Sloppy ABC Misleads on Estate Tax Being 'Slashed'; It Will Actually Increase 35 Percent
Published: 12/9/2010 5:48 PM ET
Good Morning America's Jon Karl on Thursday offered misleading, sloppy reporting on a congressional tax deal, bizarrely suggesting that the proposal "slashes" the estate tax. In a follow-up piece, news anchor Juju Chang asserted that many Democrats "are still opposed, especially to the estate tax cut."
In reality, the so-called death tax is currently at zero. Under the deal, it will increase to 35 percent. Karl mangled, "Even Democratic leaders are fuming, especially unhappy with the provision that slashes the tax on inheritances."
On the CBS Early Show, news anchor Jeff Glor spun, "One of [the Democrats'] major objections, that proposal to lower estate taxes." Again, an increase from zero to 35 percent is not "lowering." (If no action had been taken the rate would have returned to 55 percent for individuals worth more than $1 million.) This may be slowing the rate of increase and increasing the exemption rate, but it's hardly "slashing."
In an earlier piece, reporter Nancy Cordes was more specific, but still managed to confuse, proclaiming that Harry Reid and "others think the estate tax compromise is too generous to the very wealthy, dropping the tax on inheritance from 55 to 35 percent." At no time did anyone on CBS or any of the networks explain the current rate is zero.
Over on NBC's Today, reporter Kelly O'Donnell was vague, but still careless with her wording: "But [Democrats are] fighting with the White House over giving high earners a break on income and estate taxes."
An example of the impact of the estate tax: Yankees owner George Steinbrenner died in July of 2010. His family paid no federal estate tax. Had he died in 2011, the legislation now before Congress would result in his heirs owing 35 percent, hundreds of millions of dollars.
A transcript of the Jon Karl segment, which aired at 7:02am EST on December 9, follows:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: But, we begin with the Democratic revolt against the President's proposed deal on tax cuts. Jonathan Karl starts us off at the Capitol this morning, Jon?