Report Finds Unbalanced Coverage of Bush Tax Cut Plan by CBS Evening News

July 7, 2008 - 8:27 PM

(CNSNews.com) - A conservative media watchdog group released a report Wednesday detailing how the CBS Evening News "led the charge" against the president's tax cut plan. The Media Research Center, parent company of CNSNews.com, found that liberals criticizing the plan as too "big" were given air time five times more often than supporters of the Bush proposal.

"We found after reviewing ABC, CBS, and NBC for the first ten weeks of the Bush administration, that CBS had a unique antagonism towards this tax cut," said Free Market Project Director Rich Noyes who conducted the study.

"They tended to cite the most liberal experts. Their reporters joined in with liberals who criticized the tax cut as big or excessively big," Noyes said.

"They diminished any concept that the tax cut would have economic benefits, and they played up data from liberal interest groups, such as Citizens for Tax Justice to help bolster the idea that the tax cut was unfair, without ever citing data that could be used in a contrary way to say that the tax cut offered at least a larger percentage reduction for people at the lower income ladders."

The report also found that complaints from liberal opponents like Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle were given twice as much airtime than the conservative view.

"Daschle was making arguments that liberal opponents would be expected to make. He argued that the tax cut offered much larger dollar size cuts to rich people - if you make a million dollars, you're going to get enough money to buy a Lexus. Whereas, if you only make $50,000 you only get enough to buy a muffler on a used car. That's his spin," Noyes said.

CBS should have balanced Daschle's remarks with the conservative argument, he said.

"A conservative counterspin would be, if you make a million dollars, you're gonna get about a 15 percent tax cut. If you make $50,000 you're gonna get about a 40 percent tax cut. If you make a million dollars, you're already paying $300,000 in taxes and were singled out for higher tax rates in the last income tax revision back in 1993 when rates were raised on the rich. And the person making $50,000 is going to get a larger percentage tax cut," he said.

The MRC's Free Market Project also found that the network never revealed data reported on by NBC and ABC that demonstrated Bush's plan offers a greater percentage tax reduction to middle and lower income families.

"On CBS, you never heard about percentage rate reductions. You never heard about the 1993 tax increase. You never heard about the burden that the current existing tax burden places on people at all income levels. You really mainly heard the liberal Democratic spin," he said.

"ABC mentioned it once in a story that showed how if you look at the numbers one way it helps the liberals, if you look at it another way, it helps Conservatives. That's fair. They didn't do it enough. They didn't do it every time the liberals came forward, but they at least exposed their audience to it NBC did it three times. It's the overall debate on whether the tax is fair or skewed to the rich," Noyes said.

Noyes said the liberal position that the Bush tax cut is skewed to the rich received 31 references compared to 15 references to the conservative position.

Noyes added, "But at least on ABC and at least on NBC reporters presented the data that at least gave people the idea of what the opposing view was and that it was backed up by statistics."