During the run up to the February 2009 vote for the Stimulus Program, formally known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the press was awash with repeated claims from the White House that "most economists" supported the federal spending program. "Most" is a tricky word, but the idea was to convey the idea that a near consensus or general agreement that federal intervention, specifically spending, was necessary. It helps that professional surveys of economists are rarely conducted on timely policy issues, but new evidence suggests that general agreement simply did not exist at the time.
The press, for its part, tended to depict proponents of federal spending as pragmatists while opponents were blinded by political ideology. For example, McClatchy newspapers filed a story in January 2009 noting the following: