National Public Radio’s Tamara Keith narrated her way through a four-minute story on Republican opposition to the Sandy relief bill without once mentioning the fact that the bill was filled with “pork” funding for unrelated projects, which is why Republicans were unhappy with it. The same problem dogged an earlier version of the bill, which failed to pass the 112th Congress. As much as half the bill was pork, Republicans contend.
Keith focused on Republican efforts to offset $17 billion in aid spending with cuts elsewhere. She provided no information about an additional $38 billion, which included “$10 million for FBI salaries[,] $2 billion for road construction across the country, as well as funding for the Head Start program, roof repairs at the Smithsonian, and $150 million for fisheries across the country,” according to Audrey Hudson at Human Events.
The effect of Keith’s incomplete narrative is to paint Republicans as heartless budget hawks, who would rather tend a balance sheet than help disaster victims. That narrative marks an improvement, at least, from that of then-Sen. Barack Obama, who claimed in 2007 that Congress favored New York over New Orleans in disaster spending for racial reasons (Obama himself voted against waiving restrictions on New Orleans aid).
But it remains, nonetheless, untrue. Keith’s partial account of the Sandy relief debate reinforced the Democrats’ preferred narrative for the upcoming debates over the debt ceiling, federal spending, and the sequester. Democrats often claim that conservatives oppose necessary spending, and hide the waste to which conservatives actually object. And the media does its best to help them. Keith did not return a request for comment.