Political Animal


September 26, 2011 8:00 AM Brit Hume’s right questions, wrong answers

By Steve Benen

We’re about five days away from yet another government-shutdown deadline, and funding for FEMA is set to run out even sooner. There were some hopes late last week that congressional leaders would connect over the weekend and make progress towards some resolution, but by all accounts, “there was no progress toward a compromise.”

While lawmakers were supposed to be out this week, the Senate will return to work today, and will likely vote this afternoon on a cleaned-up version of the House bill (emergency disaster funding without offsets). Whether Senate Republicans will use a filibuster to kill the bill, and whether the House GOP will pass the measure if it’s approved in the Senate, remains to be seen.

In the meantime, some media coverage of the standoff continues to be deeply misleading. Here’s what Fox News’ Brit Hume told viewers yesterday.

“Let’s just take look at this latest skirmish. You need a continuing resolution to keep the government open and there’s a need for some relief funding because it’s almost been exhausted. So the Republicans pass a bill that has the disaster relief funding in it, to the tune of several billion dollars and they pay for it with cuts in green jobs funding. […]

“They sent it to the Senate. What does the Senate do? The Senate blocks it and then does, so far, nothing. Now, it may be that with the media coverage and the political statements that will be made about this, that if the government shuts down the Republicans will get the blame. But I ask you in this: who’s being responsible? And who’s playing politics?”

It’s entirely reasonable to ask who’s “being responsible.” Unfortunately, Hume doesn’t seem to understand the developments well enough to answer the question effectively.

Let’s quickly go over this again. Hume believes the Senate has, “so far,” done “nothing” to advance “disaster relief funding.” That’s plainly false. With bipartisan support, the Senate approved FEMA funding 11 days ago. It was a pretty important step; even Fox News reported on it.

Hume also suggests that it’s House Republicans who’ve been “responsible.” That, too, is demonstrably wrong. GOP leaders first decided to change the rules when it came to emergency disaster relief — Republicans said they wouldn’t approve the aid unless Democrats accepted cuts to a successful clean-energy program. The Senate and the White House said this wouldn’t do, but the House GOP went ahead anyway.

House Republicans then decided to make the spending bill a little more attractive to far-right members, with the leadership buying some GOP votes by cutting $100 million from a Department of Energy loan program the GOP loved until a few weeks ago. The Senate and the White House again urged Republicans to be more sensible, but the House GOP again proceeded anyway, rejecting talk of compromise, and using this little stunt to make right-wing ideologues happy.

Hume really wants to know who’s “playing politics”? Please.

I know it’s Fox, but it’d be awfully nice if these guys paid a little closer attention to current events.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


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  • c u n d gulag on September 26, 2011 8:08 AM:

    Hume is a perfect example of a man who's well paid to stay blind and stupid.

    Sadly, he's not the only one.

    And even more sadly, it's money well spent by the people and companies in charge.

  • mrgavel on September 26, 2011 8:11 AM:

    Steve: Why do you always act surprised when Fox News and its minions like Hume lie? Why don't you just call them what they are: Liars? You act as if you expect them to become a legitimate news organization and not act like the house organ of the conservative wing of the GOP. There is absolutely no evidence that that is ever going to happen.

  • DAY on September 26, 2011 8:16 AM:

    Steve, I guess you also expect the Ford salesman to tell you how great Chevy's are. . .

  • lou on September 26, 2011 8:17 AM:

    Why waste your time on assholes like Hume? Just adds to the nonsensical muddle in DC.

  • mr. irony on September 26, 2011 8:22 AM:

    now you know why fox news channel viewers consistantly poll as...

    the least informed...

  • Rich2506 on September 26, 2011 8:26 AM:

    Gotta say, I was extremely disappointed to read the WaPo's take on the issue. It took %$$#@^ 14 paragraphs for the story to finally get around to mentioning the principle behind the fight!!!!! They were so very, VERY concerned to be exquisitely balanced and to apportion blame evenly, they never got around to clearly explaining what the fight was all about! No wonder people are confused about events in Washington! If the WaPo is what people are going by, that sort of piece leaves them more in th dark than in the know.

  • FRP on September 26, 2011 8:33 AM:

    So the grave mien of the ever sober , metronome measured Brit Hume is now to be mocked , sigh . For a man who sadly reports what is devolving to his once recognisable institutions , the terrible opprobrium heaped on his frail shoulders is just torturous for any fair minded person .
    Ohhh ! Poor Brit !
    Suffering the machinations of the lock step Machiavellian Democrats !
    Ohhh ! Fer Shame !
    When will the rock ribbed , simple American Republican learn to fight back from this unprovoked , uncivilised , undignified attack .
    Snif , snif ...

    Thank you

  • berttheclock on September 26, 2011 8:33 AM:

    Brit Hume is the erudite fellow who, once, called the outing of Plame, which led to Scooter's demise, as nothing more than a slow Dog Days of August story with no legs.

  • Live Free or Die on September 26, 2011 8:35 AM:

    I agree with the others. Why do you expect Fox to report facts?

  • Anonymous on September 26, 2011 8:46 AM:

    So you take the chicken liver , include vegetables , herbs , spices , and either wine or cognac , Armagnac or brandy together in your chopping and mixing .
    Now don't fergit to add a little of this and a little of that , a pinch of hubris , a dash of imposing gravity , and , ca y est !
    Chopped Liver , ala Brit Hume , ummm so rich , so ponderously right !
    Best served after stewing for two days , Bon Appétite !

