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Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump appeared on The Dr. Oz Show to discuss, among other things, his child care policy proposals. Trump noted that “there are a lot of men involved” in child care and that “under the plan we’re doing they will be helped so much,” yet Trump’s child care plan explicitly excludes fathers from access to parental leave. Oz did not point that out.
Trump’s child care proposal includes a plan for six weeks of maternity leave for new mothers paid through unemployment insurance. By specifying “maternity leave,” as The Associated Press reported, Trump’s “leave program would not apply to working fathers.” ThinkProgress economic policy editor Bryce Covert also noted that Trump’s plan would exclude not only working fathers, but “potentially all adoptive parents” and countless LGBT parents. Trump’s failure to include fathers in his child care proposals is one of several shortfalls journalists should be aware of when reporting on Trump’s plan. From the September 15 edition of ABC’s The Dr. Oz Show:
DONALD TRUMP: In the case of Ivanka, the child care thing has been so important to her for so long, she used to say, “I don’t know who people do it.” Last night -- just one story quick -- we met with about 20 mothers and a couple of gentlemen, too, by the way, who are also, you know, there is a lot of men involved in this that are getting absolutely --
DR. MEHMET OZ (HOST): Mister Moms.
TRUMP: -- they are getting hurt so badly. But, we met with these 20 people, they were incredible people, and they had just unbelievable and sad, very sad stories to tell. And, I got a very heavy dose of what's going on. And, I will tell you, under the plan we're doing they will be helped so much. And Ivanka was always saying, "Dad, we've got to do something about child care. It's just so unfair." And we really talked with those people last night how tough it is.
IVANKA TRUMP: And most people don’t realize that it’s the single-largest household expense in much of this country, even exceeding the cost of housing.
Generally Strong Coverage Of Census Data Shows TV News Outlets Can Still Cover The Economy Well When They Try
The major broadcast evening news programs each provided great examples of how network news can still be a source of concise and informative coverage on the economy this week when they covered new data releases from the Census Bureau.
On September 13, the U.S. Census Bureau released annual updates to its ongoing reports on income and poverty and health insurance coverage in the United States. The reports revealed stunning positive news about the state of the American economy: a record-setting 5.2 percent increase in median household income from 2014 to 2015, median income at its highest point since before the Great Recession, a drop in the official poverty rate of 1.2 percentage points, more than 3.5 million Americans lifted out of poverty, a 1.3 percentage point drop in the uninsured rate, and roughly 4 million fewer uninsured Americans. In response to the data, Robert Greenstein of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) noted that 2015 marked just the second year since 1988 “that brought simultaneous progress on poverty, median income, and health insurance.”
Print and online coverage of the Census data was overwhelmingly positive, with CNNMoney writer Tami Luhby and Washington Post contributor Paul Waldman both noting that the data undermine a key (albeit, “false”) talking point frequently used by Republicans: that there has been wage stagnation, and President Obama is to blame.
Just as importantly, the positive coverage continued during the September 13 editions of major nightly broadcast news programs on ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS, which collectively draw more than 20 million daily viewers. Only ABC failed to note all three of the key Census data findings -- the increase in median income, the drop in poverty, and the drop in the uninsured rate -- during its reporting.
As is often the case, PBS NewsHour offered the most in-depth and detailed discussion of the Census reports. Correspondent Lisa Desjardins spent just under three minutes detailing the data and discussing its possible political ramifications and effect on the upcoming election. The segment even included some cautionary notes, including reasons that some Americans have not seen a boost in take-home pay despite the surge in median earnings and some potential problems faced by customers on the private insurance market.
Next in terms of quality of coverage were CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News, both of which discussed all of the key takeaways from the data. CBS anchor Scott Pelley said the Census reports were “great news” and stood as proof that “more Americans are cashing in on the recovery.” NBC anchor Lester Holt added that “middle class incomes had their fastest rate of growth ever recorded” and “incomes increased across all racial groups.”
ABC’s World News spent the least amount of time on the topic, mentioning the Census data as just part of a discussion about the stock market, but anchor David Muir still noted that the 5.2 percent median income increase was “the largest rise in nearly 50 years.”
The individual segments might not seem like cause for celebration, but, according to recent Media Matters analyses of broadcast news coverage, each segment should serve as an example of how these programs can adequately discuss the economy.
Overall coverage of the economy fell considerably from the first to second quarter of 2016, as the major networks focused more of their limited time on horse-race political coverage detached from the economic issues that actually drive voter behavior. Coverage of economic inequality and poverty also decreased from the first to second quarter of the year overall -- only ABC and CBS focused more attention on those crucial subjects from April through June than they had in the first three months of the year:
Unfortunately, throughout the first half of the year, major news outlets have been focusing less and less attention on the economy, creating a void that can easily be filled with misinformation. As broadcast and cable outlets retreated from covering the economy, misleading and biased stories emanating from Fox News and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump accounted for a higher proportion of coverage.
