Bush Contradicts Himself On "Thinking About Al Qaeda," But Cavuto Failed To Notice During Uncritical Interview
Conservative pundits often complain of "liberal media bias" in the mainstream media, with some openly suggesting such media is un-American.
Mention "conservative media bias," and these pundits cackle and howl. Or they turn it into a name-calling game, such as reminding their audiences that CNN is the "Clinton News Network," but Fox News Channel is "fair and balanced."
What kind of media do conservative pundits want? One that isn't critical of the Bush Administration, and which refuses to fact-check. Softball questions? Sure. Interjecting pro-administration spin points into your questons? Absolutely.
Case in point: Fox News Channel's Neil Cavuto interviewed President Bush for the July 31 edition of Your World With Neil Cavuto. The interview is laden with administration spin points -- from Bush as well as Cavuto.
For example, Cavuto asks about the upcoming fifth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. In a lengthy answer, Bush offers:
BUSH: But I know it's a war, and I think about it every day of my presidency. I think about Al Qaeda every day. I'm asking questions all the time. Are we doing everything we can to protect this country?
But we know that during a 2002 press conference -- just seven months after the terrorist attacks, Bush said this about Osama Bin Laden:
BUSH: You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you.
Is it liberal nit-picking to reference a quote from four years ago? Should Americans assume there is a huge difference between talking about "Al Qaeda" and talking about "Osama Bin Laden?" Cavuto should have asked about the apparent contradiction. Instead, he accepted the answer as unquestionable fact and moved on.
Elsewhere in the interview, Cavuto interjects his opinion into questions -- the sort of thing that conservative pundits would blast a member of the mainstream media for doing.
-- "The economy is strong, and that's why the Fed keeps raising interest rates. ..."
-- "Are -- are you amazed, Mr. President, in light of all the turbulence in the Middle East, the ongoing Iraq war, threats from Iran, threats from Syria, threats from Hugo Chavez, that the economy has been doing extremely well?"
Part of Cavuto's reasoning for assuming the economy is strong is that "Job growth is respectable. I mean, we have numbers that were akin to what they were 10 years ago."
But neither part of the premise for that question is accurate. It's just regurgitated administration spin.
According to data from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Services, in the first six months of 2006, an average of 142,333 jobs were created, while an average of 239,500 jobs were created in the first six months of 1996. Economists say the U.S. must created an average of 150,000 jobs per month to keep up with population growth.
In other words, job growth now is not akin to where it was 10 years ago. And, unless losing ground is a good thing, job growth in 2006 is not respectable (or "strong," as Bush offered in his answer, to which Cavuto replied, "Yeah.")
Is this fact-checking actually nit-picking? Should viewers have not taken Cavuto literally when he said "10 years ago." Should Americans agree that job growth that almost keeps up with population growth can be described as "respectable"?
If fact-checking administration claims -- and those in the media who uncritically use those claims -- is "liberal media bias," then I'm guilty of "liberal media bias."
Truth is, whether you are a liberal or a conservative, you deserve to hear the truth, not be coddled by "truthiness."