Fox News' Neil Cavuto invited former Fox host and current Ohio Gov. John Kasich onto his program for a softball interview that glossed over Kasich's record of harmful, draconian policies directed at middle and working class families in Ohio. Cavuto also completely ignored ethics questions currently surrounding the Kasich administration's JobsOhio company -- a privatized state development corporation accused of steering tax dollars toward Kasich allies.
Kasich, a former Fox News personality who has received considerable encouragement from the network in the past, appeared on the August 15 edition of Your World where he discussed his economic record and controversial tenure as Governor of Ohio -- at one point, he was the most unpopular governor in the country. According to Cavuto, Kasich "has single-handedly turned his state around, and right now he is the most popular he's ever been there, but lately now he's ticking off a lot of folks which is why we always love having him on."
Cavuto began the interview by letting Kasich praise his own economic policies in Ohio without acknowledging several important facts. For example, according to a recent Pew Research survey, Ohio ranks 47th among all states in private sector job creation over the last year, and a majority of those jobs created under the Kasich administration have been low-paying positions with wages less than $15 per hour. And while Ohio has seen a positive trend in job growth, that trend began before Kasich took office in 2011. Kasich has previously dismissed the idea of an auto bailout, but nearly 850,000 jobs -- about 12 percent of Ohio's labor force -- are tied to the auto industry, according to the Center for Automotive Research. Yet even after the bailout succeeded, Kasich dodged questions about whether or not he supported it.
During the interview, Cavuto praised Kasich's handling of Ohio's budget, claiming, "Many [are] impressed with how you've turned the budget around." Cavuto then allowed Kasich to give an oration about his desire to "reach out to people who live in the shadows" and help them economically. But still Cavuto failed to mention how Ohio's budget surplus came from draconian cuts Kasich made that slashed funding for education and women's health. And Kasich's newest budget proposal includes an increase in the state sales tax -- a plan that "plays to an upper income audience," according to Ohio State Professor Paul Beck. "I think that people really get hit who are lower, middle class and lower wage positions because they are spending more of their income in consumption," Beck said of Kasich's plan.
While talking about Kasich's economic views, Cavuto also missed an opportunity to question the governor about the controversy surrounding Kasich's JobsOhio, a private, non-profit company created by his administration to help spur job growth in Ohio and a centerpiece of his economic plan. According to Ohio's WKSU, "An investigative report shows the majority of members on the state's private job development company board, JobsOhio, are invested with businesses that are receiving state incentives through that organization." While the Ohio Ethics Commission recently declined to rule on a complaint involving Kasich himself, they were unable to investigate the board of JobsOhio -- that's because the Republican legislature legally denied them that power, despite their pleas to the contrary. After a public dispute with Republican State Auditor Dave Yost over JobsOhio's finances, Kasich signed a bill barring the state auditor from auditing their books.
While the Wall Street Journal also glossed over Kasich's record in order to praise him, Fox News has a history of attempting to rehabilitate the images of unpopular conservatives, including Sarah Palin, former President George W. Bush, and most recently, Rush Limbaugh.
The Wall Street Journal touted Ohio Gov. John Kasich's so-called success when it comes to creating jobs, dismissing data that shows the state is lagging in private sector job creation and that added jobs are often low-wage positions.
From the August 14 article profiling Kasich, who "boasts about his state's financial outlook":
Job growth is up. The Republican governor just signed what he calls "the biggest tax cut in the country" after converting a looming $7.7 billion budget deficit into a $2.5 billion surplus. Such success, he says, "would probably get a global CEO a giant bonus."
In fact, Ohio ranks ranks 47th in private sector job creation according to a Pew Research survey, and over the past year, the state has shown almost no job growth at all. Further, most of those created jobs have been in low-paying positions, with wages less than $15 an hour. Kasich, who made millions working for the doomed Wall Street titan Lehman Brothers, is no stranger to giant corporate bonuses, but in this case self-congratulation is premature.
It is unclear whether Kasich's policies have had a demonstrable effect on positive employment trends that developed long before he took office in January 2011. The auto bailout orchestrated by the Obama administration in 2009 is largely credited with delivering the state to the president in the 2012 election. Kasich opposed the auto bailout at the time, stating on the December 19, 2008, edition of The O'Reilly Factor that "Americans will say we don't mind helping them if they're going to be viable. If they're not going to be viable, we shouldn't throw good money after bad."
Even if credit is given to Kasich for his stewardship over the past two years, the Journal completely misses the mark in reporting his budget policies.
