O'Reilly, Asman baselessly linked NY Times' employee cutbacks to stories on bank tracking, NSA spying

››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER & ROB DIETZ

On Fox News and his radio show, Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that, because of criticism The New York Times has received for publishing a "terror finance story," the newspaper "announced ... it was cutting 25 percent of its work force." Based on figures provided in a Times article, the announced reductions amount to just over 2 percent of the work force. Similarly, on Your World, guest host David Asman falsely suggested the Times' cutbacks were a result of the public's reaction to the paper's recent reporting. In fact, the Times announced a plan to cut half its production staff by 2017 in September 2004, well before it reported on warrantless wiretapping or the Bush administration's bank-monitoring program.

On the July 18 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor and the July 19 edition of his nationally syndicated radio program, Bill O'Reilly falsely claimed that, because of criticism The New York Times has received for publishing a "terror finance story," the newspaper "announced ... it was cutting 25 percent of its work force." In fact, a July 18 Times article reported that the Times plans to cut 250 jobs by April 2008, but did not report the cutbacks as a percentage of the work force. Based on figures provided in a July 19 Times article, the announced reductions amount to just over 2 percent of the work force. Similarly, on the July 18 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, guest host David Asman baselessly suggested the Times' cutbacks were a result of the paper's reports on the Bush administration's bank-monitoring program and the warrantless domestic eavesdropping program conducted by the National Security Agency (NSA). Asman also claimed -- without offering any support -- that the Times' "[r]eadership is down" as a result of "those government secrets it revealed." In fact, the Times announced a broader plan to cut production staff by 50 percent by 2017 -- asserting that an industrial consultant had found that the cuts would not significantly affect output -- in September 2004, well before it reported on warrantless wiretapping or the bank-monitoring program. Further, the publicly available circulation data do not support Asman's contention that the Times' readership has declined in recent months.

During his "Talking Points Memo" segment, O'Reilly overstated the Times' recently announced downsizing plans and baselessly linked them to the Times' decision to publish a June 23 article on the Treasury Department program that monitors international financial transactions:

O'REILLY: Look what happened to The New York Times after the terror finance story. The paper announced today it was cutting 25 percent of its work force. Times are not good at the Times.

While a July 18 Times article reported that a "phased-in redesign of the paper ... will mean the loss of 250 production-related jobs" by April 2008, it did not report the decline as a percentage of its overall work force. However, a Times article published July 19, the day after O'Reilly's remarks, reported that "[b]y the end of this year, the overall work force will have been cut 17 percent, to 11,400 employees, from 13,800 employees in 2001." Assuming that none of the 250 job cuts would occur before the end of this year, those cuts would amount to 2.2 percent of The New York Times Company's work force; the company would have to eliminate 2,850 jobs to cut 25 percent of its work force. The July 19 report did note that the 250 jobs constitute "about a third of its total production work force in the New York region."

On Your World, Asman suggested the "government secrets" the Times "revealed" might have led to declining readership and the Times' "laying off employees":

ASMAN: [D]id you hear about this? The New York Times is hurting. Cutting costs, closing a printing plant, and laying off employees. And get this: It's also shrinking the size of the paper itself. Readership is down, leaving a lot of folks to wonder if those government secrets it revealed are the reason people are abandoning the paper.

Republican strategist Angela McGlowan agreed that the Times' declining circulation was a "direct backlash" for "its anti-Americanism, its anti-Bush agenda, its [being] anti-war on terror, and not to mention ... the many leaks of classified, sensitive information."

But contrary to Asman and McGlowan's suggestions that the bank-tracking and NSA-spying stories forced the employee cutbacks, the Times' staff reduction and cost-cutting decisions occurred well before the stories were published. In a September 13, 2004, press release, the Times announced that "members of the New York Newspaper Printing Pressmen's Union No. 2 ratified an agreement that significantly reduces staffing and that extends through March 30, 2017." While the July 18 Times article noted that it planned "to close its printing operation in Edison, N.J." as part of the cutbacks, the Times' September 2004 press release similarly noted that the agreement to cut 50 percent of its production staff covers "pressmen employed at the newspaper's two printing facilities in Edison, New Jersey, and Flushing, New York."

According to a September 13, 2004, Associated Press report, the Times decided to dramatically cut the production staff because "the company had retained an industrial consultant which determined that the newspaper's presses could be run with significantly reduced staffing levels."

Asman did not provide any evidence for his claim that the Times' "[r]eadership is down." According to a May 9 USA Today report of the most recent Audit Bureau of Circulations (ABC) data, collected for six months ending on March 31, 2006, the Times' circulation rose 0.5 percent from the previous year, though the ABC does not provide month-to-month figures. The ABC has yet to analyze circulation data since March 31, 2006, when the Times' daily circulation was "1.14 million." And according to a July 19 report by the The Guardian (UK), the Times' circulation "has remained steady over the past five years." In a July 9 report, The Buffalo News also put the Times' readership at "1.7 million Sunday, 1.1 million daily."

Later during the Your World segment, McGlowan asserted that the "L.A. Times ... just like the mainstream media, they have tried to manipulate the elections by manipulating the free press." In response, radio talk-show host Leslie Marshall asserted: "I think you're all smoking crack." McGlowan replied: "Baby, I'm not a crack addict. I'm not a crack addict," and later added that the Times is "a liberal rag."

From the July 19 edition of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:

O'REILLY: The New York Times, by the way, cuts 25 percent of its work force. And, times are not good over there.

