Author Page | Media Matters for America

Albert Kleine

Author ››› Albert Kleine
  • REPORT: Weekday Broadcast And Cable Evening News Economic Coverage Lacks Context, Economists

    Increased Coverage Of Inequality, Attacks On Obamacare And The Minimum Wage, And Voices Of Economists Barely Present


    Weekday broadcast and cable evening news covered a variety of economic topics including deficit reduction, economic growth, and effects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) throughout the first quarter of 2014. A Media Matters analysis shows that many of these segments lacked proper context or input from economists, with Fox News continuing to advance the erroneous notion that the ACA and the minimum wage are causes of poor job growth.

  • Fox Misrepresents Economic Research To Push Unemployment Benefit Cuts

    Blog ››› ››› ALBERT KLEINE

    Fox and Friends

    Fox News misrepresented economic research while arguing against efforts to extend lapsed long-term unemployment benefits, ignoring the fact that the research itself noted the benefits of extending unemployment insurance to the jobless.

    This week, the Senate is expected to vote on a bipartisan bill that would restore benefits to the long-term unemployed. Emergency unemployment compensation (EUC) lapsed in December 2013, and Congress has put forth multiple proposals to restore the program over the past few months.

    On the March 26 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox Business' Charles Payne was brought on to preview the effort to extend lapsed benefits. Payne touted a Brookings Institution study co-authored by economist and former chair of the Council of Economic Advisers Alan Krueger, which found that only 10 percent of the long-term unemployed are able to find new employment within a year. Payne used this finding to argue against extending long-term EUC benefits, claiming that the unemployed "have to be pushed back into the job market" and that being unemployed should not be "too comfortable."

    If Payne had actually taken time to read the study he cited, he would have found that the authors actually note the exact opposite.

    Contrary to Payne's claim that unemployment benefits keep people from entering the job market, Kruger and his co-authors point out that the benefits, which require the unemployed to search for jobs "[have] been shown to induce unemployed workers to stay in the labor force." Indeed, the idea that unemployment insurance somehow suppresses labor participation is a well-worn falsehood, and multiple studies have shown EUC benefits do not discourage job seeking.

    Furthermore, while the Fox & Friends segment attempted to paint Krueger's research as an indication that he opposes government efforts to help the unemployed, he recently stated that the government should be more aggressive at preventing people from becoming long-term unemployed.

    The simple fact is that the long-term unemployed aren't in their situation because of lack of effort; rather, it is due to a lack of available jobs and possible hiring discrimination.

    Misrepresenting economic research to deny benefits for millions of Americans is just the latest installment in Fox's documented history of disparaging unemployment insurance.

  • Media Ignore New Report Showing Teachers Will Lose Thousands In Pensions


    A report released last week showed that young public school teachers will forfeit thousands of dollars in pension wealth due to states' current pension policies. In the seven days since the report's release, broadcast nightly news, weekday evening cable news, and major print outlets have completely ignored its findings and its implications for the largest class of workers in the U.S.

  • National Coalition To Broadcast Networks: Viewers "Deserve To Know What's At Stake" If Minimum Wage Stays Low

    Blog ››› ››› ALBERT KLEINE

    A national coalition of organizations has signed a letter to four major broadcast network heads expressing their concern over the failure of broadcast evening news programs to note the public cost of low wages.

    A recently released Media Matters report found that over the past year, evening news programs on ABC, CBS, NBC, and PBS have been largely silent about the burden that low minimum wages place on the financial security of public safety net programs. The report found that from March 1, 2013, through March 10, 2014, the networks only mentioned the reliance of minimum wage workers on federal, state, and local anti-poverty programs such as food assistance and welfare programs eight times, with PBS providing the majority.

    22 national organizations that advocate on behalf of the millions of workers that would benefit from a minimum wage increase wrote the heads of the broadcast networks to express their "deep concern" over coverage of "the impact of low minimum wages on hard-working Americans, their families, and our country":

    When it comes to growing our economy and improving the livelihoods of workers, it's increasingly imperative that your evening news programs cover the cost of inaction. Because of low wages, many workers in the fast food industry alone -- many of whom make wages at or just above the current minimum wage -- are forced to rely on government assistance to the tune of almost $7 billion annually. Additionally, a recent analysis found that raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would reduce necessary spending on food stamps by $4.6 billion annually.

    Your evening news programs reach millions of Americans every night and frequently set the tone for how this issue is debated at the kitchen table, state legislatures, and the Halls of Congress. We urge you to correct this oversight and hope you will take greater action in the future to ensure that these programs tell the full story. We are happy to meet with you to discuss ways to make your minimum wage coverage more informative.

    The full letter can be read below:

    Coalition Letter to CBS, ABC, NBC, and PBS on Minimum Wage Coverage by MediaMatters4America

  • REPORT: Print Media's Misleading Coverage Of Social Security Figures


    Coverage of Social Security in three major national print outlets relied on reporting figures in raw numbers devoid of relevant context -- such as previous years' figures -- that could provide a more accurate picture of the program's finances. These findings, calculated since July 2013, are consistent with a previous Media Matters analysis of print media's coverage of Social Security.

  • 2 Success Stories That Undermine Right-Wing Media's Food Stamp Delusion

    Blog ››› ››› ALBERT KLEINE


    Recent profiles of successful individuals illustrate how the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) -- formerly known as "food stamps" -- helps disadvantaged people achieve success, delivering a blow to common right-wing narratives about the program cultivating laziness among recipients.

    On February 19, social networking giant Facebook purchased WhatsApp -- a messaging application for smartphones -- for $19 billion. The move made WhatsApp Inc. co-founder Jan Koum a billionaire overnight, with a projected net worth of $6.8 billion.

    Multiple news outlets noted that Koum's success was a "rags-to-riches" story, and highlighted the fact that as a child, his family received food stamps. From Business Insider:

    WhatsApp co-founder, Jan Koum, 37, was born in Ukraine. He arrived in the U.S. when he was just 16 years old and his family struggled. They lived on food stamps, venture capitalist Jim Goetz revealed in a blog post.

    In fact, Koum's family picked up their food stamps only a couple of blocks away from WhatsApp's offices in Mountain View, Calif., reports Wired's David Rowan.

    Koum is not the only prominent person making headlines who has relied on SNAP at some point in their life. On the February 17 edition of MSNBC's NOW, host Alex Wagner profiled Olympic speed skater Emily Scott. In June 2013, Scott, who had been working at a medical supply company while training 8 hours per day in preparation for Sochi, was forced to apply for food stamps when her monthly Olympic stipend was cut to just $600. As Wagner noted, Scott is the second ranked American speed skater and will compete in the speed skating quarterfinals on February 21.

    The success of these two individuals -- one now a billionaire and the other competing in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics -- helps dispel common myths about food stamp recipients.

    In recent years, right-wing media have rushed to demonize food stamp recipients, often portraying them as lazy, dependent, or unwilling to work. Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh has even gone so far as to suggest that children facing hunger should dumpster dive as an alternative to government assistance.

    This distorted depiction of the program's beneficiaries culminated in a wildly misleading Fox News report on Jason Greenslate, "a California surfer and aspiring musician." In the report, Fox described Greenslate as "the new face of food stamps," a blatant attempt to portray his lifestyle as characteristic of all food stamp recipients.

    Of course, right-wing media's view of those that rely on food stamps is out of touch with reality -- most food stamp recipients stay on the program for short periods of time, 41 percent of them live in a house with earnings, and a majority of recipients are either children or elderly. Furthermore, the program keeps millions out of poverty every year.

    On the heels of the Facebook's purchase of WhatsApp, the Huffington Post profiled a number of prominent people who have had to rely on food stamps, ranging from musician Bruce Springsteen to right-wing media darling Dr. Ben Carson.

    Hopefully these SNAP success stories making headlines will push right-wing media to tone down the toxic and inaccurate rhetoric about the program and its recipients.

    Image via Hubert Burda Media under a Creative Commons License

  • REPORT: Print Media Mislead Readers On Economy With Raw Data, Little Context


    Three major national print outlets were more likely to report economic figures in terms of raw numbers devoid of relevant and necessary context, such as previous years' numbers or monthly figures that would give readers an accurate depiction of the economy. These findings, calculated since halfway through 2013, are consistent with a previous Media Matters analysis of print media.