Craig Harrington

Author ››› Craig Harrington
  • Major Newspapers Fail To Grasp Severity Of Putting Andy Puzder In Charge Of Labor Department

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Initial reporting on the president-elect’s selection of fast-food CEO Andy Puzder to replace Tom Perez as the next secretary of labor depicted Puzder as a “vocal” critic of Obama administration policies while failing to note the conservative media-fueled inaccuracies that inform the incoming secretary’s anti-worker views.

    On December 8, The Wall Street Journal was first to report that President-elect Donald Trump planned to name Puzder -- the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which owns the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s burger chains -- as the incoming labor secretary in his administration. The Journal’s report, and subsequent reporting from The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today, focused mostly on Puzder’s opposition to specific economic initiatives from the Obama administration -- raising the minimum wage, expanding overtime protections, and extending the scope of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) -- while failing to mention that Puzder’s arguments against each have been widely discredited:

    • The Journal reported that Puzder is a “vocal advocate for cutting back regulations,” which he claims “have stifled growth in the restaurant industry,” and concluded with the acknowledgment that Puzder has used the Journal’s own opinion pages to discuss “topics such as the negative effects of President Obama’s health-care law and of broad increase in minimum wage.”
    • The Times noted that Puzder believes “large minimum wage increases hurt small business and lead to job loss among low-skilled workers,” adding that he believes the ACA created a so-called “restaurant recession” by reducing disposable incomes that American workers would otherwise “spend dining out.”
    • The LA Times claimed that Puzder opposes raising the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour “because he thinks that would cost many low-wage workers their jobs,” and quoted a Forbes op-ed published by Puzder on May 18 that alleged the Obama administration had created an “extensive regulatory maze” with overtime and health care reforms that drive up labor costs and “reduced opportunities, bonuses, benefits, perks and promotions” for workers.
    • USA Today’s synopsis was much less extensive, merely labeling Puzder as “a major critic of what he calls unnecessary federal regulations, including a proposed hike in the federal minimum wage” before moving on to other rumored Trump appointments.

    Despite amplifying Puzder’s criticism of progressive economic policies, none of the outlets saw fit to mention that his arguments are wrong.

    First, Obama-era regulations have not “stifled growth in the restaurant industry” or created a “restaurant recession.” According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in the restaurant industry is up more than 20 percent since Obama took office in January 2009:

    Second, while it is true that Puzder is an ardent opponent of increased minimum wages -- he once argued that modest wage increases actually encourage low-wage workers to game the system so they can stay in poverty -- it is important to note that his arguments are unfounded. Puzder and other right-wing media personalities have waged a campaign of misinformation against raising the minimum wage, claiming that it hurts businesses and kills jobs. In reality, reliable professional studies of the minimum wage consistently find a negligible relationship between the minimum wage and employment activity.

    As is the case with Puzder’s opposition to living wages, the incoming labor secretary’s antagonism toward the ACA is also not based in facts. Right-wing media outlets and allied politicians have spent years claiming that President Obama’s signature health care reform law is hurting the economy and stymieing the job market despite all evidence to the contrary. In reality, Obamacare has reduced the uninsured rate to historic lows, has reduced medical debt and benefited public health outcomes while strengthening the economic security of low-income families.

    Finally, Puzder’s opposition to expanded overtime protections amounts to little more than retooled talking points generated by right-wing media. Conservative media outlets opposed President Obama’s proposed overtime expansion before they even knew the details, claiming it threatened to undermine American work ethic and turn the country into Greece. Puzder’s claim that a “regulatory maze,” which includes overtime expansion, has “reduced opportunities, bonuses, benefits, perks and promotions” ignores the obvious economic benefits of paying millions of American workers for the hours they actually work and that the overtime threshold “has the advantage of simplicity” that makes it efficient for employers to implement.

    Media Matters outlined the many ways media should approach his troubled relationship with the truth. If coverage today is any indication, major outlets still have a lot to learn.

  • Reports Show Trump May Have Had Little To Do With SoftBank Deal He Took Credit For

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON & ALEX MORASH

    On December 6, President-elect Donald Trump credited his election victory for spurring Japanese telecommunications and technology giant SoftBank to propose a $50 billion investment in the United States, which he claimed would create as many as 50,000 jobs. Later reporting from The Wall Street Journal and others debunked Trump’s boasts, but not before numerous media outlets amplified his unsubstantiated claims.

  • Television News Praises Trump’s “Symbolic Coup” In Carrier Jobs Announcement

    Indiana-Based Company Convinces Trump To Give It Taxpayer Money, Still Moves Many Of Its Jobs To Mexico

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Broadcast and cable news personalities rushed to credit President-elect Donald Trump for closing a deal with the Indiana-based manufacturer Carrier that provides the for-profit company with millions of taxpayer dollars while allowing it to still outsource hundreds of jobs to Mexico. Journalists and reporters framed the agreement as a “symbolic coup” and “unadulterated win” for Trump’s incoming administration even as they acknowledged that supporting a relatively small number of jobs at taxpayer expense is an unsustainable manufacturing policy.

  • Evening News Virtually Ignores Paul Ryan’s Medicare Privatization Plan

    MSNBC Only Outlet To Vet Ryan's Scheme To Gut The Social Safety Net

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Weekday evening programming on the largest cable and broadcast news outlets almost completely ignored a long-standing Medicare privatization scheme favored by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) in the days since he first resurrected the idea of radically reshaping the American health care system toward for-profit interests.

    During a November 10 interview with Fox News host Bret Baier, Ryan misleadingly claimed that due to mounting “fiscal pressures” created by the Affordable Care Act, the Republican-led Congress would be forced to engage with what Baier called “entitlement reform” sometime next year. Ryan falsely claimed that “because of Obamacare, Medicare is going broke” and that the popular health insurance system for American seniors will have to be changed as part of any legislation to “repeal and replace” President Obama’s health care reform legacy. From Special Report with Bret Baier:

    According to a Media Matters analysis of broadcast and cable evening news coverage from November 10 to November 27, Ryan’s plan to privatize the nationwide, single-payer health care coverage currently enjoyed by millions of seniors has gone unmentioned on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and Fox News. Ryan’s so-called “premium support” plan was briefly mentioned on the November 22 edition of PBS NewsHour when co-host Judy Woodruff pressed President-elect Donald Trump's former campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, as to whether Trump would accept Ryan’s privatization proposal. By comparison, during the same time period, MSNBC ran six prime-time segments exposing Ryan’s privatization agenda:

    According to a July 19 issue brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation, conservative lawmakers are likely to pursue “a proposal to gradually transform Medicare into a system of premium supports, building on proposals” adopted by Ryan when he served as chairman of the House Budget Committee. These so-called “premium supports” would provide each Medicare beneficiary with a “voucher” that can be used for the purchase of private health insurance; they represent “a significant change from the current system” that pays health care providers directly for services rendered.

    In essence, Ryan’s plan would privatize Medicare and redirect hundreds of billions of tax dollars that currently go to doctors, hospitals, and other medical service providers through the costly private health insurance market.

    This startling scheme bears similarities to a failed 2005 attempt by the Bush administration to partially privatize Social Security. Democratic members of Congress are already aligning themselves against Ryan’s throwback plan to gut Medicare, and it’s not actually clear if Trump is supportive of the initiative, which he refused to fully endorse on the campaign trail.

    As the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) pointed out last July, claims that Medicare is “nearing ‘bankruptcy’ are highly misleading,” and Ryan’s specific charge that Medicare is “broke” because of the ACA is completely wrong. President Obama’s health care reform law greatly improved Medicare’s long-term finances and extended the hospital insurance trust fund’s solvency by 11 years.

    The looming fight over the future of Medicare, which serves over 55 million beneficiaries and accounted for 15 percent of the entire federal budget in 2015, has been well-documented, but it has garnered almost no attention on major television news programs.

    Millions of Americans who rely on broadcast and cable evening news are completely unaware of the stakes in this health care policy fight. They are also unaware that Ryan’s privatization scheme would leave millions of retirees at the whims of the same private insurance market that right-wing media are currently attacking because of increased rates.

    Methodology

    Media Matters conducted a Nexis search of transcripts of weekday network broadcast evening news programs on ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS and weekday prime-time news programming (defined as 8 p.m. through 11 p.m.) on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC from November 10, 2016, through November 27, 2016. We identified and reviewed all segments that included any mention of “Medicare.”

  • Fox News Peddles Misleading Deficit Hysteria To Undercut Obama’s Economic Record

    Confused Fox & Friends Host Claims Trump Is Not Inheriting “A Healthy Economy” From President Obama

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Fox & Friends misinterpreted a nuanced statement about long-term federal budget deficits from the president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) while falsely claiming that President-elect Donald Trump “is inheriting the worst economy since Truman.” The comments demonstrate the continued right-wing media effort to diminish the economic successes of the Obama administration.

    During the November 20 edition of CBS’ Face the Nation, an all-conservative panel lamented the supposed failure of President Obama to rein in the federal budget deficit. CRFB president Maya MacGuineas -- whom Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman has labeled “the queen of the deficit scolds” -- argued that the incoming Trump administration will inherit “the worst fiscal situation of any president” since Truman, “as judged by the debt relative to the economy.” MacGuineas’ point about the so-called “debt-to-GDP ratio” was part of a larger argument highlighting that the tax and economic policy proposals put forward by Trump and his GOP counterparts during the campaign are entirely at odds with their promises to reduce the federal budget deficit and national debt. From Face the Nation:

    As MacGuineas pointed out, Trump’s proposals would add “over $5 trillion to the national debt,” on top of $9 trillion that was already projected to accumulate over the next decade. CRFB says Trump’s proposals are significantly more expensive than those that were put forward by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton based on an analysis that assumes his proposed tax cuts generate economic growth. In fact, decades of evidence show no stimulative effects from tax cuts.

    It is true that the debt-to-GDP ratio is currently at its highest point since the end of World War II, but there is no reason to believe the current national debt is untenable. MacGuineas clarified her point later on Twitter, reiterating that Trump actually promises to make the “fiscal situation” worse and conceding that Obama actually inherited “one of the worst economic situations” in history:

    MacGuineas’ nuanced, but probably not very useful, argument about “fiscal situations” and Trump’s irresponsible approach to the federal budget was entirely lost on the crew of Fox & Friends, which misinterpreted her remark while falsely claiming that the overall economy is in poor health.

    During a November 21 interview with former Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, co-host Brian Kilmeade butchered MacGuineas’ argument, stating, “This president-elect is inheriting the worst economy since Truman,” and, “It is not a healthy economy.” Conway agreed with Kilmeade’s hollow argument, slamming the Obama administration for the pace of debt accumulation over the past eight years while neglecting to mention that even the most favorable estimates concede that debt accumulation under Trump will far exceed Obama. From Fox & Friends:

    This is not the first time that Fox & Friends has lamented the supposed fiscal shortfalls of Democratic politicians while completely ignoring the reality that Trump’s plans are demonstrably worse by the same standards.

    Deficit hysteria used to be a cause célèbre of conservative media figures, who routinely slammed Obama’s alleged negligence with the nation’s finances. In 2010, an error-filled paper from two conservative Harvard economists, which falsely claimed that debt-to-GDP ratios exceeding 90 percent immediately result in domestic economic stagnation, generated unceasing criticism of the Obama administration. For years, deficit-obsessed right-wing outlets promoted the absurd claim that the national debt was pushing the United States to the verge of collapse, and right-wing politicians who are now aligned with Trump unfavorably compared the U.S. to crisis-stricken European countries.

    It remains to be seen how sincere conservative media personalities are about the need to balance the budget and reduce the debt -- but we’ll find out the answer if Trump has the opportunity to enact budget-busting tax cuts for the wealthiest and most powerful individuals and corporations in the world.

  • What To Know About Fox Contributor And Possible Trump Secretary Of State John Bolton

    Trump Rumored To Be Considering Warmonger And Benghazi Conspiracy Theorist As Nation’s Top Diplomat

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON & CAT DUFFY

    President-elect Donald Trump is reportedly considering numerous right-wing media personalities and cast-off Republican figures for key positions in his incoming administration. John Bolton, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations under President George W. Bush and a longtime Fox News contributor, is seen as a front-runner for secretary of state.

  • Fox Spent All Morning Lying About The Jobs Report To Boost Trump

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Both Fox News Channel and Fox Business dedicated significant portions of their morning programing to misleadingly portraying the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) employment report for October 2016 as an "underwhelming" and "lukewarm" sign for the health of the American economy. While Fox was portraying this supposed economic weakness as a boon for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's election hopes, credible media outlets and economic experts were reporting that the jobs report actually showed a national economy that has been steadily improving over the past seven years.

  • Fox Misleadingly Spins Solid October Jobs Report As A Win For Trump

    Maria Bartiromo: “People Were Expecting A Lot Better, So This Actually Could Have Impact On The Voting Booth”

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Fox News pulled out all the stops in its desperate attempt to frame a solid October 2016 jobs report in a negative light just days ahead of Election Day. The studio crews of Fox & Friends and Fox Business’ Mornings with Maria joined forces to misleadingly label the latest jobs report as “underwhelming” and a potential boon for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump.

    On November 4, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its employment report for October, the last major government data release of the general election. The report showed the economy added 161,000 jobs last month -- a 73-month streak of monthly job creation -- as the unemployment rate dropped to 4.9 percent. The report also showed considerable positive revisions to jobs estimates for prior months, with the economy adding 44,000 more jobs in August and September than previously thought.

    The New York Times heralded the report as showing “a healthy outlook” and quoted one economist who compared the report to a golf shot “right down the middle of the fairway." CNNMoney noted that the report showed wage growth “accelerating” at the fastest monthly pace since June 2009. Jed Kolko, chief economist at Indeed, tweeted that the October report “set 3 pre-recession records” in major economic indicators, concluding, “Wow.” Kolko also noted that the gap between the official unemployment rate (U-3) and a broader measure of unemployment that includes discouraged workers (U-6), often referred to by conservative media critics as the “real” unemployment rate, is the “narrowest” it has been since the midst of the Great Recession:

    In general, news outlets and economic experts see the October 2016 jobs report as good news for the economy. MarketWatch even argued that the positive economic indicators might be enough to convince the Federal Reserve to tighten the money supply to prevent the economy from overheating.

    At Fox News, the story was different.

    Fox & Friends broke into its regular programming to simulcast a discussion with Fox Business hosts Maria Bartiromo and Trish Regan, where they framed the report exclusively as “underwhelming,” “below expectations,” and “weaker than expected.” Bartiromo claimed that “people were expecting a pretty good number ahead of the election” before Fox co-host Brian Kilmeade interjected that President Obama benefited from “good numbers” in the October 2012 report. (Fox News actually spread a conspiracy theory in 2012 that the Obama administration was forging BLS jobs data to help the president win re-election.)

    When co-host Ainsley Earhardt asked if the October report would “make a difference, come Tuesday,” Bartiromo misleadingly claimed that “this could have impact” because “people were expecting a lot better.” Regan concluded the segment by falsely claiming the economy is “in a weak environment” and not “adding enough jobs to actually start to stimulate the economy in a meaningful way.”

    Fox News has a long history of spinning the monthly jobs report to fit the network’s preconceived narrative that the economy is faltering under Democratic leadership.

    Watch the full segment from Fox & Friends here:

  • STUDY: Cable And Broadcast Coverage Of The Economy Stumbles In Election Season

    Economists Made Up Roughly 8 Percent Of Guests In Third Quarter Of 2016 Amid Rampant Misinformation From Trump Campaign

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON & ALEX MORASH

    Cable and broadcast news outlets dedicated considerably less airtime to the economy in the third quarter of 2016 compared to the previous three-month period, as media focused increasingly on the presidential horserace. The proportion of economic news segments touching on economic inequality increased relative to the previous quarter, but the tone of coverage revealed problematic trends toward misinformation as Fox News assumed an even more prominent role in shaping the dialogue. The relative proportion of economists featured as guests during qualifying segments reached an all-time high during the third quarter as outlets struggled to keep up with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s shifting and often-contradictory tax and economic policy proposals.

  • Fox Anchor Lets Trump Lie About Obamacare, Proving He Doesn't Understand It Either

    Trump States “I Don’t Use Much Obamacare” Minutes After Claiming, “All Of My Employees Are Having A Tremendous Problem With Obamacare”

    Blog ››› ››› CAT DUFFY & CRAIG HARRINGTON

    During a phone interview with Fox News, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump claimed that his companies “don’t use much Obamacare” just minutes after publicly stating that “all of [his] employees are having a tremendous problem with Obamacare.” The contradiction went unnoticed at Fox, which allowed the GOP nominee to peddle misinformation about the law’s supposed impending demise.

    The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was thrust into national headlines on Monday after the Obama administration confirmed double-digit premium increases on average for insurance plans sold on Obamacare’s online marketplace at Healthcare.gov for 2017. This will raise the average cost for a “Silver” plan, which is the benchmark that Obamacare subsidies are calculated for, to $3,552 annually, before subsidies are applied (the vast majority of enrollees receive substantial subsidies). As MSNBC’s Ali Velshi explained today, this premium level is consistent with the Congressional Budget Office’s 2009 analysis of future rates.

    Trump made a series of false claims about the ACA during the interview that went unchecked by Fox anchor Bill Hemmer, including touting the benefits of repealing and replacing Obamacare (there is no replacement plan), calling the average figure for premium increases of 25 percent a “phony number,” praising the benefits of health savings accounts (they’re widely criticized by health experts as an insufficient replacement for insurance), and denouncing Obamacare for killing jobs (it doesn’t).

    Perhaps most perplexing was Trump’s claim that he doesn’t “use much Obamacare” when numerous reporters confirmed that Trump claimed “all of my employees are having a tremendous problem with Obamacare” during a rally in Doral, Florida, just before the Fox interview.

    While right-wing media and Trump tend to focus on exaggerating the troubles of the health insurance exchanges, those marketplaces represent one part of the ACA, which includes vital consumer protections and mechanisms to improve care quality while lowering costs. Trump’s flip-flop on whether or not he “uses” Obamacare is particularly baffling, since the Employer Shared Responsibility Provision of the ACA (also known as the employer mandate) “penalizes employers who either do not offer coverage or do not offer coverage which meets minimum value and affordability standards.” So either his employees do have “a tremendous problem with Obamacare,” which means he doesn’t provide health benefits for his employees since his businesses would qualify as “large employers,” or he doesn’t “use much Obamacare,” which still means his businesses do provide insurance and thus are complying with the law. Either way, Trump’s inconsistent claims about Obamacare and Fox’s decision to not push back on his plethora of misinformed claims about the ACA reveals their fundamental misunderstanding of the Affordable Care Act as a whole.

    Watch the full interview from the October 25 edition of Fox News’ America’s Newsroom: