Elizabeth MacDonald

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  • Fox Business Pushes Almost Every Minimum Wage Myth In Just 90 Seconds

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Stuart Varney Discusses Minimum Wage

    A brief Fox Business panel led by host Stuart Varney used recent minimum wage legislation in California and New York as an excuse to push a series of myths about the supposed negative consequences of raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

    On the April 5 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co., host Varney continued his misinformation campaign against proposals to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour with guests Elizabeth MacDonald, Michael Murphy, and Todd Horwitz falsely claiming the increase will hurt small business, lead to low-wage job losses, and result in "robots" replacing human workers:

    Varney led a panel making similarly misleading remarks on the March 28 edition of Varney & Co., during which professional stock trader Keith Fitz-Gerald claimed the proposal to raise California's minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2023 "goes against every law of capitalism," and Fox Business correspondent Ashley Webster falsely claimed the proposal "puts the smaller businesses out of business."

    Right-wing media have repeatedly pushed the myth that businesses are opposed to raising the minimum wage while spreading debunked claims that raising the minimum wage leads to job losses. Contrary to Fox Business' claims that business oppose raising the minimum wage, The Washington Post reported on April 4 that a leaked poll conducted by Republican pollster Frank Luntz found "80 percent of respondents [business executives] said they supported raising their state's minimum wage, while only eight percent opposed it." The advocacy organization Small Business Majority found that 60 percent of small-business owners supported raising the minimum wage to at least $12 per hour.

    Economists have repeatedly debunked the claim that raising the minimum wage would kill jobs and the myth that it will lead to greater workforce automation and robots taking jobs away from workers. Researchers at Cornell University found that raising the regular and tipped minimum wages for workers in the restaurant and hospitality industries has "not had large or reliable effects" on the number of people working in the industry and concluded that business groups opposed to wage increases should just embrace "reasonable increases."

  • Watch Fox Business' Stumble On Robots That Will "Take Your Job" Because Of The Minimum Wage

    Google Is Selling The Robotics Firm That Fox Business Recently Hyped "24/7" As A Threat To Low-Wage Workers

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Less than a month after Fox Business host Stuart Varney declared that humanoid robots from Boston Dynamics are "going to take your job" if the Fight for $15 movement succeeds in raising the federal minimum wage, Fox Business reported that Google is selling the company due to lack of profitability and the company's inability to find customers who actually want to replace workers with robots.

    On the February 24 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co., Varney, a frequent minimum wage antagonist, claimed, while rolling footage of a new humanoid robot from Boston Dynamics, that "$15-an-hour minimum wage protesters" should be worried because "that robot is going to take your job." Less than a month later, on the March 18 edition of Varney & Co., Varney reported that Google was selling the robotics division responsible for the purportedly job-stealing robot. Fox Business contributor Elizabeth MacDonald added that Boston Dynamics was being sold because it is unprofitable and noted the "anxiety" the company created because of fears "that these robots could replace workers":

    STUART VARNEY (HOST): Do you remember those those videos that we showed you? We couldn't get enough of them. Robot dogs-- looked like robot dogs, or were stacking shelves with a humanoid robot. Well Google is selling the compa-- the division that does those robotics.

    ELIZABETH MACDONALD: Yeah. they just bought it in late 2013 for half a billion dollars, Boston Dynamics. This is the "robo worker" in play that Boston Dynamics developed. They also as you noted developed a "robo dog." If you kick either of these robots down they can get back. They are so agile, they are so breathtaking, and terrifying -- a source of a lot of anxiety dreams. Why? Even though they broke through the frontiers of robotics, the final frontier for Boston Dynamics: profits and sales. They are not making money. And also, reportedly, bad public relations. The fear is that these robots would replace workers.

    VARNEY: Oh that's it.

    MACDONALD: So they were concerned about PR implications from that.

    VARNEY: How about that?

    [...]

    MACDONALD: Truly groundbreaking robotics, though.

    VARNEY: Oh, definitely, we ran that video 24/7.

    On March 17, Bloomberg reported that one of the reasons for the sale had been the long time frame needed to make a humanoid robot ready for market, adding that these robotic systems are unlikely to be ready "even ten years out." Bloomberg also suggested that Google was distancing itself from worries that the machines would take jobs or be used for war.

    The sudden failure of what Fox ominously called the "robo worker," highlights the network's rigid opposition to raising the minimum wage even if their arguments are based on faulty data, discredited myths, or science fiction paranoia. In the past, Stuart Varney has cherry-picked data to claim raising the minimum wage costs jobs, in addition to his claims that robots will quickly replace workers if wages are raised too much. Varney is not alone at the network in promoting misinformation about the relationship between job creation, economic health, and the minimum wage. The truth of the matter is that raising the minimum wage has a negligible effect on employment. In February 2013, the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) published a comprehensive analysis of the relationship between employment and the minimum wage and concluded that "the minimum wage has little or no discernible effect on the employment prospects of low-wage workers."

  • Rubio And Cruz Echo Right-Wing Media With Their False Claims That Obamacare "Killed" Jobs

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    During CNN's February 25 Republican presidential debate, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) claimed that the Affordable Care Act "is a job-killing law." The assertions by Cruz and Rubio, which fact-checkers called "false" and "hard to square," echoed years of false right-wing media reports that the health care law would kill jobs.

