October 27, 2014

USA: WaPo's Kessler Gives 'GOP Cut CDC Funding' Four Pinocchios, Effectively 'Cutting' AP's Disinformation to Ribbons

written by Tom Blumer
Wednesday October 15, 2014

Early this morning, Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post's designated fact-checker gave the left's claims that Republicans alone were responsible for alleged "cuts" to Ebola research four Pinocchios (i.e., a "whopper"). That's nice, but it hardly undoes the damage news outlets like the Associated Press have inflicted on the truth in the apparent name of ginning up resentment among low-information voters. I'll get to that, but first, here are the key passages from Kessler's critique, which essentially gets down to who's responsible for sequestration (the correct answer is that it was President Obama and the White House; bolds are mine throughout this post):
The absurd claim that only Republicans are to blame for cuts to Ebola research

Generally, Congress gave the NIH about what the president requested — sometimes more, sometimes less. In 2013, for instance, Congress gave the NIH more than what the White House had requested, but then $1.5 billion was taken away by sequestration.

Whose idea was sequestration? It was originally a White House proposal, designed to force Congress to either swallow painful cuts or boost taxes. The law mandating sequestration passed on a bipartisan vote — and then Republicans embraced it even more strongly when they could not reach a grand budget deal with President Obama.

For fiscal year 2015, the documents show, it was the Obama White House that proposed to cut the NIH’s budget from the previous year. Moreover, we should note that President George W. Bush, a Republican, is responsible for significantly boosting NIH’s funding in the early years of his presidency.

... Obama’s Republican predecessor oversaw big increases in public-health sector spending, and both Democrats and Republicans in recent years have broadly supported efforts to rein in federal spending. Sequestration resulted from a bipartisan agreement. In some years, Congress has allocated more money for NIH and CDC than the Obama administration requested. Meanwhile, contrary to the suggestion of the DCCC ad, there never was a specific vote on funding to prevent Ebola.

There’s no doubt that spending has been cut, or at least failed to keep pace with inflation, but the fingerprints of both parties are on the knives. This blame game earns Four Pinocchios.
The four Pinocchios are nice, but Kessler's "fingerprints of both parties are on the knives" lets congressional Democrats and the White House off of half the hook, when they deserve almost all of the blame because they own sequestration, and when they refuse to acknowledge significant increases early last decade. It also does nothing to the garbage the Associated Press's Charles Babington produced Monday evening. If a claim is objectively and obviously false, as Kessler has rightly concluded, it doesn't deserve to be treated as being on an equal footing with the truth. But that's exactly what Babington did:

Democrats are trying to gain a political edge on the Ebola front, saying Republican-driven spending cuts have hurt the nation's ability to fight the deadly disease.

It was pushback against Republicans who have accused President Barack Obama of doing too little to combat Ebola. Democrats say it's the GOP's steady push for less government spending that's hampering key agencies at a crucial time.

"Republicans voted to cut CDC's budget to fight Ebola," says a new Web ad aimed at GOP House candidates, and sponsored by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The CDC is the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

... Polls show Americans paying far more attention to Ebola than to the elections. Alarm rose Sunday on news that a Dallas nurse contracted the disease after treating a man who died after being exposed in Africa.

Health officials say a U.S. breakout is highly unlikely. But political campaigns often feed on hyperbole, fear and other emotions that might energize voters.
And Babington's helping the disinformation campaign along. His write-up should be massively corrected and enhanced, or pulled. Of course, it won't be.

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