the Media Research Center. You can follow him on Twitter here.
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