  • Once Again, The Right Wing's ACA Part-Time Myth Falls Apart

    New Study Finds "Little Evidence" That The Affordable Care Act Pushes Workers To Part-Time Employment

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    CNBC reported that a study published by the journal Health Affairs "found little evidence that the ACA has caused increases in part-time employment as of 2015," debunking a long time conservative media attack on President Obama's health care law. 

    Despite being repeatedly debunked, right-wing pundits have continued to push the false claim that the Affordable Care Act would negatively effect American employment, claiming its enactment would drive losses in full-time jobs while increasing part-time employment -- though no data has supported this assertion.

    A January 5 article from CNBC reported that despite Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) assertion that the ACA has "forced millions of people into part-time work," "the analysis did not find such a shift to a reduction in work hours," and this speculative claim "isn't borne out by reality":

    A new study further undercuts a major claim by critics of the Affordable Care Act, who contended that the law would encourage companies to slash full-time workers' hours and shift them into part-time work in order to avoid having to offer them health insurance.

    The research "found little evidence that the ACA had caused increases in part-time employment as of 2015," according to a summary of the findings published in the journal Health Affairs on Tuesday.

    "We can say with a large degree of confidence that there is nothing we can see nationwide when we look at the whole workforce" that would support a claim that the so-called employer mandate or other Obamacare features have led to increases in part-time employment at the expense of full-time jobs, said Kosali Simon, a professor at Indiana University, and a co-author of the report.

    [...]

    Critics of the law have said that many employers, rather than subsidize workers' insurance plans or pay the Obamacare fine, would instead cut workers' hours so that they fell below the 30-hour-per-week threshold that would trigger the penalty.

    "There doesn't appear to be any substantial changes in the labor market as a result of Obamacare. The anecdotes are real, but I think it's just not happening in large numbers." -Larry Levitt, senior vice president, Kaiser Family Foundation

    But the research published Tuesday in Health Affairs strongly suggests that such "speculation that employers would reduce work hours to avoid the mandate that they must offer health insurance to full-time employees" isn't borne out by reality.

    "If this were true, one would expect to find increases in employment at the 'kink' just below the thirty-hour threshold," the paper noted.

  • Here's How Conservative Media Are Distorting China's Revised Coal Data To Undermine U.N. Climate Talks

    ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS

    The New York Times recently reported that China had released new data showing that the country has burned significantly more coal in recent years than previously thought. Conservative media are alleging that China is "lying" and using this news to undermine the upcoming United Nations climate conference in Paris, where nations hope to reach an international climate change agreement. But experts say China's revised data, which has been known to policymakers for months, is a result of improved accounting -- not deception -- and has already been incorporated into the international negotiations.

  • Fox News' History Of Defending Jeb Bush's Controversial Statements

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Fox News has consistently helped Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush run defense for many of his controversial remarks, including his assertions that he would have authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, that Americans "need to work longer hours" to boost the economy, and that the federal government spends "too much" on women's health.

  • Fox Baselessly Pins Holiday Spending Slump On Obamacare

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Fox News fabricated a connection between the Affordable Care Act (ACA or Obamacare) and a recent consumer survey to conclude that the law is hurting the economy in time for the holiday shopping season.

    On the December 16 edition of Your World with Neil Cavuto, guest host Stuart Varney and Fox Business contributor Elizabeth MacDonald claimed that the ACA is depressing holiday spending. Their claims, based on a consumer survey released by Bankrate.com, showed that 38 percent of respondents plan to spend less during the holidays this year than the previous year. 

    Varney and MacDonald surmised that the health reform law is driving more Americans into less lucrative part-time work and, in turn, dragging down workers' ability to engage in commerce. MacDonald added "there is concern on the part of businesses over health reform," citing information from the Federal Reserve:

    Varney and MacDonald's claims are unfounded.

    The survey, conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates International, makes zero mentions of the ACA or health reform and trends for most surveyed indicators -- from holiday spending and job security to personal savings and financial security -- are largely flat from year-to-year.

    Furthermore, MacDonald's claim that the Federal Reserve Beige Book indicates a sense of unease in the business community regarding the ACA is a significant exaggeration. The Fed's most-recent official statement recognizes "concern about future cost increases attributable to the Affordable Care Act and other types of federal regulation," but lists no examples of those costs or any other negative consequences currently assigned to the law.

    The "Obamacare Part-Time Jobs Myth" has also been easily dispelled by actual economists, including some of the same outlets that initially pushed the claims. Fox News has spent years blaming the Affordable Care Act for every hiccup in the economy including the unfounded claim that Obamacare forces employees into part-time work, or destroys jobs altogether. 

  • Where Right-Wing Media See Obama "Scare Tactics," Economists See Looming Financial Disaster

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Right-wing media are accusing President Obama of using "scare tactics" to score political points with the upcoming debt limit deadline, but professional economists agree that debt limit brinkmanship could end in disaster.

    On October 2, President Obama sat down for an interview with CNBC correspondent John Harwood in which he said that Washington's political posturing was "different" this time, and that major financial institutions "should be concerned" by Republican threats to not raise the debt ceiling before October 17. But the right-wing media response to President Obama's caution has been to downplay the looming deadline while accusing the president of engaging in "scare tactics."

    On the October 3 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade questioned if the president was hoping to "trigger a stock market sell-off":

    In a later segment, the Fox & Friends crew was joined by Fox Business host Stuart Varney to discuss the effect the president's statements might have on financial markets. Varney and the hosts agreed that the president's rhetoric was designed to drive markets down and thus provide him with "extra leverage" in the debt ceiling fight: