"Fox News Lies" While Covering Pro-Labor Protests In Wisconsin

››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT & MIKE BURNS

Fox News has pushed a litany of falsehoods while reporting on pro-labor protests in Wisconsin, thereby proving right the many Wisconsin protesters who have broken out into chants of "Fox News lies."

Pro-Labor Protesters Chant "Fox News Lies"

Protesters Chant "Fox Lies." On February 18, protesters chanted "Fox lies" during Fox News correspondent Jeff Flock's live report on the labor protests from the Wisconsin Capitol building. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 2/18/11]

Protesters Chant "Tell The Truth" During Live Fox Segment. On February 21, protesters chanted "tell the truth" throughout Fox News correspondent Mike Tobin's live report on the protests. [Fox News, The Fox Report, 2/21/11]

Protesters: "Fox News Lies." On February 27, protesters again chanted "Fox News lies" during a Fox News report from the Madison, WI protests. [Fox News, America's News HQ, 2/27/11]

Fox Falsely Claims WI Gov. Walker Is "Actually Doing What He Campaigned On"

Gingrich: Walker Is "Actually Doing What He Campaigned On." During the February 24 edition of On the Record, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich said:

VAN SUSTEREN: Is Wisconsin's Governor Scott Walker doing right thing or not? His budget plan is rattling unions and sent Democrats running across state lines to Illinois as protesters continue to swarm Madison and seize the state capitol building. Now, everyone is asking, Did the governor make the right move? Many states across America are broke. So should other states follow the Wisconsin governor's lead, or try something else?

Former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich joins us. He and his wife, Callista, are authors of the new book "Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous With Destiny."

Good evening, Mr. Speaker. And I know you've written an op-ed piece in support of Governor Walker. But I'm just curious. What should he be doing tonight? Because tomorrow's supposedly a drop-dead date on this bonding, and the Democrats say they're not coming home.

NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA), FMR. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think he should do whatever he has to technically to pay for the bonding and blame the Democrats for the carnage that that's going to cause. They are forcing this crisis. You got to make sure they own the responsibility.

But you have to put Scott Walker in context. After having been elected three times as county executive of the largest government in the state, Milwaukee County, he campaigned for a year-and-a-half on a very clear program. Nothing he's doing is new. Everything he's doing was in his platform. It's what the people voted on.

The amazing thing is the Republicans gained seats in the senate, gained seats in the house. There are no new elected freshmen Democrats. The governor himself won decisively. And the Democrats, having lost the argument with the people -- this is not Republican-Democrat. The people of Wisconsin elected a 60 percent Republican majority in the house, a virtually 60 percent Republican majority in the senate and a Republican governor. And the governor's now executing -- this seems to be a shock to Democrats. He's actually doing what he campaigned on.

The contrast with President Obama breaking his word this week is startling. I mean, Scott Walker is doing what he said he would do. [Fox News, On the Record, 2/24/11, accessed via Nexis]

Asman: Walker "Did Announce When He Was Running For Governor This Is What He Was Going To Do." During the February 25 edition of America's Nightly Scoreboard, host David Asman said:

ASMAN: The bill strips most public sector unions of collective bargain or at least some of their collective bargaining privileges. Democrats and their supporters yelling "Shame" as you can hear after the vote as Republicans walked out. Now Democrats are investigating whether the vote was legal. The bill goes to the Senate where Democrats have gone AWOL. So how is all of this going to get resolved, Lee?

LEE HAWKINS, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": I don't know, but I think this is indicative of what we're going to see in the future. He's from that young new faction of the Republican base that's been dying to have this ideological debate with the unions probably since he was a teenager watching Ronald Reagan on television.

And he campaigned on the deficit issue. So basically he's actually following through on what he campaigned on, and what he is going to happen as we're going to see a fierce debate on this and many others.

ASMAN: I'm glad you brought that up because he did announce when he was running for governor this is what he was going to do. No surprises. And Mitch Daniels did the same thing in Indiana. [Fox Business, America's Nightly Scoreboard, 2/25/11, accessed via Nexis]

PolitiFact: Walker Did Not Campaign On Proposal To "Sharply Curb Collective Bargaining Rights"

PolitiFact: Walker Did Not " 'Campaign On' His Union Bargaining Plan." On February 22, PolitiFact Wisconsin gave a "false" rating to the claim that Walker campaigned on the proposal to sharply curtail collective bargaining rights:

In the turbulent wake of his controversial plan to sharply curtail collective bargaining rights, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has faced criticism that he gave no warning of such a dramatic plan during the long 2010 governor's race.

Walker has forcefully challenged that contention, most bluntly at a Feb. 21, 2011 news conference. A reporter asked if the move to limit union power was payback for pro-union moves made by Democrats in the past.

"It's not a tit for tat," Walker responded. "The simple matter is I campaigned on this all throughout the election. Anybody who says they are shocked on this has been asleep for the past two years."

[...]

Let's sum up our research.

Walker contends he clearly "campaigned on" his union bargaining plan.

But Walker, who offered many specific proposals during the campaign, did not go public with even the bare-bones of his multi-faceted plans to sharply curb collective bargaining rights. He could not point to any statements where he did. We could find none either.

While Walker often talked about employees paying more for pensions and health care, in his budget-repair bill he connected it to collective bargaining changes that were far different from his campaign rhetoric in terms of how far his plan goes and the way it would be accomplished.

We rate his statement False. [PolitiFact Wisconsin, 2/22/11]

Fox Airs Cropped Video To Suggest Former NEA Official Said He Does Not "Care About The Children"

Hannity Airs Cropped Video, Suggests Former NEA Official Chanin Does Not "Care About The Children." From the February 24 edition of Fox News' Hannity:

HANNITY: Let me show both of you. This is the former National Education Association General Counsel on why the NEA is so effective. I'm playing this because it is my belief that rank and file are often abused. Rank and file money goes to the unions. Unions support Democratic candidates. Democratic candidates funnel exorbitant benefits to them that they kick the can down the road and can't afford. But do they care about the children? You decide. We will roll this tape.

CHANIN (video clip): It is not because of our creative ideas. It is not because of the merit of our positions. It is not because we care about children. And it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power. And we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year, because they believe that we are the unions that can most effectively represent them.

HANNITY: Not because we care about children. Not because we have creative ideas. Not because of the merits of our position. Mike, do you find that as offensive as I do?

MIKE LANGYEL, MILWAUKEE TEACHERS ASSOCIATION: Well, you know what, what we're saying is that --

HANNITY: I asked you a question. Is that offensive to you?

LANGYEL: It is not the question that we have to face today. Today, the question is what are we doing to improve education? --

HANNITY: Wait a minute, I find -- This is about unions. Do you find what the head of the NEA said about children, do you find that offensive?

LANGYEL: You took that out of context. You really did --

HANNITY: But I played it in its entirety.

LANGYEL: I know this person. But it is taken out of context. He did not say that we don't care about kids --

HANNITY: It is not about our creative, it is not the merit of our positions, it is not because we care about children.

LANGYEL: But we do care about children. We care about children and that is exactly the point he was making. If you just give me a second. He said this that we care about children but it is our collective bargaining rights that gives us the power to represent the children --

HANNITY: He said it's not because we care about children. [Fox News, Hannity, 2/24/11]

In Fact, Chanin Did Not Say NEA Doesn't "Care About Children"

Chanin: Caring For Children And Creative Ideas Are Not Enough To Make NEA An "Effective Advocate." In his closing remarks in his farewell address former NEA General Counsel, Bob Chanin said NEA's creative ideas, vision, and care for children are not enough to ensure that NEA is an "effective advocate." Rather, he said that preserving the power and influence of the NEA will "enable us to achieve our vision of a great public school for every child." Chanin further stated that "closing achievement gaps, reducing dropout rates, improving teacher quality" are "the goals that guide the work we do."

From Chanin's July 2009 speech (the portions in bold show the misleadingly cropped quote used by Hannity):

CHANIN: At first glance, some of you may find these attacks troubling. But you would be wrong. They are, in fact, really a good thing. When I first came to NEA in the early '60s it had few enemies, and was almost never criticized, attacked, or even mentioned in the media. This was because no one really gave a damn about what NEA did, or what NEA said. It was the proverbial sleeping giant: a conservative, apolitical, do-nothing organization.

But then, NEA began to change. It embraced collective bargaining. It supported teacher strikes. It established a political action committee. It spoke out for affirmative action, and it defended gay and lesbian rights. What NEA said and did began to matter. And the more we said and did, the more we pissed people off. And, in turn, the more enemies we made.

So the bad news, or depending on your point of view, the good news, is that NEA and its affiliates will continue to be attacked by conservative and right-wing groups as long as we continue to be effective advocates for public education, for education employees, and for human and civil rights.

And that brings me to my final, and most important point. Which is why, at least in my opinion, NEA and its affiliates are such effective advocates. Despite what some among us would like to believe, it is not because of our creative ideas. It is not because of the merit of our positions. It is not because we care about children. And it is not because we have a vision of a great public school for every child. NEA and its affiliates are effective advocates because we have power. And we have power because there are more than 3.2 million people who are willing to pay us hundreds of millions of dollars in dues each year because they believe that we are the unions that can most effectively represent them, the unions that can protect their rights and advance their interests as education employees.

This is not to say that the concern of NEA and its affiliates with closing achievement gaps, reducing dropout rates, improving teacher quality, and the like are unimportant or inappropriate. To the contrary, these are the goals that guide the work we do. But they need not and must not be achieved at the expense of due process, employee rights, and collective bargaining. That simply is too high a price to pay.

When all is said and done, NEA and its affiliates must never lose sight of the fact that they are unions, and what unions do first and foremost is represent their members. If we do that. If we do that and if we do it well, the rest will fall into place. NEA and its affiliates will remain powerful and that power will in turn enable us to achieve our vision of a great public school for every child.

Today, NEA has thanked me for some of the things that I have done. But this is in a sense, backwards. It is I who should thank NEA for giving me the opportunity to spend almost 50 years of my working life for causes that I truly believe in and to be part of an organization that has made a difference in the lives of children and education employees and has led the defense of public education. [NEA, 7/6/09]

Fox Pushes Apples-To-Oranges Comparison Of Public And Private Pay

Kelly: Public Sector Workers Make More That Private Sector Counterparts. During the February 21 edition of Fox News' America Live, host Megyn Kelly stated "A closer look at the salaries of public and private sector employees in Wisconsin reveals quite a gap." A graphic showing "average annual pay" in Wisconsin in 2009 was then aired:

After reading the graphic, Kelly said: "What a difference. It used to be if you went to work for the state government, you would make less, but it was worth it, because you would have good benefits, good health care, nice fat pension, that kind of thing. So your salary would be lower. You can see from that full-screen we just showed you, that graphic, that that's no longer the case." [Fox News, America Live, 2/21/11]

Huckabee: "Public Union Workers [Make] 30% Better Wages [And] 70% Better Benefits Than Their Private Sector Counterparts." Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee falsely claimed that public union workers make "30% better wages" and "70% better benefits than their private sector counterparts." From Fox & Friends. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 02/25/11]

EPI Study: WI Public Employees Earn "4.8% Less ... Per Hour" Than Private Sector Counterparts

EPI: "Wisconsin Public Employees Earn 4.8% Less In Total Compensation Per Hour Than Comparable Full-Time Employees In Wisconsin's Private Sector." A study published February 10 by the think tank Economic Policy Institute (EPI) found that when "[c]omparisons controlling for education, experience," and other factors are taken into account, "Wisconsin public employees earn 4.8% less in total compensation per hour than comparable full-time employees in Wisconsin's private sector." [EPI, "Are Wisconsin Public Employees Over-compensated?" 2/10/11]

EPI: "Workers With A Bachelor's Degree Or More ... Are Compensated Between $20,000 ... To Over $82,000 A Year Less" Than Private Sector Counterparts. The EPI report also included a graphic showing the average compensation for public and private sector employees in Wisconsin by education:

[EPI, 2/18/11]

Fox Had To Correct False Claim That "61 Percent" Of Americans "In Favor Of Taking [Bargaining Rights] Away"

Kilmeade: According To USA Today/Gallup Poll, "61 Percent In Favor Of Taking [Bargaining Rights] Away." On the February 23 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade discussed the results of a recent USA Today/Gallup poll to falsely claim that "61 percent" of those polled are "in favor of taking [collective bargaining rights] away." From the broadcast:

KILMEADE: Wow. But is President Obama out of step with history? Joining us now to debate it, knock it around just a little bit, Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman and Jim Glassman, Director of the Bush Center and author of the book Safety Net. First things first, Robert, do you think the president is taking a big risk here?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Not at all. I think he's showing respect for history and respect for our history of supporting the rights and safety of workers, but more than that, he's speaking for the mainstream of our country and the main stream of Republican governors that are not siding with Governor Walker in his efforts to overturn right to work -- collective bargaining.

