Fox Business contributor Charles Payne furthered Fox's history of unemployment rate trutherism by declaring that the unemployment rate was actually "11½ percent." But despite Fox's repeated economic falsehoods, the unemployment rate has fallen to 7.8 percent by the measurement that government and economists have used for decades.
During a discussion about the automatic budget cuts that will take place in early 2013 if Congress fails to avert them, Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade declared that the so-called "fiscal cliff" could "send our unemployment rate over 10 percent to around 12 percent." Payne responded, "To be honest with you, it's already around 11½ percent."
In fact, by the standards the government has used for decades, the unemployment rate is currently 7.8 percent. But in an attempt to deflect from dropping rates, Fox News figures have attempted to claim that other, higher measurements are the "real" unemployment rate, including using a higher number known as the U-6 rate that does not actually measure unemployment.
Fox has also attacked lower unemployment numbers as being somehow manipulated by the Obama administration to look good. Most recently, Fox played a lead role in promoting the conspiracy theory that the 7.8 percent rate was "altered for political gain" in order to help Obama get re-election, despite the fact that economists agree such an idea is "implausible" and a "fantasy."
Following the first presidential debate, Fox has enthusiastically echoed Mitt Romney's call to end public funding for Sesame Street and other public broadcasting. Fox's attacks on public broadcasting have focused on criticism of Big Bird.
Fox News is seizing on high gas prices in California to push for opening up new areas, including the California coast, to drilling, ignoring the real factors driving up prices at the pump. But experts say increasing U.S. production will have no impact on gas prices, and that the only way to protect against price spikes is to reduce consumption.
Gas prices in California hit near-record highs this week as a result of supply disruptions at several key refineries in the state as well as the shutdown of a contaminated pipeline. Fox & Friends devoted an entire segment to the California price spike this morning without once mentioning these factors. Instead, Fox's Charles Gasparino blamed President Obama for implementing "policies that discourage drilling." While Gasparino acknowledged that "some of this is out of [Obama's] control," he said the President should know that "we could have lower gas prices, lower oil prices if you start drilling."
Later on Varney & Co., Fox Business' Charles Payne blamed California policies, saying: "They won't take advantage of natural resources, they won't allow drilling, it's just economic suicide."
Local media are misrepresenting the solutions to the price spike as well. An OC Register editorial claimed that drilling off the coast of California would drive down prices:
Gasoline prices in reached a record high in California this week, making us wonder if it might be time to revisit energy policies in the state. Determining what causes the rise and fall of gas prices isn't easy - there are whole industries devoted to it. However, there are a few things that certainly don't help and ought to be corrected.
Let's begin with supply. California artificially constricts fuel supplies by banning oil drilling along the coast. The Federal Energy Information Administration estimated in June 2011 that there were some 15.4 billion barrels in the Monterey Formation off the coast of California. "If the EIA estimate is reasonably close to the mark, the Monterey Formation would be in a class with oil fields in Saudi Arabia," wrote Tom Gray for City Journal. To put that in perspective, that's roughly quadruple the estimated reserves in North Dakota's Bakken shale formation. By Gray's count, those barrels would be worth about $1.5 trillion in today's prices, and prices are expected to rise.
But because the price of oil is dictated by the global market, expanding U.S. production would not protect against price spikes. A recent analysis by the Associated Press found "[n]o statistical correlation between how much oil comes out of U.S. wells and the price at the pump."
From the October 7 edition of CNN's Reliable Sources:
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It took less than ten minutes after the Bureau of Labor Statistics released new jobs numbers this morning for Fox to start promoting conspiracy theories about the reported drop in unemployment.
Commenting on the jobs report as the numbers first came in this morning, Fox Business host Charles Payne speculated that "some people will be very cynical that a government number will come out this great on the eve of the election." Indeed, "some people" at Fox -- including Payne himself -- have subsequently spent much of the day trying to cast doubt on the numbers, with several Fox personalities and guests openly speculating that the BLS may have cooked the books to bolster Obama's chance at reelection.
In fact, much of Fox's coverage today has focused on the "questions" surrounding the supposedly "fishy" and "convenient" jobs report that the New York Times described as "unexpected good news" for President Obama.
Veteran economics journalists have dismissed these conspiracies as "implausible" and "unfounded."
From the October 5 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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Right-wing media have insisted that President Obama is a failure because the unemployment rate has been higher than it was when President Obama took office. Now that this is no longer true, Fox is suggesting that people look at different employment statistics to judge Obama.
The latest jobs report found that the unemployment rate is 7.8 percent, the same rate Obama inherited when he took office in January 2009. Before the latest report, conservative media harped on the fact that the unemployment rate was higher than it was at the beginning of 2009.
Before today's report, right-wing media had said that Obama needs to be judged on the unemployment number. For instance, in September, conservative author Dinesh D'Souza said on Fox: "Unemployment when he came in, 7.8 percent. We are not saying it should be 2 percent, but it's higher than it was four years ago. Despite all the money and bailouts and the stimulus, Obama needs to be judged on his record."
