From the October 14 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Fox Business' Stuart Varney cited misleading research from the Cato Institute to disparage federal employees, claiming they make 78 percent more than private sector workers. In fact, when compared to private sector workers in similar occupations and with similar levels of education, government employees are often paid less than their private industry counterparts.
On the October 9 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co., host Stuart Varney and Fox contributor Tammy Bruce used a misleading report from the right-wing Cato Institute to mockingly claim that federal workers are paid too much. Without any discussion of the different types of jobs performed by government and private sector employees, Varney and Bruce slammed "super, super rich" federal workers for contributing to economic inequality in Washington, D.C.:
TAMMY BRUCE: Well look, they're better than us, aren't they? And they deserve more money because they do such-- much more difficult work, and they're just more important and better people. Look, these are the people that all this-- those are the only people politicians really see. Its unionized of course. It goes through the framework of government and politicians wanting to spend more, make things bigger, make things worse. And they're right on that track.
STUART VARNEY: Look what is on the screen. Six of the top--of the richest neighborhoods are right around Washington, D.C.
BRUCE: But that's very small area of D.C., of course. And the talk about the distance between the poor and the wealthy. You see it. Government--super, super rich. And then those other neighborhoods in Washington, D.C, the poverty, the unemployment, the abandonment. That's classic big government where everybody else get pushed out and the people who genuflect, who pay allegiance to that big federal government get all the money, and everyone else suffers.
According to Cato's October 2015 report, total salary and compensation for an average federal worker in 2014 was $119,934 -- compared to just $67,246 for the average private sector worker. Cato's analysis blamed supposedly generous pay for driving federal budget deficits and demanded that compensation for federal jobs be reduced to better reflect the private sector. Cato even acknowledged that federal workers typically have higher levels of education and professional experience than the private sector as a whole, but still recommended that their compensation be arbitrarily reduced -- a common refrain among right-wing think tanks.
In reality, federal and private sector workers are compensated differently because they perform different jobs and have strikingly different levels of education, on average. According to a January 2012 report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), "33 percent of federal employees work in professional occupations, such as the sciences or engineering, compared with only 18 percent of private-sector employees" and "21 percent of federal employees have a master's, professional, or doctoral degree, compared with 9 percent of private-sector employees."
The same CBO report found that after accounting for education and other "observable characteristics," average federal wages were only 2 percent higher than would be expected in the private sector.
According to the findings of an exhaustive November 2014 review by the Federal Salary Council, federal employees nationwide face an average pay disparity of 35 percent compared to private sector counterparts performing "the same levels of work."
Federal worker occupations and levels of education are too different from that of the private sector to easily compare side-by-side, a fact that even Cato's Chris Edwards -- who authored the study used by Varney & Co. -- readily admitted in a July 23, 2012 interview with The Washington Post:
Chris Edwards, director of tax policy studies at the Cato Institute, a conservative think thank [sic],and author of several papers concluding that federal workers are overpaid, acknowledged Monday that "it's hard to make an overall sweeping assessment" of whether private- or public-sector employees make more.
On the October 6 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that childhood hunger in the United States is "a total lie" and blamed purportedly "derelict" parents for allowing their families to live in poverty, which he implied was a form of child abuse. When guest Kirsten Powers pushed back on O'Reilly's poor-shaming narrative, he challenged her to "produce one" example of a poor family struggling with hunger in the United States today, shouting "you can't." On October 8, TalkPoverty.org interviewed four mothers whose life stories fly in the face of O'Reilly's denial:
As Bill O'Reilly apparently does not know a single family straining to make ends meet, we did his homework for him and asked four mothers who have experienced hunger to tell us what they think about his comments:
Bill O'Reilly said show me hunger and I say, "Here I am." My children have lived through a lot of adverse situations; we have been homeless and have relied on shelters. Without food stamps, my children would starve. When is it okay for children to starve in this country? When is it okay to actively ignore starving children in your country? -- Asia Thompson, Pennsylvania
He hasn't experienced poverty but Bill O'Reilly should know that poverty can happen to anyone. When my twin sons were 9 months old, my husband lost his job and we had to go on WIC to feed our children. This program provided support and the food was one less thing we had to worry about. And as a Head Start teacher, I see firsthand how kids can't focus in school because they're so hungry. - Mary Janet Bryant, Kentucky
I used all of these programs for my children, and I am a success story like thousands of other parents. My oldest daughter is in her fourth year of college studying stem cell biology on her way to a PhD. I beg to differ with Bill O'Reilly's opinion, as he doesn't have firsthand experience with hunger and poverty. - Vivian Thorpe, California
I think it's easy to miss the signs of child poverty and hunger in our society because people often look better than they feel. I was less hungry as a kid because my family benefited from WIC, SNAP, and school lunch. I also graduated from high school, college, and graduate school. I have worked hard for 25 years in the TV business and I am the social safety net for my family now. To my way of thinking, Bill O'Reilly is seeing the emperor in a fine new suit of gold-threaded clothes but that emperor is naked. - Sherry Brennan, California
An op-ed in The Wall Street Journal by editorial writer Allysia Finley downplayed a labor judge's findings of employer misconduct to accuse California's Agricultural Labor Relations Board of teaming up with the United Farm Workers to "shake down workers" by throwing out the ballots of a decertification vote. Finley ignored several unlawful actions by the employer, Gerawan Farming, claiming that the misconduct "amounted mainly to a 'well-timed' raise."
