Fox News is hyping a report from the conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI) blaming a marginal decline in restaurant employment in the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue metropolitan area on Seattle's recently-increased minimum wage. The think tank and right-wing media outlet both overstated the significance of a roughly 1 percent change in restaurant employment and focused on apparent job losses in one month while ignoring job gains the following month.
Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy claimed the federal government is introducing "more public shaming," in response to the Security and Exchange Commission's (SEC) new plan to require companies to reveal their "pay ratio ... that would cast an unprecedented spotlight" on "disparity in corporate riches." From the August 5 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Libre Initiative spokesperson and recurring Fox News guest host Rachel Campos-Duffy misled viewers about how minorities and young people have fared economically under President Obama, suggesting that his administration has made both groups worse off when the opposite is true.
On the September 28, 2014 edition of CBS' 60 Minutes, President Obama argued that the United States "is definitely better off" economically than it was when he took office in January 2009. The president said he would compare the success of his response to the "terrible, almost unprecedented financial crisis" that he inherited to the response by "any leader around the world." Two days later, Fox New used those remarks to resurrect its misleading line of attack on Obama's economic record.
During the July 21 edition of Fox Business' Cavuto: Coast to Coast, Campos-Duffy picked it up again, claiming, that "single women, minorities, young people -- these people are doing worse than they were before Obama came into office." As evidence, Campos-Duffy cherry-picked data to mask positive trends in the economy, particularly among minorities and young people:
During her Cavuto appearance, Campos-Duffy repeated the same outdated claims she made in a January 8, 2014 National Review Online article in which she argued that Hispanic family incomes have dropped and "2.5 million more Latinos have fallen into poverty" during the Obama administration, proving that "the Obama economy has not been kind to Hispanics."
In her recent appearance on Fox, Campos-Duffy referenced that same argument from 18 months ago to make a false claim about the number of Hispanics currently living in poverty. According to September 2014 Pew findings, the number actually fell from 13.6 million to 12.7 million from 2012 to 2013 and "the drop in the poverty rates among Hispanics... contributed to the first decline in the nation's overall poverty rate since 2006." Additionally, "the median household income of Hispanics increased" for the first time since 2000. From Pew:
Hispanics are the only major racial or ethnic group to see a statistically significant decline in its poverty rate, according to 2013 Census Bureau figures released this week. The drop in the poverty rate among Hispanics - from 25.6% in 2012 to 23.5% in 2013 - contributed to the first decline in the nation's overall poverty rate since 2006.
Meanwhile, the median household income of Hispanics increased by 3.5% to $40,963, the first annual increase since 2000, according to the Census Bureau. Income changes for whites, blacks and Asians were not statistically significant.
Campos-Duffy claimed that minorities and young people were among those "doing worse than they were before Obama came into office."
The "Obama Economy" Has Provided Years Of Steady Recovery From The "Bush Recession"
Campos-Duffy also argued that Vice President Biden "is in trouble if he's going to run on an Obama economy," which ignores how the U.S. economy under President Obama has steadily improved since the recession that started under President Bush.
What Campos-Duffy failed to mention is that every American was affected by the recession. According to a September 2014 report from the Center for American Progress (CAP), median income nationwide peaked in 1999, toward the end of the Clinton administration, before receding in the wake of two Bush-era recessions. Median income in the United States in 2013, the most recently available data, was less than it was in 1989, but the decline does not originate with the Obama administration. According to CAP, "America's middle class is struggling to recover from both the Great Recession and the decades of unequal economic growth that preceded it."
Still, other economic indicators are improving across the board, including in minority communities. Unemployment rates among minorities are decreasing steadily, in line with nationwide trends, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. As of June, the total civilian unemployment rate was 5.3 percent, which is the lowest since April 2008. For African-Americans and Hispanics, unemployment is at 9.5 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively, evidence of the strongest labor market in either community since the first half of 2008, when the recession was less than six months old.
According to data from the BLS, unemployment rates peaked nationwide in October 2009 and then steadily declined for for nearly six years.
The American economy has not fully recovered from its deepest economic contraction since the Great Depression, but it is steadily improving in important ways for minorities and young people. According to the most-recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has contributed to sharp declines in uninsured rates for adults nationwide, which stood at just 11.4 percent at the end of June -- the lowest in the history of Gallup's tracking. The nationwide improvement has been particularly pronounced among minorities and young people:
Various conservative media outlets predicted that the ACA would be harm the U.S. economy, but the decrease in uninsured rates coupled with the steady decline in unemployment, particularly among minorities and young people, suggests that the so-called "Obama economy" has been kinder than Campos-Duffy claims. According to NBC News, Hispanics are "the group with the largest gains in insurance" because of the health care law.
Craig Harrington contributed research to this blog.
A Fox News report on the so-called "unintended consequences" of Seattle, Washington's municipal minimum wage increase included the unsubstantiated claim that better pay is encouraging workers to work less so that they stay in poverty and continue receiving government benefits. This report fits the network's anti-minimum wage, poor-shaming narrative, but ignores the many benefits of increasing the minimum wage.
In June 2014, the Seattle City Council unanimously approved legislation increasing the city's minimum wage to $11 per hour for most employees on April 1, 2015 and to $15 per hour over the course of a 3-to-7-year phase-in period. The decision was praised by many groups like the National Employment Law Project (NELP) as a necessary step toward alleviating inequality and lifting low-wage workers out of poverty.
On the July 22 editions of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Happening Now, and Special Report, correspondent Dan Springer reported that Seattle is facing the "unintended consequences" of increasing its minimum wage. The worst of these consequences, he claims, is that some employees "make too much money to stay on certain welfare programs" and are requesting fewer hours because "the raises [are] pushing them over the income threshold and out of welfare programs like subsidized food, child care, and rent." In all three segments, Springer's evidence for this alleged poverty trap was an interview with Seattle-based radio host Jason Rantz, not with actual recipients who rely on government assistance.
Other so-called "consequences" of the increased minimum wage included restaurants raising prices and requesting patrons not to tip their wait staff. Springer also cited a comic book store in San Francisco (not Seattle) which blames that city's increased minimum wage for its lack of profitability:
The core of Fox's claim that many low-income Americans would rather stay on anti-poverty relief programs than work fits the network's long-standing campaign to attack and shame low-income workers. It is also a variation of the discredited "Welfare Cliff" argument frequently pushed by the network.
In addition, the claim that increased wages are boosting restaurant prices, and thereby hurting tipped workers, is blatantly misleading and plays into Fox's misinformation campaign against the minimum wage. For example, Ivar's Salmon House, a Seattle icon, increased its menu prices and no longer accepts tips. But, according to NPR, the restaurant decided to institute the full $15 minimum wage three years ahead of schedule for its employees and now automatically prices gratuity into the bill, which thus far has not hurt sales or workers. Several restaurants, including one in the District of Columbia, have responded to calls for an increased minimum wage by unilaterally raising their own pay and informing customers that it is no longer necessary to tip wait staff.
Conservative media have claimed for more than a year that Seattle's minimum wage would hurt the city's restaurants and small businesses, but a March 17 report by The Seattle Times revealed little anxiety about the pay increase. In fact, according to data from the Seattle Office of Economic and Financial Analysis, the city witnessed a small spike in restaurant permit requests in the month before wage increases were set to go into effect but otherwise requests have remained relatively flat. Finally, according to a June 4 report by Common Dreams, several of the most outspoken local opponents of Seattle's minimum wage increase have actually opened new restaurants and increased staff hiring since the ordinance went into effect.
Fox host Sean Hannity allowed Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to walk back comments he made during a 2013 New York Times interview in which Kasich expressed his concern "about the fact there seems to be a war on the poor" emanating from his own party.
On the July 21 edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity interviewed newly-declared Republican presidential candidate John Kasich at Ohio State University. Kasich used the softball interview to rehabilitate his conservative credentials while quietly disavowing his previous comments about the draconian agenda of GOP policymakers on Capitol Hill. When asked whether or not he truly believed "Republicans are waging war" on the poor, Kasich deflected the question by saying, "I don't know where that came from." Both then impugned the credibility of The New York Times while Kasich outlined the ways he plans to help poor and struggling Americans as president, including repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA):
HANNITY: Let me ask you, in the lead up to this, a lot of articles were written -- "Is John Kasich conservative enough?" Now, you were quoted in The New York Times as saying about your party, the Republican Party, that it's waging "a war on the poor." When you accepted Medicaid expansion, you went out there and you talked about St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, he's not gonna ask me if I decreased the size of government but whether I helped the poor. Do you really believe Republicans are waging war on--
KASICH: No, no, but look, I don't know where that came from, but here's what I will tell you--
HANNITY: The New York Times.
KASICH: Yeah but, I-- Okay, well then it has to be true, okay? But here's the thing--
HANNITY: How dare I quote a New York paper.