Other conservative media figures have been highlighting the same number, including Fox & Friends co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade who claimed that the Obama campaign slogan, "Forward," was not appropriate in part because "the jobless rate is now up to 8.2" percent as compared to 7.8 percent when he took office.
But now that this talking point no longer works, Fox's Stuart Varney and Charles Payne moved the goal posts. They said Obama should be judged on a different statistic: the labor participation rate, which is a measure of the labor force as a percentage of the population.
From the September 18 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Company:
From the September 11 edition of Fox News' FOX & Friends
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Mitt Romney's nomination acceptance speech contained numerous falsehoods that originated in the right-wing media. Right-wing media have also echoed some of Romney's other dubious claims that were part of the speech.
A new report from the Energy Information Administration finds that U.S. carbon emissions are at a 20-year low, in part because energy companies are transitioning from coal to natural gas. Fox is seizing on that news to claim that "the free market [is] cleaning up our air," and that the current availability of cheap natural gas undermines the need for government action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But experts say that a variety of factors contributed to the emissions drop, and that shifting to natural gas is not a long-term solution to climate change.
The Energy Information Administration announced earlier this month that U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in early 2012 were the lowest measured for a January-March period since 1992. The report attributed the decline to a combination of three factors: reduced household heating demand during an unusually warm winter, a decline in coal generation due to low natural gas prices, and low gasoline demand as a result of a slowed economy and the shift towards more fuel-efficient vehicles.
But Fox is ignoring the confluence of factors and touting the decline as a triumph of the free market. A Fox Nation headline today declared: "Free Enterprise Makes the Air Cleaner." On Varney & Company, Fox Business contributor Charles Payne said: "The free market, cleaning up our air. Says a lot about the free market, doesn't it?" And on Money with Melissa Francis, Fox Business reporter Tracy Byrnes called the EIA report "proof that free markets can work better than government overregulation." Byrnes went on to ask her guest why carbon dioxide emissions -- which are not "poisonous" or "inflammable" -- are even a problem in the first place:
Fox Business' Charles Payne repeatedly claimed Obama demonized success and attacked the wealthy during a July 5 campaign stop. But despite Fox News' ongoing campaign to portray Obama as engaging in "class warfare," the president's comments were limited to praise for the middle class.
In his July 5 campaign appearance, President Obama noted that being part of the middle class is "not just about income, it's about knowing what's important, and not measuring your success just based on your bank account. It's about your values and being responsible and looking after each other and giving back." Despite the fact that Obama never criticized the wealthy during his praise of middle class values, Payne claimed Obama's comments were "despicable" and "sickening," and that they "demonized success" during a July 6 appearance on Fox News' Fox & Friends.
After playing a clip of Obama's speech, co-host Brian Kilmeade suggested that Obama claimed that "[i]f you're upper class, you can't possibly have any values." Payne responded:
PAYNE: Let me tell you, this is what's so disappointing about it and despicable about it. Talking about people doing the right thing. Imagine you go to college, you work your way through college, you get out and you meet your girlfriend there and you guys get married and you both come out of school and you're saddled with a couple hundred thousand dollars worth of debt. You work your way through the corporate system and you have a couple of kids and you sacrifice, who knows, maybe 10, 20 years later, you have made it up the ladder of success. You've made all the sacrifices. You go to church but in the president's eyes because you make a certain amount of money you don't have values? You don't have principles? That is sickening stuff right there. It's divide and conquer and it's also demonizing success. Why isn't the job market moving? You're demonizing success.
Payne is hardly the first Fox employee to suggest that Obama is demonizing success or engaging in class warfare. This is a frequent Fox narrative that has made its way through the GOP as a standard talking point. Only in Fox's world does praising middle class values count as "demonizing success."
From the July 6 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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After hyping exaggerated claims about potential Keystone XL pipeline related jobs, Fox News is now simply inventing them. Fox is claiming that 114,000 U.S. veterans are heading north of the border to build the Canadian portion of the Keystone XL pipeline. In fact, the jobs are "not at all related to the Keystone pipeline," according to the company recruiting workers in Alberta, Canada.
Fox News got the story - and clearly did not check it - from Veterans of Foreign Wars, which sponsors the jobs-listing website, VetJobs, that partnered with the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation to advertise skilled-labor jobs available in Alberta. VFW's press release suggested the jobs would involve the Keystone XL pipeline, stating: "Though America's Keystone Pipeline is delayed, the Canadians are moving forward on their side of the border and have an immediate need for tens of thousands of workers." But in a phone conversation, VetJobs founder Ted Daywalt said he was not trying to imply that the jobs were related to the Keystone pipeline, and that media reports "jumped the gun."
Following relentless attacks on the solar industry in the wake of Solyndra's bankruptcy, wind power has become the latest target of the right-wing campaign against renewable energy. But contrary to the myths propagated by the conservative media, wind power is safe, increasingly affordable, and has the potential to significantly reduce pollution and U.S. reliance on fossil fuels.