From the July 18 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:

O'REILLY: Caution, you are about to enter a no-spin zone. The Factor begins right now.

Hi, I'm Bill O'Reilly. Thanks for watching us tonight.

Taking a vacation from the terror war, that is the subject of this evening's "Talking Points Memo." All over the country, the left-wing newspapers don't know what to say about the current violence in the Middle East. They can't condemn Israel, because that country was attacked. They can't praise Hezbollah, because that would be economic suicide.

Look what happened to The New York Times after the terror finance story. A paper announced today it was cutting 25 percent of its work force. Times are not good at the Times.

From the July 18 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

ASMAN: And then The New York Times, it is sinking. Why? We got the answer.

[...]

ASMAN: You hear about this? The New York Times is hurting. Cutting costs, closing a printing plant, and laying off about 250 employees. And get this: It's also shrinking the size of the paper itself. Readership is down, leaving a lot of folks to wonder if those government secrets it revealed are the reason people are abandoning the paper. GOP strategist Angela McGlowan says the Times is paying the price for its un-American ways, but radio talk-show host Leslie Marshall disagrees. Now Angela, you say the Times has brought on all this by itself.

McGLOWAN: Yes, it has, because with its anti-Americanism, its anti-Bush agenda, its anti-war on terror, and not to mention what you said earlier, the many leaks of classified, sensitive information. And it's a direct backlash. The American people are sick and tired of it. The American people want to read the newspaper that reports the news and The New York Times isn't doing that.

ASMAN: Well, Leslie, you know, we hate charts on this show, because they're such mechanical things, but let's show one from The New York Times starting three years ago. You can see a steady downward trend from about 50 dollars a share two years ago. It's now down to about 25 dollars a share. There it is. Steadily down all during the time that it was releasing this information. Isn't there a connection?

MARSHALL: Oh, no, absolutely not. If what Angela is professing, that the litmus test of a good journalistic newspaper is that we have to always say nice things about the president, then I gotta pack up, because that's not my America. The reason for this is the Internet. The Internet -- and it's not just The New York Times, if you want to have a graph, show every newspaper.

ASMAN: It's -- You know, Leslie, Leslie. Hold on, hold on, hold on. We're not talking about saying nice things about the president.

McGLOWAN: Thank you, David. Thank you.

ASMAN: We're talking about revealing secrets.

MARSHALL: Revealing secrets is not the reason, as I just said. That cost -- that they're cutting costs and 250 employees. The Internet and the cost of distribution. They're also getting in line with their competitors, such as USA Today and The Wall Street Journal when it comes to the exact inches and the size of that paper.

McGLOWAN: But The Wall Street Journal, Leslie -- The Wall Street Journal is not closing any of its plants. Now I will agree with you, it is changing the style of its paper internationally. And next year in January, it's going to change its domestic paper. However, it's not closing any plants.

MARSHALL: If you think --

ASMAN: Yeah, but we should, Angela, we should mention that The Wall Street Journal is also getting smaller as well. They're gonna cut a column out.

MARSHALL: Yes, yes.

McGLOWAN: But David --

ASMAN: So it is happening around, but Leslie, nowhere as strongly as The New York Times.

MARSHALL: Well, actually, I don't agree. I mean, if you look at -- have you looked at --

ASMAN: Well, look at the share price of Dow Jones, et cetera.

MARSHALL: Well, have you looked at the individual --

ASMAN: It's not down as much as The New York Times.

MARSHALL: Are you talking about Dow Jones, or are you talking about the actual employees that will lose their jobs, as we are talking about with The New York Times? If you look at every single paper in the country, whether it's a large city like Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, or whether it's a smaller town like Tupelo [Mississippi], a lot of the newspapers have been hurt by the Internet.

McGLOWAN: But --

MARSHALL: I, myself, as a talk show host, I don't get all the newspapers anymore --

McGLOWAN: Leslie -- Leslie --

ASMAN: Angela --

MARHSALL: I, myself, use the Internet.

McGLOWAN: Leslie, let's talk about business, here. Stock prices does impact the bottom line, and cutting costs does lay off employees eventually.

MARSHALL: And I agree with you there. That's what this is about, the bottom line. Not a Republican agenda.

McGLOWAN: Let's go back to -- Leslie, you've given a monologue, Leslie, it's supposed to be --

ASMAN: Hold on, one at a time. Go ahead, Angela.

MARSHALL: Oh honey, I'm not doing a monologue.

McGLOWAN: Leslie, it's supposed to be fair and balanced. It's supposed to be fair and balanced. So bottom line is this: The Wall Street Journal is not closing a plant, the L.A. Times, though, did close a plant earlier this year, and just like the mainstream media, they have tried to manipulate the elections by manipulating the free press.

ASMAN: OK, Leslie, quick final word to you, go ahead.

MARSHALL: Honestly, I think you're all smoking crack if you think the Republicans are controlling of the paper and The New York Times.

McGLOWAN: Baby, I'm not a crack addict. I'm not a crack addict.

MARSHALL: The New York Times is simply cutting costs because, like every company, they have to look at their budget and then they say, OK, A doesn't equal B, we've gotta make cuts, newspapers, banks, even the government.

McGLOWAN: It's a liberal rag, Leslie, it's a liberal rag.

ASMAN: OK, and ladies, that has to be the final word from Leslie Marshall, Angela McGlowan, good to see you both, thanks for coming in.

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.