In fact, during an interview with a New York Times reporter following his October 22, 2013 decision to accept Medicaid expansion in the state of Ohio under the ACA , Kasich expressed his concern that "there seems to be a war on the poor" coming from Republican ranks, including the stigma that low-income Americans are "shiftless and lazy":
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In his grand Statehouse office beneath a bust of Lincoln, Gov. John R. Kasich let loose on fellow Republicans in Washington.
"I'm concerned about the fact there seems to be a war on the poor," he said, sitting at the head of a burnished table as members of his cabinet lingered after a meeting. "That if you're poor, somehow you're shiftless and lazy."
But few have gone further than Mr. Kasich in critiquing his party's views on poverty programs, and last week he circumvented his own Republican legislature and its Tea Party wing by using a little-known state board to expand Medicaid to 275,000 poor Ohioans under President Obama's health care law.
Kasich's remarks were widely reported at the time by numerous reputable news outlets, including New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman. A November 1, 2013 column by Salon editor-at-large Joan Walsh pointed out the hypocrisy of Kasich lamenting his party's "war on the poor" while he simultaneously pushed an initiative to cut food assistance for up to 130,000 Ohio residents. Kasich's supposed willingness to take on the GOP's backwards anti-poverty agenda is often pointed to as an indication of his seriousness as a president candidate.
Fox's decision to let Kasich disavow his "war on the poor" comment is interesting, particularly in light of recent criticism from Heritage Foundation economist and Fox News contributor Stephen Moore that the governor's stance on poverty is "not an answer that conservatives are very persuaded by." Moore's intuition may be right. Kasich is a distant 11th -place contender in the Real Clear Politics polling average of the 16 declared Republican candidates. Kasich is also far behind in the crucial Fox News Primary and is in desperate need of positive exposure on the network.
On July 22, the American Legislative Exchange Council's (ALEC) annual meeting will once again see corporations and state lawmakers gather to discuss and vote on model legislation meant for introduction in state legislatures across the country. On the eve of the three-day conference in San Diego, Media Matters looks back at five examples of great reporting by local news teams who pulled back the curtain and held ALEC accountable for hosting lobbyists and legislators in secret meetings -- where they wrote corporate-supported bills blocking minimum wage hikes, attacking unions, and eliminating environmental regulations -- and previews this year's agenda.
A new Media Matters report on the "single issue syndrome" found that Spanish-language Sunday shows continue to devote considerable attention to immigration at the apparent expense of issues equally important to the Latino community. In addition, although Latinos make up more than 17 percent of the U.S. population, only 4 percent of guests on English-language Sunday shows between January 4 and May 3, 2015 were Hispanic - a drop of 42 percent from their 2014 appearances over a similar time period.
Conservative media appear to be drafting Donald Trump's talking points.
It's been one month since the real estate mogul officially entered the Republican primary, after years of using regular Fox News appearances to promote previously-elusive presidential ambitions and push absurd conspiracies. In that time, Trump has already managed to prominently trumpet at least four right-wing media myths to explain his positions on the economy, immigration, gun safety, and the presidency, launching the long-debunked claims back into the spotlight.
Trump exaggerated the nation's unemployment rate by nearly 800 percent during a Fox News appearance on July 15, telling Sean Hannity that unemployed, impoverished Americans are "very important," and declaring: "Somebody actually last week said we have a 40 percentunemployment, so I've been saying 19 - 21 percent, but somebody actually came out last week and said we have a 40 percent, and they might very well be right."
Just a couple weeks ago, Rush Limbaugh repeatedly claimed that "the actual unemployment rate in the United States of America is not 5.5 percent ... It is 42.9 percent," citing a blog written by former Reagan official David Stockman.
According to the Bureau Of Labor Statistics, notably, June's unemployment rate stood at 5.3 percent.
Last week, Trump tripled the U.S.' undocumented immigrant population during a July 8 interview on CNN's The Lead, claiming, "We have 34 million [undocumented immigrants] in the country. I used to hear 11, now I hear it's 34 million." The real number of undocumented immigrants is nearly 20 million less -- experts confirm that the number of undocumented immigrants in the U.S. actually hovers around 11 million, according to a Washington Post analysis that compared Census, Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and Pew Research Center data.
