July 9, 2011

AP Report Interrupts Two-Sentence Boehner Statement With Seven Grafs of Obama Admin Set-up

BoehnerGiven the opportunity to directly relay the two sentences of House Speaker John Boehner on the status of debt-ceiling and budget negotiations tonight, the Associated Press’s Andrew Taylor and Jim Kuhnhenn, in their 9:29 p.m. report (saved here at my web host for future reference, fair use and discussion purposes) disgracefully cut the Speaker’s statement off after its first sentence and inserted seven paragraphs designed to minimize its full impact, leaving readers unaware of Boehner’s full statement with the impression that its second sentence was uttered sometime and somewhere else.

Boehner’s full statement follows:

Statement by Speaker Boehner on Debt Limit Discussions
Washington (Jul 9)

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) released the following statement today regarding ongoing debt limit discussions with the White House:

“Despite good-faith efforts to find common ground, the White House will not pursue a bigger debt reduction agreement without tax hikes. I believe the best approach may be to focus on producing a smaller measure, based on the cuts identified in the Biden-led negotiations, that still meets our call for spending reforms and cuts greater than the amount of any debt limit increase.”

Here is what Taylor and Kuhnhenn rudely interjected between Boehner’s two sentences (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

The White House responded that Obama will continue to push to make as much progress on deficit reduction as possible.

Boehner’s statement came a day before he and seven of the top House and Senate leaders were scheduled to meet at the White House in a negotiating session and lay out their remaining differences.

A deficit reduction deal is crucial to win Republican support for an increase in the nation’s debt ceiling. The government’s borrowing capacity is currently capped at $14.3 trillion and administration officials say it will go into default without action by Aug. 2.

Obama tried to build political support for an ambitious package of spending cuts and new tax revenue [1] that would reduce the debt by $4 trillion over 10 years. But from the moment he proposed it, Republicans said they would reject any tax increases and Democrats objected to spending cuts in some of their most prized benefit programs, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Vice President Joe Biden had already identified, but not signed off on, about $2 trillion in deficit reductions, most accomplished through spending cuts. [2]

But after holding a secret meeting with Boehner last weekend, Obama and his top aides said they believed an even bigger figure was attainable if both parties made politically painful, but potentially historic, choices. [3]

In the end, the pressure from both sides was pushing against Obama’s bigger goal. [4]

Notes:

  • [1] — What’s under discussion is not “new” tax “revenue,” it’s tax increases. As Senator John Kyl made clear earlier in the week, in a statement Reuters reporters tried to twist into openness to tax increases, Republicans are willing to look at sales of assets and user-fee adjustments to better reflect the underlying costs of services rendered as sources of one-time and ongoing “revenue” — but not tax increases.
  • [2] — The phrase “mostly through spending cuts” gives readers the impression that the Biden package includes tax increases. It doesn’t, as the second sentence in Mr. Boehner’s statement indicates. But apparently Taylor and Kuhnhenn are hoping many readers won’t get that far while they play stall-ball.
  • [3] — Isn’t it great how “historic choices” always seem to involve tax increases enacted now with spending cuts to come later (except that the spending cuts rarely show up in material form)?
  • [4] — Yeah, Obama is the guy with the “bigger goal,” while Boehner is just some narrow-minded rube who would prefer a bigger economy over a bigger government.

Because the AP reporters cut Boehner off, most readers will have every reason to believe that the second sentence of Mr. Boehner’s statement was said separately from his official statement. It wasn’t. “Clever,” guys. The first sentence in isolation makes Boehner look inflexible, while the second makes him open to bipartisanship with Biden’s spending-cut proposals. We can’t have readers thinking Republicans will work towards an agreement, can we?

It doesn’t seem at all unreasonable to expect two AP reporters to simply relay both parts of a two-sentence statement without interjecting the administration line. But apparently Taylor and Kuhnhenn are congenitally incapable of that. That’s why the oft-used name Apparatchik Press so often applies to dispatches from the self-described, hopelessly conceited Essential Global News Network.

In the meantime, many readers will agree with the Thatcherite suggestion I make at my home blog: Don’t go wobbly, Mr. Boehner.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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2 Comments

  1. So Obama’s grandstanding for $4 trillion flopped. and it’s all the Republicans fault. typical of whining babies.

    Comment by dscott — July 10, 2011 @ 9:13 am

  2. [...] statement was strong enough that two hacks at the Associated Press felt compelled to split its two sentences and place seven paragraphs of Obama hype in between to water it [...]

    Pingback by BizzyBlog — July 10, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

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