Lori Montgomery

GOP Issues Press Release; Post’s Montgomery Provides the Megaphone

Over the past month, there have been 13 stories written by Lori Montgomery. Some of the ledes are revealing:

One tells the reader how Obama won’t be able to overhaul the tax codes because of the tax compromise. (“Extension of tax cuts chokes Obama’s deficit plans”)

Another story complains that Obama hasn’t embraced the deficit commission plans. (“Obama not likely to call for Social Security cuts”)

She ridicules the president by calling his plans for more spending as “investments” in quotes, a writing device used to deride the use of the word. (“Everyone wants budget cuts, but will they work?”)

Meanwhile, she writes about how the GOP pledges “to slice more than $32 billion from agency budgets.” (“House Republicans propose $32 billion in budget cuts”)

Or how they “sketched their vision for a smaller government,” again by cutting programs that would make a miniscule reduction in the deficit. (“House GOP points budget knife at EPA, top Obama priorities”)

She writes about House GOP leaders are hoping to enact “massive and unprecedented cuts,” again for the  portion of the budget that would be meaningless in light of the long-term deficits. (“Rift over spending cuts tests the GOP”)

But then today, when the president presents a 2012 budget with significant cuts, he is derided by Montgomery: “Obama will avoid politically dangerous recommendations to wipe out cherished tax breaks and to restrain safety-net programs for the elderly….” Sunday, she wrote that the proposal “would barely put a dent in the deficits that congressional budget analysts say could approach $12 trillion through 2021.”

Why hasn’t she written during the past month about the GOP avoiding those same cuts? It’s laudable to Montgomery that the GOP is making small cuts in programs they ideologically oppose while she gives them a free pass on the larger budget items, i.e. Social Security and Medicare. But the fact that the party has avoided the big cuts is ignored, even as Speaker Boehner said again this weekend that the party will address those issues sometime in the vague “future.”

No wonder the GOP wins the message wars. The party just issues a press release and Montgomery provides the megaphone.

How Reporters Subtly Inject Opinion

There are plenty of ways reporters add opinion or subjectivity into supposedly objective news articles.  Lori Montgomery of The Washington Post does it here with a simple word:  only.  It’s in a story about Obama’ plan to ask for authority to cut “pork” in the budget.

I’m all for cutting pork.  I’m all for cutting Social Security and Medicare spending.  That’s not my point.  Read the two ‘graphs.

Some outside analysts were equally dismissive of Obama’s rescission proposal. "A lot of people want to believe our looming budgetary crisis is caused by bridges to nowhere" and other pork barrel projects, said Cato Institute vice president Gene Healy. "But it’s not true. That sort of thing is a rounding error" compared with defense spending and entitlement programs, he said.

To that list, others would add Obama’s tax policies: A new report scheduled to be released Tuesday by the Pew Economic Policy Group found that Obama’s plan to extend a series of middle-class tax cuts would add $2.3 trillion to the national debt over the next 10 years — saving only about $800 billion compared with a GOP plan to extend the cuts for high-earners as well.

Think about this.  $800 billion is the cost of the stimulus plan that many conservatives deride as exorbitant wasteful spending.  Adding $800 billion to a $2.3 trillion tax cut would be more than a 33 percent increase in its cost.  Yet, it is “only” $800 billion, suggesting to the reader that it is an insignificant amount for which the Obama administration must, what, apologize, rationalize, repeal?  Montgomery seems to be taking sides with the GOP here by suggesting that the difference between giving tax cuts to the middle class and adding “high-earners,” which are undefined in the article, is insignificant, i.e., only.