Las Vegas Review-Journal Glosses Over Op-Ed Writer's Fast Food Industry Ties
Blog ››› ››› SALVATORE COLLELUORI
The Las Vegas Review-Journal failed to note that the author of a recent op-ed on the fast food worker strike is closely associated with a lobbying group for the fast food industry.
The August 30 op-ed titled, "Minimum wage hike means fewer jobs," was authored by Michael Saltsman, who the paper identified simply as the "research director at the Employment Policies Institute." Saltsman wrote that increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour, which fast food workers are currently demanding in strikes across the country, would leave employers with no choice but to "provide the same service with fewer employees," a common conservative myth which has been debunked.
The paper did not disclose that the Employment Policies Institute is one of several front groups started by corporate lobbyist Richard Berman. Berman, who has received the nickname "Dr. Evil" for the corporate clients he represents, was featured in an April 2007 CBS report which explained his lobbying efforts:
Rick Berman takes a certain pride, even joy, in the nickname "Dr. Evil." But the people who use it see nothing funny about it--they mean it.
His real name is Rick Berman, a Washington lobbyist and arch-enemy of other lobbyists and do-gooders who would have government control--and even ban-a myriad of products they claim are killing us, products like caffeine, salt, fast food and the oil they fry it in. He's against Mothers Against Drunk Driving, animal rights activists, food watchdog groups and unions of every kind.
Berman is often cited by the media to be the opposing voice on raising the minimum wage for fast food workers. However, he often relies on research from the Employment Policies Institute, which has a track record of using misleading studies to claim minimum wage increases would hurt the economy and attacking research that says otherwise without providing real evidence. From the Center for Media and Democracy:
In 1995, EPI lashed out at Princeton University professors David Card and Alan Krueger, after they published a survey of fast-food restaurants which found no loss in the number of jobs in New Jersey after implementing an increase in the state's minimum wage. Berman accused Card and Krueger of using bad data, citing contrary figures that his own institute had collected from some of the same restaurants. But whereas Card and Krueger had surveyed 410 restaurants, Berman's outfit only collected data from 71 restaurants and has refused to make its data publicly available so that other researchers can assess whether it "cherry-picked" restaurants to create a sample that would support its predetermined conclusions.
This is the second time this month the Las Vegas Review-Journal has provided a platform for commentary from the Employment Policies Institute without disclosing its corporate lobbying ties.