TV News Record: Debt ceiling, hurricane funding, GDP

A weekly round up on what’s happening and what we’re seeing at the TV News Archive by Katie Dahl and Nancy Watzman. Additional research by Robin Chin.

In this week’s TV News Archive roundup, we examine the latest Face-o-Matic data (you can too!); and present our partner’s fact-checks on Sen. Ted Cruz’s claims that Hurricane Sandy emergency funding was filled with “unrelated pork” and President Donald Trump’s claims about other country’s GDPs.

What got political leaders sustained face-time on TV news last week?

What got Trump, McConnell, Schumer, Ryan, and Pelosi the longest clips on TV cable news screens this past week? Thanks to our new trove of Face-O-Matic data developed with the start-up Matroid’s facial recognition algorithms, reporters and researchers can get quick answers to questions like these.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D., Calif., got almost six minutes – an unusually large amount of sustained face-time for the Democrat from California – from “MSNBC Live” on September 7 covering her press conference following President Donald Trump’s surprise deal with congressional Democrats on the debt ceiling.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R., Ky., also enjoyed his longest sustained face-time segment last week on the debt ceiling, clocking in at 34 seconds on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan, R., Wis., got 11 minutes on September 7 on Fox News’ “Happening Now,” for his weekly press conference, where he was shown discussing a variety of topics, including Hurricane Harvey, tax reform, and also debt relief. For Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D., N.Y., the topic that got him the most sustained time–21 seconds–was also his unexpected deal with the president on the debt ceiling.

For President Donald Trump, however, who never lacks for TV news face-time, his longest sustained appearance on TV news this past week was his speech at this week’s 9/11 memorial at the Pentagon.

Fact-check: Hurricane Sandy relief was 2/3 filled with pork and unrelated spending (false)

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Sen. Ted Cruz, R., Texas, came under criticism by supporting federal funding for Harvey victims while having opposed such funding for victims of Hurricane Sandy in 2013.  Cruz defended himself by saying, “The problem with that particular bill is it became a $50 billion bill that was filled with unrelated pork. Two-thirds of that bill had nothing to do with Sandy.”

But Lori Robertson of FactCheck.org labeled this claim as “false,” noting that a Congressional Research Service study pegged at least 69 percent of that bill’s funding as related to Sandy, and that even more of the money could be attributed to hurricane relief funding: “Cruz could have said he thought the Sandy relief legislation included too many non-emergency items. That’s fair enough, and his opinion. But he was wrong to specifically say two-thirds of the bill “had nothing to do with Sandy,” or “little or nothing to do with Hurricane Sandy.”

Fact-check: Trump spoke with world leader unhappy with nine percent GDP growth rate (three Pinocchios)

At a recent press conference on his tax reform plan, President Donald Trump remarked that other foreign leaders are unhappy with higher rates of growth in gross domestic product (GDP) than the U.S. has. “I spoke to a leader of a major, major country recently. Big, big country. They say ‘our country is very big, it’s hard to grow.’ Well believe me this country is very big. How are you doing, I said. ‘Cause I have very good relationships believe it or not with the leaders of these countries. I said, how are you doing? He said ‘not good, not good at all. Our GDP is 7 percent.’ I say 7 percent? Then I speak to another one. ‘Not good. Not good. Our GDP is only 9 percent.’”

Nicole Lewis of The Washington Post’s Fact Checker gave this claim “three Pinocchios”: “Of the 58 heads of state he’s met or spoke with since taking office, not one can claim 9 percent GDP growth. Perhaps Trump misheard. Or perhaps the other leader was fibbing. Or maybe Trump just thought the pitch for a tax cut sounded better if he could quote two leaders….In any case, Trump is making a major economic error in comparing the GDP of a developed country to a developing one. For his half-truths, and for comparing apples to oranges, Trump receives Three Pinocchios.”

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About Nancy Watzman

Nancy Watzman is Managing Editor, Television Archive.
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