Liberal Spin Prevails: How CBS Led the Networks' Charge Against the Bush Tax Cut


Liberals have attacked President Bush’s proposed tax reduction package as a risky scheme and a massive, budget-busting giveaway to the rich. Tax cut proponents have countered that by various historical measures Bush’s tax cut is hardly excessive, and have argued it provides a greater percentage tax reduction to lower- and middle-income households than it does to wealthier families.

So which set of opinions has held sway on the three evening newscasts since Bush’s inauguration? To find out, the Media Research Center’s Free Market Project (FMP) analyzed ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News during the first ten weeks of the Bush administration, from January 20 through March 31, 2001. During this period, the network evening broadcasts produced more stories about the President’s tax cut proposals than any other Bush administration initiative.

In all, our study identified and examined 93 broadcast network news stories during this ten week period. Combined, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening newscasts aired 55 full reports about Bush’s tax policies, plus another 19 anchor-read briefs, for a total of 74 stories. An additional 19 field reports which were not mainly focused on taxes, but which contained substantial discussion of tax policy, were also included in the study.