KILMEADE: I think Gallup, a relatively mainstream poll, has a differing view. And here is the question that was posed, should you take away--will you favor or are you in disfavor of taking away collective bargaining when it comes to salaries for government workers? Sixty-one percent in favor of taking it away. Thirty-three percent oppose. Six percent up in the air. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/23/11]

A graphic claiming that "61 percent" responded "favor" to the question "Collective bargaining -- take it away: favor or oppose?" was aired on-screen during the segment:

  • Fox Issued An On-Air Correction For Reversing The Results Of The Poll. Kilmeade issued a correction during the final minute of Fox & Friends -- 44 minutes after the error -- saying: "I want to correct a poll that we did about 22 minutes ago from Gallup. Sixty-one percent oppose taking collective bargaining away from those people in Wisconsin; 33 percent in favor. I had it reversed. I apologize." In fact, the poll asked if people would oppose a similar law in their own states. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/23/11]

USA Today/Gallup Poll Found "61% Would Oppose A Law Similar To [The] Proposal In Wisconsin"

USA Today/Gallup: "61% Would Oppose A Law In Their State Similar To [The] Proposal In Wisconsin." In the poll conducted on February 21, USA Today and Gallup found that 61 percent of those polled would oppose a law similar to the one Gov. Walker is proposing in Wisconsin. From the article accompanying the poll results (emphasis added):

Americans strongly oppose laws taking away the collective bargaining power of public employee unions, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. The poll found 61% would oppose a law in their state similar to such a proposal in Wisconsin, compared with 33% who would favor such a law.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislators in Wisconsin have proposed cutting union rights for most state government workers and making them pay more for benefits. Ohio, New Jersey, Indiana, Iowa and other states with Republican governors are considering similar laws. [USA Today, 2/22/11]

The article included the following graphic:

Fox Uses Dubious Rasmussen Poll To Claim Public Backs Walker, Not Unions

Hannity: "The People Support The Governor." Citing the Rasmussen poll during the February 22 broadcast of his Fox News program, Sean Hannity revealed the results of a show poll on whether his viewers supported Walker or the unions:

HANNITY: That was tremendous. All right, now, we did this poll, it's time to reveal the results of tomorrow's big question tonight. We asked you about Wisconsin's budget woes and we wanted to know who's side you were on, 94 percent side with Governor Walker. The union's got 6 percent of the vote and zero percent of you are still undecided.

We have a very -- there are a lot of equivocation out there. It fits with Rasmussen's poll. The people support the governor. We had this guy on tonight saying no -- they are out of touch. What do you think the unions are missing here in this debate? [Fox News, Hannity, 2/22/11, accessed via Nexis]

O'Reilly Uses Rasmussen Poll To Discredit Gallup Poll. During the February 23 edition of his Fox News program, Bill O'Reilly cited the Rasmussen poll in order to discredit a Gallup poll on the same topic:

O'REILLY: But "The New York Times" continues to spin the Wisconsin situation in favor of the union and other media are doing the same thing. A new Gallup poll out today says that most Americans do not want unions to be destroyed. Dick Morris will react to that in just a few moments. However, a Rasmussen Poll released earlier this week says that most Americans who have an opinion side with Governor Walker in his quest to diminish union power. [Fox News, The O'Reilly Factor, 2/23/11, accessed via Nexis]

Polling Experts Say Rasmussen's Poll "Biased Responses"

Silver: "Because Of The Problems With Question Design ... Disregard The Rasmussen Reports Poll." Polling expert Nate Silver analyzed the Rasmussen poll and concluded that "[t]he poll, which included people that Rasmussen deemed to be 'likely voters' from across the country, found that 48 percent of respondents agreed more with Mr. Walker in the dispute, while 38 percent agreed more with 'the union for teachers and other state employees.' That question, though, was the fourth one Rasmussen asked in the survey -- and the questions that came before it may have biased the responses." Silver explained:

The issue is clearest with the third question, which asked respondents whether "teachers, firemen and policemen" should be allowed to go on strike. By invoking the prospect of such strikes, which are illegal in many places (especially for the uniformed services) and which many people quite naturally object to, the poll could potentially engender a less sympathetic reaction toward the protesters in Wisconsin. It is widely recognized in the scholarship on the subject, and I have noted before, that earlier questions in a survey can bias the response to later ones by framing an issue in a particular way and by casting one side of the argument in a less favorable light.

The Rasmussen example is more blatant than most. While many teachers have been among the protesters at the State Capitol in Madison, obliging the city to close its schools for days, there have been no reports of reductions in police or fire services, and in fact, uniformed services are specifically exempted from the proposals that the teachers and other public-sector employees are protesting. So bringing in the uniformed services essentially makes No. 3 a talking point posed as a question.

[...]

