During the week of September 12, Fox's “straight news” division launched a weeklong attack on government regulations, including child labor, workplace safety, and civil rights laws. Fox's war on regulation, which mirrors Republican talking points, has now been revealed to be the brainchild of Fox News president Roger Ailes.
Ailes “Cooked Up” Fox's Attack On Government Regulations
Howard Kurtz: Ailes Came Up With Idea For Fox Special On Regulations Because Bureaucrats “Draw Up Regulations To Try To Ruin Your Life.” From an article in Newsweek by Howard Kurtz:
The topics bounce from CNBC's weekend ratings (“They have shows about hookers and stuff, don't they?”) to Fox's own security (“Listen, one out of every 25 people in America is a psychopath”). Ailes raises a Fox initiative that he cooked up: “Are our producers on board on this 'Regulation Nation' stuff? Are they ginned up and ready to go?” Ailes, who claims to be “hands off” in developing the series, later boasts that “no other network will cover that subject ... I think regulations are totally out of control,” he adds, with bureaucrats hiring Ph.D.s to “sit in the basement and draw up regulations to try to ruin your life.” It is a message his troops cannot miss. [Newsweek, 9/25/11]
Fox's Attack On Regulations Echoed A GOP Talking Point
AP: “The House Republican Agenda This Fall Will Focus On Repealing Environmental And Labor Regulations.” On August 29, the Associated Press reported that repealing regulations would be a priority for the Republican Party:
The House Republican agenda this fall will focus on repealing environmental and labor regulations that GOP lawmakers say are driving up the cost of doing business and discouraging employers from hiring new workers.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., says in a memo to his fellow Republicans that as soon as Congress returns to Washington next week he will start bringing up bills to repeal or restrict federal regulations. He also said the House would also act on a small business tax deduction.
The memo was released Monday.
The GOP approach to job creation comes as President Barack Obama prepares to announce after Labor Day a broad jobs package expected to include tax cuts, infrastructure projects and help for the unemployed.
“By pursuing a steady repeal of job-destroying regulations, we can help lift the cloud of uncertainty hanging over small and large employers alike, empowering them to hire more workers,” Cantor said in his memo.
He said that in the first week after Congress returns from its August recess the House will vote on a bill preventing the National Labor Relations Board from restricting where an employer can locate in the United States. [Associated Press, 8/29/11]
House Republicans Have Their Own “Regulation Nation” Website. The House Republican Conference has its own “Regulation Nation” website, which has been in existence since at least June.[GOP.gov, accessed 9/26/11]
Under “Regulation Nation” Guise, Fox's “Straight News” Division Launched Attack On Bedrock Protections Of 20th Century
Fox News "Regulation Nation" Series Echoed Ailes' Attack On Regulation. Throughout the week of September 12, Fox's premiere “straight news” political program, Special Report, ran multiple segments on “Regulation Nation.” Fox's on-air promotion for its “Regulation Nation” series echoed Ailes' claims that “regulations are totally out of control” and can “ruin your life.” From a promo for “Regulation Nation”:
VOICEOVER: Tying companies into knots. Creating a maze of paperwork. Spinning a web of rules and red tape. Killing jobs. Government regulations. We expose how excessive laws are drowning American businesses. Regulation Nation. All next week on Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network. [Fox News, 9/6/11]
September 12: Fox “Straight News” Host Bret Baier Falsely Claimed Regulations Cost Businesses On Average "$161,000" Each Year. During the September 12 edition of Fox News' Special Report, host Bret Baier said: “According to the Small Business Administration, these regulations place a burden of $161,000 on the average business in America each year.” This statistic was also cited by other “straight news” and opinion programs on Fox. But the study has been criticized for using a flawed research design, cherry-picking the highest cost estimates, and relying on “crude” data. Moreover, the Small Business Administration has said the study does not even reflect its views. [Media Matters, 9/14/11]
September 13: Baier Hosts Rep. Issa (R-CA) To Continue Assault On Regulations. From the September 13 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
BAIER: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman, Darrell Issa, has a full plate these days. He's trying to get a handle on how to save the U.S. Postal Service, looking for answers about operation “Fast and Furious,” and he's investigating the effect of regulations on businesses. He joins us now. Welcome, Mr. Chairman.