Broadcast evening news shows face considerable challenges in trimming segments down to fit abbreviated commercial schedules, but their coverage on September 13 demonstrated that the flagship programs can still balance brevity and substance when they try.
Right-wing media personalities have long claimed that the economy is worse off than it is in reality by citing inappropriate figures to distort the full picture. They claim that the “real” unemployment rate is much higher than the figure reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and they often point to the labor force participation rate as the main indicator of how healthy job growth is.
Donald Trump has claimed that the unemployment rate is as high as 42 percent, saying “these are the real unemployment numbers – the 5 percent figure is one of the biggest hoaxes in modern politics.” PolitiFact gave that claim a rating of “Pants on Fire,” its worst possible verdict, but right-wing media have repeatedly enabled this lie by claiming that as many as 94 million Americans are "not in the labor force," failing to note that this 94 million includes: students, retirees, stay-at-home parents, and those institutionalized in mental health or penal facilities. As of August 2016, the official unemployment rate is 4.9 percent, down from a peak of 10 percent in October 2009 following the financial crisis.
Conservative pundits like to cite the labor force participation rate, which is the percentage of the population that is in the labor force, as proof that the economy is in decline. They use this rate because it is downward trending while the unemployment rate has been steadily improving for nearly six years. The reason the labor force participation rate is on the decline though, is because "baby boomers" are retiring en masse; in fact, roughly 10,000 people reach retirement age every day. Labor force participation peaked during the Clinton administration, and President Obama inherited an economy in the midst of a deep recession from President Bush. The idea that Obama is to blame for an imaginary economic decline is just misinformation.
Many economists agree that the employment to population ratio is a better measure of economic health -- as it represents the number of jobs available as a proportion of the total population -- and the ratio has been gradually improving since the end of the recession.
These types of myths are harmful. CNN Money recently highlighted a study from the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University which found that while the unemployment rate is only 4.9 percent, 57 percent of Americans “believe it is a lot higher” because the “general public has ‘extremely little factual knowledge’ about the job market and labor force.” The article also noted how “Donald Trump has tapped into this confusion” by “repeatedly call[ing] the official unemployment rate a ‘joke’ and even a ‘hoax.’”
Panelists Ignore The Entire Bush Administration And Great Recession
A Fox Business panel attempting to downplay the latest round of positive economic indicators devolved into self-parody. The host and guests misleadingly framed median income data to omit the economic calamities of the Bush administration while accusing President Obama of “cherry-picking the time frame” and “playing with the numbers” related to other examples of economic improvement.
On the September 14 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co., host Stuart Varney and guests Elizabeth MacDonald and Tammy Bruce slammed President Obama for defending his economic legacy during a campaign stop in Pennsylvania. The segment began with Varney and MacDonald lamenting that new median household income data released yesterday by the Census Bureau is “still below the peak back in 1999,” with MacDonald mockingly adding, “You’re nearly [as] rich as you were 17 years ago.”
Varney complained that Obama was “cherry-picking” data to claim his administration has created nearly 15 million net new jobs, and MacDonald added, “He’s not factoring in 2009, … so he’s playing with the numbers.” MacDonald further claimed that a “majority of net new jobs” during the Obama administration have been in “low-paying fast-food or health sector” industries. Bruce concluded the segment by lamenting the administration’s so-called “spin” and “theater” while citing evidence from outside sources that she claimed contradicts the significant increase in median household income from 2014 to 2015.
The complaint that Obama is “not factoring in 2009” is particularly telling, given that the segment began with Varney and MacDonald ignoring all of the reasons that median incomes remained lower in 2015 than at their 1999 peak. What happened between 1999 and 2015 to cause this income stagnation? The answer is simple: two recessions, both of which occurred during the Bush administration and neither of which was Obama’s fault. From the Census report:
Contrary to Varney’s claim, President Obama was not “cherry-picking” data to prop up his economic legacy. Even Fox’s complaint about shifting the “time frame” on net job creation carries little weight. CNNMoney explained last January that the president is basing his calculation on net jobs created since the low point of his presidency. He does not include 2009, because the economy the president inherited that year was rocked by recession and “it took time for the administration’s policies to take effect.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Obama administration has overseen the creation of 15.1 million private sector jobs since that indicator bottomed out in February 2010 and 10.9 million private sector jobs overall since he took office in January 2009.