Multiple conservative media outlets used a misleading report to attack public unions, claiming that unions hurt upward mobility and drive economic inequality -- a theory Media Matters has already thoroughly debunked.
A Wall Street Journal op-ed falsely claimed that there is no gender-based pay-inequality in the United States and therefore no need for California's Fair Pay Act, which Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign this month. However, California media outlets that have covered the wage issue stand behind the new law because research shows that the gender pay gap does exist, and hurts both women and the economy as a whole.
Forbes contributor Carrie Sheffield claimed public sector unions hurt upward mobility for private sector workers, but ignored the effects the decline of private sector union membership have had on stagnating wages and reducing ladders of opportunity for American workers.
From the September 29 edition of CNN's New Day:
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Citing a controversial proposal by a Republican mayor in Maine to publish the contact information of people who receive public assistance, a guest on Fox News called for more shaming of welfare recipients and was enthusiastically supported by Fox host Steve Doocy. The proposal, which would be illegal, is aimed at reducing welfare fraud, which is already extremely rare. It was just the latest example of how Fox News tries to shame welfare recipients.
From the September 28 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the September 23 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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A new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that, contrary to right-wing media assertions, the overwhelming majority of employers have not responded to health insurance mandates in the Affordable Care Act by slashing jobs, converting full-time positions to part-time, or putting off hiring new workers. Fox News and The Wall Street Journal spent years claiming health care reform would threaten American jobs.
CNN hosted the second GOP presidential debate at the Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA on September 16, the start of Hispanic Heritage Month. In the run-up to the event, Spanish-language media outlets like Diario Las Américas expressed worry that the debate questions wouldn't focus on issues important to Latinos.
The daily Spanish-language newspaper La Opinión referenced the debate's timing in an article about what to watch for. Writer Pilar Marrero cautioned Latinos to be critical of pandering by GOP candidates with anti-immigrant records and said she hoped that "topics of interest such as education, the economy, healthcare" would be discussed in the debate.
After the debate, Miami-based Diario Las Américas declared that the debate's lack of substance mostly favored Trump, even though his arguments were "not always reasonable" and "sometimes hard to understand," they kept the other candidates on the stage busy responding or reacting. As a result, there were few substantive policy discussion on topics like the economy and unemployment:
Translated from Diario Las Américas:
Last night it took entrepreneur Donald Trump roughly 45 minutes of a debate that lasted over three hours to put all his opponents in his pocket.
His arguments were not always reasonable, sometimes difficult to understand, but sharp enough to silence the rest. "What would you do if China attacked us?" "They are already attacking. We must be strong," he snapped to his contender, Sen. Rand Paul.
But the biggest topics, like the economy, unemployment or immigration, were only lightly approached, and the conclave in the end was reduced to a social gathering of friends. That's why Trump was ecstatic by the end of the debate, organized by CNN at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. "We had fun," said the businessman.
What's hard to understand is whether the audiences were able to grasp and assimilate anything of substance. No candidate offered the Hispanic-American world a solution to their problems that went beyond the promise of deportations and sanctions. [Diario Las Américas, 9/17/15]
Mainstream media outlets are ignoring the falsehoods and fabrications underpinning Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush's recently-debuted tax reform proposal in favor of endlessly harping on the perceived and imagined flaws of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. George W. Bush benefited from the same kind of free ride in 2000, when media overlooked the impossible economic promises at the core of his fiscal policies.
In a September 14 article, Vox Executive Editor Matt Yglesias took mainstream media outlets to task for glossing over glaring flaws in the tax reform proposals and economic promises offered by Jeb Bush's presidential campaign, recalling the lax vetting received by Bush's older brother during the 2000 presidential election when the press directed incessant, vapid critiques at then-Vice President Al Gore:
According to the conventions prevailing at the time, to offer a view on the merits of a policy controversy would violate the dictates of objective journalism. Harping on the fact that Bush was lying about the consequences of his tax plan was shrill and partisan. Commenting on style cues was okay, though, so the press could lean into various critiques of Gore's outfit.
Today it's clear that Jeb Bush is very much his brother's successor, both in terms of a love of regressive tax cuts and in terms of a passion for making the case for them in a dishonest way. And reading mainstream political reporters characterize the Jeb tax plan as "populist" or some kind of break with conservative orthodoxy paired with endless front-page coverage of every new micro-development in the Hillary Clinton email inquiry is giving me a very uncomfortable sense of déjà vu.
The good news is that new policy-focused verticals like the Upshot and Wonkblog at the New York Times and the Washington Post are doing a much better job of covering this round of Bush tax cuts. The bad news is that policy-focused coverage of presidential campaigns remains a specific and at times marginalized silo. There is not yet any sense that Bush's economic plans -- and his sales job of those plans -- should speak in a central way to how we understand his character, his judgment, his ethics, and his overall quest for the presidency.
The Associated Press recently criticized Republican candidates for claiming that policies "overwhelmingly benefit[ting] the wealthiest" are "populist," but many mainstream outlets have already published stories riddled with such pro-Republican spin.
At Vox, Yglesias argued that news consumers, and voters, deserve to know that the tax-cutting proposals at the heart of the Bush campaign's economic program were proven failures during his brother's administration, overwhelmingly favorws the ultra-rich, and were "a disaster" in his home state of Florida. Bush has already been credited as a "populist" in uncritical coverage of his budget-busting tax plan, gotten away with demanding that Americans "work longer hours" to boost economic growth, and set a 4 percent annual growth target for the economy that actual economists called "nonsense" and "impossible."
From the September 11 edition of Fox Business's Varney & Company:
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