Fox News allowed Diaz to criticize EFCA without noting his affiliation with group opposing it

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

Fox News hosted Republican strategist Danny Diaz, who criticized "Democrats and their union friends" for "pushing legislation like card check legislation" -- the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) -- at the expense of the economy. However, at no point during the segment did Fox News disclose Diaz's affiliation with the Workforce Fairness Institute, which is "[c]urrently ... focused on educating the public on the damaging effects of the deceptively named 'Employee Free Choice Act' or 'card check.' "

During the March 10 edition of Fox News' Happening Now, co-host Jane Skinner hosted Republican strategist Danny Diaz, who criticized "Democrats and their union friends" for "pushing legislation like 'card check' legislation" -- the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) -- at the expense of the economy. However, at no point did Fox News disclose Diaz's affiliation with the Workforce Fairness Institute, an organization whose website states that it "is funded by and advocates on behalf of business owners" and is "[c]urrently ... focused on educating the public on the damaging effects of the deceptively named 'Employee Free Choice Act' or 'card check.' " In a March 9 article, Politico senior political writer Ben Smith reported that the WFI "employs" Diaz. Further, Diaz has been identified as representing the WFI in multiple media appearances.

After Skinner told Diaz that "one of the storylines out there is that the president and the administration are just taking on too much at once," Diaz said in part: "Ultimately, this president is going to be judged by his actions and the results that they achieve. And when you have Democrats and their union friends out there pushing legislation like 'card check' legislation, I think there are real concerns on the Democratic side whether they're, you know, taking this on appropriately."

In his March 9 Politico article, Smith reported that the debate over EFCA "has provided a welcome stimulus to a seriously depressed industry: Republican political operatives" and wrote of Diaz:

Danny Diaz's morning e-mails are back.

Diaz, until last month the relentless communications director for the Republican National Committee [RNC] and reliable source of jabs at Democrats, now sends out a new "Morning Roundup" of attacks on the Employee Free Choice Act.

[...]

Another business-backed group, the Workforce Fairness Institute (not to be confused with the Workforce Freedom Initiative), employs Former Bush ad man Mark McKinnon, former White House Political Director Sara Taylor, Mitt Romney aides Barbara Comstock and Katie Packer, powerhouse conservative PR firm CRC, GOP Web gurus Patrick Ruffini, Mindy Finn and Patrick Hynes and former RNC Communications Director Diaz.

Diaz has also been identified as representing the WFI in the National Review and as a guest on the February 26 edition of Air America Radio's Thom Hartmann Program and the February 28 edition of Aftermath Radio. During Aftermath Radio, Diaz said of himself and WFI:

STEVEN FOLEY (host): Our guest is Danny Diaz from the Workforce Fairness Institute, here to tell us about his time at CPAC and what the Workforce Institute is -- is really rallying against right now, which is the Employee -- I guess we're calling it the Employee Forced Choice Act --

DIAZ: That's right.

FOLEY: -- is a better term for it.

DIAZ: We're just focused on educating folks, you know? That's what we're doing.

Chris Cillizza reported in a February 20 Washingtonpost.com post -- which was highlighted on Diaz's corporate website -- that Diaz "expects to be intimately involved in the coming congressional fight over the Employee Free Choice Act and will aim to advise congressional candidates on message strategy."

During the segment, Skinner simply said that Diaz is "former communications director for the RNC," and on-screen text similarly identified Diaz that way:

Diaz image

From the March 10 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:

JANE SKINNER (co-host): The president is halfway to his first 100 days. It is President Obama's 50th day in office today. In that short amount of time, we have certainly seen a lot of action from the White House. Take a look: a plan to pull combat troops out of Iraq -- no small-ticket item; a $787 billion economic stimulus bill passed and signed into law; the bank rescue plan -- still a work in progress; the order to close the detention center at Guantánamo Bay; and just yesterday we saw him reverse a ban on federal funding for stem cell research -- for embryonic stem cell research.

That's a lot of stuff. Danny Diaz is former communications director for the RNC [Republican National Committee], and Steve Murphy was a media consultant for Governor Bill Richardson's [D-NM] presidential campaign. Good to see you both.

Steve, I want to start with you and this quote from Howard Fineman -- known to be liberal -- from Newsweek today -- take a look. He said President Obama would "have made a fine judge, but we don't need a judge. We need a blunt-spoken coach. Obama may be mistaking motion for progress, calling signals for a game plan. A busy, industrious over-achiever, he likes to check off boxes on a long to-do list." Has he actually made progress?

MURPHY: Yeah, I think he's made a lot of progress. You know, he's done everything that he said he would do in the campaign. America's image in the world is dramatically improved, which gives us a lot more diplomatic leverage. The stimulus plan -- this stimulus legislation has really helped in terms of the contraction of the economy, slowing down the pace of the recession.

But look, there is one thing I think the administration really needs to focus on, and that is the banking crisis. The economy is everything here right now. The big banks, the investment banks, wrecked this economy. They have trillions of dollars of derivative rot on their books, and the administration is going to have to face reality there. What we're doing with the banks isn't -- isn't enough, and it is not going to work.

SKINNER: Danny, one of the storylines out there is that the president and the administration are just taking on too much at once. You know, Warren Buffett now notably said in an interview that people are confused, and when they're confused and they're overwhelmed with information and what's going on, they tend to pull back.

DIAZ: Well, the other day the president was talking about health care; I believe he's talking about education today. The issue is fairly simple: the economy, the economy, the economy. People are very, very concerned about their jobs and the state of the economy. And you can see by news stories today that Democrats are concerned with the agenda that this administration is putting forward with the amount of money that's being spent and the return on that investment.

Ultimately, this president is going to be judged by his actions and the results that they achieve. And when you have Democrats and their union friends out there pushing legislation like "card check" legislation, I think there are real concerns on the Democratic side whether they're, you know, taking this on appropriately.

SKINNER: What about overloading Congress? Steve, it's possible.

MURPHY: No, I don't think Congress is being overloaded, but there is an enormous amount of work to do. And Danny, I'd like to, you know -- I think the reality really simply is we are not spending enough money on this. There's not -- somehow or another, either the government is going to have to put more money in a more structured way into this banking crisis, or they're going to have to take over the banks. It's trillions of dollars. The same thing with the stimulus. We have $3 trillion of excess capacity in this economy right now; a $700 billion stimulus does not take up the slack.

SKINNER: Danny, have at it. Not enough spent?

DIAZ: You know, Jane, in this 8 percent increase in this omnibus bill, $400 billion, you have projects that were covered in the stimulus bill -- almost a trillion dollars. You have the automakers coming back; you have the White House and Democrats talking about an additional stimulus program. I mean, you have the banking issue. At the end of the day, there's a lot of money going out the door, and people are asking, when are they going to see a return on that investment? Are we essentially subsidizing flawed business models?

These are serious questions that this president needs to deal with. He's going to be judged by his actions, the results they achieve. And I think, you know, you don't need to look at what Republicans are saying. Look at the actions of Democrats on Capitol Hill and how just worried and nervous they are, and they can't even support the president's budget. I think that says a lot.

SKINNER: Steve, Danny, we just have 10 seconds left for each of you. Grade 'em --

MURPHY: Danny --

SKINNER: -- grade 'em 50 days in.

MURPHY: Danny --

SKINNER: Give me a grade and a 10-second explanation for why.

MURPHY: Oh, I think -- A-plus. And I just want to make one point real quickly here, Danny: You're absolutely right about the flawed business model. But if the banks go down, the economy goes down worldwide.

SKINNER: A-plus -- I wish you were my professor. Danny, last word from you.

DIAZ: I don't think you could give this president a grade, you know, with, you know, such a short period of time. This is going to take a long time. He's going to be judged over the long term.

SKINNER: Danny and Steve, good to see you guys. Thanks.

Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel
Person
Jane Skinner
Show/Publication
Happening Now
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