Slate promoted a false narrative about President Donald Trump’s budget proposal, publishing a claim that “Defense spending now exceeds all other programs combined.”
The article was tweeted on Slate’s account with a link to the article, which claims that “Trump’s budget achieves a milestone: Defense spending now exceeds all other programs combined.”
“Trump’s record-setting military budget is bloated, illegal, and doomed,” Slate wrote. “Another line has been crossed: In the last several years, defense spending has nearly equaled the discretionary budgets for all programs other than defense combined. In this budget, it finally surpasses them .
The Slate editorial packaging gave the perception that Trump seeks to crowd out domestic and social programs with defense spending, giving the impression that the president is a heartless, bellicose warmonger. And this coverage failed to point out the enormous difference between discretionary vs. non-discretionary spending.
Trump sought a five percent increase in defense spending, which pales in comparison to the non-discretionary spending that comprises the bulk of the federal budget.
Craig Matteson responded to the false tweet: “How is $750 billion greater than $3.75 trillion?”
Brian Riedl, a senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute For Public Policy Research, Tweeted out the problems with the Slate coverage: “One day later, ??@Slate??  is still running this **Blatantly False** headline.
Headline: “Defense spending now exceeds all other programs combined”
Reality: Trump 2020 budget:
–Defense: $726 billion (16 percent)
–All other programs combined: $3,803 billion (84 percent)”
Riedl followed up in a subsequent tweet with more context about Slate’s misleading angle.
“Article body clarifies that they actually mean DOD exceeds non-defense discretionary spending, but that:
1) Is very different from the headline,
2) Is an irrelevant comparison (why not compare to ALL spending?)
3) Has been true for 95 percent of U.S. history, so why pick on one Prez?”