USA Today a Go-To Paper for Right-Wing Press Releases

Douglas Holtz-Eakin

Douglas Holtz-Eakin

In the world of D.C. think tanks, getting your name in the papers is a big part of demonstrating your effectiveness. And when a paper runs a puff piece actually headlined “When It Comes to Testimony, He’s a Go-To Guy,” that’s way better than a full-page ad.

That’s the favor that USA Today‘s Gregory Korte (12/5/13) extended to Douglas Holtz-Eakin, who ran the Congressional Budget Office in the George W. Bush era, was a McCain campaign economic  adviser and now runs a right-wing think tank called the American Action Forum. The paper explains that he can deliver “soundbite-friendly policy analysis in five minutes or less”–which, it should be noted, is actually a long time to deliver a soundbite.

USA Today says he “has carefully cultivated a reputation as a good witness” and once “earned a reputation as a straight-shooter from Sen. John McCain, who put him on his 2008 presidential campaign.”  As if that all weren’t good enough, a Republican lawmaker weighs in to say, “He’s actually a green eyeshades guy who speaks like the average Joe.”

Of course, there are less flattering things one could say about a guy who has helped giant corporations mount a campaign to cut their taxes, ran a misleading campaign claiming the Obama White House is waging a “war on coal” and claimed in 2011 (ABC This Week, 9/4/11) that Obama administration stimulus policies meant that “we are headed straight toward a Greek-style fiscal crisis.” 

Perhaps those are the wonky soundbites someone like Holtz-Eakin can deliver.  But when all criticism of his work is left out of a piece, what USA Today delivers isn’t news–it’s a press release.


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.