Apparently, it's not big news when GW Bush goes on TV and makes a statement that is totally false. So false that it's not a question of opinion, but a matter of verifiable fact. And not on a trivial matter either. Nor one that could be called a accident. It's an error on a matter of sufficient importance to government that to get it wrong shows either a willingness to try the Big Lie, or a leader very serious out of touch with reality.
Bush on Meet The Press RUSSERT: But your base conservatives, and listen to Rush Limbaugh, the Heritage Foundation, CATO Institute, they're all saying you are the biggest spender in American history.
BUSH: Well, they're wrong. If you look at the appropriations bills that were passed under my watch, in the last year of President Clinton, discretionary spending was up 15 percent, and ours have steadily declined.
Angry Bear has the facts: discretionary spending went waaaay up not steadily down every year of this Administration.
Now, if “gotcha” questions like the price of eggs or the capital of foreign countries were once big news, surely voluntarily mis-stating (or not knowing) a fairly basic fact about the trend line (forget knowing the dollar figure details, we're talking trends and gross effects here) about what one's own administrations budgets are like ought to be big news, shouldn't it?
Nope. The Miami Herald (running a Dana Milbank story from the Post) buried this in the last paragraphs of the story, and did it in a way that no one will understand that what Bush said wasn't true.
Bush said critics, including conservatives, are ''wrong'' to say he has not kept control of the federal budget. ''If you look at the appropriations bills that were passed under my watch, in the last year of President Clinton, discretionary spending was up 15 percent, and ours have steadily declined,'' he said.
Federal discretionary spending has grown by more than 25 percent in the past two fiscal years, following average annual increases of 2.4 percent in discretionary spending in the 1990s, according to figures from congressional budget panels.
Note that without a lead-in like “In fact,” that second paragraph is going to be impenetrable to many readers…or at least won't jump out at them as a direct contradiction of the previous graph.
The error isn't mentioned at all in Elisabeth Bumiller's News Analysis of the speech, which is all about whether it was a good idea (isn't lying or demonstrating ignorance relevant to that?). Of course, that could be because she only read the New York Times article on the interview, in which Richard w. Stevenson doesn't mention this little detail at all.
Why isn't this issue more important than the fact that Bush re-stated many opinions we've heard before? Somehow, it's just not 'news”.
If this is the Big Lie, it's working. If this is a sign of a lack of contact with reality, this news coverage isn't going to bring reality any closer.