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:
Fox News is alone in casting a negative light on the latest weekly jobless claims update from the Department of Labor, continuing its false narrative that positive labor market developments are somehow linked to workforce dropouts amidst a weak recovery. In doing so, the network completely ignored that the average number of new unemployment claims is at its lowest point in nearly six years.
On August 8, the Department of Labor released its weekly jobless claims report. The data show a marginal week-to-week increase on jobless claims, increasing 5,000 from the previous week to 333,000 for the week ending August 3. This slight increase, less than two percent, is less than many economists had anticipated. Just one week after the weekly unemployment claims figure hit a five-year low, the rolling average for the past four weeks is at its lowest level since November 2007.
From Maddow Blog:
Other news outlets highlighted that despite a slight uptick the single week jobless figures remained near the five-year low reached last week. Most highlighted that the continued, steady decline in unemployment claims put the rolling average at its lowest point since before the recession. On the August 8 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe, CNBC correspondent Kelly Evans called the news "a big beautiful report" and stated that the jobless report showed that "the pace of layoffs has slowed."
Fox opted instead to portray the latest Department of Labor report as yet another indication that the weak economy is driving discouraged workers out of the workforce. On the August 8 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox Business contributor Nicole Petallides recognized that jobless claims have "been in the right direction overall," but failed to recognize landmark achievements of the past few weeks before launching into an unsubstantiated claim about workforce participation, particularly that the labor force is "dwindling":
Fox has a long history of downplaying positive economic news while focusing on negative spin. Completely ignoring positive employment trends is standard for the network. Just last week, Fox entirely failed to cover the Department of Labor claims report that established a new five-year low.
Fox News has consistently downplayed positive weekly jobless claims reports, ignoring the standard the network set for signs of labor market improvements.
A Media Matters analysis revealed that despite consistent improvements in the number of people filing for unemployment benefits, Fox's coverage of weekly jobless claims reports was overwhelmingly negative. The network consistently used the reports to bring up unrelated negative economic news, a practice that has become common on Fox when faced with positive economic developments.
Fox News figures downplayed the February jobs report that showed a significant improvement in the labor market, continuing in their effort to diminish economic developments made during the Obama presidency.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics' jobs report for February showed 236,000 total jobs added, edging the unemployment rate down to 7.7 percent. Fox News reacted to the lowest unemployment rate since 2008 by cautioning viewers to take it "with a grain of salt."
While the hosts eventually noted that the numbers are moving in the "right direction," this admission came after an attempt to downplay the report's significance. Meanwhile, other outlets are reacting positively.
Fox's standard deflection of the drop in unemployment being due to people leaving the labor force doesn't hold up. The labor force participation rate remained relatively unchanged, dropping slightly from 63.6 to 63.5 percent.
Conservative media voices have insisted that an increase of the federal minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to $9 would harm the economy. However, a wealth of economic evidence disputes the claims that minimum wage hikes are job killers, that the minimum wage is already high, and that it only applies to jobs held by relatively young workers.
Fox Business figures complained that an increased number of children receiving food assistance is evidence that they are part of an "entitlement culture" and attacked President Obama for allowing the food stamp program to expand in order to accommodate more children.
Fox Business' Varney & Co. devoted several segments to reports that one-quarter of children are now enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Fox Business anchor Nicole Petallides claimed that while children should receive meals at public school, "we are raising a group of entitlement nation children. I know as a parent, I go out of my way to teach our children how they have to earn each dollar." Fox News anchor John Stossell agreed, saying that expanding SNAP "encourage[s] the handouts" because "once you give away free stuff, people always want more."
In a later segment, Fox Business contributor Jedediah Bila claimed more children on SNAP is an indication that America "is becoming an entitlement culture" and warned that children receiving food assistance are "going to be entering a job market and in their mind are going to have this sense of entitlement coming along with them." Fox Business contributor Charles Payne agreed, saying people could "grow up and never even tap some of the potential that they have" because "if you make poverty too comfortable, people can't escape it."