Bloomberg News has an article out this morning headlined "Republicans Voting Against Stimulus Then Asked Obama for Money," an article that at first blush looks like a straightforward, garden-variety Washington hypocrisy story. What's not transparent is where the idea for the article came from. Could the article perhaps have been inspired by the Obama administration itself, which, only days before the Bloomberg article appeared, posted an item on the White House blog headlined, "Opponents of Recovery Act Take Credit for Impact of Bill They Voted Against," citing similar stories that appeared in other newspapers. Is it just a coincidence that these stories all appeared at once on the anniversary of the Recovery Act? Faulting a Republican congressman for asking for government money for his district is a little like faulting a Democratic congressman who voted against a tax cut for failing, after the cut takes effect, to keep paying his own taxes voluntarily at the previous, pre-cut rate. Yet you haven't seen a lot of Bloomberg articles faulting President Obama for failing voluntarily to pay himself the higher tax rate he wants to impose on others. In fact, the hypocrisy of the Republican congressmen in these cases is probably even less egregious than in the tax cut case, because the Republicans can reasonably say that if the money isn't spent on their projects in their districts, it isn't going to be saved, it's just going to be spent elsewhere, and possibly wasted, so they might as well participate and try to have the money spent as widely as possible. In any event, it's a good reminder as a reader, when reading a news article, to ask yourself who the story might benefit. The press is a big advocate of transparency when it comes to public institutions, but it's rarely transparent itself when it comes to the sources of its stories.
Republicans Oppose Stimulus, Ask for Money