Sunday, December 21, 2008

White House calls bullshit on New York Times

The New York Times published a hit piece on George Bush today, saying the sub-prime mortgage crisis was a mess of his making and laying blame for the ensuing economic meltdown at his feet, and the White House wasted no time in calling bullshit on the Times.
The response accused the nation's largest Sunday paper of "gross negligence."

"The Times' 'reporting' in this story amounted to finding selected quotes to support a story the reporters fully intended to write from the onset, while disregarding anything that didn't fit their point of view," White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said in an e-mailed statement.

[ ... ]

"The Times story frequently repeats a charge by the Administration's critics: a 'laissez faire' attitude toward regulation. We make no apology for understanding the concept of regulatory balance. That is, regulation should be stringent enough to protect the greater public good and safety but not overly strong so that it unnecessarily inhibits innovation, creativity and productivity gains that are the sole source of increasing Americans' standards of living. But while repeating this charge, the reporters gave glancing attention to the fact that it was this Administration that pushed for strengthened regulation and oversight, greater transparency, and housing reform.

"The story also gives kid glove treatment to Congress. While the administration was pushing for more transparent lending rules and strengthening oversight and supervision of Fannie and Freddie, Congress for years blocked attempts at stronger regulation and blocked reform of the Federal Housing Administration. Democratic leaders brazenly encouraged Fannie and Freddie to loosen lending standards and instead encouraged the housing GSEs to play a larger and larger role in the housing market -- even while explicitly acknowledging the rising risks. And while the story notes the political contributions of some banks to Republicans, it neglects that political contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac overwhelmingly supported Democratic officials -- in particular the chairmen of the banking committees. In fact, even in the midst of what by then was a housing crisis, it took Congress nearly a full year to pass specific legislation called for by the president in the summer of 2007, especially legislation to reform oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Actually, I think the White House went easy on the Times, and on members of Congress like Barney Frank, Chris Dodd and Barack Obama by not calling them by name in their response.

Here's a link to the full text of the response.

Update: The White House must have been really pissed. Here's another link to the White House web site in which they engage in a righteous Fisking of the NYT piece, and they do name names.

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