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Couric & Williams Paint Obama as 'Culture of Washington' Victim --2/4/2009

1. Couric & Williams Paint Obama as 'Culture of Washington' Victim
All of the broadcast and cable network anchors challenged President Barack Obama in some questions during their Tuesday afternoon Oval Office interview sessions, but CBS's Katie Couric and NBC's Brian Williams also painted Obama as a victim of Washington's culture which forced HHS Secretary nominee Tom Daschle's withdrawal. "You campaigned to change the culture in Washington, to change the politics as usual culture here," Couric noted as she empathized: "Are you frustrated? Do you think it is much, much harder to do that than you ever anticipated?" Williams noted "you lost two nominees, two appointments today," so, as if Obama were an uninvolved casualty of unfairness: "Did that make you angry, I imagine?" Echoing Couric, Williams fretted: "How do you prevent the lesson from being that, no matter how lofty the goals of the new guy coming in, Washington wins, in the end?" Maybe it was just following the law and paying a penalty for avoiding taxes which won in the end.

2. Mitchell: Public Will Blame the GOP for Bringing Down Daschle
During MSNBC's live coverage on Tuesday of the sudden resignation of Health and Human Services nominee Tom Daschle, reporter Andrea Mitchell suggested to Republican Senator Jim DeMint that the American public will see this as the GOP having "brought him [Daschle] down." The Democratic nominee resigned over a growing controversy which revealed that the former Senate majority leader owed $140,000 in back taxes. (He has since paid them.) Mitchell sympathetically described talking to the ex-Senator: "I just got off the phone with Tom Daschle. And it was an emotional conversation. He was clearly, it sounded as though he were tearful, overwrought." Later, while speaking to DeMint, Mitchell bristled at the South Carolina Senator's contention that Democrats were also skeptical of Daschle's nomination. The journalist chided: "Well, Senator DeMint, you can say that the Democrats were uncomfortable as well, but they were all supporting him publicly." She then lectured: "So, this does read to the public as though the Republicans went after this man, someone that the President very much wanted, and brought him down."

3. CNN's Blitzer and Vanity Fair's Orth Fawn Over Obama and His Team
Anchor Wolf Blitzer and Vanity Fair correspondent Maureen Orth raved about the core members of the Obama administration and their pictures taken by photographer Annie Liebovitz during a segment on CNN's Situation Room on Monday. Their conversation sounded as if the two were suddenly back in high school browsing a new yearbook. Blitzer gushed over the photos of President Obama and his wife Michelle and that of UN Ambassador Susan Rice, while Orth extolled how "they [the new administration] want a green America. They really do."

4. Stop the Presses! ABC Explores Not Passing Giant 'Stimulus'
It hardly balances all of the airtime given to liberal proponents of President Obama's plans for massive government spending as "stimulus," but an actual network news program actually presented a single story outlining the conservative free-market approach to today's economic problems. On Saturday's Good Morning America, ABC correspondent John Hendren examined what he termed "a growing movement among economists, who say the best way out of this recession is to do nothing. Nothing at all." Hendren gave three soundbites to Cato economist Dan Mitchell, who pointed out that "government spending doesn't work very well," how "bad government policies got us into this mess," and that while letting the free market run its course might be painful, "we can make that transition much quicker and have a faster and stronger recovery."


Couric & Williams Paint Obama as 'Culture
of Washington' Victim

All of the broadcast and cable network anchors challenged President Barack Obama in some questions during their Tuesday afternoon Oval Office interview sessions, but CBS's Katie Couric and NBC's Brian Williams also painted Obama as a victim of Washington's culture which forced HHS Secretary nominee Tom Daschle's withdrawal. "You campaigned to change the culture in Washington, to change the politics as usual culture here," Couric noted as she empathized: "Are you frustrated? Do you think it is much, much harder to do that than you ever anticipated?"