  • martin on September 26, 2011 8:52 AM:

    Why pick on Hume and Fox? NPR has been reporting it with the exact same framing. They may include a statement from Schumer, but it is still the Senate Democrats rejecting the House bill that has the FEMA funding and some cuts the Dems don't like.

  • drkrick on September 26, 2011 8:57 AM:

    How can you accuse them of not paying attention to current events? He knew exactly what to hide and misrepresent to make this the Dem's fault. That kind of thing doesn't happen by accident.

  • DisgustedWithItAll on September 26, 2011 9:02 AM:

    It turned out just the way I said it would.

    And Democrats are just hapless, pathetic, deer-in-the-headlight stooges that seem to never be able to foresee that 18-wheeler Republican-led PR disaster ready to mow them down. Instead of banging on a theme before the Republican "narrative" becomes accepted fact, they lay back and kind of whinily, ineffectively talk inside baseball. They'll never learn. Pathetic.

  • Robert on September 26, 2011 9:27 AM:


    I agree with MRGAVEL. You do this 'wow how could they do that?!' thing so often I have to assume your tongue is not always in your cheek.

    Fox is an illegitimate propaganda arm of the the right wing. When the right wing coup comes, Ailes and his facist flunkies will be running the 'ministry of information'. They are lying bullys and thugs. Hell Hume even looks like a thug.

    Here is another example of Fox fucking up reality with lies to advance the right wing meme just this weekend:

  • g on September 26, 2011 9:30 AM:

    Steve, keep pointing out their lies and inconsistency and naked partisan manipulations - but call it what it is. Stop with the concern that they're "confused." We know what they are - bald-faced liars.

  • Speed on September 26, 2011 9:31 AM:

    C'mon Steve, it's Fox News (said to the tune of "C'mon Jake, it's Chinatown.")

  • robert on September 26, 2011 9:31 AM:

    Re 'Martin',

    Correct Cokie Roberts had it all ass backwards on NPR this morning too, but she at least mentioned that disaster aid legislation has never previously had strings attached in the way the House has now done.

  • SadOldVet on September 26, 2011 9:42 AM:

    How anyone been paying attention to the other corporately owned broadcast media? ABC - CBS - NBC

    ABC/CBS/NBC have all been framing the issue virtually identically to the way that Faux News has!

    He said - He said! Congress passed a bill and the mean old Senate blocked it and may cause a shutdown. Republicans passed a bill and the mean old democrats blocked it and may cause a shutdown. Never any context!

  • Kathryn on September 26, 2011 9:56 AM:

    New York Times has article on frustration of citizens undamaged areas, they are mad at Congress and fault both sides because that is all they hear. President or Vice President need to push their way onto major news 7:00 p.m. and spell it out CLEARLY. If I see Reid one more time whispering mildly on T.V., I'm going down to his office to throttle him.

    For crap sake, we're drowning here in MSM one side does this, one does that nonsense, if the Democrats can't win this one with the truth, they can't win anything. Warner,s statement is good but there is no urgency or sense of outrage from any Democrat that I've seen and I've been looking.

  • Bless on September 26, 2011 10:04 AM:

    "Republicans pass a bill that has the disaster relief funding in it, to the tune of several billion dollars and they pay for it with cuts in green jobs funding."

    You already hit the nail on the head Mr Hume. Approving irresponsible legislation knowing it wouldn't have a chance of being approved in the Senate (while not minding of if proved wrong and the misdirected Democrats actually passed it to the Republicans' surprise) was political theatre to begin with.

    I don't fault Mr Hume, nor the readership who don't see that right away either. I see an opportunity for us to improve our critical thinking as families and a nation. It's nation building time; an excellent article to dismember during family dinner, for the children.

  • POed Lib on September 26, 2011 10:06 AM:

    This is an idiotic piece. Hume is a whore. He is a totally compromised piece of shit member of the GOP central committee. Whenever he talks, it is nothing but Repukeliscum pablum.

    It's time for the WH to deny press credentials to Faux News.

  • Anonymous on September 26, 2011 10:08 AM:


    You have described EXACTLY the FALSE EQUIVALENCE bullCRAP that the MSM pushes incessantly. Democrats and Repukeliscum are NOT equal opportunity offenders.

  • FRP on September 26, 2011 10:45 AM:

    I also often wonder , la la la la (after a cheerful chorus to the scheming cat) , when I am not busy fulminating . So just how do you , how could any somebody rationalise the idea that propaganda from the loving arms of an Australian born corporatist who is now up to his richy rich neck in all sorts of privacy invasions is equal to the soulful integrity and all around media worthiness of a male prostitute , aka , a conservative columnist , ala Jeff Gannon (James Dale Guckert) .

    How Now Broun Cow ?

    Please tell me Rupert is it just a terrible mistake ? Or is it something carefully vetted in cost analysis that sez owning a stooge factory and propaganda mill , after all the treason , disgusting tampered child murder investigations with the lovely stone face apologies , The Payoffs ! WHEE ! Consequent criminal , then civil trials and all the other bothersome nuisances still turn a handsome profit ?

    Tell me tell me tell me

    I just don't know what to do with all the funding I can get from promising to slander , libel , and the all around slime-arama festivals now freed up with corporate wealth buying up gerrymandered voting blocs , with no stringie thingies attached !