DARRELL ISSA (R-CA) (HOUSE OVERSIGHT/GOVT REFORM CHMN): Well, thanks for having me on and thanks for doing it in that order, because postal is hard to sell, but it's important. It's an institution we've relied on since our founding. “Fast and Furious” is, obviously, critical because men are dying on both sides -- and women on both sides of the border as a result of this program, and regulations are killing our chance for a return to a vibrant economy.
BAIER: Let's start there. Critics of the Republican push on this issue say it's overblown, this focus on regulations, that businesses don't feel it, and that it's really a lack of demand and not overregulation that is affecting these businesses. How do you respond to that?
ISSA: There's no demand when your product costs too much. There's no demand when you can't get your factory built on time. There's no demand when a factory is being built in another country, because it's a better place to do business. So, the critics are right, but their right without understanding, that little by little, the growth of regulations under Republicans and now under this Democratic president are killing our competitive ability around the world.
And when Boeing can't export as many, guess what, the jobs in Washington that rely on that success, that will begin to fade, and that's what's happening in the Rust Belt where I grew up in Ohio is we're not exporting the kind of products we once did. As a result, the shop keepers, the restaurants, don't enjoy the business.
BAIER: And you have a hearing on that on regulations tomorrow. Specific examples about business?
ISSA: We ran the gamut from live stock individual to a snake, you know, raiser (ph). The fact is, with American job creators.com we asked job creators to tell us what was stopping them, what the impediments to job creation were, and then, we've gone out and interviewed and gone out and video, and we've asked these people in a few cases to come here and tell their story.
So, tomorrow what you're going to see are job creators telling their stories. But, it's not anecdotally in just three or four, go to our site and see that it's hundreds and hundreds of companies large and small who said, if not for this, I could create jobs. And in most cases, it's not working capital, it's not the demand, it's things that are making them less competitive.
BAIER: Now to operation “Fast and Furious,” your investigation there. You sent a letter to the White House, asking for William Newell, the special agent in charge of the ATF Phoenix field office and Kevin O'Reilly, director of North American Affairs -- American Affairs National Security Council staff, an e-mail exchange between the two of them and I'll quote from your letter.
The e-mail says, quote, “When a 22-year-old kid on state financial assistance walks into a gun store and plops down $12,000 in cash to buy a tripod mounted 50 caliber rifle, that's a clue even for us that he's involved in trafficking firearms to a Mexican DTO, in other words, moving this to cartels. Is this -- do you believe, evidence that this goes all the way to the White House?
ISSA: Well, it went all the way to the White House, whether it went to people who knew or should have known to stop this, remains to be seen, but our committee has been following the trail that has been impeded by the administration, particularly, by the justice department. And each time we get to a certain level of clearness, somebody gets fired, somebody gets changed, and we keep going.
Well, stop throwing the little guys under the bus and just tell us that somebody did something stupid by allowing this so that we can be assured it won't happen again. So far, we don't get that.
BAIER: And you have in this letter a request for response from the White House by September 14th to make Mr. O'Reilly available. Has there been a response yet?
ISSA: Not yet. The expectation is, we want to be very narrow. There was an exchange. We have copies of it. We become aware of it. There's a claim that it was benign. That there wasn't a lot of information exchanged. f he corroborates that, we can move on, because we have lots of other areas in which we're seeing an expanding program that ”Fast and Furious" wasn't supposed to be, but appears to be.
BAIER: I want to ask you about the post office before I ask you about something else. The post office set to lose a record $10 billion this year. How will -- how could you save it without bailing it out?
ISSA: Ordinary business practices of right sizing the work force, even with existing pay and benefits would allow us to go from a $10 billion dollar to a $7, $8, $9 billion profit. Now, we know this is government. We know there'll be impediments to us getting all the way there, but it's very clear without reducing substantially any real service to Americans all over the United States, including the last island in Alaska or Maine.
We can, in fact, get back to profitability. That's what we're holdings hearings on. That's what we're holding a markup op. That's what I'm meeting with the senators on. This is a business unit that is supposed to be self-sufficient. It can be, we can't kick the can down the road. We've borrowed money. We've got to fix this.
BAIER: Another topic, eight Democrats on your committee have written you a letter asking you to investigate the allegations of actions by the parent company of this network, news corporation, and the defunct tabloid “News of the World” allegations that the company sought to hack telephones of 9/11 victims and other U.S. citizens. Where do you stand on this?
ISSA: Well, thank you for being fair and balanced, because it's hard to ask a question when it concerns your own company. This is being looked at by the justice department. This is being looked at by the Senate, and we're keeping an eye on it.
But at the same time, this is a story that is about a unit in another country, and we want to make sure that we don't enter the ground that is most inappropriate for us, which is we don't start picking on media, whether they're the left or right just because we can. So, we're monitoring it. We're certainly asking the justice department to continue doing a reasonable check, but I think that's where the line has to be drawn and each of these members that wrote that would say the same thing if it was MSNBC.
BAIER: Last thing. American Family Voices, liberal advocacy group says it's going to file a complaint with the House office, Congressional Ethics about alleging that you have used your public office for personal gain. How do you respond to that?
ISSA: There's 308 million Americans, and every single one of them has a right to file with the outside group, but the allegations they put in their press release that they're going to file have already been shown to be less than truthful. `The New York Times" did a piece. They've had them do four corrections, so far, and they still haven't corrected some of the inaccuracies.
I came to Congress as one of the richest members of Congress, with any luck I might leave still having some of that. If I cared about money, I wouldn't have come to Congress. I've made a real effort every single day to make sure I stay in those things that don't conflict between my private life and the public life. But I welcome the fact if they want a hearing and an evaluation by this group, fine. I have nothing to hide.
I'm sure they'll find that one of the things that was claimed was that my foundation made 1,900 percent on an investment. Well, thank you for pointing out that no, I didn't, but there was an error in the report from Merrill-Lynch. That sort of thing I'm willing to do as part of being in the public eye.[Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 9/13/11, via Nexis]
September 14: Special Report Attacked EPA For Imposing Regulations On Agriculture. From the September 14 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
BAIER: We continue our series on “Regulation Nation” tonight with a look at how many American farmers have a lot more to worry about than just sunshine and rain. Here is correspondent Shannon Bream.
BILL COUSER (IOWA FARMER): The last thing we want to do is ruin the land that we survive on.
SHANNON BREAM (FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT): Across the United States a growing farmers and agricultural business owners say they are concerned about the impact of the government mandates on their operations.
CALVIN HAILE (GRAIN FARMER): I would say any regulation from the EPA is worrisome to us. They have power. And nobody seems to have a hold on what they can do.
BREAM: Keeping up with the permitting process can be time consuming. One Indiana hog farmer says it takes her 10 to 15 hours every week, including detailed recordkeeping about each load of manure hauled out of the barn. Farmers also have to deal with regulation on pesticide, fertilizers and dust. Staying in compliance can be expensive.
RICK KRAUSE (AMERICAN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION): The average cost of obtain a permit, doing paperwork to apply and to get the approvals that are necessary, they say the average cost is $23,000 per permit.
BREAM: Krause says because of the number of federal agencies, farmers may have to get multiple permits to comply on a single issue. The supporters of the Environment Protection Agency and other similar government entities say it's a small price to pay to ensure safety of food prices cultivated on the U.S. farm and the integrity of the surrounding land, air, and water sources.
DAVID CARR (ENVIRONMENT WORKING GROUP): If you are getting subsidy dollars and getting federal support in exchange, maybe the American taxpayer needs to get clean water.
ELIJAH CUMMINGS (D-MD) (HOUSE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE): EPA estimates in 2010 alone, the clean air prevented 160,000, 160,000 premature deaths.
BREAM: The agency says, quote, “EPA has profound respect for the contribution that farmers make to our economy. EPA is in close consultation with America farmers and ranchers. We have listened to their concerns and made them a part of the work we do.” But skeptics remain.
STEVE BAKER (HOG FARMER): There are still a lot of questions and concerns for us all.
BREAM: Some 45 government agencies regulate farmers and ranchers. We asked just one, the EPA, how many of its regulations directly impact the agriculture business. And even the agency couldn't give us a specific number.[Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 9/14/11, via Nexis]
September 14: Special Report Attacked Issue That The Government Said It Is Working To Solve. In a second “Regulation Nation” report on September 14, Special Report attacked regulations that, according to Fox's own report, the government says it is working on:
BAIER: Parents of school-age students in some Alabama communities are breathing a little easier this fall after the construction of tornado shelters following last spring's deadly storms, but senior national correspondent, John Roberts, report the shelters could soon be blown away in a storm of government regulation.
JOHN ROBERTS (SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT) (voice-over): It was the worst tornado outbreak in almost 100 years, and for Alabama schools, it was devastating.
CHARLES WARREN (DEKALB CO SUPERINTENDENT): I don't like to use the word insane or crazy, but, that's exactly what it is.
ROBERTS: DeKalb County superintendent, Charles Warren, isn't talking about the rubble. He's talking about the red tape. The problem, a FEMA funded tornado shelter that he'll likely have to tear down.
WARREN: That is insane, you know, to start with.
ROBERTS: Same thing across the state in Marion County where the Hackleburg elementary and high schools were demolished by an F-5 tornado. With the students in portable classrooms and another storm season coming, FEMA put up hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to build big tornado shelters on school property. Modular Connections is putting in one of them, a half million dollar bunker (ph) rated to the highest standards.
ILLIA AYERS (MODULAR CONNECTIONS): The building is rated to 250-mile- per-hour wind load. That's going to withstand an F-5 tornado.
ROBERTS: But here is where the red tape comes in. You would think Alabama could keep the shelters, but FEMA regulations say, when the schools are rebuilt, they can only have shelters if they buy them, and there's no money to do that. If they can't pony up the cash, FEMA will actually give the schools more taxpayer money to bulldoze them.
WARREN: I was shock when I was told that they would actually help us to demolish it and hole the grill way (ph). I was just totally shocked.
ROBERTS (on-camera): People here in Alabama are of two minds about all of this. First of all, they're very thankful that FEMA stepped in while their schools are being rebuilt. But to a person, none of them can understand why FEMA would leave them no other choice than to tear down a perfectly good tornado shelter desperately needed in communities like this.
RYAN HOLLINGSWORTH (MARION CO SUPERINTENDENT): You would think, at some point, some folks would sit down and take some common sense to this and say, hey, you know, look, we've got a shelter up here that hold 600 people in Hackleburg and just been hit with an F-5 tornado in April. Why would we go and tear that down? That's nonsense.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These counties are totally strapped.
ROBERTS (voice-over): So, now, Alabama congressman, Spencer Bachus, is battling that red tape, and he went all the way to the top, writing this letter to the president of the United States, declaring the FEMA policy short-sighted and indefensible.
SPENCER BACHUS (R) (ALABAMA REPRESENTATIVE): Oh, it's a ridiculous regulation, and it tells you why the American people have lost confidence in their government or its ability to make the right choice.
ROBERTS: In Marion County, the Hackleburg schools will be rebuilt with a hard and safe room inside, but Superintendent Ryan Hollingsworth says the town could still use the FEMA storm shelter. After all, 18 people died here back in April.
In Dekalb County, once the FEMA shelter goes away, there won't be anything to protect students. Children would ride out tornado in the hallways, and you only need to look at these pictures to see the possible consequences of that.
WARREN: The FEMA regs (ph) make it by this much sense to me as the navy building in this ship, setting it out to sea, taking it out in the middle of the Atlantic, and then sink it. It makes about the same sense.
ROBERTS (on-camera): We reached out to FEMA for a response to this. They didn't give us much more than -- other than to give us the regulation and say they continue to work with the community, but we did get this e- mail, Bret, late this afternoon from Alabama congressman, Robert Aderholt, who says he spoke with the FEMA director, Craig Fugate, today that the director acknowledged the problem with this and that they would continue to work over the next 30 days to get it solved -- Bret. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 9/14/11, via Nexis]
September 16: Special Report Went After Regulations Including Child Labor, Workplace Safety, And Civil Rights Laws. On September 16, Special Report listed “jobs regulations” that supposedly “adversely impact ... small business owners in a real-time way.” However, the regulations listed include vital statutes that are the bedrock of 20th and 21st century worker protections in the United States, including child labor, workplace safety, and civil rights laws. From the show:
BRET BAIER (host): We continue our series about excessive regulations, tonight focusing on small business. Chief Washington correspondent, James Rosen, reports while the companies may not be large, the rule books they must follow are getting bigger all the time -- James.
JAMES ROSEN (Fox News chief Washington correspondent): Bret, good evening. There are close to 28 million small businesses in the United States, and they employ more than half of all private sector workers. One problem is that as he hires more people, the small business owner will often not know about new regulations he faces until after he's been found in violation of them, or perhaps, even fined.
Businesses with just one employee face right off the bat at least ten federal regulations, including predictable ones like Social Security, but, also, the Polygraph Protection Act. Grow your business to 25 employees and you face all of those plus a whole new wrath of them, including the Older Worker Benefit Protection Act. Surely every pizzeria owner has that memorized. And the list grows like a beanstalk when your company grows to 100 employees.
Last year, we saw a distinct rise in the number of proposed federal rules affecting small business, you can see from 758 to 845. And the smaller a firm is, fewer than 20 employees say, the more expensive it gets per employee to comply with those regulations. Five federal agencies last year proposed 501 of those 845 rules we're talking about, roughly 59 percent of the total.
They are the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce, Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Communications Commission. President Obama has pledged to streamline and pare back the U.S. regulatory burden but with limits.
PRESIDENT OBAMA (video clip): I reject the argument that says for the economy to grow, we have to roll back protections that ban hidden fees by credit card companies or rules that keep our kids from being exposed to mercury, or laws that prevent the health insurance industry from short-changing patients.
ROSEN: The head of the nation's oldest small business advocacy group explained to Fox News how regulations adversely impact on small business owners in a real-time way.
TODD MCCRACKEN (president, National Small Business Association) (video clip): Every minute they spend dealing with regulation is a minute they're not spending growing their business, meeting with customers, developing new products, mentoring employees, and all those are the components for getting this economy going again.
ROSEN: In fairness to President Obama, federal regulatory spending has grown steadily since the early 60s with a doubling of those budgets seen even in decades dominated by Republican presidents -- Bret. [Fox News, Special Report with Bret Baier, 9/16/11, via Media Matters]
Business Owners And Economists Say Regulations Are Not Hurting Business
Survey Of Business Economists: Vast Majority Of Respondents Feel Current Regulatory Environment Is “Good” For Business. [National Association for Business Economics, August 2011]
McClatchy Survey Finds That Small Business Owners Say Regulation Is Not Harmful To Them. [McClatchy Newspapers, 9/1/11]
WSJ: “The Main Reason U.S. Companies Are Reluctant To Step Up Hiring Is Scant Demand.” [The Wall Street Journal, 7/18/11]