The second question in the Rasmussen poll found that 36 percent of respondents believe that public-sector employees earn more than private-sector workers in their state, while 21 percent thought public sector workers earned less, and 20 percent thought they earned about the same amount.

In fact, according to an analysis by USA Today, state employees earn about 5 percent less than comparable employees in the private sector, on average, although federal employees receive significantly (20 percent) more.

A poll is not a pop quiz, and the respondents in the survey are not to blame for giving the "wrong" response. Also, the question posed by Rasmussen, which did not consider the type of work performed and asked simply about average salaries in the respondent's home state, was not exactly the same as the one studied by USA Today, which covered the whole country and took account of the the type of work done. Still, to the extent that this misperception about pay levels is widely held and casts public employees in a less favorable light, a survey question that reminds respondents of it could bias responses to later questions.

[...]

Because of the problems with question design, my advice would be simply to disregard the Rasmussen Reports poll, and to view their work with extreme skepticism going forward. [The New York Times, 2/21/11]

Blumenthal: "Rasmussen's Results Raise More Questions Than They Answer." Pollster Mark Blumenthal's analysis of Rasmussen's poll similarly argued that the order in which the questions were asked of respondents could have biased the response. He further argued: "The more typical approach would involve asking a more general version of question one ('how closely have you been following the dispute between the Governor of Wisconsin and the public employee unions in Wisconsin?') and then go immediately to something like question four." [The Huffington Post, 2/21/11]

Other Polls Show Widespread Support For Collective Bargaining Rights

NYT/CBS Poll Shows Overwhelming Support For Public Worker Bargaining Rights. In the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll, results show that "Americans oppose weakening the bargaining rights of public employee unions by a margin of nearly two to one: 60 percent to 33 percent. While a slim majority of Republicans favored taking away some bargaining rights, they were outnumbered by large majorities of Democrats and independents who said they opposed weakening them." [The New York Times, 2/28/11]

USA Today/Gallup Poll Shows Majority Support For Union Workers. In a USA Today/Gallup Poll from February 22, results show that while Republicans supported limiting the rights of union workers by a 54 percent to 41 percent margin, 79 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of independents polled were against the limitation of union bargaining rights, representing the majority of total persons polled. As USA Today reported, overall, "[t]he poll found 61% would oppose a law in their state similar to such a proposal in Wisconsin, compared with 33% who would favor such a law." [USA Today, 2/22/11]

Fox Falsely Suggests State Budget Shortfalls Are Result Of Public Union Collective Bargaining

Kilmeade Suggests That "Union Bargaining Should Be Abolished All Together" Because It's "Breaking The Public Piggy Bank." On the February 28 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade asked, "If union bargaining is breaking the public piggy bank, should it be abolished all together?" [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/28/11]

Liz Cheney: Collective Bargaining "Reduces [Local Officials'] Ability To Actually Manage Their Own Budget." On the February 20 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, Liz Cheney stated that "when you've got collective bargaining in place and when you've got the benefits that are basically sealed in, and no ability by those local officials to touch those or affect them, it reduces their ability to actually manage their own budget." [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 2/20/11, accessed via Nexis]

Wallace Lets Walker Suggest That Collective Bargaining Is Preventing States From Balancing Budgets. On the February 20 edition of Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace hosted Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to claim that state governments are facing budget crises because of collective bargaining. From Fox News Sunday:

WALLACE: Yes, but I don't understand. If it's a money issue and balancing the budget and they are willing to concede on the money issues, why isn't that enough? Why do you also have to take back some of their collective bargaining rights?

WALKER: Well, they aren't because, in the end, they can say that, but that's really a red herring. The same groups back in December, after election, before I was sworn in, tried to ram through literally in a lame duck session employee contracts that would have locked things in before I got there. So, they're not really interested. But more critically, I was a county executive, an elected official in Milwaukee County, a county that's never elected Republicans before -- I was there for three different elections because we tried to tackle these very same issues.

And what stood in the way time and time again was collective bargaining. We've got over 1,000 municipalities, 424 school districts, about 72 counties in the state, all of which need to have the power to be able to offset what's going to happen in Wisconsin next week, just like New York, in California, wherever else, has been doing, and that's cutting billions of dollars from local governments.