Kasich has seen a budget deficit return to surplus, but only through draconian cuts to state and local government operations -- including severe decreases in funding for education and women's health. Rather than gearing the state's budget surplus toward stimulative policies that would help put Ohioans back to work, Kasich's plan will favor tax cuts for the wealthy while shifting more of the burden onto Ohio families and consumers.
The Journal also quickly glosses over what it calls "new abortion restrictions that drew sharp criticism from Democrats," which are actually among the harshest in the country. In its rush to promote a Kasich "prescription" for the Republican Party going forward, and promote the governor's own ambitions for higher office in 2016, The Wall Street Journal failed miserably to tell the true story.
The conservative Columbus Dispatch has long been a force in local and state politics in Ohio. But in recent years, the newspaper's parent company has become a virtual media monopoly in Ohio's largest city and state capital, controlling not only the daily newspaper, but two radio stations, a television outlet and a long list of other weekly, monthly, and regional news sources.
"It's a one-newspaper town," said Dominick Cappa, editor of Columbus Business First, one of the few local publications not owned by the Dispatch. "They have the TV station, a radio station. Are they powerful? Hell yeah they're powerful because they have those outlets."
And the Dispatch's owners have used that media muscle to promote conservative causes and candidates, in particular the state's Republican governor, John Kasich. Publisher John F. Wolfe, CEO of parent company Dispatch Printing, and his wife, Ann, have spent more than $100,000 seeking to elect Republicans in state and out, with three dollars out of every ten going to Kasich's coffers.
The Dispatch's news reporting is the pride of Ohio; in recent years the paper has repeatedly been named the best newspaper of its size by the Associated Press Society, and its reporters typically clean up at that organization's annual awards presentation. In 2012, John Wolfe himself was given a special recognition award for "exemplary service to print journalism."
But critics say that the recent expansion of Dispatch Printing has created a near-monopoly in central Ohio, and point to the way the paper's editorial board has shielded Kasich to sound a note of alarm.
The increasing influence of the Wolfes comes during a period in which several right-wing moguls have been seeking to use mainstream media outlets to influence the political debate.
In December Media Matters profiled financier Douglas Manchester, a major Republican Party contributor who purchased the San Diego Union-Tribune and used it to cheerlead for right-wing politics and his own business interests. More recently, David and Charles Koch, major funders of the conservative movement, have reportedly considered buying the Tribune Company's eight regional newspapers -- which include the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune -- as part of their plan to shift the country to the right by investing in the media. Manchester has also considered buying the Tribune Company.
The Kochs also financially support the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, a non-profit organization whose websites and affiliates provide free statehouse reporting from a conservative perspective to local newspapers and other media across the country.
The Wolfes' stranglehold on central Ohio's media grew substantially last September when the Dispatch Printing Company took over Columbus Media Enterprises from American Community Newspapers. That purchase added 12 specialty magazines to its arsenal, including Columbus Monthly and Columbus CEO, and Columbus Bride; Suburban News Publications, a string of 22 community weeklies that were subsequently merged with the company's 22-paper ThisWeek Community News group of weeklies; and The Other Paper, a feisty alternative weekly that had been known as a Dispatch watchdog.
Dispatch Printing already owned a variety of specialty publications including Columbus Alive, Columbus Crave, Columbus Parent, and Capital Style, along with two radio stations, the local CBS television affiliate (WBNS-TV), Ohio News Network Radio, which provides regular newscasts and sportscasts to 73 radio stations statewide, and Consumer News Services, a marketing company that distributes insert fliers via direct delivery bags.
Columbus has three other network television affiliates: WCMH, the NBC affiliate owned by Media General; WSYX, the ABC affiliate, and WTTE, the Fox affiliate, both owned by Sinclair Broadcasting.
But critics say that those outlets amount to little more than window dressing. "There is no competition," said Gerald Kosicki, a 26-year professor of communications at nearby Ohio State University. "You do only now have one voice. That is a concern to people."
While Fox News has countless ethically dubious relationships with GOP candidates - Christine O'Donnell saying she has Hannity in her "back pocket" springs to mind - the network's promotion of Ohio gubernatorial candidate John Kasich stands out as uniquely absurd.
As we've documented, Kasich is the former Fox News host that is currently the GOP candidate for governor in Ohio. In addition to repeatedly using his platform as a Fox host to position himself for a run, Kasich continued to appear regularly - in at least 123 segments* - on-air as a Fox contributor from the time he announced that he was paving the way for a gubernatorial run in March of 2008 until he officially declared his candidacy on June 1, 2009. Since declaring his candidacy, Kasich has continued to reap benefits from his cozy relationship with the network, with several hosts campaigning for him and openly rooting for him.