Trump appears to have relied on a year-old, long-debunked report from conservative website Breitbart.com. In 2014, Breitbart.com misrepresented a contracting bid the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for card stock to print a maximum of 34 million green cards and work authorization cards over a five year period, spinning the listing to claim the Obama administration was preparing a massive "executive amnesty." Neither of these cards are specific to undocumented immigrants. And as The Hill explained at the time, not only is such a contracting bid "typical," these cards are for use by immigrants who have been legally granted permanent residency and "a single recipient could receive up to five work permits over the life of the contract." Because this is not, in fact, an estimate of the undocumented population, both the White House and USCIS called suggestions that it was a "precursor" to the president's executive action on immigration "crazy" and "too clever."
Discussing his views on gun safety regulations in a July 7 interview with Ammoland.com, Trump revived conservative media's false claim that former President Bill Clinton banned guns on military bases. He asserted that "President Clinton never should have passed a ban on soldiers being able to protect themselves on bases."
Trump's misinformation originated from conservative media's attempt to blame Clinton for the 2013 mass shooting at Washington D.C.'s Navy Yard facility, seizing on a March 1993 Army regulation they claimed banned the carrying of guns on military bases. In fact, the 1993 regulation came from a 1992 directive issued under former President George H.W. Bush -- which actually allows guns to be carried on military bases under a substantial number of circumstances. Military experts have said more permissive gun carrying rules are a bad idea.
Trump is even still pushing perhaps the most infamous conservative media myth of the Obama presidency -- birtherism. "I really don't know" where President Obama was born, Trump declared in a July 9 interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, an accusation that follows years of the candidate teaming up with Fox News to push the absurd conspiracy theories that Obama had not released a valid birth certificate and may have been hiding the fact that he was not born in America.
The pervasiveness of right-wing media talking points in Trump's positions is not surprising given that he's been a Fox News fixture for years. He reportedly met with Fox president Roger Ailes before announcing his presidential candidacy, and since then, the network has only increased his exposure. In Media Matters' most recent study of appearances by likely and declared Republican presidential candidates on the network, Trump topped the entire field in airtime. During the month of June, Trump appeared on Fox 10 times, racking up 1 hour and 48 minutes of airtime, 23 minutes more than his nearest competitor, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry. Since the beginning of May, Trump has the most airtime of any of the candidates.
From the July 9 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Fox News is on the defensive after Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush said making Americans "work longer hours" was a central facet of his economic growth plan, claiming that Bush meant to say that the "Obama economy" is forcing Americans into part-time work. However, Fox's reasoning is based on faulty data and imaginary links between hours worked, productivity, and wages.
USA Today's editorial board published a misleading editorial comparing the economic crisis currently crippling Greece with the economic problems facing the United States, fear mongering that a similar crisis could happen "in as little as a decade." But economists have repeatedly dismissed the comparison, explaining that the U.S. economy is dissimilar from Greece and therefore unlikely to face a similar debt crisis.
On July 6, the editorial board published a piece claiming that the United States could find itself in a Greece-like economic and financial crisis as a result of America's debt and entitlements. According to the editorial board, "Greece is just further along" in its debt crisis however, Americans can expect a major shock "in as little as a decade."
Both countries have amassed large debts. Both are run by politicians eager to tell voters what they want to hear about national finances, not what they need to hear. Both have aging populations. Both are familiar with irresponsible banks lending to irresponsible borrowers. And both have been plunging headlong towards debt crises.
Greece is just further along.
Yet efforts to even modestly curtail health benefits, or any other "entitlement" programs for that matter, meet thunderous opposition from politicians, labor unions, senior citizen groups and others. Often, the objections are couched in language of people having "earned" their benefits after a lifetime of work.
In fact, they've earned a portion of their benefits. An average couple that retired in 2010, for instance, will receive $387,000 in Medicare benefits after having paid $122,000 in Medicare taxes while working. Social Security is in somewhat better shape but it, too, will soon have to start drawing down its reserves, adding more red ink to the budget.
Unless benefit programs are reined in, America is heading for its own debt crisis. It won't be complicated by whether it should drop out of a currency union. And it might be delayed by a vibrant and innovative private sector. But it could arrive in as little as a decade. And then everything will seem Greek to us.
USA Today's doom and gloom predictions are indistinguishable from the cartoonish fearmongering that has been promoted by Fox News since 2010.
Washington Post contributor and international political economist Daniel Drezner blasted media outlets for allowing the "re-emergence of a Greece-related meme that should have died of shame and embarrassment about four years ago." According to Drezner, after years of the media predicting a Greek-like disaster "exactly none of these things have come to pass."
And on the July 5 edition of ABC's This Week, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman downplayed the impact of the Greek debt crisis for other developed economies, explaining that Greece's GDP is roughly equal to that of Miami, Florida. Krugman also argued in his New York Times column that U.S.-Greece comparisons are unreliable, since they project debt in future decades and assume fiscal policies remain static.
Um, that's comparing a (highly uncertain) projection of debt 20 years from now -- a projection that's based on the assumption of unchanged policy -- with actual debt now. Actual US federal debt is only about half that high now. And it's worth pointing out that Greek debt is projected to rise to 149 percent of GDP over the next few years -- and that's with the austerity measures agreed with the IMF.
Basically, the United States can expect economic recovery to bring the deficit down substantially; Greece, which has a larger structural deficit and also faces a grinding adjustment to overvaluation with the eurozone, can't.
Yes, the United States needs fiscal adjustment -- Auerbach and Gale say that we have a long-run fiscal imbalance of 6-plus percent of GDP, although much of that could be closed by reining in health costs. But we really don't look much like Greece.
Since 2010, Fox News' hosts and analysts have kept up a steady drumbeat of dire warnings that the United States is on a road to financial and economic ruin and could meet the same fate as Greece if it doesn't implement draconian cuts to social safety net programs as a way to cut the debt and deficit. But Greece, which pursued such cuts, accelerated its economic deterioration, while the United States has rejected extreme austerity measures and enjoyed six years of continuous economic recovery.
Univision Noticias failed to adequately disclose for readers the financial ties between an op-ed contributor and organizations aligned against raising the federal minimum wage, allowing the author to misleadingly claim that increasing the baseline hourly wage would actually hurt minority workers and destroy jobs.
In a July 6 Spanish-language op-ed published by Univision.com, Daniel Garza of the far-right Libre Initiative claimed that the "inconvenient reality" of a minimum wage hike is that it would hurt "the most vulnerable" by increasing labor costs and reducing demand for workers. Garza cited a February 2014 report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) as apparent proof that raising the minimum wage would bring dire consequences to "the most vulnerable" among the population, and blamed a 2009 minimum wage increase for destroying hundreds of thousands of jobs -- completely ignoring the actual culprit for job loss that year, the recession. Translated from Univision.com:
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicted a loss of approximately 500,000 jobs. When Congress raised the minimum wage by 10.6 percent in 2009, more than 600,000 youths lost their jobs. Currently, the minimum wage contributes significantly to the fiscal disaster by running through Puerto Rico, where the law has contributed to a high level of unemployment, according to The Washington Post.
Univision failed to disclose the extensive financial ties between Daniel Garza, the Libre Initiative, and the network of anti-minimum wage advocates funded by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch, which was recently documented by Media Matters. Univision.com has been providing a platform for Garza and the Libre Initiative without disclosing their Koch-backed agenda since at least March 18, 2015.
Other media outlets, like MSNBC, have done a better job in disclosing Garza's financial backers, putting the bias in his opinion columns in context:
"It's not a positive development to have someone like Trump disparage the contribution of immigrants to the conservative brand, especially the Republican brand," Daniel Garza - executive director of the LIBRE Initiative, a group backed by the Koch brothers' donor network devoted to selling Latinos on conservatism - told msnbc in an interview.
Garza's entire anti-minimum wage argument is based on his misinterpretation of a 2014 CBO study. The CBO did not predict "a loss of approximately 500,000 jobs," as Garza claims. It predicted 500,000 fewer net new jobs created from 2014 through 2016 as a result of increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. The same study also predicted that a $10.10 federal minimum wage would increase the hourly earnings of 16.5 million American workers, while lifting 900,000 Americans out of poverty and injecting billions of dollars into the economy. Garza's mistake isn't surprising, according to the Center for American Progress, the CBO study has been widely misinterpreted:
First of all, CBO does not project that job opportunities for low-wage workers will decline over the next three years if the minimum wage were raised from the current $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, as so many have reported. Only a few weeks ago, CBO published its economic and budget outlook for 2014 to 2024, which estimated that U.S. employment will grow by 7 million jobs between now and 2018. Of course, that projection is based on a number of assumptions about the future that are little more than educated guesses.
A February 2013 study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) showed that decades of minimum wage research reveal no "discernible effect on employment" resulting from incremental increases. There is no evidence that raising the minimum wage affects employment levels, but there is considerable research showing the positive impacts of increasing the minimum wage for low-wage workers -- specifically women and people of color.
From the July 6 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
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From the July 6 edition of Fox News' Outnumbered:
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