Only Hotheads Talk About the Effects of Budget Cuts

Corporate media’s preference for”centrism” canoftentranslate intoreporting that casts two sides of a debate as equally belligerent or unwilling to compromise. ABC reporter Jonathan Karl‘s report yesterday on This Week (4/3/11) offers a perfect example of the absurdity of this worldview.

His focuses was on the battle over the federal budget. On one side are Tea Party activists who want deeper spending cuts. Karl notes that this createssome frictionbetween the activists and GOP leaders. Then there’s the other side of the debate:

KARL: Democrats have their hot heads, too. One Obama administration official said the Republican bill, which cuts $5 billion from the Agency for International Development would kill kids. That’s right. Kill kids.

RAJIV SHAH, USAID ADMINISTRATOR: We estimate, and I believe these are conservative, that HR 1 would lead to 70,000 kids dying.

Karl then turns to former Democratic National Committee chair Howard Deansaying that Democrats could benefit from a government shutdown. Karl closes with a snide reference tothe choice confronting lawmakers: “Compromise with extremists out to kill kids?”

Budget cuts have actual, real world consequences–especially when you’re talking about health aid to the Third World. This is not in serious dispute. But apparently talking about those effects is a problem.

What Karl considers hot-headed extremism is Shah’s claim that deaths will occur due to, among other things, cuts to USAID’s anti-malaria programs. Others will die because they would lose access to life-saving medicines. Others will die at birth.

New York Times food writer Mark Bittman points out that many anti-poverty organizers have organized a fast to draw attention to the GOP budget cuts. He’s joining them, and writes that some organizers are praying that God create a “circle of protection” around the world’s poor and hungry.

What a bunch of hotheads.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.