As we noted earlier, Sean Hannity is currently under fire for allowing Kasich to promote his website and fundraise on Hannity's show on Thursday night. But Kasich's appearance on Hannity wasn't his only appearance on the network in the past few days.
On Saturday, Fox News host Mike Huckabee invited Kasich onto his show to field softballs about his modest upbringing and conservative bona fides. During the intro for the segment, Huckabee noted "in the interest of full disclosure" that he is "a friend of John and his wife Karen." He added that "as someone who has endorsed him, I am not the least bit objective." You don't say.
Last night, Politico's Keach Hagey got a response from Rupert Murdoch about News. Corp.'s recent million dollar donations to the GOP-aligned Chamber of Commerce and the Republican Governors' Association. Murdoch claims that the donation to the RGA "doesn't reflect on Fox News" and "had nothing to do with Fox News." Murdoch buttresses this assertion by stating that the gift was actually a result of his "friendship with John Kasich."
Murdoch apparently has an interesting definition of "nothing to do with Fox News." John Kasich is the former Fox News host who is currently running for governor of Ohio. Kasich was with Fox News for nine years and used his platform there to position himself for his eventual run for governor. Despite announcing in March of 2008 that he was paving the way for a gubernatorial run, Kasich continued to appear regularly -- in at least 123 segments* -- on-air as a Fox contributor and host until he formally announced his run on June 1, 2009.
After Kasich officially declared his candidacy, he has continued to benefit from his close relationship with the network, with Fox hosts and personalities campaigning for him, offering him easy interviews/infomercials, and openly rooting for his candidacy. As Hagey noted, Kasich's relationship with the network has raised ethical concerns in the past. The Democratic Governors Association "filed a complain with the Ohio Elections Commission accusing Fox News of making an illegal in-kind donation to Kasich by running a chyron featuring Kasich's website while he was on 'The O'Reilly Factor' soliciting donations."
RGA chairman Haley Barbour has previously said that he "asked Rupert Murdoch to help us, and he thought about it, and called me back, and said he wanted to help us. I'm very grateful."
Fox News is so far down the ethical rabbit hole that Murdoch apparently thinks "this donation had nothing to do with Fox News, I was only donating because I'm close friends with the former Fox News host running for Governor of Ohio" is a reasonable explanation. News. Corp's treatment of Kasich bodes well for their current stable of no less than five potential 2012 Republican presidential candidates.
And what about Fox's other million dollar donation to the GOP-aligned Chamber of Commerce? Well, Murdoch has an explanation for that, too. See, he "didn't expect" it to become public, and News. Corp is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, so Murdoch "just thought [he] was being a good member."
Add another example to Rupert Murdoch's "see no evil" approach to his flagship news property.
*CLARIFICATION: This post has been updated to clarify that Kasich appeared in at least 123 segments on Fox News. When Kasich guest-hosted The O'Reilly Factor, Media Matters counted each segment.
Add Greta Van Susteren name to the list of would be political candidates employed by Fox News. Though, in Van Susteren's case, she'd only run if she were guaranteed victory. How daring.
This according to an "Answer This…" interview of Van Susteren by Politico's Patrick Gavin:
What would you attempt to do if you knew that you could not fail?
Run for Governor of Wisconsin.
Van Susteren wouldn't have to look far for high-level campaign help if she did decide to run. John Coale -- her husband -- served as an adviser to Palin after the 2008 presidential campaign. As Media Matters noted just days ago:
As we've detailed, Coale said he started Palin's political action committee, SarahPAC, as well as a legal defense fund for her. SarahPAC, by the way, issued the Palin-centric video that Van Susteren was promoting on her show for the second night in a row during Gingrich's appearance.
While Van Susteren has denied any close ties with Palin, she has also repeatedly failed to disclose her husband's ties -- not while promoting the SarahPAC video last night, and not last November when she "hopped on the bus" with Palin as she was promoting her memoir.
For Fox News, Van Susteren is hardly the first employee to indicate an interest in public office:
Heck, even when they aren't running or indicating their interest in running for public office, it seems like Fox News employees keep themselves busy raising campaign cash and campaigning for Republicans:
Fox & Friends twice falsely reported that Ohio has lost 400,000 jobs "under the Obama administration," and advanced the claim that as a result, Obama "has a lot of 'splaining to do." In fact, the 400,000 figure includes job losses that occurred for two years before Obama took office in the midst of a deep recession.
As Media Matters noted this morning:
Amidst a firestorm of criticism, reportedly "furious" Fox News executives have yanked Sean Hannity from taping his April 15 show at a Cincinnati Tea Party event which charged admission and had "all proceeds" benefiting the organization. As Media Matters for America had reported, Hannity's appearance, which was promoted on 18 different editions of his Fox News program, elicited criticism from news and broadcast veterans who questioned the ethics of raising money for a political organization during a production of a Fox News show.
