Let the News Be the News

Given all the proposals floated by each candidate during the campaign, no matter who had won the presidency, it was only a matter of time before the press turned its attention to the winner’s inability to pay for all his campaign promises. Today the Associated Press floated its version of this story, written by congressional and federal budget reporter Alan Fram.

Fram leads, “With federal deficits already running amok, it is unclear how President Bush will pay for his second-term agenda, a potentially multitrillion-dollar smorgasbord that includes overhauling Social Security and revamping the tax system.” Fram goes on to declare that, given the current budget deficit, it will be impossible for Bush to fund all the program initiatives he hinted at during his news conference yesterday.

Not exactly surprising news, but important news nonetheless. Yet, the Associated Press chose to hedge the impact of the piece by applying its “Newsview” header to it, which screams to a reader “Warning: Certain Partisans Will View This Piece as Biased and We Understand That.”

There are times to use that header, but Fram’s piece is not one of those times. No one — outside of the Bush administration officials/spinners quoted in this piece — would honestly contend that Bush could address his laundry list of campaign goals and still fulfill his aspiration to halve the deficit.

Over the course of the campaign, other AP “Newsviews” have taken a look at such things as Bush’s and Kerry’s struggle to find their voices early in the campaign. Those critiques are views on the news. Fram’s piece is plain news.

Thomas Lang

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Thomas Lang was a writer at CJR Daily.