Coverage of Bush Tax Cut Draws Criticism

By Christine Hall | July 7, 2008 | 8:27 PM EDT

( - The tax cut proposed by President Bush has been receiving questionable news coverage by America's major television networks, and the impact may be reaching beyond claims of liberal media bias, according to a group of conservative analysts and pollsters.

According to Kellyanne Fitzpatrick, president of the Polling Company, another fact left out of mainstream media coverage is Americans' consistent support for tax cuts.

"The overwhelming majority, sometimes as high as ... 75 percent of Americans consistently agree with the notion of reduced tax burdens, on every income level," said Fitzpatrick. The media, said Fitzpatrick, would rather talk about campaign finance reform, gun control or homosexual rights.

Fitzpatrick was joined at a Friday news conference by Media Research Center President L. Brent Bozell III; Stephen Moore, president of the conservative Club for Growth; and Weekly Standard Executive Editor Fred Barnes, where the four examined not only the issue of bias network news coverage, but how it gels with taxpayers and the economy.

"All of the network evening newscasts, where most Americans get their news and information, have repeatedly misinformed and misled the public about Bush's tax cut," said Rich Noyes, director of the Free Market Project, a division of the MRC.

The MRC, which is the parent organization of, reviewed 93 network evening news stories over ten weeks, from the presidential inaugural in January through March 31.

Analysts found a five-to-one imbalance in airtime given to tax cut critics, a propensity of newscasters to label the tax cut 'big' or 'very big,' and a failure to put Bush's tax cut in perspective by comparing it to previous tax cuts and tax increases.

"We don't expect or want Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and Tom Brokaw to suddenly push for tax cuts," said Bozell. "What we do want and expect is more balanced coverage."

Another offshoot of the network's coverage of the issue is economic information that's either incorrect or not balanced.

"One economist will say the tax cut won't work because it won't promote consumption. And then another economist will say the tax cut won't work because it won't promote savings," said Moore. "Well, look, a tax cut can't at the same time promote saving and consumption. In fact, the reason a tax cut can work is because it will increase savings."

Moore also noted that there appears to have been a shift in economic position between the time Bush first proposed his tax cut and now.

"When George W. Bush originally proposed this large tax cut, which was about 18 months ago when the economy was growing at about 5 percent, the standard argument against the tax cut by economists was this will overheat this strong economy," said Moore. "Now, these same economists say this tax cut can't possibly help spur economic growth."