Even though the crises facing the financial and automotive industries were born primarily of the actions (or inaction) of those in positions of power in private industry and in government, many conservative media figures have assigned blame to specific groups of less wealthy or less influential people -- the poor, minorities, undocumented immigrants, and union members, among others -- disregarding the facts that belie such assignments of blame.
On Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity stated that under President George W. Bush, "We created 10 million new jobs, lower unemployment than in the last four decades' average." In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the United States has gained 2,866,000 net private-sector jobs between 2001, when Bush took office, and the first quarter of 2008.
Savage Nation guest host Rick Roberts directed listeners "to not give to charities this Christmas" and instead to "ke[ep] some of that money for yourself and your loved ones come tax season." Moments later, Roberts added: "That's when our new president's uber-welfare state's going to kick in, and you're going to wish you'd kept some of that money. So you may as well start an Obama savings account right now so that that welfare mom can have her new plasma TV as she pops kids out like a Pez dispenser."
The Washington Post's Michael A. Fletcher quoted political strategist Mark McKinnon in an article criticizing the Employee Free Choice Act but failed to identify him as a spokesman for the Workforce Fairness Institute, which Fletcher described, elsewhere in the article, as "one of a growing number of business coalitions working to defeat the measure."
On Fox News' America's Newsroom, Andrea Tantaros falsely claimed that "[t]his past weekend," President-elect Barack Obama said that "the economy is only gonna get worse." Tantaros continued: "Well, you can't say that kind of thing when you're president. ... He's got to be more positive." Co-host Bill Hemmer did not point out in response to Tantaros that Obama did not say "the economy is only gonna get worse"; he said the economy would get worse but would subsequently recover.
The Great Recession really has been, among other things, a rather large embarrassment for large parts of the professional business press, which has spent so many years simply cheerleading Wall Street while missing the economic Story of the Decade.
Oh well, seems CNBC is still bullish. Or, to be more precise, CNBC's favorite economists and analysts remain bullish. Note the online headline: "Huge Job Losses Could Be Signal That Worst Is Over." The article itself is pretty much non-stop, happy-days-will-be-here-again:
"This is history," says veteran Wall Street economist Ram Bhagavatula. "December payrolls will be weak as well. The leading indicators will come from a slow re-activation of the credit markets and increases in consumer spending. You should begin to see that in the next couple of months."
Bhagavatula is among a growing number of economists who say the seeds of recovery are already in place, even if they are revising their forecasts for GDP contraction in the fourth quarter to show an even greater decline.
"Every recession has its worst day, and this is probably the worst day," says Chris Rupkey of Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi.
Economists say there's a lot of tailwind to drive an economic recovery and already emerging signs of one. "There's now starting to be some visibility about how this might end." Says David Resler, chief economist at Nomura International.
We noted last week that the media's favorite analysts, when polled about predictions for what November's job loss numbers would be, were only off by 200,000 jobs. The same type of analysts who reporters liked to quote in the spring about the chance of a "mild recession."
We think AmericaBlog got it right: "Everything is fine and as long as you close your eyes, don't listen and talk loudly over everyone else you'll be fine. Just ask CNBC."
The falsehood that autoworkers employed by the domestic automakers receive $70 or more per hour in wages and benefits -- advanced by dozens of media figures and outlets while Congress has discussed a potential bailout for the auto industry -- was advanced by automakers during 2007 union contract negotiations. However, while GM recently has reportedly pointed out that its labor cost figure includes benefits to current retirees, the media continue to repeat the $70 or more per hour myth.
Resuming his attacks on the poor, Bill Cunningham stated that "[w]e're about the only country in the world with fat poor people" and that "the poor community, so to speak ... have cell phones, they have pagers, they have telephones, they have cars, they have HDTV, and they have those things because they spend no money on food, because it's all given to them for nothing." He added: "Why would a grocery store open in the poor community when everyone gets fed free and they eat too much?"
In a Boston Herald column, Michael Graham repeated the falsehood that union autoworkers have "$78-per-hour jobs." In fact, the figure representing the hourly cost of labor to U.S. automakers -- a cost that GM puts at $69 -- includes not only current workers' hourly wages and benefits, such as health care and retirement, but also retirement and health-care benefits that U.S. automakers are providing for current retirees.
On World News, Chris Bury falsely claimed that "Ford, Chrysler, and GM pay union workers more than $73 an hour in wages and benefits." In fact, according to General Motors, the figure -- which GM puts at $69 per hour -- is based not only on current workers' hourly wages and benefits, such as health care and retirement, but also retirement and health-care benefits that U.S. automakers are providing for current retirees.
Behold the miracle when misinformation is rooted out.
Debunking the false claim, advanced by many in the media, that autoworkers employed by U.S. auto manufacturers receive $70 or more per hour in wages and benefits, Bob Shrum said on Morning Joe that "there's this one crazy statistic" that autoworkers are "paid 70 bucks an hour." Mike Barnicle added: "The $77 an hour thing is not true. It's the compilation of all the benefits." Joe Scarborough later stated, "[J]ust so everybody knows, when we talk about $77 or $45, we're not only talking about the money, the benefits, everything else, retirement, we're also talking about the money to -- the legacy costs of the existing retirees."
CNN's Wolf Blitzer falsely claimed that a union autoworker "makes $73 an hour, on average, when you factor in all the benefits." In fact, according to General Motors, the figure representing the hourly cost of labor to automakers -- which GM puts at $69 -- includes not only current workers' hourly wages and benefits, such as health care and retirement, but also retirement and health-care benefits that U.S. automakers are providing for retirees.
Columnists Mona Charen and George Will continued a trend among conservative media of responding to comparisons between the current economic situation and that of the 1930s and between Barack Obama and FDR by attacking the New Deal. In separate columns, both Charen and Will cherry-picked unemployment figures to assert that the New Deal did not reduce unemployment. But historians and progressive economists have noted that unemployment fell every year of the New Deal except during the 1937-38 recession; further, Nobel-laureate Paul Krugman has said it was a reversal of New Deal policies, not a continuance of them, that contributed to rising unemployment in 1937 and 1938.
An editorial and a column published in The Washington Times included the false claim that U.S. autoworkers earn an average of $70 an hour or more in wages and benefits. In fact, according to General Motors, the figure is based not only on current workers' hourly wages and benefits, such as health care and retirement, but also retirement and health-care benefits that U.S. automakers are providing for current retirees.