Williams noted "you lost two nominees, two appointments today," so, as if Obama were an uninvolved casualty of unfairness: "Did that make you angry, I imagine?" Echoing Couric, Williams fretted: "How do you prevent the lesson from being that, no matter how lofty the goals of the new guy coming in, Washington wins, in the end?" Maybe it was just following the law and paying a penalty for avoiding taxes which won in the end.

Expressing disappointment with how Obama allowed the Daschle withdrawal to hurt one of Obama's left-wing policy goals, CNN's Anderson Cooper, in an excerpt run during the 6 PM EST hour of The Situation Room, rued: "Explain what happened today. Tom Daschle. You've let one of the most important domestic issues, which is health care, get caught up in what looks, to many Americans, like politics as usual."

During a piece on Daschle's withdrawal which preceded the Cooper/Obama interview excerpt, CNN displayed on screen: "STUNNING SETBACK TO HEALTH REFORM"

[This item, by the MRC's Brent Baker, was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

(In contrast, to Couric and Williams, ABC's Charles Gibson held Obama accountable for the nominees who failed to pay all the taxes they owed: "But there's more of a problem than just Daschle, and you're the one, in your inaugural speech, who talked about an era of responsibility. You've now got three major appointees who, it turns out, haven't paid all their taxes. What kind of a message does that send about responsibility?")

On the stimulus, NBC's Williams sympathized with how the bill is being "hacked to death" by those who don't appreciate how the full package is made up of many valuable parts: "Is it tougher to make the case that this enormous package is more like a million little things? Is it getting hacked to death as you watch?"

All the questions posed by Williams, in the portion shown on the Tuesday, February 3 NBC Nightly News, as collated by the MRC's Brad Wilmouth:

- Philadelphia Inquirer today: "Surely, President Obama can find qualified people to serve in his cabinet who aren't hustling to write overdue checks to the IRS. You lost two nominees, two appointments today. Did that make you angry, I imagine?

- How do you prevent the lesson from being that, no matter how lofty the goals of the new guy coming in, Washington wins, in the end?

- Mr. President, how do you make the case to American families who are losing jobs today, right now, and hurting -- and those who aren't are worried -- that you've got something for them, that a big, enormous stimulus package is either going to save their job, get them a job, or generally help their lot in life, and, meantime, they see the federal government buying up bad banks?

- For all the provisions that you just chose to outline, there are others like the one Senator McConnell was mocking today, subsidy for Hollywood film makers. Is it tougher to make the case that this enormous package is more like a million little things? Is it getting hacked to death as you watch?

- Among the levers your enemies on the Hill are using is, about this personnel matter. This is from Howard Fineman, Newsweek magazine, MSNBC last evening: "If they keep saying," they, the Obama White House, "that all these people deserve special treatment because they're indispensable -- '€˜Geithner is indispensable' -- it begins to sound not only hypocritical, but elitist. It's like there are rules for everybody else, and then there are rules for indispensable people, and that's exactly the opposite of the grassroots message that he," meaning you, Mr. President, "came here with."

All of the quotes/assessments above in this item are based on what aired on the evening newscasts, not the full interviews, which were not much longer than what aired. Links to what the networks have posted online:

ABC News: Article and video of Charles Gibson with Obama: abcnews.go.com

CBS News: Transcript and video of Katie Couric with Obama: www.cbsnews.com

NBC News: Video of entire interview Brian Williams conducted with Obama: www.msnbc.msn.com

CNN: Video clips posted of Anderson Cooper with Obama: www.cnn.com

FNC: Video of Chris Wallace's session with Obama. A substantial excerpt ran at the top of Special Report with Bret Baier: www.foxnews.com

Mitchell: Public Will Blame the GOP for
Bringing Down Daschle

During MSNBC's live coverage on Tuesday of the sudden resignation of Health and Human Services nominee Tom Daschle, reporter Andrea Mitchell suggested to Republican Senator Jim DeMint that the American public will see this as the GOP having "brought him [Daschle] down." The Democratic nominee resigned over a growing controversy which revealed that the former Senate majority leader owed $140,000 in back taxes. (He has since paid them.) Mitchell sympathetically described talking to the ex-Senator: "I just got off the phone with Tom Daschle. And it was an emotional conversation. He was clearly, it sounded as though he were tearful, overwrought."

Later, while speaking to DeMint, Mitchell bristled at the South Carolina Senator's contention that Democrats were also skeptical of Daschle's nomination. The journalist chided: "Well, Senator DeMint, you can say that the Democrats were uncomfortable as well, but they were all supporting him publicly." She then lectured: "So, this does read to the public as though the Republicans went after this man, someone that the President very much wanted, and brought him down."

[This item, by the MRC's Scott Whitlock, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Earlier in the interview, Mitchell again shifted focus to congressional Republicans and lamented the passing of an "all too brief honeymoon." She addedL "I mean, is this- is there blood in the water now after this nomination has been withdrawn?"

Mitchell, who recounted how "tearful" and overwrought Daschle was when she talked to him on the phone on Tuesday, sounded a similar theme on November 6, 1990. During election night coverage of that year's midterms, she described Senator Jesse Helms' reelection over his Democratic opponent as a "heart-breaking race":

"This has really been a heart-breaking race....What happened here was a very strong racial message from Jesse Helms in the closing ten days of the race and it focused on something that we've found, found previously in Louisiana with the David Duke campaign." See the November 12, 1990 Notable Quotables: www.mediaresearch.org

In 2004, when moderate/liberal Republican Colin Powell resigned his post in George W. Bush's State Department, Mitchell mourned, "This really is a regretful moment and a passing of a great potential leader. Colin Powell was so undercut by many of the other cabinet officials and never had the full backing to do some of the things that he really wanted to do." See the December 6, 2004 Notable Quotables: www.mediaresearch.org

A partial transcript of two of Mitchell's February 3 exchanges, which began at 12:53pm EST:

NORAH O'DONNELL: We're also joined now by NBC's Andrea Mitchell, as well as our bureau chief, mark Whitaker. Let's go first to Andrea Mitchell. Because, I understand you have spoken with former Senator Tom Daschle. What did he say?
ANDREA MITCHELL: I just got off the phone with Tom Daschle. And it was an emotional conversation. He was clearly- it sounded as though he were tearful, overwrought. He said, "I read the New York Times this morning and I realized that I can't pass health care if I am too much of a distraction and when I saw what the Republicans were saying and read the Mew York Times, I called the President this morning." And then, he said, "I've got to go." So, it was a difficult conversation. Look, I've known Tom Daschle a long time. All of us have covered him for a long time. And he was such an early and critical supporter of Barack Obama in the Senate community, when it was Hillary Clinton versus Barack Obama, and she was initially the front runner as you well know, Norah, and it was Tom Daschle who went one by one and was basically Barack Obama's envoy to Washington.

1:01pm
ANDREA MITCHELL: Let me bring in Senator Jim DeMint who was one of those calling for him to step down. Senator, thanks for joining us. You're joining us from the phone. But, let me ask you whether you feel that he could have been effective or whether, whether these issues all cumulatively made it impossible for him to be an advocate for major health care legislation?
SENATOR JIM DEMINT: Well, I think, it's very unfortunate that this happened. He's a friend of a number of those in the Senate and I'm sure he had a lot of qualifications. I had a good meeting with him and knew I was going to disagree on policy but that was not going to keep me from supporting him. But, the tax issue gets back to what you were saying in the lead in, that the campaign promised change from the status quo of politics here in Washington and I'm afraid the way the story built around Tom Daschle was just big lobbyists and folks not paying any taxes on big salaries and the American people were really mad about it because we're paying taxes and on a lot less income. And hundreds of calls into my office just kept telling me this is not right. This is not the change we bargained for. So, while it's unfortunate, I think this is probably a very good thing that happened to the President Obama administration. I think the only thing that could have made it better is if he would have stepped forward and made it clear that he was withdrawing the nomination in order to demonstrate his leadership and his desire to have a lot of integrity around him.
MITCHELL: Does this incident tell you, and is this the mood of the Republicans that, whatever brief, all too brief honeymoon and bipartisanship flowered here [sic] in Washington over the past two weeks has evaporated? I mean, is this- is there blood in the water now after this nomination has been withdrawn?
DEMINT: Well, I don't think this was a partisan issue. I think probably the Democrats in the Senate heard as much from their constituents as mine about this tax issue and so I don't- I did not see it as partisan. I did not see [audio drop out] rising up. A lot of us were waiting to see, but once I found out more about what really happened, I called on the President to withdraw his nomination. And while I regret that it happened, I'm glad it did. It clears the air so we can get back to the economic problem we're having in our country.
MITCHELL: Well, Senator DeMint, you can say that the Democrats were uncomfortable as well, but they were all supporting him publicly. So, this does read to the public as though the Republicans went after this man, someone that the President very much wanted, and brought him down.
DEMINT: Well, I would be surprised if it played that way with the American people. Because, I don't think they saw the Republicans bashing Tom Daschle and a lot of Republicans are friends with Daschle. But, it came down to, it wasn't about Tom Daschle at all but it was just about presidential leadership and his promises to change this place and I think this was just getting in the way. So, ultimately this will help the administration and the president can move on to important things.
MITCHELL: Senator DeMint, thanks so much for joining us.

