Trump Cuts NIH Budget By $1.2 Billion? Not Quite.

Fakenews really bothers me. Because it’s a subtle manipulation of the way we think and talk and feel. We used to call it “spin”. But, it’s gone to a new level over the past few years. The news is even less about facts, and even more about maintaining that media narrative–in spite of facts.

Take this headline from NBC’s Maggie Fox:

Trump just proposed an immediate $1.2 billion cut to NIH.”

Now, that headline is kinda-sorta of accurate (explained below). And people–otherwise smart people–have already started complaining that people are going to start dying and be deprived of medical research (whatever that means) and that this is anti-science ad nauseum.

BUT, that NBC editor could just have easily–and accurately–used this headline:

“Trump proposes NIH budget remain at highest Obama-era levels.”

Why, the article could even list the NIH budgets for the last few years: (2016: $31.3 billion; 2015: $30.3 billion; 2014: $31.3 billion; 2013: 30.86 billion…)

NBC might also note that the NIH proposed a $33.1 billion budget for 2017. That’s a requested budget increase of $1.8 billion.

The astute reader will note that reducing NIH’s budget request by $1.2 billion is not a “budget cut”. Why, that’s still a budget increase of $0.6 billion dollars from 2016. A budget of $31.9 billion? That’s the largest budget the NIH ever had under Obama in 2012.

But this reporting of relevant, publicly available facts wouldn’t fit the narrative.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *