Broadcast nightly news programs have remained silent on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) over the past three months of weekday programming, even as Congress is scheduled to vote this week on whether to grant President Obama authority to finalize the terms of the massive trade deal. The coverage blackout continues a trend extending back to 2013.
On May 12, the Senate plans to vote on legislation that would grant "fast-track" trade promotion authority to Obama as he attempts to complete negotiations among the 12 member nations that comprise the TPP. "Once Congress grants a president trade promotion authority, lawmakers have the ability to vote up or down on a final trade agreement, but they forfeit the right to amend the deal or filibuster it," The New York Times explained.
Debates over the merits of the deal itself and of granting the president trade promotion authority have erupted among Democratic and Republican members of Congress, but coverage of the negotiations has been largely absent from evening news programming on the major broadcast networks.
A Media Matters analysis of ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, and NBC's Nightly News from August 1, 2013, through May 10, 2015, found that the programs completely ignored the trade negotiations and related policy debates. Only PBS NewsHour devoted substantive coverage to the TPP, with 14 total segments:
Coverage of the TPP among major cable outlets has been similarly one-sided. Since August 1, 2013, MSNBC has mentioned the Trans-Pacific Partnership in 124 evening and primetime segments, the overwhelming majority of which (103) came during The Ed Show. Fox News trails far behind with just 12 mentions of the TPP over that time period, 10 of which have come since February 1, 2015. CNN has been almost completely absent from the discussion, registering only 2 mentions of the trade negotiations:
From the May 10 edition of NBC News' Meet The Press:
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From the May 10 edition of Fox Broadcasting's Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace:
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From the May 1 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the April 30 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Sean Hannity falsely claimed that Hillary Clinton's campaign admitted to paying female staffers less than male staffers while she was a senator, when in fact the opposite was true. Clinton's campaign reported that she paid men and women equally.
On the April 22 edition of his radio show, Hannity said that the Clinton campaign had "confirmed the accuracy" of a report from the conservative Free Beacon that Clinton had paid female staffers less than male staffers in her senate office:
HANNITY: There is another story I wanted to bring up about Hillary, and her campaign confirmed the accuracy of which to the Washington Free Beacon -- an analysis that showed that women working in Clinton's senate office were paid 72 cents for each dollar paid to men. The campaign told FactCheck.org that it does not dispute the accuracy of the report, which analyzed the office's publicly available disbursement forms from fiscal years 2002 to 2008, and found that men working for Clinton had a median salary of $15,708 higher than women.
In fact, the campaign told FactCheck.org that the Free Beacon analysis had been based on "incomplete" information and provided data showing that Clinton paid women equally. From the FactCheck.org article:
"The Free Beacon based their analysis off an incomplete, and therefore inaccurate set of numbers," said Josh Schwerin, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign. "The fact is, Hillary paid full-time men and women equally."
The FactCheck.org article states that the campaign supplied Clinton's senate staff employment records, which show that female staffers' median salaries were "virtually identical" to the male staffers' salaries. Those records also indicated that Clinton hired twice the number of women as men.
The article explains that the Free Beacon used a different data set to arrive at its conclusion that women were paid less - and quoted American Enterprise Institute scholar Norman Ornstein, who said he "believes the Clinton campaign methodology provides a more accurate measure of her record on pay equity."
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly parroted a previously debunked claim that President Obama raised taxes more than 442 times since taking office -- a claim rated "Mostly False" by PolitiFact in 2014.
During the April 20 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly pointed to federal tax revenue to dismiss political rhetoric on income inequality, lamenting the tax rates of "Americans earning more than $400,000" and noting that "the U.S. has the highest tax rate on business in the world." O'Reilly complained that President Obama has imposed "punishing taxation," claiming that "since taking office, President Obama has proposed a whopping 442 tax increases" and asking, "how much more can the government take from the affluent without crashing the entire free market economy?":
But O'Reilly's claim that Obama raised taxes comes from Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative anti-tax group headed by Grover Norquist, and was rated as "Mostly False" by PolitiFact in 2014. According to PolitiFact, Americans for Tax Reform "overstate[d] the total number by a significant amount," noting that "removing duplicates eliminates about 159 of the proposals" and "failed to account for other tax cuts that are part of Obama's record, including nearly $220 billion in tax cuts that were part of the federal stimulus."
From the April 17 edition of CNN's New Day:
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Both Fox's Sean Hannity and Univision host Jorge Ramos misrepresented the Latino vote by suggesting that if it weren't for the issue of immigration, Hispanics would favor conservative candidates. But not only do Latino voters prioritize multiple issues in addition to immigration, on those issues they are far more likely to support progressive reforms than Ramos and Hannity suggested.
On the April 15 edition of his Fox show, Hannity misleadingly claimed that Hispanics "generally speaking" were "conservative on social issues," and suggested that the sole reason Latinos might not vote for Hispanic GOP presidential candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio was their anti-immigration stances. Ramos agreed, and claimed that the reason Hispanics tend to vote for Democrats was entirely due to immigration:
RAMOS: Republicans, I think, they've missed a huge opportunity, because when it comes to values, they're close to the Hispanic community, but Latinos honestly can't see beyond immigration.
Ramos went on to inaccurately oversimplify the Latino constituency by painting immigration as their "prerequisite" to supporting a candidate, which in his opinion would give Jeb Bush -- who has supported a pathway to citizenship --an edge with Latinos in the 2016 election.
WisconsinWatchdog.org used a methodologically flawed report from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to whitewash Wisconsin's economic performance under Governor Scott Walker despite many analysts pointing to budget deficits and declining economic performance.
An April 8 WisconsinWatchdog.org (formerly branded as the Wisconsin Reporter) report lauded Wisconsin's jump from 17th to 13th place in this year's index of "economic competitiveness" compiled by the controversial right-wing group ALEC. Watchdog.org's report praised the recently passed right-to-work law -- legislation that weakens unions by baring mandatory fees from non-union workers -- though admitted the new legislation was not passed in time to be considered for ALEC's index. However, Walker's deep tax cuts were cited by both Watchdog.org and ALEC as a major reason for the state's jump in the index:
The Rich States, Poor States report emphasizes the relief property taxpayers have experienced in recent years. Buoyed by better-than-expected state revenue over the past two years, Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature pushed hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts, particularly relief on the property tax side. Wisconsin taxpayers had for years seen their property taxes rise before the recent round of cuts.
Walker's latest two-year budget proposal includes another $280 million in property tax reductions.
"Just as I promised, property taxes by the end of 2016 will be lower than they were in 2014. That means lower property taxes for six years in a row," Walker said in his budget address in February.
"Due to property tax relief and other pro-growth reforms, Wisconsin's economic outlook ranking increased four spots," said Jonathan Williams, vice president of Center for State Fiscal Reform at ALEC and co-author of Rich States, Poor States.
"While the effective date of Wisconsin's recent right-to-work law missed the 2015 edition's cut-off date, I predict that this new policy will increase the state's economic outlook ranking in the 2016 edition of this report," he added.
ALEC's analysis has come under some scrutiny, most notably in a joint critique of ALEC's rating system by The Iowa Policy Project and labor analysis outlet Good Jobs First who called ALEC's index "snake oil," and claimed that in promoting tax cuts, the slashing of public services, and other ALEC agenda items, "the [report] provides a recipe for economic inequality and declining incomes for most citizens and for depriving state and local governments of the revenue needed to maintain public infrastructure and education systems."
Business Insider's Joe Weisenthal also criticized a previous version of ALEC's report saying that maps based on the report were a "a joke," because "dynamic economies like New York and California are ranked near the bottom, while un-dynamic economies like Indiana and Wyoming are ranked near the top." He continued:
Obviously ALEC is ranking states based on each state's level of deregulation and awarding the most deregulated states, but the outcomes seem to have very little bearing in where companies actually want to launch and do business.
The economic reality in Wisconsin proves the lack of credibility of WisconsinWatchdog.org's ALEC index coverage. Notably, the state's 2015-2017 biannual budget approved by Walker is projected to produce a nearly $2 billion budget shortfall. While that number is based on requests from agencies that will largely go unfulfilled, the Associated Press noted that "the budget will be about $650 million short by mid-2017 [if] spending [continues] at current levels."
Bloomberg's Economic Evaluation of States also largely disproves the ALEC report, instead ranking Wisconsin 35th in the country overall and showed that major economic indicators like wage growth and home prices in Wisconsin lag behind the national median:
While job growth in Wisconsin was up in the month of February -- the last month where data is available-- long term measurements place the state in a three way tie for "38th place in private-sector job growth." WisconsinWatchdog.org did disclose near the end of it's report that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) "showed Wisconsin posted a private sector job-creation rate of 1.16 percent between September 2013 and September 2014," half of the national average but dismissed it by claiming, without evidence, other economic factors contested the BLS data and showed Wisconsin's "turnaround."
Wisconsin Watchdog.org's promotion of ALEC's favorable assessment of Walker's economy comes as no surprise as the outlet has consistently defended Walker against campaign finance violation allegations and is heavily funded by an organization whose top executive is Walker's former campaign committee chair.
George Will repeated a debunked myth claiming President Reagan added one million jobs in a single month, ignoring that the so-called one million jobs were buoyed by nearly 675,000 striking telecommunication workers returning to their jobs.
On the April 5 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, Fox News contributor George Will slammed the March jobs report, the first time in a year there haven't been at least 200,000 new jobs created during a month, by claiming that Ronald Reagan added over one million jobs during one month. While commenting on the newest jobs report, Will claimed, "during the Reagan recovery ... Reagan had a month of job creation of one million. And this was at a time when there were 75 million fewer Americans":
But Will's claim about Reagan's job creation record is disingenuous. As Business Insider pointed out, Reagan's so-called million job month in September 1983 was simply an outlier inflated due to nearly 675,000 striking communication workers returning to work, noting:
So, sadly for the Reagan zealots, President Reagan, his economy, his tax cuts, his supply-side economics, etc., etc., never produced one million jobs in one month, or anything close to it. It was a simple matter of striking communications workers dinging the payroll numbers one month and, upon their return, goosing them the next. Nothing more, nothing less. Could not be more straightforward.
In fact, according to The Wall Street Journal's Market Watch blog, the average monthly job growth during the Reagan administration was 168,000.
A broad coalition of 39 major Latino organizations has issued a letter to the heads of six major U.S. English-language broadcasters asking them to work towards better Hispanic guest inclusion on the Sunday morning political talk shows.
The letter, issued by the National Hispanic Leadership Agenda (NHLA) and addressed to the heads of ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, CNN, and MSNBC, expresses the group's "deep frustration regarding the continued lack of Hispanic voices" on their agenda-setting Sunday political programs and urges them to "take immediate action to increase Hispanic guest bookings and broaden the scope of issues that include their voices."
Hector Sanchez, NHLA chairman and executive director of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, said in a statement that the lack of Hispanic inclusion on those programs "results in distorting the image of our community's contributions to the life of our nation." Alex Nogales, president and CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), added: "It is irresponsible to exclude the perspectives of 17 percent of the U.S. population from the airwaves."
Only seven percent of guests on English-language Sunday shows during the last eighteen weeks of 2014 were Latino, according to a Media Matters study. While the letter notes that this proves "an increase from the two percent representation found in a 2011 report by the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts," these numbers remain significantly short of the 17 percent of Americans who identify as Hispanic.
In the letter, the NHLA encourages the network chiefs to take advantage of the "impressive list of Latino experts from across the country that specialize in issues ranging from education, health, immigration, public safety, the economy, civil rights, the media and beyond."
National Review ignored overwhelming evidence showing second-generation Latinos besting their parents by every socioeconomic indicator to claim that the Latino community in America has "so far been unable to achieve the upward mobility of previous immigrant groups."
On March 20, National Review published an article by Washington Examiner's Michael Barone suggesting that the Latino community in America has "so far been unable to achieve the upward mobility of previous immigrant groups." Barone pointed to "second-generation Hispanics hav[ing] more negative health outcomes, higher divorce rates, and higher incarceration rates than their immigrant elders" to argue that "so far the Hispanics who crossed the southern border don't seem to have moved upward as rapidly as Italian-Americans did in the last century.
But Barone ignored key economic indicators illustrating that U.S. born children of Latino immigrants are substantially better off than their immigrant parents. According to a 2013 report from the Pew Research Center, second-generation Latinos have higher household incomes than immigrant Hispanics, more of them complete college, and 93% of second-generation Latinos speak English "well or very well, a stark difference from first-generation Hispanics."
From the March 18 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
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MSNBC.com host Maria Teresa Kumar discussed the media's lack of inclusion of Latinos on issues important to Hispanics like education, the economy, and foreign policy, highlighting a Media Matters study, which found that Latinos were only included in policy discussions on Sunday news shows to talk about immigration.
During the March 17 edition of Changing America, Kumar discussed the findings of the Media Matters report with Danny Vargas, founder and president of VARCom Solutions and Raben Group's Lawrence Gonzalez. Vargas responded to the study commenting that for Latinos, "immigration is important, but so is education, jobs," and foreign policy. Gonzalez chided the news shows asserting that "people who are making these decisions at the news stations need to be thinking about what their impact is in our community."
Kumar also explained that Spanish-language media has also fed into the stereotype that immigration is the only issue important to Latinos, ignoring important needs of the Hispanic community which can affect their future. Watch: