Media are uncritically hyping President-elect Donald Trump’s false claim that he should be credited for Ford Motor Co.’s decision not to relocate a plant from Kentucky to Mexico, despite the fact that the plant was never going to close and no jobs were going to be lost. While right-wing media hyped Trump’s claim on its face as proof of his political success, mainstream media echoed that pro-Trump spin in a series of misleading headlines, which critics have called out for being out of context and “completely wrong.”
Trump Claims Credit For Ford’s Decision To Keep Kentucky Plant Open ...
WSJ: Trump Claims He “Worked Hard” To Keep A Ford Plant “In Kentucky.” After receiving a call from Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford, reported The Wall Street Journal, President-elect Donald Trump claimed in a tweet that the company “will be keeping the Lincoln plant in Kentucky—no Mexico.” In a separate tweet, Trump asserted that he “worked hard” with the company’s chairman “to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky” and out of Mexico. From the November 18 Wall Street Journal report:
Ford Motor Co. Chairman Bill Ford called Donald Trump to tell the president-elect the auto maker won't move production of Lincolns out of Kentucky, a sign the car company aims to work with a new administration on protecting American manufacturing workers.
Mr. Trump, in a tweet posted to his Twitter account late Thursday, said he had “just got a call from my friend Bill Ford, Chairman of Ford, who advised me that he will be keeping the Lincoln plant in Kentucky—no Mexico.” He then added in a second tweet “I worked hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky.”
The auto maker confirmed in a statement that production of the Lincoln MKC crossover will remain at its assembly plant in Louisville, Ky. Ford had initially planned to move output of the Lincoln model to another plant to boost production of the Escape, which is built at the same factory. The company didn’t say where it had planned to move production of the Lincoln crossover. [The Wall Street Journal, 11/18/16]
… But The Plant In Question Was Never Going To Leave Kentucky
CNN’s Christine Romans: “This Plant Was Never Moving To Mexico … Always Going To Stay In Louisville .” CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans explained that Trump is “taking credit for keeping an entire auto plant from notifying Mexico a plant that wasn't moving anyway,” adding that Ford “signed a legally binding contract” with the United Auto Workers to create “$700 million of new investments at that plant in Louisville” and promised to “keep employment near the current level of 4,700 workers.” Romans pointed out that the company might have considered moving “the small scale production of the Lincoln MKC” to Mexico, but “this plant was always going to stay in Louisville.” She added that “this is the second time” Trump has falsely taken credit for a Ford business decision that he had no actual influence over. From the November 18 edition of CNN’s New Day:
CHRISTINE ROMANS: Trump taking credit for keeping an entire auto plant from moving to Mexico, a plant that was not moving anyway.
ROMANS: Now, that plant was never going anywhere. Last year, Ford signed a legally binding contract with the UAW, the United Auto Workers. It includes $700 million of new investments at that plant in Louisville, Kentucky. It would build the new Ford Escape models there, and it would keep employment near the current level of 4,700 workers. What might have moved, the small scale production of the Lincoln MKC. They make about 20,000 of these a year, you guys. But it sells a lot more of the Escape, 306,000 of these. So that Louisville plant was going focus on the Ford Escape, and Lincoln was going to go someplace else to make room for it.
Now, Ford confirms it alerted Trump the model would now stay in Kentucky, a sign that Ford does not want to antagonize the president-elect. And this is the second time he has taken credit for a Ford decision to keep production in the U.S. He did it last year, when the Ford F-150 was going to stay in Ohio, but guys that was a business decision that was made before Trump was even a candidate.
ALISYN CAMEROTA (CO-HOST): OK. But it was -- they were going to say there is the bottom line?
ROMANS: This plant was never moving to Mexico. This model might have moved someplace else, Mexico or another plant in the United States, this small-scale model. This plant was always going to stay in Louisville. [CNN, New Day, 11/18/16]
NY Times: Ford’s Proposed Change “Had Not Been Expected To Result In Any Job Losses.” According to The New York Times, “Ford had not planned to close the Louisville factory,” but rather, “it had planned to expand production of another vehicle made in Louisville, the Ford Escape.” The Times added, “the change had not been expected to result in any job losses.” From the November 18 Times report:
Ford makes the Lincoln MKC, a sport utility vehicle, at a factory in Louisville. Last week, Ford said it planned to move production of the vehicle elsewhere. On Thursday night, after Mr. Trump’s Twitter messages, the company said that Mexico had been the intended destination and that it would now keep MKC production in Kentucky.
But Ford had not planned to close the Louisville factory. Instead, it had planned to expand production of another vehicle made in Louisville, the Ford Escape. And the change had not been expected to result in any job losses.
