Varney & Co.

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  • Fox's Varney Dubiously Claims US Is "Sliding Toward Recession" After Economy Grows Slightly Less Than Expected

    Stuart Varney: "It Is Legitimate To Use The Word Recession" Despite Seven Consecutive Quarters Of Economic Growth

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Fox Business host Stuart Varney misleadingly used the Commerce Department's most recent economic growth estimate to claim the United States is "sliding toward recession." In reality, there are many reasons to believe economic activity will pick back up in the spring and summer this year.

    On the April 28 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co., Varney used the Commerce Department’s quarterly GDP report, which estimated economic expansion to be 0.5 percent in the first three months of 2016, to claim America is “sliding toward recession.” Guest Julie Roginsky attempted to correct Varney's characterization of the economy, explaining that the United States' economy is still growing and has created nearly 15 million new jobs over the course of “73 consecutive months of job growth,” but she couldn't budge the host from his talking points. Varney concluded the segment by claiming that the economy's supposed "downtrend" creates a "political problem" for Democratic politicians like Hillary Clinton:

     

    The last recession, which the National Bureau of Economic Research defines as “a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months,” began in December 2007 and ended in June 2009. According to data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, first quarter economic growth has typically lagged behind growth for the rest of the year since the economy emerged from the Bush-era Great Recession:

    Varney’s warning that a recession may be imminent does not match expert analysis. On April 28, The Washington Post reported that “most analysts say that the United States faces little risk of recession.” Reuters reported that "a pick-up in activity is anticipated" in the coming months "given a buoyant labor market." In fact, while Varney was pushing his dire warning about the state of the economy, Bank of America economist Ethan Harris was on CNBC's Squawk Box explaining how one could assume a recession is happening in the first quarter of almost every year “if you don’t adjust the data,” because “the winter hits” and the “shopping season ends.” In an interview with ABC News, economist Ian Shepherdson acknowledged that the current data "looks grim, but the second quarter will be much better."

    Varney is a serial misinformer on the economy, repeatedly attempting to spin data to claim President Obama’s economic policies have failed, even though the president’s economic legacy of the last seven years shows the unemployment rate has been cut in half, annual deficits have gone down, GDP has grown, and the United States enjoyed the third-longest stock market upswing in its history. Varney’s spin on economic data has gone so far that on December 4 -- in response to a strong November jobs report that beat most economists' expectations -- he managed to conclude that the pace of job creation was "mediocre," and on January 8 he downplayed the December jobs report as merely "modest" even though it was arguably the strongest jobs report of 2015.

  • Fox Business Turns To Restaurant Executives To Attack Fight For $15 Demonstrations

    Fox’s Stuart Varney Continues Promoting Minimum Wage Myths

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Fox Business dedicated multiple segments this morning to criticizing low-wage workers taking part in living wage demonstrations around the country. The segments almost exclusively featured minimum wage opponents, and continued Fox’s heavy reliance on restaurant executives who peddle misinformation about the supposed negative consequences of paying employees minimum wages of $15 per hour.

    On the April 14th edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co., host Stuart Varney repeatedly assailed low-wage restaurant, homecare, and university workers who are taking part in nationwide demonstrations organized by the Fight for $15. Over the course of six segments, Varney was joined by numerous guests who attacked the protesters for demanding a $15-per-hour minimum wage, and pushed frequently debunked myths that increased wages would destroy jobs and hurt business. On two occasions, Varney allowed restaurant executives -- White Castle vice president Jamie Richardson and Bennigan’s CEO Paul Mangiamele -- to claim that increased wages would actually hurt workers:

    Fox has repeatedly pushed myths that businesses are opposed to raising the minimum wage while spreading debunked claims that raising the minimum wage leads to job losses. Varney is a serial misinformer on the minimum wage, and his decision to elevate anti-living wage talking points from industry executives fits a long-standing trend at his sister network.

    Contrary to Fox Business' claims that minimum wage workers will move up to better jobs quickly, a July 2013 study from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) found entry-level workers are “going nowhere fast” because low-wage restaurants offered little room for promotion -- and an April 2016 report from NELP happens to credit the Fight for $15 with successfully raising wages for 17 million American workers since 2012. Contrary to claims that business owners oppose raising the minimum wage, The Washington Post reported on April 4 that a leaked poll from Republican pollster Frank Luntz found "80 percent of respondents [business executives] said they supported raising their state's minimum wage." Economists have repeatedly debunked the claim that raising the minimum wage would kill jobs, and researchers at Cornell University argued that since minimum wage increase have "not had large or reliable effects" on restaurant and hospitality industry employment, minimum wage opponents would be better off embracing “reasonable” increases.

  • Fox Host Notorious For Poor Shaming Now Outraged That Casino Mogul Said “Nobody Likes" Poor People

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Guest host Charles Payne joined other panelists on Fox Business’ Varney & Co. in criticizing comments by billionaire casino mogul Steve Wynn that no one likes coming into contact with low-income Americans -- especially other low-income Americans. Payne, who nevertheless called Wynn one of his “heroes,” has a history of poor-shaming on Fox that fits right in with Wynn’s remark.

  • "Entitlement Nation Run Amok”: Fox’s Andrew Napolitano Peddles Lies About The Minimum Wage

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH & CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Fox News’ misinformation campaign against the minimum wage has shifted into high gear following the passage of statewide increases in California and New York. The network is now hyping worries from senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano that a $15 minimum wage is a subversive attempt to “bribe the poor for votes,” which will result in dramatic price increases and job losses while driving more low-wage workers onto public assistance programs.

    In an April 6 op-ed published by the right-wing Washington Times, Napolitano suggested that politicians are raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour “to win the votes of those they promised to help” while claiming that increased wages would have drastic negative economic consequences. On the April 7 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, Napolitano claimed that raising the minimum wage would result in price increases that put necessities beyond the reach of low-wage workers, destroy jobs, and expand reliance on public assistance. Later that morning, Napolitano appeared on Fox Business’ Varney & Co. and claimed that “poor people will lose their jobs because they simply are not worth” a $15 wage. From Fox & Friends:

    CLAIM: Minimum Wage Increases Will Result In Job Losses, Price Inflation

    Counter to Napolitano’s claim that raising the minimum wage would lead to dramatic price increases, researchers at Purdue University concluded in a July 2015 report that increasing the minimum wage of fast-food workers to $15 per hour would result in only a 4.3 percent increase in restaurant prices. According to The Economist’s Big Mac Index, a 4.3 percent increase in the cost of a Big Mac in the United States would be roughly 22 cents. 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 price increases have not been large enough to “dramatically affect overall demand." Right-wing media have a long history of claiming that minimum wages destroy jobs and inflate prices, but the overwhelming majority of economic research shows no such relationship.

    CLAIM: Minimum Wage Work Isn’t Worth $15 Per Hour

    Napolitano’s poor-shaming stance on the supposedly lesser value of low-skilled and low-income workers mirrors similar comments from Fox Business host Charles Payne, who on multiple occasions has slammed minimum wage increases as rewarding and encouraging "mediocrity." In fact, according to ThinkProgress, a $15-per-hour minimum wage would not even be a living wage in many states, including California or New York -- workers today already need to make closer to $22 per hour. Furthermore, according to a report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), minimum wage workers have been undervalued for decades; if the federal minimum wage had kept up with increasing worker productivity since the 1970s, it would have reached $21.72 per hour by 2012.

    CLAIM: Minimum Wage Increases Will Expand Dependence On Welfare

    Napolitano falsely claimed that increasing the minimum wage would drive more low-income Americans into poverty by destroying opportunities for employment, and that it would result in an increased reliance on public assistance programs. On the contrary, according to research by the Center for American Progress (CAP) on an abandoned 2014 proposal to raise the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 per hour by July 2016, the wage increase could have decreased reliance on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as “food stamps,” by $4.6 billion annually. In February 2014, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that a $10.10 federal minimum wage would lift 900,000 Americans out of poverty while injecting billions of dollars into the consumer economy. A December 2013 study from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) similarly found that the modest wage increase would have directly or indirectly lifted wages for nearly 30 million American workers. Conservative media personalities like Napolitano frequently bemoan the supposed ill effects of raising the minimum wage, completely ignoring the heavy public cost that historically low minimum wages across the country already carry. An October 2013 report by the University of California, Berkeley Labor Center found that low wages in the fast-food industry alone cost taxpayers $7 billion annually by increasing the strain on public assistance.

    CLAIM: Minimum Wage Increases Are A Means of “Buying Votes”

    Napolitano’s claim that minimum wage increases are a political tool meant to curry favor and “bribe the poor for votes” is a common right-wing media theme. Fox News personalities, often led by Fox Business host Stuart Varneyfrequently claim that Democrats support policies aimed at alleviating poverty only as a means of “buying votes.” For years, Fox has claimed that the Lifeline program -- a Reagan-era telecommunications subsidy for low-income families -- was a Democratic plot to “bribe” and “enslave” American voters. In fact, tens of millions of Americans across the political spectrum rely on these vital programs, and Republican politicians are actually more likely than their Democratic counterparts to represent constituents who use food stamps -- a program that low-income families would be less reliant on if minimum wages were increased.

  • 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 Try To Spin The "Strong" March Jobs Report

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Varney discussing jobs report

    CNN and mainstream newspapers reacted positively to the Bureau of Labor Statistics' (BLS) jobs report for March 2016, saying the report's topline figure of 215,000 jobs added is a "strong" number. But Fox personalities continued their months-long attempt to cast consistent job creation in a negative light, with Fox Business host Stuart Varney questioning the "quality of jobs" added.

    On April 1, the BLS reported that the United States added 215,000 jobs in the month of March. CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans reported on New Day that March saw "another strong month of hiring," but she warned that "this report is like a Rorschach test now on the campaign trail. ... Republicans will see the weaknesses and try to say that the economy is not working well for everyone. Democrats will try to say, look, we're moving in the right direction."

    The Washington Post heralded the news as "healthy job growth," saying that "the nation's hiring boom continued its momentum in March." The New York Times led its reporting by declaring, "Americans are going back to work," and continued by saying the numbers show "a burst of hiring in recent months." The Times also reported that the labor force participation rate -- the ratio of people working or looking for jobs -- was up to its highest level in two years at 63 percent.

    Counter to the positive reporting from mainstream outlets, host Stuart Varney claimed to have "reason to question the quality of the jobs in this latest jobs report." On the April 1 edition of Varney & Co., Varney noted that 47,000 retail jobs had been created, claiming this means "High paid [jobs are] gone; low paid, here they come," but he neglected to mention that the construction and health care sectors added 37,000 jobs each.

    Varney's disingenuous complaint fits a trend at Fox News, where on-air personalities continue to lament consistently improving economic data. On November 6, Fox & Friends co-hosts Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Steve Doocy stumbled through a segment on the outstanding October jobs report, with Hasselbeck confusingly claiming that "only 271,000 jobs" had been created that month. On December 4, in response to a strong November report that beat most economists' expectations, Varney still managed to conclude that the pace of job creation was "mediocre," and on January 8 he downplayed the December jobs report as merely "modest" even though it was the strongest jobs report of 2015.

  • Media Push Right-Wing Myths After California's $15 Minimum Wage Announcement

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    On March 28, Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) announced a legislative compromise to raise the California minimum wage gradually from $10 per hour in 2016 to $15 per hour by 2022. Right-wing media have attacked the historic wage increase, claiming it will kill jobs and that it "goes against every law of capitalism." Meanwhile, mainstream media have promoted misinformation about the minimum wage peddled by restaurant industry front groups.

  • Right-Wing Media Fearmonger About Nonexistent Forced Union Membership Following Supreme Court Decision

    ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH & DINA RADTKE

    On March 29, the Supreme Court announced a split vote in the public sector union case Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, upholding a decades-old practice that allows the union to collect a smaller "agency fee" from nonmembers who benefit from the union's collective bargaining efforts but don't pay full membership dues. Right-wing media reacted by mischaracterizing the fees and falsely claiming that the ruling forces employees to join unions and pay membership dues "whether [they] want to or not."

  • Right-Wing Media Lose It After Obama Dances The Tango

    ››› ››› CRISTIANO LIMA & BOBBY LEWIS

    Right-wing commentators ripped President Obama for dancing the tango at a state dinner in Argentina a day after the terrorist attacks in Brussels, Belgium, criticizing him for "dancing the night away" "while Brussels burns." Meanwhile, journalists and analysists slammed conservative media figures' "easy attacks," noting that right-wing media would have criticized Obama "either way," regardless of whether he continued on or cut his trip short following the Brussels attacks.

  • 8 Ways Right-Wing Media Exploited The Brussels Terror Attacks

    ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ & JULIE ALDERMAN

    Right-wing media quickly exploited the terrorist attacks in Brussels by stoking fears about the U.S. refugee vetting process, calling for the profiling of Muslims, stoking anti-immigrant sentiments, hyping anti-Muslim fears, blaming political correctness for the victims of terrorism, crediting Donald Trump with being "right" when he said Brussels was turning into a "hell hole," calling for torture and waterboarding, and criticizing President Obama.