On Friday's "Good Morning America," ABC White House correspondent Jake Tapper provided a skeptical, challenging analysis of the Obama administration's claims about the economic stimulus bill. NBC's "Today" and CBS's "Early Show" on Thursday simply regurgitated White House statements that the "economy is looking much healthier these days" and that the President is "taking credit for writing the prescription." [Audio available here]
Tapper, in contrast, referenced a new administration report on the stimulus entitled "100 Days, 100 Projects" and wondered, "But, how much of this is real? And how much is hype?" He asserted, "Critics have long said the administration overstates the impact of the stimulus." After playing a clip of Obama claiming 150,000 jobs have been created by the stimulus bill, Tapper called that "a number based on theory, not fact." University of Maryland economist Peter Morici appeared briefly to point out, "It's simply an implausible statement to say that some 150,000 jobs were created by direct spending, indirect spending and so forth."
The ABC correspondent noted the government report claims $27 billion was used for "green improvement" to public housing in Washington D.C. Tapper dismissed, "But, that's not true. The stimulus paid for only two of [seven items listed in the report]. The other five were installed before the stimulus bill was even introduced in Congress." He went on to pointout that the $27 billion was the total the D.C. Housing Authority is getting. Only $44,000 came from stimulus money.
Finally, Tapper closed his piece by explaining that the White House, in its first quarterly report, stated $46 billion of the stimulus had been spent. The journalist noted, "They had to revise that figure. It's now $36 billion, which means that less than five percent of the stimulus has gone out the door."
In contrast, NBC and CBS's morning shows have done no such investigations. On Thursday's "Today," after reporting on a drop in unemployment numbers, Hoda Kotb simply added, "At a fund-raiser in Los Angeles last night the President said it was safe to say the economy is back from the brink. He said the stimulus bill is starting to improve the economy." The "Early Show" provided a similar unquestioning tone.
CBS anchor Chris Wragge recited, "President Obama says the ailing U.S. economy is looking much healthier these days and he's taking credit for writing the prescription." Reporter Susan Roberts proceeded to file a report on home sales and played a clip of the President at a fund-raiser in Beverly Hills.
On "Good Morning America," Thursday, guest news anchor Kate Snow delivered almost the same spin, explaining, "President Obama says the economy is back from the brink. At a fund-raiser in Beverly Hills last night, the President said a sense of calm has returned and he said the stimulus plan passed by Congress is beginning to work." However, "Good Morning America," to its credit, followed-up the next day with Jake Tapper's investigation.
A transcript of the May 29 Jake Tapper segment, which aired at 7:02am, follows:
ROBIN ROBERTS: But, we're going to turn now to the money trail. A new report today from the Commerce Department shows the economy shrank less than expected in the first quarter of 2009. The White House says that's in large part due to the $787 billion economic recovery plan. Senior White House correspondent Jake Tapper takes a look at those claims for us. Good morning, Jake.
ABC GRAPHIC: Follow the Money: Stimulus Claims/Stimulus Reality
JAKE TAPPER: Good morning, Robin. Well, that's right. The White House says that the stimulus plan is already starting to have an effect on job creation. And they listed a bunch of the jobs in their new report, "100 Days, 100 Projects." But, how much of this is real? And how much is hype? Green improvement to this public housing is project number one. Using $27 million, the report says, the Regency House installed solar panels, a green roof, a rainwater collection system, energy efficient lighting, as well as water conserving toilets, shower heads and faucets. But, that's not true. The stimulus paid for only two of those seven items. The other five were installed before the stimulus bill was even introduced in Congress. And $27 million? That's the total amount the D.C. Housing Authority is getting for all their projects. For this one?
MICHAEL WAYNE BROWN (Projects GM, D.C. Housing Authority): $44,000 for the roof. Solar panels is the only thing that's been paid for thus far.
TAPPER: The White House admitted the entry is not accurate, though it remains on the WhiteHouse.Gov.
ROBERT GIBBS: A mistake in that one took a series of different projects in a cut and paste into one.
TAPPER: Critics have long said the administration overstates the impact of the stimulus.
LARRY SUMMERS (Director, National Economic Council): You'll see the effects begin almost immediately.
TAPPER: In Las Vegas this week, President Obama played this card.
BARACK OBAMA: The American Recovery And Reinvestment Act has saved or created nearly 150,000 jobs.
TAPPER: But that's a number based on theory, not fact. And some critics say it's overstated.
PROFESSOR PETER MORICI (PHD, economist): It's simply an implausible statement to say that some 150,000 jobs were created by direct spending, indirect spending and so forth.
TAPPER: Without question, the stimulus is having an affect on some job creations. And of course, some of the reports, some of the projects listed in here are projects that are going to happen. But not yet one penny has been sent. One other bit of stimulus news, Diane. The administration in its first quarterly report on the stimulus says $46 billion has been spent. They had to revise that figure. It's now $36 billion, which means that less than five percent of the stimulus has gone out the door. Diane?