“Whatever happens in Louisville, it will not lose employment,” Jimmy Settles, a union official, told The Detroit Free Press. “They cannot make enough Escapes.”
Now, thanks to Mr. Trump, the plant will make fewer Escapes — and more MKCs. [The New York Times, 11/18/16]
NPR: Ford Confirmed This Week That “Trump’s Election Has Not Changed The Company’s Plans.” According to a report by NPR, Ford already confirmed earlier in the week that “Trump’s election has not changed the company’s plans” regarding its production facilities. NPR added that “plant closings are covered by collective bargaining agreements” with the UAW and “it’s not clear if plants could be closed before those agreements expire.” From the November 18 article:
Earlier this week, Ford CEO Mark Fields said Trump's election has not changed the company's plans.
Ford has said on previous occasions that it has no intention of closing plants in the U.S. Also, plant closings are covered by collective bargaining agreements with the United Auto Workers Union, and it's not clear if plants could be closed before those agreements expire. [NPR, 11/18/16]
Right-Wing Media Uncritically Promote Trump’s Claim
Daily Caller: “After Negotiations” Between Trump And Ford, The Company “Won’t Be Moving A Factory To Mexico.” The Daily Caller asserted that “after negotiations with Ford’s chairman” and Trump, “the American auto-manufacturer won’t be moving a factory to Mexico.” [The Daily Caller, 11/17/16]
Wash. Examiner: “Trump Claimed To Have Scored His First Win For American Workers.” The Washington Examiner reported uncritically on Trump’s tweet, writing, “Trump claimed to have scored his first win for American workers, just nine days after winning the election.” The Examiner added, “Trump credited conversations with Ford as the reason the mega-car company has chosen to keep the plants in the Bluegrass State.” [The Washington Examiner, 11/17/16]
Fox’s Heather Nauert: Trump Is “Taking Credit For Thousands Of Jobs Staying In The United States.” Fox’s Heather Nauert uncritically hyped Trump’s tweet, reporting that he was “taking credit” for Ford “choosing to keep making their Lincoln MKC in Louisville, Kentucky.” Nauert said the decisions means that “thousands of jobs [are] staying in the United States” and offered her “congratulations, all the way around” to Trump and Ford for the supposed deal. From the November 18 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
HEATHER NAUERT: President-elect Trump taking credit for thousands of jobs staying in the United States. And this now comes as Ford confirms that one of its production lines will not be moving to Mexico, choosing to keep making their Lincoln MKC in Louisville, Kentucky.
NAUERT: Ford saying it’s happy Mr. Trump is pursuing policies to keep production in the United States. And that’s a great car, by the way. Congratulations, all the way around. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 11/18/16]
Fox’s Heather Childers: “Thousands Of Jobs Could Be Staying In The US” Because Of Trump. Fox host Heather Childers did not dispute Trump’s claim that he influenced Ford’s decision, claiming, “Thousands of jobs could be staying in the U.S.” because of it. From the November 18 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends First:
HEATHER CHILDERS (CO-HOST): Thousands of jobs could be staying in the U.S. after Ford confirms that one of its production lines is not moving to Mexico. The automaker will continue to make the Lincoln MKC in Louisville, Kentucky. President-elect Trump tweeting this, “I worked hard with Bill Ford to keep the Lincoln plant in Kentucky. I owed it to the great State of Kentucky for their confidence in me.” Ford saying that it’s happy Mr. Trump is pursuing policies to keep production in the U.S [Fox News, Fox & Friends First, 11/18/16]
Mainstream Media Adopt Right-Wing Framing
ABC: “Donald Trump Takes Credit For Keeping A Kentucky Ford Plant From Moving To Mexico.”[ABC, 11/18/16]
Bloomberg: “Trump Says Ford Called To Say It’s Keeping SUV Plant In Kentucky.”[Bloomberg, 11/18/16]
Critics Call Out Media For Following Trump’s False Spin
Pollster Matt McDermott: “Every Single One Of These Headlines Is Completely Wrong.”
Every single one of these headlines is completely wrong, easily fact checked, and peddling a fake news story spread by the president-elect. pic.twitter.com/vsE41hFjZw
— Matt McDermott (@mattmfm) November 18, 2016
NY Times’ James Poniewozik: “New Reality For The Press: The President-Elect’s Twitter Account Is A Competing Media Outlet Spreading Fake News ” And “Pushing Back On Fake News” From Trump “Is Going To Become A Bigger Part Of The Media’s Job.”
1. New reality for the press: the president-elect’s Twitter account is a competing media outlet spreading fake news. https://t.co/VPvjKnW5PI
— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) November 18, 2016
10. Pushing back on fake news—some spread by the president—is going to become a bigger part of the media’s job.
— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) November 18, 2016