The difference is, unlike those other states, I want to give those local governments the tools they need to balance the budget now and in the future. They can't do that with the current collective bargaining laws in the state. [Fox Broadcasting Co., Fox News Sunday, 2/20/11]

ABC: "No Correlation" Between Budget Shortfalls And Collective Bargaining Rights

McCartin: Contention That "We Can No Longer Afford Collective Bargaining" Is "Bogus." In a February 19 New Republic article, Joseph McCartin, an associate professor of history and director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University, wrote that the contention that "[w]e can no longer afford collective bargaining" is "bogus":

[I]n the midst of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, conservative, anti-labor politicians like Governor Walker are trying out a new and potentially more potent anti-union argument: We can no longer afford collective bargaining. The wages, health benefits, and pensions of government workers, these opponents say, are driving states into deep and dangerous deficits.

Yet this contention is every bit as bogus as the alarmist arguments put forth by the anti-union crusaders of the 1970s. Contrary to Walker's assertion, there is no direct correlation between public-sector collective bargaining and yawning state budget deficits. According to data gathered by the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities, while Wisconsin projects a state budget deficit of 12.8 percent for FY 2012, North Carolina, which does not allow government workers to bargain, faces a significantly higher deficit: 20 percent. Ohio, whose Republican governor John Kasich has also made clear his desire to roll back collective bargaining, has a deficit that is only about half the size of non-union North Carolina's. Clearly, then, state budget deficits we are now witnessing are not the product of collective bargaining, but rather reflect the differential impact of the current recession on individual states, as well as the integrity of state fiscal practices (such as whether they raise enough in taxes to pay for the essential services they provide). [The New Republic, 2/19/11, italics in original]

Tapper: "There Is No Correlation" Between Collective Bargaining Rights And State Deficits. On the February 27 edition of ABC's This Week, guest-host Jake Tapper stated: "There is no correlation, according to statistics, between a state's ability to collectively bargain with its public employees and whether or not they have a budget deficit." Tapper also cited McCartin's New Republic article. [ABC, This Week, 2/27/11]

Toledo Law Professor: "There's No Correlation Between Collective Bargaining And The State Budget Crises." A February 28 Fortune article quoted University of Toledo College Of Law professor Joseph Slater as saying: "It's easy to paint a portrait of public workers as overpaid, not working very hard and being fat cats on the tax dollar. But there's no correlation between collective bargaining and the state budget crises." He further rebutted the claim that state pension obligations are the result of collective bargaining:

Union critics, such as James Sherk, a labor economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation, call union benefits "gold-plated" and far more generous than what other workers receive -- using money, he maintains, that should be spent on services or returned to taxpayers.

Public unions, he says, "don't negotiate over how to divide profits, they negotiate for the government to spend more on their members."

[...]

Despite what are viewed as steep overruns generated by public benefits programs, are unions and public employee benefits really to blame for the enormous budget crises throughout the nation?

"Unionized workers didn't sow the seeds of the economic downturn, deregulation of the financial industry did," says Robert Bruno, a University of Illinois professor of labor and employment relations. "We've suffered billions in losses because of greed, gross mismanagement and illegal activity in the financial industry."

"Unions are an easy target because the largest cost in a state budget is always labor," says Bruno, who studies employee and union issues. "Why are we scapegoating teachers? Is the American love affair with capitalism so irrational that it knows no bounds?"

Joseph Slater at Toledo's law school agrees: "It's easy to paint a portrait of public workers as overpaid, not working very hard and being fat cats on the tax dollar. But there's no correlation between collective bargaining and the state budget crises."

For example, huge state pension obligations - which have grabbed headlines because of state underfunding, and which Sherk points to as a major deficit-maker for states, are not the result of collective bargaining.

"The vast majority of states have pensions set by law, not by collective bargaining," Slater says. "So it's a common misperception that these costs are a result of collective bargaining." [Fortune, 2/28/11]

Fox Repeatedly Conceals Key Details About Guests Criticizing Wisconsin Protesters

Fox Bills GOP Senate Candidate, Local GOP Officeholder As Concerned Parents. Fox News hosted Dave Westlake and Amber Hahn, who were both identified as "Wisconsin parent[s]." Fox did not disclose that Westlake was a 2010 Republican Senate candidate and Han was the treasurer for the Columbia County, Wisconsin, Republican Party. [Media Matters, 3/1/11]

Fox Suggests CEO Of Multinational Company Represents "Small Businesses." Fox hosted Gary Reynolds, CEO of GMR Marketing to criticize protesters for "attacking small businesses who supported and support Governor Scott Walker," in the words of Fox co-host Brian Kilmeade. However, GMR Marketing says it has 24 offices in 12 countries and that it is "the world's largest engagement marketing agency." The company lists Sony, Microsoft, Bank of America and Visa among its clients. [Media Matters, 3/1/11]

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