The Census report showed major improvements in the poverty rate and the health care insurance rate and revealed broadly shared income gains across all racial and ethnic groups and by workers at every level of income. The gender wage gap narrowed slightly, with women earning roughly 80 percent as much as men in 2015, up from 79 percent the year before. The Census deemed that increase not to be “statistically significant,” and more work remains to be done to achieve equal pay, but the latest data still reveal the narrowest pay gap in history. Meanwhile, the year-to-year median income increase of 5.2 percent represented “the largest single-year increase since record-keeping began in 1967,” according to The New York Times.
Fox News and Fox Business have a long history of cherry-picking data to frame the Obama administration and progressive economic policies in the worst possible light. The economy continues to improve despite their protests.
View the full segment from Varney & Co. here:
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Journalists Called Trump Out In Real-Time, While Fox Repeated His False Claim On Air As If It Was News
Fox News correspondent Carl Cameron repeated a false claim pushed by Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump during a policy speech in Aston, PA, intended to outline the candidate’s newly-proposed reforms to child care and maternity leave. Trump attacked Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton for producing no such policy proposals -- a lie which Cameron then repeated on air.
During Trump’s September 13 speech, in which he attempted to flesh out the details of his convoluted reform agenda for child care and maternity leave, Trump falsely claimed that Clinton “has no child care plan.”
Journalists immediately slammed Trump’s claim. Political reporters Ben Jacobs of The Guardian, and Dan Merica of CNN called the statement “patently untrue” and “patently false.” And both noted that Clinton’s comprehensive child care reform agenda, which is far more detailed and expansive than Trump’s, has been online since June 2015.
Despite Trump’s false claim, Fox News correspondent Carl Cameron repeated the lie during a speech recap with Fox News host Bill O’Reilly. Cameron claimed that Trump’s speech was aimed at the “moderate voters” he needs to win swing states like Pennsylvania. He then added that Trump “has laid out his child care policies before Hillary Clinton has done anything in serious detail”:
CARL CAMERON: He’s both trying to get ahead of Hillary Clinton while she’s taken ill, but he’s also checking off boxes one of which Hillary Clinton has claimed to be a leader on. He has laid out his child care policies before Hillary Clinton has done anything in serious detail. As of earlier this morning, there wasn’t the types of policy statements on the Hillary Clinton web page that will soon be on the Trump web page. So, he’s going to places that Republicans don’t often go: he’s talking about policies that Republicans don’t often talk about, in order to expand his electorate, expand his support.
As of the end of his speech, Trump’s campaign website does contain a link to his child care policy fact sheet as well as a transcript of tonight’s speech. By comparison, the Clinton campaign published specific proposals to expand early childhood education and child care opportunities to American families on June 15, 2015 (one day before Trump announced his candidacy). The campaign expanded on those proposals with a renewed K-12 education reform agenda on March 10, and proposed an expansion of paid family and medical leave on May 23.
According to an August 29 review by the Associated Press (AP), Clinton’s campaign website contains pages filled with policy proposals on 38 different “issues,” totaling more than 100,000 words -- Trump’s site at the time covered just 7 issues in “just over 9,000 words.” AP reported on September 13 that “by any measure, Clinton has released far more specific plans on far more topics than her GOP rival.”
Perhaps Cameron, who claimed to have checked Clinton’s website “earlier this morning,” just got confused.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has announced that he will unveil a plan for parental leave and child care affordability, which he claims he would pay for by ending unemployment insurance fraud. The plan would include six weeks of maternity leave, tax deductions for child care, and family savings accounts. Journalists reporting on the plan should know that it does not actually include paid family and paternity leave, it favors the wealthy, it does not include sufficient funding, and it contradicts his few previous statements on child care.
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Researchers Found New York’s Enactment Of Paid Sick Leave Was “No Big Deal” Despite Right-Wing Media Fear Mongering Around “Very Dangerous” Law
The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) released a report on the economic impact of New York City’s requirement that employers provide workers with paid sick leave, finding that right-wing media concerns that such ordinances would create a prohibitive cost burden were “proven unfounded.” The ordinance was a particular target of the thoroughly discredited pundit Stephen Moore, who now counts himself among Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s senior economic advisers despite a consistent track record of being dead wrong on the economy.
According to a September 6 report from CEPR, fears that New York’s paid sick leave mandate would be “a major cost burden on employers” that could “invite widespread abuse by employees” have “proven unfounded.” The report surveyed 352 randomly selected businesses from October 2015 to March 2016 and found 97 percent of businesses had not reduced worker hours, 94 percent had not raised prices, and 91 percent had not reduced hiring activity as a result of the city’s paid sick leave mandate. The report also found that 96 percent of businesses reported no changes in customer service, and 94 percent reported no changes in productivity as a result of the law, which CEPR described as “a ‘non-event’ for most employers” despite the fact that the measure extended paid sick days to 1.4 million workers. The CEPR report on the successful implementation of paid sick leave in New York comes just two weeks after researchers with the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) found that paid sick leave laws like New York’s may prevent the spread of illnesses such as the flu and significantly improve public health.
Slate reported on CEPR's findings on September 7, mocking conservative critics of the law who worried it would create, as Slate put it, “a labor force of hypochondriac slackers” and drive businesses out of the city. Slate noted that paid sick leave laws had been passed in five states, Washington, D.C., and 26 cities since San Francisco enacted a paid leave mandate in 2007, calling the development “one of American progressives’ greatest policy triumphs.” Slate also noted that New York should be a good testing ground for how paid sick leave can affect economic growth, due to the city’s large size and the similar results found elsewhere by the U.S. Department of Labor. From Slate:
Did a labor force of hypochondriac slackers cause businesses to relocate to Nassau and Westchester Counties? It doesn’t look like it: New York City’s share of metropolitan employment has actually increased, slightly, in the two years since the revised law took effect.
That jibes with findings from other cities published by the U.S. Department of Labor in October. San Francisco has outperformed surrounding counties in job growth since the passage of its policy in 2007. Likewise, analyses of Seattle and Washington, D.C. found negligible impacts on hiring and business location. A ton of research has also shown that flexible leave policies have a positive effect on worker productivity, happiness, and health.
These findings -- and the report that New York has seen the best job creation in a half-century during Mayor Bill De Blasio’s first two years in office -- offer a stark rebuke to critics of paid leave mandates like Trump economic adviser Stephen Moore. During a January 17, 2014, appearance on Fox News, Moore, who was then a Wall Street Journal editorial board member, blasted New York’s paid sick leave mandate, falsely claiming it would be “very dangerous for cities” if more such laws were enacted.
Moore’s empty criticism echoed other right-wing pundits, who had attacked paid leave as an unwarranted “entitlement” and hyped the supposed costs to businesses while ignoring the benefits for workers. Right-wing media repeatedly push such myths and routinely dismiss the need for such laws as nothing more than part of a “giant welfare giveaway utopia.” The complete failure of this particular right-wing media myth in the face of actual evidence bolsters Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman’s claim that Moore “has a troubled relationship with the facts.” Krugman speculated that in the conservative economic policy climate where Moore has made his career, perhaps his “incompetence is actually desirable” -- after all, a “smart hack might turn honest.”
The Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center’s (MassBudget) annual Labor Day report found that states that raised the minimum wage saw stronger low-wage earnings gains than states that did not raise wages, undermining a common right-wing media myth that higher wages actually reduce worker earnings.
MassBudget published its findings on how the minimum wage affects earnings in its 2016 State of Working Massachusetts report, published September 5. The study largely focused on a 7 percent increase in wage growth that low-wage Massachusetts workers experienced from 2014 to 2015 after the state enacted a minimum wage increase. The report also found that low-wage earnings growth was strongest nationwide in states that raised their minimum wages. According to the MassBudget report, women saw relatively greater income gains at the state level than men over the past year, and that may be related to the fact that women make up nearly two-thirds of all minimum wage workers and are disproportionately affected by wage increases. From the 2016 State of Working Massachusetts:
Massachusetts is accompanied by a handful of states such as California, New York, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and others that have passed legislation in the past two years that would increase their minimum wage. In 2015, low-wage workers in our Commonwealth and in other states with recent minimum wage increases have seen real wage growth. The chart below shows that the growth in wages for the bottom 10th percentile of earners was fastest in states with legislated increases (versus minimum wage increases through indexing to inflation or no increase at all).
MassBudget’s report stands in contrast to misinformation about the minimum wage frequently promoted by right-wing media. Conservative outlets often claim that raising the wage will actually hurt workers by killing jobs and harming businesses, despite all evidence to the contrary. New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie actually cited a number of these debunked right-wing media myths during an August 30 press conference announcing his decision to veto a minimum wage increase in New Jersey.
As Labor Day approaches, Media Matters looks back at how media have attacked organized labor over the past year. In the midst of several important battles for labor unions in 2016, media have often pushed misleading information about union membership and fees, attempted to delegitimize the votes of union members, uncritically cited and elevated voices from anti-union dark-money groups without proper disclosure, and claimed that teachers unions’ activism shows that educators do not care about what’s best for their students.
New Jersey governor and Trump campaign adviser Chris Christie held a press conference on August 30 to announce he would veto a bill passed by the state legislature to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. During the press conference Christie attacked efforts to raise the minimum wage, citing right-wing media myths that raising wages would hurt businesses and lead to job automation.
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