Fox News levied a series of complaints and attacks against a Black History Month video by the African American Policy Forum that portrays the barriers of institutional and historical anti-black racism. Fox ignored the substance of the video, which was shown to students at a Virginia high school, and instead focused on complaints that the video is "trying to make students feel guilty for being white." Fox's diatribe against the video underscores a long-standing pattern of shortsighted race coverage at Fox and in mainstream media.
From the February 10 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show:
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Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump falsely claimed that the unemployment rate could be as high as 42 percent during his victory speech in New Hampshire. This talking point that the official unemployment rate is "phony" is a common refrain among right-wing media figures who have allowed Trump to push the faulty claim, despite the fact that fact-checkers have called it "ridiculous."
After building three stores in rapidly developing Washington, D.C., neighborhoods, Walmart announced it would not build two additional stores planned for low-income communities. Right-wing media are falsely claiming that the District's recent increase in its minimum wage killed these stores when in fact, Walmart originally agreed to build them only to get support for the three stores it wanted to open in better-off areas, and the company has since decided to close over 150 stores in the U.S. this year due to poor sales.
A Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial criticized a voter initiative gaining traction -- to place an increased minimum wage on Nevada's 2016 ballot -- by leaning on bogus right-wing information from a fast food industry-backed front group.
CNBC allowed senior contributor and potential Republican Senate candidate Larry Kudlow to conduct a softball interview with Donald Trump. During the February 8 interview, Trump thanked Kudlow for endorsing his tax plan and Kudlow backed Trump's anti-refugee proposal.
When Trump released his tax plan in September, Kudlow responded: "I really like Trump's plan. ... One of the things I just love about it is the 15 percent corporate tax rate." Trump reacted by tweeting, "Highly respected economist @Larry_Kudlow is a big fan of my tax plan--thank you Larry."
During CNBC's October 29 Republican debate, Trump cited Kudlow's support as evidence he has a serious tax plan:
JOHN HARWOOD: Let's be honest. Is this a comic book version of a Presidential campaign?
TRUMP: It's not a comic book, and it's not a very nicely asked question, the way you say that. Larry Kudlow, as an example, who I have a lot of respect for, loves my tax plan. We are reducing taxes to 15 percent. We're bringing corporate taxes down, bringing money back in, corporate inversions. We have $2-1/2 trillion outside of the United States, which we want to bring back in.
When co-moderator John Harwood pointed out that economists have called the plan unrealistic, Trump replied: "Then you have to get rid of Larry Kudlow, who sits on your panel, who is a great guy, who came out the other day and said, 'I love Trump's tax plan.'"
Kudlow affirmed his support for Trump's tax plan following the debate, stating: "I've endorsed Donald's 15 percent corporate tax rate many times. ... He's spot on. And I'm honored that he mentioned me. Honored." The CNBC contributor has tweeted that Trump is a "first-rate person. I could vote for him."
During a February 8 New Hampshire town hall, Trump rebutted criticism from Jeb Bush by citing Kudlow: "I just talked to Larry Kudlow, the great economist, and he was saying Trump has the best tax plan, I'm doing the biggest tax cut."
CNBC tasked Kudlow with interviewing Trump on the February 8 edition of Power Lunch.
During the interview, Trump again thanked Kudlow for supporting his tax plan: "You gave us very high marks, which I appreciate. You've seen it."
Kudlow later backed Trump's plan to ban Syrian refugees, telling him: "In effect, a wartime moratorium. I mean I think that we have to do to protect the homeland."
Kudlow has been interviewing several Republican presidential candidates in New Hampshire for CNBC.
CNBC has allowed Kudlow to remain on its airwaves even as he is "moving toward" running for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut. Veteran journalism experts and two former NBC News presidents have criticized the financial network for allowing Kudlow to use his platform to help his potential campaign.
CNBC anchors have appeared to embrace Kudlow's Senate aspirations. During the February 8 broadcast of Closing Bell, co-anchor Bill Griffeth closed by calling Kudlow "senator" and added, "Was that out loud?" On February 1, Squawk Box co-anchor Joe Kernen called Kudlow "senator-designate."
The channel has claimed that "Kudlow is not a CNBC employee and no longer anchors a show and hasn't since March 28, 2014. He is now a senior contributor." Despite being a purported non-employee, CNBC has had him "report" on the presidential primary, called him one of its "top" contributors, included him in its October debate coverage, and now allows him to throw softballs at Donald Trump.
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly allowed GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump to push a phony conspiracy theory that unemployment rate is really 25 percent. On February 5, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its monthly "Employment Situation" summary for January 2016. BLS reported that the economy created 151,000 jobs, and the unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent -- its lowest point since February 2008. Bill O'Reilly invited Trump on the February edition of his show to respond to the report asking whether we should "give the president credit" for the low unemployment rate? Trump claimed that "the [unemployment] number is 25 percent, and probably higher than that." O'Reilly failed to push back on Trump's allegation simply stating, "Okay, so you're not going to give President Obama any credit for the 4.9."
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Fox News attempted to negatively spin a January jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) by complaining about a lack of manufacturing jobs being created. Unfortunately for Fox, the report actually revealed robust job creation in manufacturing, which put total employment in that industry at a seven-year high.
On February 5, the BLS released its monthly "Employment Situation" summary for January 2016. The data showed that the economy created 151,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate fell marginally to 4.9 percent -- its lowest point since February 2008. Economists and experts generally agreed that the report was "very encouraging."
On the February 5 edition of Fox News' Your World, host Neil Cavuto and Fox Business host Gerri Willis complained that the report did not show enough evidence of job creation in well-paid industries like manufacturing (emphasis added):
GERRI WILLIS: A jobless rate of 4.9 percent, that is an eight-year low, looks so good. Lucious, right? Maybe not ... The number of jobs created in the month, you're showing it right now: 151,000. A disappointment compared to what we expected: 200,000.
Now, good news on the wages front, up over the last 12 months 2.5 percent. You can see that there, $25.39 an hour. So that seems to be good news. Dig further though, Neil, what do we see? Here's what we see, the jobs created are disappointing. 58,000 retail jobs, we're talking about clerks, cashiers, people who walk through the Walmart, those are the kinds of jobs created. And also, restaurant and bars, so waitresses, waiters, bartenders, 47,000 jobs created.
We know from experience that these aren't the kind of jobs that can really fuel family growth, fuel family wealth. This isn't what the middle class needs right now, and that's what's so disappointing about this jobs report, today. We're not seeing the kinds of big-time manufacturing jobs being created in this economy, and that's what Americans really need.
Unfortunately for Fox News, the jobs report Cavuto and Willis discussed actually showed robust job creation in manufacturing (+29,000). MarketWatch columnist Rex Nutting noted that those 29,000 new workers pushed total manufacturing employment to 12.4 million, a seven-year high (emphasis added):
Apparently, no one told American manufacturers that their business is collapsing, because they kept on hiring more workers in January.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported Friday that manufacturing companies added 29,000 workers in January to reach a seven-year high of 12.4 million. After a soft patch in the middle of last year, it was the fourth month in a row that manufacturing payrolls had increased.
Not only were factories hiring, they were working their employees longer shifts. Average weekly hours rose a tick to 40.7 hours in January, which is significant because the manufacturing workweek is considered to be one of the best leading indicators for the health of the economy as a whole. Despite the strong dollar, the drop in export orders and the decrease in capital spending, average hours in manufacturing have been roughly unchanged since April.
A Washington Examiner column attempted to negatively spin the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) jobs report for January 2016 by misleadingly claiming that the American economy shed 665,000 jobs last month. The column failed to account for seasonal adjustments in the data series.
On February 5, the BLS released its monthly "Employment Situation" summary for January 2016. The data showed that the economy created 151,000 jobs last month, and the unemployment rate fell to 4.9 percent -- its lowest level since February 2008. According to a Bloomberg survey of economists, the monthly job creation total came in below expectations but economist Kathy Bostjancic still called the report "very encouraging."
This generally positive sentiment was lost on Washington Examiner columnist Paul Bedard, whose search for negative spin on the jobs report resulted in him pushing the misleading claim that BLS data actually shows "there were 665,000 jobs lost in January":
New Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that there were 665,000 jobs lost in January, a blunt finding that confuses the heralded report that 151,000 jobs were created in January in non-farm payrolls.
New York Times correspondent Josh Barro blasted Bedard's faulty conclusion on Twitter, noting that the Examiner columnist made the amateur mistake of looking at seasonally unadjusted payroll figures, which fail to account for temporary holiday jobs that disappear between December and January every year:
Here's the dumbest thing you will read on the jobs report all day: https://t.co/35qX2syALc-- Josh Barro (@jbarro) February 5, 2016
This dude looked at the seasonally *unadjusted* numbers. Of course they were lower; employment is always lower in January than December.-- Josh Barro (@jbarro) February 5, 2016
Retailers hire people for the holiday season and then lay them off, every year. That's a main reason we do seasonal adjustment.-- Josh Barro (@jbarro) February 5, 2016
With baseline economic indicators consistently improving throughout the Obama administration, right-wing media outlets are becoming increasingly desperate in their attempts to cast the monthly jobs report in a negative light. Fox News and Fox Business misleadingly complained for three consecutive months about job creation figures that far exceeded economists' expectations.
New polling from the nonpartisan Pew Research Center found that 62 percent of Americans viewed the Republican Party as favoring the rich, compared to 26 percent who see Republicans as favoring the middle class, and 2 percent who see them as favoring the poor. This huge disparity in public perception of Republican policies is often lost on media outlets that fall for lofty GOP rhetoric claiming to care about low- and middle-income Americans.
An op-ed published by the Las Vegas Review-Journal attempted to piggyback on Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' economic inequality platform to spread anti-union conservative misinformation blaming public employee unions for widening levels of inequality. The paper failed to disclose the author's parent organization is part of the State Policy Network -- a collection of think tanks funded in part by the Koch brothers -- and receives funding from the manufacturing industry.
Officials from the Koch brothers' funding arm have announced a new "venture philanthropy" project called Stand Together, with aims of "strengthening the fabric of American society," and focusing on "poverty" and "educational quality," according to USA Today. Media should know that: previous Koch-backed poverty and education efforts have been coupled with ideological proselytizing, Stand Together's executive director is a Koch veteran and former Republican congressional candidate who repeatedly fearmongered about the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and the group's top collaborator is associated with U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan's sham "anti-poverty" efforts.
The Washington Post highlighted research demonstrating "only a weak relationship" between increased economic growth and increased economic security in the United States. The findings undermine a core tenet of conservative economic philosophy, often parroted by Republican presidential hopefuls and conservative media outlets, which claims that so-called "pro-growth" strategies like tax cuts are the best policy for alleviating insecurities faced by millions of Americans.
In a February 2 post for The Washington Post's Wonkblog, reporter Emily Badger outlined how recent research from the Brookings Institution reveals a "weak relationship" between economic growth rates and improved economic inclusion in the country's 100 largest metropolitan areas. According to the Brookings report, from 2009 through 2014 the "growth/inclusion relationship was relatively weak" and consistent economic growth "hasn't revealed much about whether we are resolving larger challenges around providing improved economic opportunities for all."
The Post concluded by highlighting how the Brookings data seemingly debunks economic policy talking points promoted by Republicans including Jeb Bush and Paul Ryan, which fixate on economic growth as one of the major solutions to poverty. From The Washington Post (emphasis added):
Look across all 100 of these metros, and there's only a weak relationship between economic growth and inclusion. Areas with rapid growth haven't necessarily swept up the poor and working class. In many places where relative poverty has declined (like Jackson, Miss.), the economy isn't growing much:
This non-pattern is notable precisely because the rising-tide theory remains so alluring, particularly among Republicans. Grow the economy, they argue, and that will improve job prospects and living standards for everyone -- the poor, the working class, minorities and other groups that have been left behind. Economic growth, they add, will achieve far more than any targeted program or government spending.
"The best anti-poverty program is economic growth," Paul Ryan declared in the Wall Street Journal two years ago, as he was beginning to roll out his own poverty agenda.
"Economic growth is the key to everything," offered Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
Here's Jeb Bush's take, in arguing that 4 percent growth will create jobs enough for everyone: "So many challenges could be overcome if we just get this economy growing at full strength."
