MSNBC's Morning Joe co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski squandered the opportunity to ask GOP presidential candidates and House Speaker Paul Ryan any questions related to their plans to eliminate poverty and raise wages during a series of interviews at a GOP anti-poverty summit. Instead of discussing topics relevant to the anti-poverty forum, the co-hosts questioned the GOP candidates and Speaker about election polling, campaign strategy, and Donald Trump, among other unrelated issues.
From the January 10 edition of MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry:
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Fox Business host Stuart Varney opened his show this morning by downplaying the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) jobs report for December 2015, marking the third consecutive month that Fox personalities have attempted to cast stellar job creation figures in a negative light.
On the January 8 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co., host Stuart Varney opened the show by downplaying the December 2015 employment summary from the BLS, which showed the economy added 292,000 jobs last month. After accounting for upward revisions to job creation totals in October and November, the December report was the strongest jobs report of 2015. Instead of acknowledging these facts, Varney referred to this report as "modest by historical standards" and lamented that it was a sign of the "new normal in the Obama years." Later in the segment, Varney and guest Paul Conway, a former Bush administration official, combed through the report for kernels of negative data. Far from being "modest by historical standards," in the 77-year history of the BLS monthly jobs report, only 171 of the 923 months (18.5 percent) have seen job creation equal to or greater than the December 2015 total.
Varney's disingenuous complaint fits a trend at Fox News, where on-air personalities continue to lament consistently improving economic data. On November 6, 2015, Fox & Friends co-hosts Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Steve Doocy stumbled through a segment on the outstanding October jobs report, with Hasselbeck confusingly claiming that "only 271,000 jobs" had been created that month. On December 4, 2015, in response to a strong November report that beat most economists' expectations, Varney still managed to conclude that the pace of job creation was "mediocre."
The December report showed that the economy added 2.7 million jobs in 2015 and the national unemployment rate remained stable in December at 5.0 percent. BLS revisions to October and November jobs figures combined to add 50,000 more jobs than previously reported, bringing the 3-month average for job creation to 284,000, its highest level since the end of last year.
In the face of Fox's contrarian reporting, actual economists were elated by the job market news. University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers began a stream of tweets about the report by stating "It's beautiful. Just beautiful." A blog by economist Jared Bernstein called the December data "another welcome show of strength" for the ongoing economic recovery. In a statement to The New York Times, economist Mark Zandi described the December report as "remarkable" and an "achievement":
"The remarkable thing is how consistent employment growth has been over the past three or four years," said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics. "We're getting at least 200,000 jobs per month on a consistent basis. That's quite an achievement."
Watch the full opening remarks from Varney & Co. below:
STUART VARNEY (HOST): 292,000 new the jobs created, modest by historical standards, the new normal in the Obama years. But hourly earnings unchanged, that's important.
Media outlets are challenging both the substance and form of Ted Cruz's latest anti-immigration ad, calling it out for factual errors as well as racism and classism.
CNBC reported that a study published by the journal Health Affairs "found little evidence that the ACA has caused increases in part-time employment as of 2015," debunking a long time conservative media attack on President Obama's health care law.
Despite being repeatedly debunked, right-wing pundits have continued to push the false claim that the Affordable Care Act would negatively effect American employment, claiming its enactment would drive losses in full-time jobs while increasing part-time employment -- though no data has supported this assertion.
A January 5 article from CNBC reported that despite Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) assertion that the ACA has "forced millions of people into part-time work," "the analysis did not find such a shift to a reduction in work hours," and this speculative claim "isn't borne out by reality":
A new study further undercuts a major claim by critics of the Affordable Care Act, who contended that the law would encourage companies to slash full-time workers' hours and shift them into part-time work in order to avoid having to offer them health insurance.
The research "found little evidence that the ACA had caused increases in part-time employment as of 2015," according to a summary of the findings published in the journal Health Affairs on Tuesday.
"We can say with a large degree of confidence that there is nothing we can see nationwide when we look at the whole workforce" that would support a claim that the so-called employer mandate or other Obamacare features have led to increases in part-time employment at the expense of full-time jobs, said Kosali Simon, a professor at Indiana University, and a co-author of the report.
Critics of the law have said that many employers, rather than subsidize workers' insurance plans or pay the Obamacare fine, would instead cut workers' hours so that they fell below the 30-hour-per-week threshold that would trigger the penalty.
"There doesn't appear to be any substantial changes in the labor market as a result of Obamacare. The anecdotes are real, but I think it's just not happening in large numbers." -Larry Levitt, senior vice president, Kaiser Family Foundation
But the research published Tuesday in Health Affairs strongly suggests that such "speculation that employers would reduce work hours to avoid the mandate that they must offer health insurance to full-time employees" isn't borne out by reality.
"If this were true, one would expect to find increases in employment at the 'kink' just below the thirty-hour threshold," the paper noted.
2015 was an important year in education policy, with the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the beginning of the 2016 election campaigns, and local fights for teachers and public schools making national headlines. In an important year for students and teachers across the education spectrum, however, some media outlets used their platforms to push falsehoods. Here are five of the worst media failures on public education this year.
This summer, teachers union opponent and former journalist Campbell Brown launched a "non-profit, non-partisan news site about education," called The Seventy Four. In spite of the site's stated mission to combat "misinformation and political spin" with "investigation, expertise, and experience," Brown hired Eric Owens, who has a long history of attacks on students and teachers, to write for the site. Owens has a long history of attacking and mocking teachers and students with transphobic, sexist, victim-blaming, and racially insensitive rhetoric as the education editor at the Daily Caller.
This year, The Wall Street Journal continued its campaign of misinformation on teachers unions, pushing harmful, union-opposed policies such as a Louisiana voucher program that was found to violate desegregation requirements and a Washington, D.C. voucher program reported to waste federal dollars on "unsuitable learning environments." The WSJ editorial board often explicitly attributed its support of these unsuccessful policies to combating teachers unions. In an October editorial, for example, the board wrote that being "unpopular with unions... ought to be a requirement for any education leadership position," ignoring the troubling realities of the programs they attempted to defend in spite of well-founded union concerns.
As ESSA moved through Congress in late November, the editorial board doubled down on its teacher-blaming rhetoric, claiming that the new legislation was favored by "teachers unions who want less accountability," and advocating for the continuation of unpopular high-stakes testing and voucher policies in the states.
The Washington Post editorial board similarly advocated for continuing the extensive testing requirements of the No Child Left Behind legislation, lending support to a high-stakes testing policy with questionable public or research support, and villainized teachers unions in the process. In its February editorial on the issue, the Post claimed that teachers unions "give lip service to accountability as long as their members aren't the ones held to account," and cited this self-interest as the source of unions' opposition to flawed teacher evaluation models that utilize students' standardized test scores to punish teachers.
Fox News featured offensive and often inaccurate commentary on public education and the teaching profession throughout the year -- in some cases doubling down on the anti-teacher rhetoric many Fox figures pushed in 2014.
In February, Outnumbered co-host Kennedy kicked off the teacher-bashing by arguing that "there really shouldn't be public schools," before the hosts agreed that the federal Department of Education ought to be abolished. In April, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy slurred prospective bilingual educators, referring to immigrants with legal permission to work in the United States as "illegals" during a segment highlighting an initiative to boost language learning in schools.
In August, Fox & Friends included a segment where Fox News regular Frank Luntz conducted a live focus group segment about public education. Questions for the focus group included "Who here has issue with teachers unions?" and "Doesn't it make you angry that you're putting all this money into public schools?" Luntz followed up his leading question about teachers unions by singling out a teacher from the group and asking him to "defend" himself.
In an October discussion about New York City schools on Fox's The Five, the co-hosts implored the city's public school teachers to "become a better teacher" and "don't suck at your job." That same month, co-host Juan Williams attacked unions' endorsement of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race, asserting that an "unholy alliance between education unions and Democrats" would be "dangerous for our kids" and would "hurt" "minority communities" and "poor people."
This year also marked the launch of the 2016 presidential campaign season, with five Republican and three Democratic debates held this fall. While candidates outlined their positions time and again on national security issues, women's health care, and taxes, the debates barely mentioned education issues. A Media Matters search of all eight full debate transcripts found only nine mentions of any variation of the term "teach." In fact, according to this review, no candidate or moderator uttered the phrases "No Child Left Behind," "Race To The Top," or "Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)" throughout the 2015 debate season, despite the recent passage of the landmark ESSA legislation replacing No Child Left Behind.
Moderators did discuss schools and teachers a handful of times throughout the debate season, mostly in relation to national security. In the August 6 Republican debate on Fox News, moderator Bret Baier questioned former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on their disagreement on the Common Core state standards and asked former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) whether he would abolish the Department of Education, among other federal agencies. The moderators of the October 28 CNBC Republican debate also mentioned teachers once, when moderator Carlos Quintanilla asked Donald Trump about his comments that educators ought to be armed. And on CNN's December 15 Republican debate, moderator Wolf Blitzer asked candidates about the closure of the Los Angeles Unified school district following an email threat.
The other five debates did not feature questions regarding K-12 education policy.
Public school educators and their unions in major cities made national headlines in 2015 following strikes, contentious contract negotiations, school board elections, and school funding battles. While research shows that teachers unions not only protect the rights of educators but also benefit students and their communities, state newspapers editorializing on union activities framed unions and educators as selfishly seeking higher pay at the expense of others.
Amidst a victory year for teachers unions on several fronts, Media Matters found that state newspapers in New York, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, California, and Washington published editorials distorting the facts to question the motives of teachers and attack their right to organize.
In Buffalo, New York, The Buffalo News repeatedly claimed that teachers unions supporting a parent-led movement against standardized testing want to maintain "the wretched, costly, dysfunctional status quo" and require children to "pay the price." In Scranton, Pennsylvania, The Scranton Times-Tribune lamented that teachers unions had the ability to strike and dismissed teachers' calls to be treated with respect and dignity. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, The Albuquerque Journal mocked teachers' concerns over an unfair evaluation method that was subsequently struck down by a district court that agreed with the unions. In Los Angeles, California, the Los Angeles Times dismissed unions' worries that a charter expansion plan created by one of the paper's education reporting funders would financially jeopardize local public schools, telling those who opposed the plan to "quit whining." And in Seattle, Washington, The Seattle Times repeatedly attacked the local union for "using their students as pawns," as they advocated for fair pay, guaranteed recess time, more funding for schools, and greater equity in school discipline policies.
These editorial board attacks on educators -- because of the readers they serve and the prominence of local priorities on education policy -- have the dangerous potential to shift public conversation away from the facts and to pit communities against the teachers who advocate for them. After a year where the importance of education policy has become more critical than ever, hopefully this disturbing trend will not continue in 2016.
Image by Ian MacKenzie under a Creative Commons license.
Leading up to the 2016 elections, media should be careful not to perpetuate the same myths about Latino voters that many pushed in 2015, including portraying Latinos as a monolithic voter bloc exclusively interested in immigration or superficially attracted to Hispanic or bilingual candidates regardless of their policies, and suggesting this growing demographic will be a "non-factor" in 2016.
In 2015, conservative media outlets -- led by Fox News -- set a new standard for attacking the least fortunate members of American society, targeting low-income workers, recipients of government assistance, and the homeless in a campaign of misinformation. The campaign was so pervasive that President Obama personally addressed it during a leadership summit dedicated to alleviating poverty. In recognition of their exemplary efforts to distort the public discourse on poverty, here are five of the worst trends in right-wing media poor-shaming from 2015.
Right-wing media spent 2015 defending, praising, and peddling several of GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump's debunked falsehoods, which PolitiFact rounded up as one big "lie of the year."
Public school educators and their unions in major cities made national headlines in 2015 following strikes, contentious contract negotiations, school board elections, and funding battles. While research shows that teachers unions benefit students, educators, and communities, state newspapers editorializing on these union activities have ignored the facts and framed unions and educators as selfishly seeking higher pay at the expense of others. Amidst a victory year for teachers unions on several fronts, here are some of the most inaccurate claims state newspaper editorial boards pushed.
With global crude oil prices at their lowest point in seven years, and gasoline prices approaching their lowest point of President Obama's term of office, Media Matters remembers Fox News' hypocritical coverage of the relationship between presidential policy initiatives and fuel and energy markets.
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.
Large portions of the federal government will shut down on December 11, unless the Republican-led Congress passes a long-term budget or short-term spending resolution to prevent a lapse in spending authority. In 2013, in the midst of a 16-day federal government shutdown that cost the American economy up to 120,000 jobs and $24 billion, major media outlets often neglected to report the toll Republican-led congressional gridlock took on American workers and families and misleadingly placed equal blame for the debacle at the feet of the Democratic Party and Obama administration.
A segment on Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier attacked the Affordable Care Act (ACA) by falsely claiming that a study from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) found that the healthcare law hurt the economy by reducing jobs. Fox correspondent Rich Edson argued that a working paper from the CBO buttressed GOP claims that the ACA would cost American jobs. The CBO study was referring to provisions of the ACA meant to end the issue of "job lock." MSNBC's Steve Benen explained that job lock "describes a dynamic in which many Americans would like to leave their current jobs - to retire, to start a new business...but can't because they and their families need the health benefits tied to their current job. " As Media Matters reported in 2014, the "projected change is in the supply of labor, not the demand for labor." Thus, the "job lock" provision actually gives Americans more choices, they can chose to work less or even retire earlier than expected and still be covered. From the December 8 edition of Special Report with Bret Baier:
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Fox News host Bret Baier claimed that 94 million Americans were "not in the labor force" in an attempt to dismiss the latest unemployment rate figure from the Bureau of Labor Statistics November 2015 Jobs Report. But Baier failed to note that most of the 94 million includes retired people and students.
In the December 4 edition of his Fox News show, host Bret Baier reported that the U.S. economy gained 211 thousand jobs, but claimed that "it's important to note that the number of people without a job, not participating in the workforce is still over the 94 million mark for the fourth month in a row."
BRET BAIER (HOST): Stocks surged today, fueled by a November jobs report that showed a gain of 211,000 positions. The unemployment rate remains at 5 percent, but it beat expectations, it's important to note the number of people without a job, not participating in the workforce is still over the 94 million mark for the fourth month in a row.
Baier's segment echoes right-wing media's false assertion that over 94 million Americans are unemployed without noting that the this figure includes millions of Americans who are not looking to enter the workforce.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those considered to be "not in the labor force" are "those who have no job and are not looking for one. Many who are not in the labor force are students or retired. Family responsibilities keep others out of the labor force":
The labor force is made up of the employed and the unemployed. The remainder--those who have no job and are not looking for one--are counted as not in the labor force. Many who are not in the labor force are going to school or are retired. Family responsibilities keep others out of the labor force. Since the mid-1990s, typically fewer than 1 in 10 people not in the labor force reported that they want a job.