U.S. News & World Report

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  • Climate Advocates Expose Oil Industry Ties Of Exxon Defender At U.S. News & World Report

    Blog ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS

    Several environmental organizations called out the oil industry ties of U.S. News & World Report contributing editor Peter Roff, who in a recent column attacked efforts to hold the industry accountable while promoting its misleading talking points and downplaying the threat posed by climate change.

    Democratic senators are speaking out against the fossil fuel industry and its efforts to promote climate science denial for financial gain. This comes as ExxonMobil is under investigation by several attorneys general for possibly committing fraud by deliberately misleading shareholders and the public about climate science for decades after its own scientists confirmed that fossil fuels are causing global warming. The senators also introduced a resolution that compares the oil industry’s misinformation campaign to the tobacco and lead industries’ efforts to deliberately deceive the public about the health impacts of their products, stating that each industry “developed a sophisticated and deceitful campaign that funded think tanks and front groups, and paid public relations firms to deny, counter, and obfuscate” peer-reviewed research and “used that misinformation campaign to mislead the public and cast doubt in order to protect their financial interest.”

    In response, U.S. News’ Roff penned a July 11 column lashing out at the senators and proclaiming that there is an “as yet unsettled debate about climate change and what to do about it.” Roff labeled the senators’ resolution an “attack on the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech.” But as the dean of Yale Law School has explained, Exxon and its allies are blurring “the essential difference between fraud and public debate,” and if Exxon has indeed committed fraud, “its speech would not merit First Amendment protection.”

    And as environmental advocates pointed out on Twitter, Roff’s misleading defense of Exxon is hardly surprising given his own ties to Exxon and the oil billionaire Koch brothers. The Center for Media and Democracy’s PRWatch.org tweeted to Roff: “[W]hy don't you report Exxon's denial funding @usnews? Because you're a ‘fellow’ at an Exxon-funded op.” Common Cause’s Jay Riestenberg pointed out that Roff “once worked for a Koch funded org.” Greenpeace’s Connor Gibson stated that Roff “often recycles the Koch bros talking points in their defense.”

    Indeed, Roff is currently a senior fellow at the conservative think tank Frontiers of Freedom, which received more than $1 million from ExxonMobil between 2001 and 2007. In both 2012 and 2014, Roff’s organization received $50,000 from DonorsTrust -- the dark money group with significant ties to the Koch brothers and other fossil fuel interests -- and it got $75,000 from the Charles G. Koch foundation in 2014.

    As Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) put it, it is “long past time that we shed some light on the perpetrators of this web of denial.” He’s right, and that includes detailing the oil industry ties of a U.S. News contributing editor defending Exxon’s climate change deception.

    Image at the top via DeSmogBlog.

  • Conservatives Claim Gun Violence Is Not A Public Health Crisis, But Medical Experts Disagree

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Conservative pundits lashed out at the American Medical Association (AMA) for adopting a policy calling gun violence “a public health crisis,” claiming the policy is “pseudoscientific” and telling the association to “shut up.” But numerous public health and medical experts have previously noted that "gun violence is a public health issue that has reached epidemic proportions."

  • NY Times Magazine Attacks The Obama Administration With Fact-Free Allegations

    David Samuels Falsely Attacks President Obama And Ben Rhodes, Fails To Disclose Conflict Of Interest

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    New York Times Magazine profile of the Obama administration’s push to cement the Iran nuclear deal baselessly claimed that President Obama and a top White House aide, Ben Rhodes, “largely manufactured” a narrative about the deal and “actively” misled the public to win support, despite reports to the contrary. The author, David Samuels, also failed to disclose his past criticism of the Iran deal and advocacy for bombing Iran.

  • Fact-Checkers And Education Writers Were Never Fooled By Trump’s Education Lies

    ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    Likely Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has made hardly any statements about his policy positions on education issues. But the claims he has made, mostly about the Common Core state standards and the federal role in education policy, have been routinely debunked by fact-checkers, education reporters, and prominent education scholars.


  • Gertz: Americans Are "Mired In A Campaign Dominated By Trump" Because "The Media Made It So"

    Gertz: Americans Are "Mired In A Campaign Dominated By Trump" Because "The Media Made It So"

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In an op-ed for U.S. News & World ReportMedia Matters research director Matt Gertz described how Donald Trump mirrors longstanding pillars of right-wing media and how mainstream media enables him to dominate the airwaves.

    In an April 1 op-ed for U.S. News' "Debate Club," Media Matters' Matthew Gertz explained that "conservative media created the platform and mentality on which Trump built his campaign," while the mainstream media gave Trump unprecedented legitimacy to "boost their ratings":

    Conservative media created the platform and mentality on which Trump built his campaign, and television executives have buttressed it, treating the businessman as a spectacle they could use to boost their ratings.

    Since President Barack Obama's election, right-wing media have made fervent opposition to the president and the progressive movement their overwhelming priority, regularly attacking any Republican politician who steps out of line. They have doubled down on their obsessive opposition to immigration reform and anti-Muslim attacks. And Trump's extreme positions and violent rhetoric mirror those priorities.


    While the conservative media's support for Trump has been based on ideology, the mainstream media's enthusiasm has been based on commercialism. Trump has enjoyed the benefit of a complacent television news industry that is reaping the rewards of the high ratings and resulting ad revenue the GOP front-runner creates. As CBS executive chairman Les Moonves put it, "It may not be good for America, but it's damn good for CBS. ... I've never seen anything like this, and this going to be a very good year for us. Sorry. It's a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going."

    When the networks aren't broadcasting Trump speeches, rallies and interviews, they are talking about Trump's latest comments, allowing the candidate to dictate the conversation. According to the media tracking firm mediaQuant, Trump has received nearly $2 billion in earned media during the presidential campaign. By comparison, Sen. Ted Cruz has received $313 million.

    The GOP front-runner also benefits from the many broadcast and cable news shows that are willing to let him call in to their programs, rather than appearing in person or by satellite. This unprecedented practice allows him to dominate interviews, talking through tough questions without having to worry that his facial reactions or body language could compromise his performance.


    With seven months to go before Election Day, we are mired in a campaign dominated by Trump. We got there in part because the media made it so.

  • US News Promotes "Deeply Flawed" Analysis To Claim Minimum Wage Increases Could Hurt Low-Wage Workers

    Dozens Of Studies Have Shown A Negligible Relationship Between Minimum Wage Increases And Employment

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    U.S. News & World Report published a lengthy interview with an economist whose research purports to show a link between minimum wage increases and job losses as part of a feature intended to answer whether "a higher minimum wage [would] help or hurt workers." The economist the magazine solely relied on for its investigation of the minimum wage has been criticized for producing "deeply flawed" research in the past that goes against the overwhelming preponderance of economic research around the minimum wage.

    Just days prior to the publication of the interview, the Los Angeles Times reported on a tentative deal between California lawmakers and minimum wage advocates that would raise the state's minimum wage to $15 per hour in 2022.

    On March 28, U.S. News published excerpts from an interview between reporter Andrew Soergel and economics professor Jeff Clemens in which the two attempted to shed light on the fraught partisan argument over the merits of local, state, and federal efforts to raise the minimum wage -- which currently stands at just $7.25 per hour at the federal level. Unfortunately for readers, what was actually presented was a one-sided conversation pushing myths commonly parroted by right-wing media, which blame minimum wage increases for job losses, teenage unemployment, service automation, and economic stagnation. From U.S. News (emphasis added):

    So which side is right? That depends almost entirely on the perception of the problem with the domestic labor market, says Jeff Clemens, an assistant professor of economics at the University of California, San Diego and a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research.

    If you believe employers are squeezing more and more output from their payrolls without fair compensation, then a minimum wage hike would be for you. But if you believe technological advances and low-skill, low-wage competition from overseas have limited the number of minimum wage jobs in the U.S. and prevented employers from doling out raises, then a minimum wage bump might not make sense and could ultimately hurt low-skill workers' employment opportunities.

    Clemens' own research suggests the series of minimum wage hikes enacted in the mid-2000s contributed substantially to the number of low-skill jobs lost during and around the Great Recession. But he says there are compelling bodies of evidence on both sides of the spectrum.

    Soergel promoted the interview with a misleading tweet claiming "a lot of research suggests" that raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour "could hurt employment":

    Contrary to Soergel's claim, there is actually very little available research on $15 minimum wage rates, because those wage levels have never before been enacted in the United States. The Fight for $15 movement has successfully pushed some companies in some municipalities to voluntarily lift wages for workers, but $15 wages are not in place yet. On May 1, 2014, the mayor and city council in Seattle, Washington, made history by announcing plans to raise the municipal minimum wage to $15, but that wage level will be phased-in for different employers over the course of three to seven years.

    A 2015 study that does purport to show massive job losses resulting from a $15 minimum wage was issued by the conservative Empire Center for Public Policy. The study, which Media Matters debunked, was criticized by the National Employment Law Project (NELP) and Fiscal Policy Institute (FPI) for using "outdated economics" and for relying on "less sophisticated and less accurate research." One of the studies the Empire Center relied on for its misleading analysis was co-authored by Clemens, and was harshly criticized by labor economist Irv Lefberg as "deeply flawed" and "pure scientific folly" because it attempted to attribute employment changes in the midst of the Great Recession to "a small, gradual increase" of the minimum wage "affecting a small portion of the workforce."

    Clemens is a qualified economist, but his position on the minimum wage is hardly indicative of the economics profession as a whole. For example, an April 2012 report by the University of California, Berkeley's Institute for Research on Labor and Employment (IRLE) found that the change in "employment stock" -- the number of available jobs -- resulting from increased minimum wages is "indistinguishable from zero." In February 2013, economist John Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) reviewed the findings of dozens of individual studies and meta-analyses of the minimum wage, and concluded that it "has little or no discernible effect on the employment prospects of low-wage workers." One of the meta-studies in CEPR's review was a 2009 peer-reviewed paper by economists Hristos Doucouliagos and T.D. Stanley, which plotted the estimated jobs impact of 1,492 separate calculations contained in 64 distinct studies. The paper found that the overwhelming majority of the "most precise estimates" of positive and negative jobs impacts were "clustered at or near zero":

    The Overwhelming Majority Of Minimum Wage Research Predict Zero Employment Effects

    There is an enormous amount of research demonstrating that the minimum wage has little effect on the job market -- a December 2015 study by researchers at Cornell University argued that with so little evidence to make a case against raising the minimum wage, opponents ought to just "support rather than oppose reasonable increases." There is also additional research demonstrating the positive side-effects of increased wages, including reducing the impact of poverty on low-wage workers. A January 5, 2016, briefing paper from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) concluded that a phased-in wage increase to $15 per hour in 2021 would boost wages "directly or indirectly" for 3.2 million workers in New York alone. A July 14, 2015, EPI briefing paper found that raising the federal minimum wage to just $12 per hour in 2020 would lift wages for 35 million American workers. An October 2013 study by economists at the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign found that low wages in the fast food industry alone cost taxpayers "nearly $7 billion per year" in increased spending on anti-poverty programs. An April 2015 study by the UC-Berkeley Labor Center found that low wages cost taxpayers nearly $153 billion annually nationwide.

    Media Matters has debunked the right-wing media myth that raising the minimum wage will result in job losses for low-wage workers dozens of times. Nevertheless, the same discredited arguments continue emerging every time the minimum wage is in the news. It would not be surprising to see right-wing outlets turn to Clemens, and only Clemens, for an in-depth feature assailing the minimum wage, but U.S. News' decision to do so is perplexing.

  • CMP Responded To Federal Injunction With Deceptive Video Baselessly Alleging "Kickback Arrangement" For Fetal Tissue

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    An injunction issued by a federal court bars the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress (CMP) from releasing further footage gathered illicitly during National Abortion Federation (NAF) conferences or events. Despite the order, on February 8 CMP released another smear video that baselessly suggests NAF approves of "kickbacks" for the sale of fetal tissue, and includes deceptively edited video of a speech by the executive director of NAF.

  • Bill O'Reilly Claims "There Is Not A Gun Crime Epidemic," But Scores Of Medical Experts Disagree

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    After President Obama announced executive actions to curb gun violence, Fox Host Bill O'Reilly claimed that "there is not a gun crime epidemic" and downplayed the fact that "more than 8,000 people were victims of firearm murders in 2014." However, public health and medical experts roundly disagree, noting that "gun violence is a public health issue that has reached epidemic proportions."

  • Clinton Camp Flatly Denies Anonymously-Sourced Report That They Circulated Attack On Jim Webb

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    David Catanese

    Conservative media outlets promoted an anonymously sourced claim published by U.S. News & World Report that an aide to Hillary Clinton circulated an attack on former Senator Jim Webb. Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill flatly denied the report, telling Media Matters it was "pure fabrication."

    In a story discussing Webb's possible run for the presidency, U.S. News & World Report's David Catanese claimed that "Clinton loyalists are keeping an eye" on Webb as a potential rival for the Democratic nomination. As evidence, Catanese wrote that "the week before Thanksgiving, staffers of Philippe Reines, Clinton's longtime communications guru, pitched talk radio producers on the racy, sexually charged writings in Webb's novels, according to a source."

    In a comment to Media Matters, Clinton spokesperson Nick Merrill flatly denied the claim: "There is nothing true about this, it's pure fabrication, and if the reporter who wrote the story would have bothered to ask before printing it, we would have told him that."

    Catanese doubled down on his claim in a follow-up report, writing that "of course, the Clinton team is denying Reines' underlings floated the material in the first place" and publishing Merrill's statement that the claim was "an unmitigated lie," before adding, "Our source, granted anonymity, stands by the account."

    Several conservative media outlets ran with the anonymous U.S. News report, using it to attack Clinton's character.

    The Drudge Report's headline linking to the report said "Team Clinton Already Dishing Oppo on Jim Webb."

    New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin called the report evidence that Hillary Clinton was "trying to dirty up Jim Webb," and added, "Mud first, that's Hillary."

    National Review's Jim Geraghty asked, "Why on earth would the Hillary team go after Jim Webb this early?" adding, "What is this, some form of mudslinging pregame stretching?"

    At HotAir, conservative blogger Ed Morrisey said the story was evidence of "Clintonistas using a kitchen-sink strategy" which "sends a message to other Democrats who might dare to intrude on Coronation II: Hillary's Boogaloo."

    American Conservative's James Carden said that "Clinton's team is seemingly alive to the danger a Webb candidacy poses" because of the report that "longtime Clinton henchman Philippe Reines had been pitching talk radio producers unflattering stories about Webb." Carden wrote that the incident "should raise additional questions about the former Secretary's powers of discernment, particularly when it comes to the character of some of her closest advisers."

  • Media Promote Ebola Fear-Mongering Stunt

    Blog ››› ››› CHANCE SEALES

    Fox News and several newspapers hyped a stunt designed to increase fear of Ebola, carried out by a doctor at an airport where he wore protective clothing displaying the "CDC is lying."

    Dr. Gil Mobley of Missouri walked through Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on October 2, clad in protective medical clothing, goggles, and breathing mask, with the words "CDC is lying" painted on his back. Mobley's publicity stunt soon gained pickup thanks to a Fox News interview and coverage in several newspapers.

  • Conservative Media Hides Behind Cancer Patient As Another Obamacare Horror Story Falls Apart

    Blog ››› ››› OLIVER WILLIS

    As fact checkers investigated and debunked claims made in an ad attacking the Affordable Care Act, Fox News and other conservative media used a cancer patient's illness to defend the spot's dishonesty.

    The episode is part of an ongoing pattern in the conservative media of promoting anecdotal Obamacare horror stories that have fallen apart under scrutiny.

  • U.S. News Ignores Racist Ties And History Of Nativist Group, NumbersUSA


    U.S. News & World Report highlighted the efforts of nativist group NumbersUSA in an article on immigration reform without providing any information on the history of the organization or its founder's ties to white supremacist organizations.

    On February 20, U.S. News & World Report discussed the efforts of NumbersUSA, which it called a "restrictive immigration group," and Executive Director Roy Beck to organize against the recent push for immigration reform in Congress:

    NumbersUSA Action, the country's largest grassroots restrictive immigration group, is just one of the organizations gearing up for a bitter battle over how to reform the country's immigration system. Executive Director Roy Beck says support has only grown since his group defeated comprehensive immigration reform in 2007. Five years ago, the group had just over 300,000 members. Today its ballooned to more than 1.4 million, Beck says.

    The article continued to highlight the work that NumbersUSA has done to drum up support for its extremely restrictionist immigration policy but did not go into any detail about the history of the group or its leader Roy Beck.

    NumbersUSA was founded under the watchful eye of nativist and modern architect of the anti-immigration movement Dr. John Tanton. Tanton, who is well known for his anti-immigrant rhetoric and association with the white nationalist newspaper The Social Contract, is also the founder of three major anti-immigrant groups, NumbersUSA, the Center for Immigration Studies, and the Southern Poverty Law Center-labeled hate group, the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

    Roy Beck, who runs NumbersUSA and was once deemed Tanton's "heir apparent", has a similar anti-immigrant track record. Beck worked as an editor at The Social Contract alongside Wayne Lutton, an active member of "both racist and Holocaust denial circles," and helped edit a book by Tanton and Lutton.  In 1996, Beck addressed a meeting of the Council of Conservative Citizens, a white supremacist group.