CBS Exposes Congress Wasting Money

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on February 3, 2010

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-Read the excerpt below from Noel Sheppard's post at newsbusters.org on January 11th.
-Read "Types of Media Bias" in the right column. Then answer the questions.

…CBS “Evening News” … did a segment [Monday] exposing how members of Congress wasted a huge amount of money at the United Nations’ climate summit in Copenhagen [in December].

…CBS’s Sharyl Attkisson pointed fingers at prominent Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (Md.), and Charles Rangel (N.Y.). …

SHARYL ATTKISSON:  Few would argue with the U.S. having a presence at the Copenhagen Climate Summit. But wait until you hear what we found about how many in Congress got all-expense paid trips to Denmark on your dime.

Our cameras spotted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi at the summit.  She called the shots on who got to go.  That’s House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and there’s the embattled Chairman of the Tax Committee Charles Rangel. […]

ATTKISSON:  They were joined by 17 colleagues: Democrats Waxman, Miller, Markey, Gordon, Levin, Blumenauer, DeGette, Inslee, Ryan, Butterfield, Cleaver, and Giffords. And Republicans Barton, Upton, Moore Capito, Sullivan, Blackburn and Sensenbrenner.

And that’s not the half of it.  But finding out more was a bit like trying to get the keys to Ft. Knox.  Many referred us to Speaker Pelosi who wouldn’t agree to an interview.  Her office told us, “It will comply with disclosure requirements” but wouldn’t give us cost estimates or even tell us where they all stayed.

Senator Inhofe is one of the few who provided us any detail.  He attended the summit on his own [expense] for just a few hours, to give an “opposing view.”

SENATOR JIM INHOFE, (R-OKLAHOMA): They’re going because it’s the biggest party of the year.  The worst thing that happened there is they ran out of caviar.”

ATTKISSON:  Our investigation found that the congressional delegation was so large, it needed three military jets:  two 737’s and a Gulfstream Five — up to 64 passengers — traveling in luxurious comfort.

Along with those who flew commercial, we counted at least 101 Congress-related attendees.  All for a summit that failed to deliver a global climate deal.

As a perk, some took spouses, since they could snag an open seat on a military jet or share a room at no extra cost to taxpayers.  That’s Congresswoman Giffords holding her husband’s hand.  Moore Capito and her husband.  Markey took his wife wearing red, as did Sensenbrenner.  Congressman Barton — a climate change skeptic — even brought along his daughter.

Until required filings are made in the coming weeks, we can only figure bits and pieces of the cost to you. 

  • Three military jets at $9,900 an hour – that’s $168,000 just for flight time.
  • Dozens flew commercial at up to $2,000 each. More than 300 hotel nights booked – the bulk at Copenhagen’s five-star Marriott.
  • Meals add tens of thousands more.

ATKISSON:  Nobody we asked would defend the super-sized Congressional presence on camera.  One Democrat said it showed the world the U.S. is serious about climate change.

And all those attendees who went to the summit rather than hooking up by teleconference?  They produced enough climate-stunting carbon dioxide to fill 10,000 Olympic swimming pools.

Which means even if Congress didn’t get a global agreement, they left an indelible footprint all the same.

UPDATE: CBS News Investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson reports official Congressional expense filings show at least 106 people from the House and Senate attended – spouses, a doctor, a protocol expert and even a photographer.

For 15 Democratic and 6 Republican Congressmen, food and rooms for two nights cost $4,406 tax dollars each. CBS News asked members of Congress and staff about whether they’re mindful that it’s public tax dollars they’re spending. Many said they had never even seen the bills or the expense reports.

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., is a key climate change player. He went to Copenhagen last year. Last week, we asked him about the $2,200-a-day bill for room and food.  “I can’t believe that,” Rep. Waxman said. “I can’t believe it, but I don’t know.”

Go to newsbusters.org for the original post.

 

 



 

Questions

This week’s excerpt is not an example of media bias, but of the media fulfilling one of its roles – that of monitoring and reporting on the conduct of government officials.  Kudos to CBS investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson for her report on Congressional spending in Copenhagen. 
Why is it important for the media to expose stories such as this?


Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers.
























Answer(s)

It is important that voters be informed, in order to hold their representatives accountable.  Reports on government spending allow voters to know more about how their tax dollars are being used by Congress.