It is nice to finely see Fox News reigning in Hannity's political money raising but it should be noted this is not the first time the conservative network's host has gone to bat raising dough for right-wing causes and campaigns.
Throughout the Republican presidential primary season in late 2007 and early 2008, Hannity routinely hosted former New York City Mayor (of course, he's now a frequent Fox News presence) Rudy Giuliani without telling his audience that he had helped raise money for Giuliani's GOP presidential primary bid. The New York Daily News reported at the time:
It's no secret that Sean Hannity, the conservative Fox News commentator, has helped to raise Rudy Giuliani's profile -- but now he's helped the former mayor raise money, too.
In a little noticed event this month, Hannity -- co-host of Fox News' "Hannity & Colmes" and host of a popular WABC radio show -- introduced the Republican front-runner at a closed-door, $250-per-head fund-raiser Aug. 9 in Cincinnati, campaign officials acknowledge.
"Sean is not a journalist -- Sean is a conservative commentator," said Bill Shine, Fox's senior vice president of programming. "Sean doesn't hide, and never has hidden, his beliefs from anyone."
Last October, Hannity was back at it, this time raising campaign cash for former Fox News host now-Ohio Republican Gubernatorial candidate John Kasich. The Plain Dealer's Mark Naymik reported on the event (ticket prices ranged between $500 and $20,000) at the time:
Ohio Republican gubernatorial candidate John Kasich is bringing conservative pundit Sean Hannity of Fox News to Northeast Ohio for a high-dollar fund-raiser. The Oct. 9 event will be at GOP stalwart and millionaire industrialist Ed Crawford's home in Kirtland Hills.
Last fall, Politico reported that Kasich's platform at Fox News was a "boost" to his candidacy. Indeed. Hannity was also slated to raise even more dough for Kasich during his trip to Cincinnati for the since-cancelled Tea party broadcast.
In addition to Giuliani and Kasich, Hannity has also raised campaign money for Jeanine Pirro's (she's now a TV judge à la Wapner) 2006 campaign for U.S. Senate in New York, pledging a "maximum" contribution to her bid and asking listeners to donate as well.
He also raised money for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), headlining a Washington fundraiser just last month.
Tea party money machine or not, Hannity has a long track record of raising political cash for right-wing interests -- this latest ordeal is not his first time at the rodeo.
A revolving door exists between the Republican Party and Fox News Channel, with a number of former Bush administration officials, former and potentially future GOP presidential candidates, and Republican strategists on Fox's payroll and airwaves. A Media Matters for America review of Fox coverage since September 1 reveals that these individuals, typically hosted alone or on unbalanced panels, often use their airtime to advance false and misleading claims about Democrats and progressives, as well as to fundraise, further demonstrating that Fox is effectively a conservative political organization and not a legitimate news outlet.
From the August 19 edition of Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart:
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Several media figures and news outlets have uncritically repeated or lent credence to the false Republican talking point that Democrats, for all their criticism of the Bush administration's Iraq war policy, have no plan of their own to deal with Iraq, terrorism, and national security in general. In fact, Democrats have offered several plans for addressing various issues related to U.S. involvement in Iraq and national security.
Several news outlets portrayed Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's harsh criticism of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as a purely political maneuver to "find the exact middle" in the Democratic Party or to position herself for a potential 2008 presidential run.
Though White House press secretary Tony Snow criticized "attempts to try to describe" North Korea's recent missile tests "in breathless World War III terms," Fox News hosts, analysts, and guests repeatedly suggested using force to prevent North Korea from conducting further missile tests and acquiring more nuclear weapons-grade material, with one military analyst even advocating the "nuclear" option.
On Fox News, numerous media figures asserted that Rep. Tom DeLay's (R-TX) decision to resign from Congress will hurt Democrats' ability to campaign against congressional Republicans' record of corruption -- and DeLay's part in it -- during the November 2006 midterm elections. But such predictions overlook the widening ethics scandals involving DeLay and the Republican Party.
O'Reilly Factor guest host and former Rep. John Kasich (R-OH) falsely claimed that 2004 presidential candidate Sen. John F. Kerry (D-MA) lost "every place that Bruce [Springsteen] went," referring to the Vote for Change tour and Kerry rally concerts leading up to the election. In fact, Springsteen performed in a total of six states, four of which -- Pennsylvania, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin -- Kerry carried in the election, as well as the District of Columbia, where Springsteen also performed.