CNN's Blitzer and Vanity Fair's Orth
Fawn Over Obama and His Team

Anchor Wolf Blitzer and Vanity Fair correspondent Maureen Orth raved about the core members of the Obama administration and their pictures taken by photographer Annie Liebovitz during a segment on CNN's Situation Room on Monday. Their conversation sounded as if the two were suddenly back in high school browsing a new yearbook. Blitzer gushed over the photos of President Obama and his wife Michelle and that of UN Ambassador Susan Rice, while Orth extolled how "they [the new administration] want a green America. They really do."

Blitzer zeroed-in on Liebovitz's photography at the beginning of the segment, as he introduced Orth: "...[Y]ou've got a new cover. It's a pretty nice cover, about the new president of the United States....These pictures by Annie Liebovitz, the photographer, are really great pictures because it says a lot about the president, the first lady." The two first discussed a shot of the Obamas walking outside the presidential limo on Inauguration Day, and the CNN anchor just couldn't get enough: "[T]hey were walking down Pennsylvania Avenue. Who can forget that moment?...Look at those huge smiles....They are obviously holding hands, and very excited." Orth replied, "Yeah, total energy. That was such an energetic day all the way around."

[This item, by the MRC's Matthew Balan, was posted Tuesday afternoon, on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

Orth noted a favorite anecdote of hers as she told Blitzer about the photo of the Obama economic team: "Larry Summers told me this was an amazing moment, once in a generation, for economic policy makers and they had to take advantage of this post-inaugural period, and then Orszag said, you know, we've really got to make government cool again."

Later, the Vanity Fair correspondent acknowledged how much she really liked the new "Green Team" at the White House:

BLITZER: These are the people who want to make America green.
ORTH: They're amazing. This is -- on the left here is Professor-
BLITZER: Steven Chu.
ORTH: Who's a Nobel prize winner from Berkeley, and he says he really wants to change people's minds about energy use....And then if you can remember for eight years, we sort of have been told there wasn't a climate problem, and now you have-
BLITZER: Lisa Jackson.
ORTH: Lisa Jackson on the end who says we have got to make all these issues grassroots issues.
BLITZER: She is going to be the EPA administrator.
ORTH: And they want a green America. They really do.

At the end of the interview, Blitzer asked Orth, "What goes through your mind, looking ahead, over the next four years, maybe eight years?" She answered. "They came to play. They really want to change things....So we'll see what happens, if they can fulfill these promises. But they're ready to rumble."

Earlier in the day on NBC's Today show, Orth also played up the "green" aspect of the new administration, and lauded their big government philosophy.

For more on Orth's appearance on the Today show, see the February 3 CyberAlert item, "Vanity Fair's Maureen Orth Cheers Obama's Cabinet on Today," at: www.mrc.org

The full transcript of the Bltizer/Orth segment, which concluded the 5 pm Eastern hour of Monday's Situation Room:

WOLF BLITZER: And joining us now, Maureen Orth -- she's the special correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine, and you've got a new cover. It's a pretty nice cover, about the new president of the United States. Maureen, thanks very much for coming in.
MAUREEN ORTH, VANITY FAIR: Thank you.
BLITZER: These pictures by Annie Liebovitz, the photographer, are really great pictures because it says a lot about the president, the first lady. Let's talk about this picture first. This is when they got out of the limo.
ORTH: Right.
BLITZER: And they were walking down Pennsylvania Avenue. Who can forget that moment?
ORTH: That's true. They both got out and the crowd went wild, and Annie was in a truck following a little bit ahead of them, and she shot that actually from the street in Pennsylvania Avenue -- I think it was several blocks before they got to the White House, where they were going to view.
BLITZER: Look at those huge smiles.
ORTH: Yeah.
BLITZER: They are obviously holding hands, and very excited.
ORTH: Yeah, total energy. That was such an energetic day all the way around.
BLITZER: And then she did a group shot of the incoming Cabinet, at least most of them. Take a look at all of these pictures, if you go all the way to the left here -- Tom Daschle, whose nomination was a little bit of trouble [sic] as we speak right now. But you go through all the Cabinet -- how difficult was it to get all these people together in one room?
ORTH: Can you imagine -- we were getting these people and -- on some of the busiest days of their whole lives, and we actually shot several different days. We shot several people together, we stuck some people in, and what Annie does is that she has a backdrop, and then she has this wonderful assistant, Katherine McCloud, who works for Vanity Fair who is about six feet tall and stands just like the person that would be standing next to them.
BLITZER: So, in other words, not all these people were there together?
ORTH: No. We could not get -- we only got Hillary Clinton the day after the inauguration, right after her confirmation hearing, when we were despairing we were [sic] going to get the last one. But we got her.
BLITZER: And I love the picture of Susan Rice in the middle, the new U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
ORTH: She's a tough cookie. She was so funny. When we were taking her picture, she said to Annie, '€˜If you don't make me look good, I'm coming after you.'
BLITZER: And she's serious about that. I know Susan Rice rather well. All right, let's go to what you call the '€˜brain trust,' the next picture. There they are. You see David Axlerod, and Peter Rouse, Rahm Emanuel, new White House chief of staff, and Valerie Jarrett.
ORTH: They are the people that are the closest part of the inner circle. And obviously, David Axlerod, who was the chief strategist of that nearly flawless campaign; and then Rouse who was his Senate chief of staff, who's referred to sometimes as the 101st senator; and then, of course, we have Rahm Emanuel, the chief of staff, and then Valerie -- Valerie Jarrett, who is really best friend.
BLITZER: She is best friends with both of the Obamas. There is no doubt about that. All right, let's go to the next picture, the economy team, and you see Larry Summers, the new White House chief economic advisor out there, and he's sitting down -- Timothy Geithner, new Secretary of the Treasury.
ORTH: Yeah, and then that's Peter Orszag, who is the secretary and manager-
BLITZER: He's the budget director.
ORTH: Budget director, and then-
BLITZER: Christina Romer.
ORTH: Christina Romer, who is the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors. And you know, Larry Summers told me this was an amazing moment, once in a generation, for economic policy makers and they had to take advantage of this post-inaugural period, and then Orszag said, you know, we've really got to make government cool again.
BLITZER: When Annie took the picture, all four of them, all of them were together.
ORTH: Oh, absolutely, yeah.
BLITZER: She didn't have to cut and paste or anything like that. Let's go to what you call the Green Team, the guy in the middle, the Former Senator Ken Salazar, who will be Secretary of the Interior.
ORTH: Right.
BLITZER: These are the people who want to make America green.
ORTH: They're amazing. This is -- on the left here is Professor-
BLITZER: Steven Chu.
ORTH: Who's a Nobel prize winner from Berkeley, and he says he really wants to change people's minds about energy use. And then you have Carol Browner, who was the head of EPA. She is now the climate czar. And then if you can remember for eight years, we sort of have been told there wasn't a climate problem, and now you have-
BLITZER: Lisa Jackson.
ORTH: Lisa Jackson on the end who says we have got to make all these issues grassroots issues.
BLITZER: She is going to be the EPA administrator.
ORTH: And they want a green America. They really do.
BLITZER: I want to show you the next one. I like to call this one the youth of America, over here. You've got some of the young people, the news tracking team on the left, the campaign advance team on the right. These are the kids who put it all together.
ORTH: Yeah. These guys, these guys -- nobody's over 25 years old, and they stay up from 3 a.m. to 3 a.m., just culling all the newspapers and the TVs and the blogs and everything, and so that there can be a rapid response to whatever's going on. And then these are the kids that are organizing the press and keeping everybody going and on the trail. I mean, these kids just have flat-out worked their hearts out.
BLITZER: And then we've got some more. Look at this. This is -- on the left over here, you see what we call the logistics team, including Reggie Love -- he's the personal aide to the president. Wherever the president is, Reggie is.
ORTH: And then, of course, the president says that Reggie's a lot cooler than he is. And then there's Alyssa Mastromonaco, who is the scheduling person, and then-
BLITZER: Marvin Mickelson-
ORTH: Marvin Mickelson, who's also the trips organizer. So they had to do this amazing logistics for two years for the campaign.
BLITZER: And finally, the communications team.
ORTH: Right.
BLITZER: There they are, and everybody by now is familiar with Robert Gibbs, who is all the way to the right with his arm on the podium.
ORTH: Right. And there is the young speechwriter, John Favreau, who is right down on the bottom, who is the major speechwriter. And then you have Eleanor Rand, who is the-
BLITZER: Communications director.
ORTH: The head of the communications team. And then you have
BLITZER: Dan Pfeiffer.
ORTH: Dan Pfeiffer, who's also -- who told me that change was always the mantra, no matter what. That's what they kept in my-
BLITZER: All right, so button this up for us. You take a look at all these people.
ORTH: Right?
BLITZER: The inner, inner circle of this new White House.
ORTH: Right?
BLITZER: What goes through your mind, looking ahead, over the next four years, maybe eight years?
ORTH: They came to play. They really want to change things. I wonder how much you can change the sort of glacial society of Washington, but they think they have been elected to make change, and they're taking this terrible economic time we're in and all these problems as a challenge, not something to bring them down, but something to really reverse course, and go ahead. So we'll see what happens, if they can fulfill these promises. But they're ready to rumble.
BLITZER: I'm sure they are. It's going to be pretty exciting. Maureen, thanks for coming in.
ORTH: You're welcome. Thank you.
BLITZER: And please thank Annie Liebovitz for those great pictures, too.
ORTH: Aren't they great. Yeah, I will. Thank you.

Stop the Presses! ABC Explores Not Passing
Giant 'Stimulus'

It hardly balances all of the airtime given to liberal proponents of President Obama's plans for massive government spending as "stimulus," but an actual network news program actually presented a single story outlining the conservative free-market approach to today's economic problems. On Saturday's Good Morning America, ABC correspondent John Hendren examined what he termed "a growing movement among economists, who say the best way out of this recession is to do nothing. Nothing at all."

Hendren gave three soundbites to Cato economist Dan Mitchell, who pointed out that "government spending doesn't work very well," how "bad government policies got us into this mess," and that while letting the free market run its course might be painful, "we can make that transition much quicker and have a faster and stronger recovery."

Hendren termed the free market economists "do nothings," but suggested they may be influential enough to at least block a little of the runaway spending. Hendren told co-anchor Bill Weir: "Now, the do-nothings know they're going to lose this debate. But they're hoping to hold down the size of the stimulus. As one economist told me, I can see them cutting $100 billion, and that ain't chump change. Bill?"

[This item, by the MRC's Rich Noyes, was posted Tuesday afternoon on the MRC's blog, NewsBusters.org: newsbusters.org ]

The hook for ABC's story seems to have been the big full-page newspaper ad Cato ran the previous day in the New York Times and Washington Post. The ad begins by quoting President Obama declaring that everyone agrees with him -- "There is no disagreement that we need action by our government, a recovery plan that will help to jumpstart the economy" -- followed by large letters proclaiming: "With all due respect Mr. President, that is not true."

Over the signatures of more than 250 economists, the Cato ad declared:

Notwithstanding reports that all economists are now Keynesians and that we all support a big increase in the burden of government, we do not believe that more government spending is a way to improve economic performance. More government spending by Hoover and Roosevelt did not pull the United States economy out of the Great Depression in the 1930s. More government spending did not solve Japan's 'lost decade' in the 1990s. As such, it is a triumph of hope over experience to believe that more government spending will help the U.S. today. To improve the economy, policy makers should focus on reforms that remove impediments to work, saving, investment and production. Lower tax rates and a reduction in the burden of government are the best ways of using fiscal policy to boost growth.

PDF of the ad: LINK: www.cato.org

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, the networks loved to champion anti-war dissenters as offering a valuable minority opinion on an important issue, but other than this one ABC story there has been virtually no acknowledgment by the networks of those like Cato's Mitchell who argue that the Democrats' big government spending plan will delay our eventual recovery from this recession, not "stimulate" the economy to renewed prosperity.

MRC intern Mike Sargent noticed the segment appeared at about 7:12am ET on the January 31 Good Morning America and provided this transcript:

BILL WEIR: Turning to politics now. And in his weekly radio address, President Obama is once again urging Congress to pass his stimulus plan ASAP. The Democrats' bill didn't get a single Republican vote in the House, and now faces a skeptical Senate, some who say the best stimulus is no stimulus. ABC's John Hendren is in Washington. Good morning.
JOHN HENDREN: Good morning, Bill. The debate on Capitol Hill has been all about the size of the stimulus. Should it be merely big? Bigger? A behemoth? But there's another school of thought that's getting less attention. Call them the do-nothings. In these free-spending times, there's a growing movement among economists who say the best way out of this recession is to do nothing. Nothing at all.
UNIDENTIFIED ECONOMIST: I think there's nothing wrong with doing nothing.
HENDREN: Nor do the 250 other economists who signed on this week to this ad in The New York Times and Washington Post.
CATO SENIOR FELLOW DAN MITCHELL: Government doesn't work very well. We tried big spending under Bush. It didn't work. We tried big spending under Hoover. It didn't work.
HENDREN [While an animated Uncle Sam pumps up a large green ball with a dollar sign on it]: President Obama and supporters of the nearly $1 trillion stimulus says it works like this. In a recession, money is scarce. So, the government needs to pump money into the economy. That gives consumers money to spend. And the economy rises. The do-nothings say letting the free markets run their course might cause short-term pain.
MITCHELL: A lot of bad government policies got us into this mess. And we don't have a magic wand that's just going to get us out right away.
HENDREN: But they say it would end the recession more quickly and leave the economy stronger. Take Circuit City. The electronics retailer is shutting its doors and laying off 34,000 workers. The do-nothings say that paves the way for stronger rivals like Best Buy, to take over market share. It's all vinegar and no sugar. During the hard times, the do-nothings argue, Americans would pay down their debt and cut back on the kind of borrowing and spending that brought the economy to where it is now.
MITCHELL: Some of the discomfort from that is probably unavoidable. But at least we can make that transition much quicker and have a faster and stronger recovery.
HENDREN: The do-nothings point to the banking bailout. Since Uncle Sam invested $165 billion in the nation's eight largest banks, they're worth $418 billion less than they were in October. That's a loss of more than 1,000%. Now, the do-nothings know they're going to lose this debate. But they're hoping to hold down the size of the stimulus. As one economist told me, I can see them cutting $100 billion, and that ain't chump change. Bill?
WEIR: Interesting idea, John, in these days when we're throwing around the word "billion" a lot.

-- Brent Baker