Rand Paul insists that this logic will specifically lift up African Americans, who should reconsider "the Republican promise" for policies that boost economic growth.
The data that we have, though, shows that inclusion doesn't work on autopilot. Sometimes -- often -- economic growth happens without broad benefits. And that means we have to actually be intentional in bringing everyone along, in connecting poor communities to transportation, or unemployed men to job training, or minority children to better education.
The Brookings research seems to support a hypothesis endorsed by economists Jared Bernstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and Elise Gould of the Economic Policy Institute, who argue that economic growth alone is not enough to reduce economic insecurity in the face of persistent inequality.
Despite this evidence, conservative media have claimed for years that growing the economy is the best and only solution to alleviating economic insecurity and that crafting policies to reduce inequality as a means of reducing poverty would be counterproductive. Making matters worse, the tax cuts frequently endorsed by conservative media as a means of spurring economic growth have failed to generate the promised economic returns, though research suggests cutting taxes can worsen economic inequality.
According to Media Matters' analysis of evening and prime-time economic news coverage in 2015, segments about policies focused on creating jobs and growing the economy were frequently featured on major cable and broadcast programs, outnumbering discussions of economic inequality.**
During the course of a 12-month survey, Media Matters recorded 382 segments on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC focused on economic growth -- most of which came from Fox News. The same 12-month period produced 301 segments focused on economic inequality -- two-thirds of which came from MSNBC alone.
A new report from researchers at Stanford University found that the United States is "dead last" among other developed countries on poverty and inequality measures, which highlights the need for media outlets to focus more on these issues.
On February 1, the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality published a special edition of Pathways magazine featuring the university's "State of the Union Report" for poverty and inequality in 2016. The report found that among 10 similarly developed nations -- including Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, and the United Kingdom -- the United States had the highest levels of income inequality and wealth inequality, and the worst-rated social safety net. The U.S. placed near the bottom (eighth) in terms of both economic mobility and labor market strength, and finished only fifth in terms of poverty. According to the report's authors, a weak safety net, stagnant economic mobility, and rampant economic inequality are the primary reasons for the United States' poor performance, but a "moderate increase" in public spending on safety net programs would push poverty in the U.S. down to the levels of its peers (emphasis original):
The research shows that, among the well-off countries for which comprehensive evidence is available, the U.S. has the lowest overall ranking, a result that arises in part because the U.S. brings up the rear in safety net performance, income inequality and wealth inequality. When the comparison set is expanded to include other less well-off countries, America still ranks 18th (out of 21 countries), with only Spain, Estonia and Greece scoring worse.
The report also notes some bright spots. It shows, for example, that a relatively moderate increase in U.S. safety net spending would push the poverty rate down to levels observed in other well-off countries. The rate of disposable-income poverty, which is the rate that people actually experience after transfers play out, is especially high not because market incomes are all that low but because the safety net is relatively small.
These findings create greater urgency for American media to adequately report on issues related to poverty and economic inequality. According to a recent Media Matters analysis of cable and broadcast economic news coverage in the second half of 2015, media's focus on economic inequality slipped to its lowest point since late 2013. In the second half of 2015, just 23 percent of qualifying economic coverage contained significant discussions of economic inequality:
The findings also highlight a need for media to counter prevailing myths that public assistance programs are expensive and ineffective. According to the study, the United States could measurably improve its poverty rate compared to the rest of the developed world with "a relatively modest increase" in safety net spending at a time when Republican lawmakers, including Speaker Paul Ryan, have proposed doing the opposite. Calls from conservative lawmakers to gut the social safety net are propped up by right-wing media outlets notorious for shaming those that need assistance, and progressive calls to preserve and expand vital programs are openly attacked by the same right-wing outlets.
CNBC senior contributor Larry Kudlow has said he is "moving toward" running for the U.S. Senate in Connecticut with no apparent response from the network, even though CNBC previously said it would have to change its relationship with Kudlow if he seriously considered running. Kudlow has taken several steps that appear to violate the network's previous standard for employees exploring campaigns, including interviewing potential campaign staff, creating strategy, and promoting "a test-the-water committee, which would become the campaign." At the same time, CNBC has allowed Kudlow to use its platform to attack potential Democratic opponent Sen. Richard Blumenthal.