Brent Bozell

As for denying arms and legs to the poor, Tumulty was even harsher in her own magazine than she was on TV: "Governors are not just raising taxes but also releasing prisoners and shutting down libraries. Among options that Davis has had to consider: denying prosthetics to amputees who can't afford them and eliminating adult diapers for prostate-cancer patients."

Tumulty's source for these claims, most likely, is a Los Angeles Times report on May 4, in which reporter Gregg Jones gave readers an inside-the-room account of how Gov. Davis deliberated with staff about whether to propose cutting Medi-Cal subsidies (the state version of Medicaid) for prosthetic limbs and adult diapers. But Tumulty doesn't ask the obvious question: Just how politically crass is it to detail for reporters how Davis might have to propose cutting prosthetic-limb subsidies?

What was called for was an expose on the Democrats and their shameless propensity to threaten dire-sounding phony spending cuts so voters will support raising taxes. The MRC's judges responded because quotes like these falsely signal to voters that there is no budgetary fat to be found and eliminated. There is only this false choice: You favor tax hikes, or you favor prostate-cancer patients wetting themselves.

Tumulty says her quotation is "out of context," but it's national media budget reporting that's too often out of context. The liberal mindset looks for scary specifics, but it has no big picture. For example, the Cato Institute found that California's state spending grew from $39.5 billion in fiscal year 1994 to $78.1 billion in fiscal year 2001, a 98 percent increase. That ought to leave money for prosthetics for the poor. Either Tumulty was unaware of that fact -- in which case she is unqualified to cover this issue -- or she ignored it, and ought to be disqualified from covering the issue.

Unfortunately, our national media are chronically guilty of loving the politics of budgets -- the nasty charges and counter-charges, the crafty gamesmanship, the vividly phony examples of "draconian cuts" -- and leaving all the hard information of ever-expanding government growth for musty books and hopeless wonks.

But in this case, it's MRC Judges 1, Tumulty zero.

Brent Bozell

Founder and President of the Media Research Center, Brent Bozell runs the largest media watchdog organization in America.
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