For two consecutive years, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has published an estimate of how many workers will choose to leave the workforce or reduce their work hours as a result of certain protections and subsidies created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As was the case last year, conservative media has incorrectly reported that the CBO was projecting potential job losses stemming from Obamacare.
On CBS' Face the Nation, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump promoted the bogus theory that the wives and families of the 9/11 hijackers "absolutely knew what was happening" and were flown "back to Saudi Arabia" days before the attack as part of his call for extra scrutiny and surveillance of Muslim communities in the United States.
On November 21, Trump falsely claimed that he watched "thousands and thousands" of Muslims in Jersey City, New Jersey cheering the destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. The remark was rated as a "Pants on Fire!" lie by PolitiFact multiple times, but right-wing media rallied around Trump's misinformation. In the wake of the deadly December 2 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California that left 14 people dead and many more injured, several Republican politicians and conservative outlets have advocated increased profiling of Muslims living in the United States. On the December 6 edition of CBS' Face the Nation, Trump called for increased surveillance of Muslim families in the U.S., suggested that the family of the San Bernardino shooters was lying about not having forewarning of the attack, and was allowed to push his conspiracy theory about the 9/11 hijackers unabated, despite that fact that it has been known for many years that all but one of the hijackers were unmarried:
JOHN DICKERSON (HOST): You mentioned political correctness about Muslims. What the criticism of you is, that you are playing on fears that people have, and you're stoking them.
DONALD TRUMP: No, I'm playing on common sense. No, no I'm not playing on fears, I don't want to play on fears, I understand the whole world, and I understand. And I have Muslim friends who are great people, and by the way, they tell me there's a big problem. I'm not playing on fears, I'm playing on common sense. We have a problem. The World Trade Center came down, and by the way speaking of coming down, they put their families on airplanes, couple of days before, sent them back to Saudi Arabia for the most part. Those wives knew exactly what was going to happen. And those wives went home to watch their husbands knock down the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and wherever the third plane was going, except we had some very, very brave passengers, wherever that third plane was going. Those wives knew exactly what was happening.
DICKERSON: You mention the families, going after the families, what does that mean? How would that work?
TRUMP: Well, at least I would certainly go after the wives, who absolutely knew what was happening, and I guess your definition of what I do, I'm going to leave that to your imagination. But, I will tell you I would be very tough on families, because the families know what is happening. Even in this last instance, I see everybody knew, so many people knew, they thought that this man and this woman, you know whether he was radicalized or how he became, they thought something was going on. Why don't these people report it to the police? Why wouldn't they report it to the police? Now, they said it was profiling. They didn't want to profile. Can you believe this? They didn't want to profile, even though they thought something very bad was going to happen.
DICKERSON: His sister said she didn't know what was going on, she was crestfallen for the victims here.
TRUMP: I probably don't believe the sister.
DICKERSON: You don't believe the sister, so you would go after her?
TRUMP: I would go after a lot of people, and find out whether or not they knew. I'd be able to find out, because I don't believe the sister.
Media Matters researcher Brendan Karet contributed to this blog
In a recent interview promoting his upcoming film, director Adam McKay lamented that media rarely discuss the pressing need for additional banking reforms in the wake of the financial crisis and Great Recession, singling out Fox News and wondering if the phrase "banking reform" had even been mentioned on the network this year. It hasn't been.
McKay chided media outlets for their unwillingness to discuss the pressing need for stronger banking and financial reforms during a December 2 interview with The Daily Beast about his new movie The Big Short, which details the build up of a credit and housing bubble during the Bush administration that imperiled the entire global economy (emphasis added):
More unbelievable is the fact that, just a few short years later, we've got not just one, but two Republican candidates in the presidential race with direct ties to bankruptcy kingpin Lehman Brothers -- Jeb Bush and John Kasich -- and yet, their ties to the financial crisis's biggest bank failure aren't being scrutinized as history threatens to repeat itself, McKay lamented.
"Nobody talks about that," McKay explained. "And not only are they not talking about banking reform, they're talking about getting rid of the little bit of banking reform we've got. If people really knew what that meant they would know that's insane. Fox News especially doesn't like to talk about banking reform. Never. It's actually amazing. I would be curious if, like, Media Matters did a minute count on the year, if they even said the phrase 'banking reform.'"
Media Matters analyzed all available transcripts from Fox News in 2015, and can confirm McKay's suspicion that "banking reform" was never referenced on the network. The phrase "bank reform" was also never said. "Financial reform" was mentioned on two editions of The O'Reilly Factor, by former Obama aide David Axelrod and former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), each time as part of a list of President Obama's accomplishments.
On dozens of other occasions, President Obama's signature financial reform law -- the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 -- was referenced on the network, usually disparagingly and often as part of a list of allegedly terrible things the Obama administration has done to the economy through over-regulation.
Fox News' sister network Fox Business also has not referenced "banking reform" this year. "Bank reform" has been mentioned on two programs, one of which was a reference to legislation passed by President Franklin Roosevelt. "Financial reform" has been mentioned four times, twice in reference to China. And the network has similarly mentioned the Dodd-Frank bill a few dozen times, often to attack it.
Media Matters conducted a Nexis and IQ Media search of transcripts from Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network from January 1, 2015 through December 1, 2015. We identified and reviewed all transcripts that included any of the following keywords: bank reform or banking reform or financial reform or dodd frank or dodd-frank.
*This blog has been updated for clarity
During Fox Business' November 10 Republican presidential debate, moderator Sandra Smith asked GOP hopeful former Gov. Mike Huckabee (R-AR) if he disagreed enough with Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen to "change leadership at the Fed," an action that is explicitly illegal.
Huckabee, a former Fox News employee and two-time presidential candidate, opened his response with an arguably sexist joke before asserting that he would "absolutely" support Smith's proposed change of leadership, joining other GOP aspirants -- Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) -- in attacking the nation's central bank. Huckabee confusingly blamed the Federal Reserve for wage stagnation that has been observed across four decades of fluctuating interest rate policy, and suggested that the United States return to policies like the outdated gold standard, which Washington Post Wonkblog economic reporter Matthew O'Brien once called "the world's worst economic idea."
Janet Yellen, a decorated economist appointed by President Obama in 2014, serves as the head of an independent government agency in a four-year term ending February 3, 2018. A future president may choose not to re-appoint Yellen as chairwoman, but a member of the Fed's Board of Governors cannot be removed from their post because of policy disagreements:
Once appointed, Governors may not be removed from office for their policy views. The lengthy terms and staggered appointments are intended to contribute to the insulation of the Board--and the Federal Reserve System as a whole--from day-to-day political pressures to which it might otherwise be subject.
Does Fox Business not understand that it is illegal to remove Federal Reserve officials simply because a particular politician or president disagrees with them?
In 2013, Fox Business host Stuart Varney claimed that Yellen was a "shoo-in" to be the next Fed chair because she is a woman, ignoring her qualifications and broad support for her from other economists. Now, Fox Business moderator Sandra Smith is asking whether or not the next president will fire one of the most influential people in the world, despite the fact that doing so would be illegal.
Watch the full exchange between Smith and Huckabee below:
SANDRA SMITH (MODERATOR): Governor Huckabee, both Senator Santorum and Governor Christie were both critical of the Federal Reserve. Also, many have questioned whether Janet Yellen is the right person to be running the Fed. If elected president, would you keep Janet Yellen?
MIKE HUCKABEE: Look, I think the Fed's in a big trouble [sic] because they haven't addressed the number one issue that's hurting Americans, and that's the fact that wages for the bottom 90 percent of the economy have been stagnant for 40 years. In the 25 years after World War II, up to 1971, wages grew by 85 percent in this country. People were moving up in the middle class. There was a middle class. That's not happening anymore. And, in large measure, the Fed has manipulated the dollar so it doesn't have a standard.
SMITH: So, would you change leadership at the Fed?
HUCKABEE: Absolutely. Absolutely, because what we need to do is to make sure that they tie the monetary standard to something that makes sense, rather than to their own whims.
Fox Business opened the early round of the fourth Republican presidential debate by highlighting a long-debunked myth about the supposedly staggering levels of unemployment in the United States.
During Fox Business' November 10 Republican presidential debate, moderator Trish Regan misleadingly claimed that "[m]ore than 90 million Americans are unemployed or they are not in the workforce altogether" as part of a question directed at presidential hopeful Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ).
Media Matters has repeatedly debunked the claim that almost 90 million Americans are either "unemployed" or not engaged in the labor force, pointing out that the majority of those 90 million individuals are teenage children and retirees. In 2013, PolitiFact rated the exaggerated unemployment figure as "mostly false" and FactCheck.org chided former Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) for citing the "grossly misleading statistics" after it gained traction in the media:
For instance, the 92.6 million figure includes 36 million Americans of retirement age -- 65 and older -- 17 million of whom were 75 and older. It also includes 11 million teenagers -- age 16 to 19 -- many of whom aren't looking for jobs. It includes 6.8 million 20- to 24-year-olds, some of whom are in college. Those not in the labor force would also include millions of stay-at-home parents, early retirees and anyone else who didn't need or want to work.
Despite its lack of credibility, the claim that 90 million Americans aren't working has become a favorite talking point of right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh. In August, current Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump claimed that 93 million Americans were "out of work," only to be mockingly corrected by The Wall Street Journal's "Real Time Economics" blog and given a "false" rating by PolitiFact. Even James Pethokoukis of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute criticized the bloated unemployment claim, which he called "non-factual."
See the full exchange between Regan and Christie below:
TRISH REGAN (MODERATOR): Governor, economically, our country is struggling with some of the most anemic growth we've seen on record. More than 90 million Americans are unemployed or they are not in the workforce altogether. The number of people now willing, able, and wanting to go to work is at a level that has fallen to a level that we have not seen since the 1970s. For those that are working, wages aren't budging while other things -- costs -- like housing, remain high.
Fox & Friends co-hosts Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Steve Doocy stumbled through a segment on the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) job creation estimate for October 2015, which showed the largest monthly jobs gain of 2015, attempting to minimize the significance of a strong monthly report that beat most analyst expectations.
On November 6, the BLS released its monthly jobs report for October showing that the U.S. added 271,000 jobs last month, easily beating analyst expectations en route to the largest monthly jobs gain of 2015. Within minutes of the release, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy portrayed the news in an uneventful light while co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck lamented that the economy created "only 271,000 jobs."
Contrary to Fox's clumsy framing, on CNN the jobs report was introduced as "frankly, a 'wow,'" by New Day co-host John Berman, and correspondent Christine Romans described net new job creation for October as "much stronger than expected." Fox & Friends has a history of disparaging positive jobs reports, with Hasselbeck once glossing over strong job creation in February 2015 to focus on a slight increase in the unemployment rate. Watch the full segment below:
STEVE DOOCY (CO-HOST): You know the music, we are back with a Fox Business Alert right now. The October jobless report for hourly workers, just released 90 seconds ago. The unemployment rate is, as you can see right there, 5 percent. I believe that could be, actually, a little lower than in August and in September as well.
ELISABETH HASSELBECK (CO-HOST): That's right, Steve. Only 271,000 new jobs were added last month. That is up from September as well. Analysts were expecting more than 180,000 jobs for October.
Right-wing media outlets are stoking fears that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is on the verge of collapse; arguing that health insurance co-op failures threaten to shutter President Obama's signature health care legislation. But experts argue that ACA continues to control health care costs and expand insurance, and explain that the co-op failures are due to underfunding by Congress.
During the October 28 Republican presidential debate hosted by CNBC, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) contested moderator John Harwood's statement that Rubio's tax reform plan disproportionately favors the rich over the middle class. Conservative news outlets rushed to defend Rubio, despite the fact that Harwood was correct.
Fox News promoted a misleading and debunked claim forwarded by GOP presidential hopeful Carly Fiorina in a Wall Street Journal op-ed suggesting that women suffered disproportionate job losses during President Obama's first term.
In an October 26 Wall Street Journal op-ed riddled with misleading, outdated, and debunked claims, Carly Fiorina suggested that Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton and President Obama were responsible for the economic distress of millions of women during Obama's first term in office:
While Mrs. Clinton touts her gender to bolster her campaign, 92% of the jobs lost during Mr. Obama's first term -- when Mrs. Clinton was secretary of state -- belonged to women, according to the BLS. The National Women's Law Center reports that the poverty rate among women is 16.1% -- the highest level in 20 years -- and the extreme poverty rate among women the highest ever recorded.
On the October 28 edition of Fox News' The Real Story, Fox News White House correspondent Ed Henry cited Fiorina's op-ed as an example of legitimate "Republican pushback on the claim that the economy does better under Democrats," ignoring that the op-ed is replete with glaring factual errors. The specific job-loss claim was widely debunked when then-Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney first forwarded it in April 2012. PolitiFact rated his claim as "mostly false." The Washington Post's FactChecker labeled the claim "True but False" noting that it was based on cherry-picked data, and as The Post's Wonkblog correctly pointed out, "[t]he reality is that the recession has been easier on women than men." Even the right-wing Daily Caller called out the Romney campaign for its misleading claim.
As for conservatives questioning Clinton's suggestion that the economy improves when a Democrat occupies the White House, according to a July 2014 report by Princeton University economists Alan Blinder and Mark Watson, "There is a systematic and large gap between the US economy's macroeconomic performance when a Democrat is President of the United States versus when a Republican is." The authors attributed the differences in economic performance under the two parties to "mostly 'good luck,' with perhaps a touch of 'good policy,'" but still witnessed a "stunningly large partisan gap" in economic growth rates under Democratic and Republican administrations.
Watch the full clip from Fox News below:
HILLARY CLINTON (VIDEO): Though my Republican friends don't like it when I say it, you are four times more likely to end up in a recession under a Republican president.
ED HENRY: Well, Carly Fiorina, one of the Republican candidates of course, is not buying that at all -- that the economy is better under Democrats. She has a Wall Street Journal op-ed saying in part, "While Mrs. Clinton touts her gender to bolster her campaign, 92 percent of the jobs lost during Mr. Obama's first term... belonged to women." So, you see the Republican push back on this claim that the economy does better under Democrats, Gretchen.
In anticipation of CNBC's presentation of the third GOP debate, Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina attacked the economic policy priorities of Hillary Clinton, President Obama, and the Democratic Party in a recent op-ed for The Wall Street Journal that was filled with inaccurate and misleading information. It was more of the same of what she did during the second GOP debate hosted by CNN, when the network's moderators let her use the stage to make baseless allegations about Planned Parenthood, which provides vital, affordable health care to millions of Americans. Will CNBC moderators let her be just as careless with economic policy facts?