Coverage of the economy on weeknight television news shows during the last six months of 2014 continued to focus heavily on policies meant to boost job creation and economic growth, but discussions overwhelmingly lacked input from actual economists. Additionally, a Media Matters analysis uncovered a relative decline in the number of segments promoting the conservative media myths that Obamacare and increasing the minimum wage hurt the labor market.
As the newly GOP-controlled Senate attempts to force approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, the long-debunked myth that the pipeline would create 42,000 jobs continues to pervade in the media -- despite the fact that it will create only 35 permanent jobs:
For many years conservative media and the the GOP have framed the Keystone XL pipeline -- which would transport highly greenhouse gas-intensive Canadian tar sands oil to the Gulf of Mexico for export to the global oil market -- as a job creation policy, often claiming that the project would create 42,000 new jobs.
Over time, that message has made its way into mainstream media -- even after being debunked by studies and outlets such as Politifact, the Washington Post Fact Checker, and more -- by both Republican Senators who tout misleading job benefits without being corrected and by media pundits themselves.
But an exhaustive study by the State Department concluded that the Keystone XL project will result in just 50 jobs, including "35 permanent employees and 15 temporary contractors." Further, the report stated that spending on the project would support only 3,900 temporary construction jobs if construction lasted one year and just 1,950 temporary construction jobs if construction lasted two years. The report also states that a majority of potential other jobs supported by the project would come from "indirect and induced spending," yet a recent Washington Post article detailed how the "indirect" job estimates themselves don't hold up, as some have already been created in anticipation of the pipeline, and most would last for less than a year:
"42,000 new jobs" is going too far. Most of those jobs are far from the construction site, and it's hard to argue they are new. Moreover, under State's accounting, they only last for a year. For some workers, it would be a good but brief payday.
Conservative media personalities have long ignored the public's overwhelming support for wider access to birth control, instead pushing long debunked myths that birth control is cheap and easy to access, is only about preventing pregnancies, and can cause abortion.
Here are the facts behind right-wing media's three biggest myths about birth control:
Conservative media have adopted a "blame feminism" approach to many of the world's problems, including rape and the lack of infrastructure funding. Here are 11 times right-wing media blamed feminism for creating the crisis of the day:
1. Ben Carson blamed the unrest in Ferguson, MO on the "women's lib movement."
2. Conservative blogger Glenn Reynolds accused feminists of derailing infrastructure funding.
3. Rush Limbaugh blamed feminism for the NFL's punishment of football players.
4. On Fox News, Laura Ingraham suggested gender equality and "political correctness" were to blame for a security breach at the White House because the intruder was able to overpower a female security agent.
5. In the wake of the Ray Rice domestic abuse case, the extreme conservative website WND blamed domestic violence on feminism.
6. The Weekly Standard blamed the epidemic of campus sexual assault on feminism being "in control of America's colleges and universities."
7. On June 15, Fox News' Fox & Friends Sunday accused feminists of trying to "end" Father's Day.
8. The hosts of Fox News' Outnumbered agreed that feminism is to blame for boys falling behind in school.
9. During a March 31 Heritage Foundation panel commemorating Women's History Month, conservative columnist Mona Charon cited the alleged "disintegration of family function" as one of feminism's many "failures."
10. In a discussion on Fox News' The Five about a female teacher who had sex with her 15-year old student, co-host Andrea Tantaros claimed "women who do this feel like it's not as stigmatizing as it was before," insisting that "there's something about feminism that lets them know 'I can do anything that a man does, I can even go after that young boy. I deserve it.'"
11. In 2012, Rush Limbaugh claimed that feminism is "ruining women."
Conservative media figures have often displayed indifference to the fortunes of the 11 million undocumented immigrants estimated to be present in the United States, claiming, for instance, that they should all be sent back to their countries or that they simply "can't be here." This attitude contrasts sharply with the empathic vision of a prominent conservative icon -- President Reagan:
Fox News' Keith Ablow issued a defiant statement defending his cable news psychoanalysis of President Obama after being condemned by medical experts.
Here is a sample of the type of bizarre and offensive commentary offered by Ablow:
Yesterday the Associated Press reported on criticism of Ablow from other psychiatrists, including the past president of the American Psychiatric Association's statement that "it is shameful and unfortunate that he is given a platform by Fox News or any other media organization."
Fox News' coverage of the 2014 midterm elections devoted significant time to fawning over GOP congressional and gubernatorial contenders. The mere discussion of Republican candidates often morphed into free campaign ads, and when those candidates appeared on the network, Fox figures doled out flattery and softball questions.
New Hampshire Senate candidate Scott Brown, for instance, a former network employee, appeared on Fox to hear how he is "one of the finest politicians [people have] seen." In his interview on the network, Florida Gov. Rick Scott listened to Sean Hannity rattle off a list of glowing statistics about his record as governor that seemed more suited for a campaign ad.
Media Matters has compiled the best of the worst examples of Fox's unabashed flattery:
Right-wing media responded to a recent public service announcement depicting a woman's experiences with street harassment by questioning whether the encounters amounted to harassment at all and adding their own catcalls to the chorus of abuse.
On October 27, Hollaback, a national organization whose mission is to "end street harassment" released a PSA featuring the catcalling and harassment one woman faced over the course of 10 hours while walking around New York City as recorded by a hidden video camera concealed in the bag of somebody walking ahead of her.
Conservative media figures responded to the video's depictions of over 100 instances of harassment with disbelief, claiming that the men featured in the video were "simply being polite," that there was "nothing disrespectful" about street harassment, and even commenting themselves on the woman's appearance with proclamations like, "Damn, baby, you're a piece of woman."
As the 2014 midterm election draws near, right-wing media figures have worked to discourage certain groups of people from voting, claiming some are too dumb to make an informed decision. But this isn't new -- conservatives have long advocated for onerous voter ID laws and even prerequisite civics tests, policies that work to suppress the vote, even going so far as to say that women shouldn't be allowed to vote.
Media Matters looked back at the citizens conservative media have deemed unworthy of voting: