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  • CNN anchors misleadingly portray popular Democratic proposals such as "Medicare-for-all" and taxing the wealthy as far to the left

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    On Wednessday, CNN anchors Jim Sciutto and Poppy Harlow portrayed Democratic policy proposals that enjoy high public support as extreme, calling “Medicare-for-all” and a tax on high amounts of wealth “far left of center” and “very far left.”

    Polls have consistently shown high levels of support for these ideas: An August Reuters/Ipsos poll found 70 percent of respondents support “Medicare-for-all,” a January Politico/Harvard poll found 68 percent support a national health care plan like “Medicare-for-all,” and a January Kaiser Family Foundation poll found 56 percent of respondents support “Medicare-for-all.” Additionally, a February Morning Consult poll found 61 percent support for Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) proposal for a wealth tax on very wealthy households, while a January The Hill-HarrisX survey found 59 percent of registered voters support raising marginal tax rates to 70 percent on income above $10 million.

    From the February 20 edition of CNN’s CNN Newsroom:

    JIM SCIUTTO (CO-ANCHOR): Karen, the focus of the Democratic Party, many of the candidates will say, is on beating Donald Trump. Is this a good look, in effect, for the Democratic Party? Is this the right approach to 2020 to go so far left of center, when polls consistently show that most Americans have more center -- and some polls even show center-right views on some of these key issues?

    KAREN FINNEY (CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR): Well, look, I think we have to take a step back actually, because having just worked on a campaign in the South on Stacey Abrams’ campaign in 2018, and looked at a number of other campaigns, the issue landscape in this country is a little bit different. And so when we talk about things like expanding Medicaid, or we talk about things -- which, you know, some states have not done yet even under Obamacare -- when we talk about, you know, commonsense gun safety measures, those issues poll pretty well in a lot of states where a lot of Americans see that as a more mainstream issue. They don’t see that as a far-left issue. So there’s a lot of things -- like child care, which Sen. [Elizabeth] Warren has been talking about -- that actually appeal to people, working people in particular who struggle with these issues.

    SCIUTTO: True, but that’s different than like 70 percent tax rates. And I’m not saying that’s the whole party, but you have [Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY)] going down that path.

    FINNEY: Well, she’s not running for president, though.

    SCIUTTO: You know, universal health care, universal health care. You’re talking about background checks. That’s one kind of issue. But I’m talking about issues further to the left of the political spectrum.

    FINNEY: Right, but just because someone like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in the House is talking about something that is, you know, that some may perceive as being to the left, that’s not necessarily going to influence what the presidential candidates are talking about. Because I think what they all recognize is, yes, they’re still in Congress, so they’re going to have to, at the right time, comment on some of these things because they may have to vote on them. But they also have to put forward their own visions. So I thought [Sen.] Amy Klobuchar, for example the other night, did a great job when she was talking about college affordability and what she would do. I know that student looked like he was a bit disappointed. So I think what you’re going to see -- and this is why the primary is so important and I think the debates are going to be so important -- you’re going to hear all of these ideas really teased out with similar goals and values at their core but different ideas about how we get there. And I think that’s going to be a really exciting thing for this country is to actually have conversations about ideas and not just tweets attacking people.

    POPPY HARLOW (CO-ANCHOR): And also let’s remember Elizabeth Warren, who is running for president, also, you know, proposing that wealth tax on people with any assets over $50 million -- also very far left.

  • Fox melts down after polls show vast majority favor taxing the rich more

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    After new polling was released showing the overwhelming popularity of raising taxes on millionaires and billionaires, Fox News and Fox Business figures blasted voters as “brainwashed” and ignorant and even claimed that some taxes on the wealthy are “anti-human.”

    A Fox News poll released at the end of January showed that a vast majority of registered voters -- 70 percent in total -- support raising income taxes on families making more than $10 million per year, and 65 percent support raising income taxes on those making more than $1 million per year. A Morning Consult/Politico poll released on Monday showed 61 percent of registered voters favor a wealth tax on households worth more than $50 million. Two other recent polls also found majority support for increasing taxes on the rich. But Fox hosts and guests decried these proposals as “one big giant con” amounting to a “war on the wealthy.”

    First up on Monday was the Fox Business show Varney & Co., where host Stuart Varney -- who has previously declared himself among the top 1 percent of income earners in America -- delivered a monologue bashing a Democratic proposal to strengthen and expand Social Security as just “another tax hike proposal from the Democrats.” He said, “The Democrats’ 2020 campaign is an endless series of tax hikes, massive tax hikes with massive new spending. Tax-and-spend on steroids.” He suggested that Democrats’ proposals to tax the richest Americans are aimed at undermining President Donald Trump, declaring that Democrats “hate Trump and can’t tolerate any success, even prosperity.” Varney also warned his viewers that Democrats “resent wealth. And if you’ve got it, they want it.”

    Following Varney’s monologue, Fox contributor Mike Huckabee compared Democratic lawmakers to armed robbers: “The Democrats have got a new uniform they're all supposed to wear. It’s ski masks and carrying blue steel revolvers, because they all believe that, instead of robbing 7-Elevens, they’re just going to rob everybody who has a job, everybody who’s making wages.” He also suggested that the Democrats’ aim was to “kill the economy and put people back on the welfare rolls and get them off those nasty jobs they're getting.” When Varney asked why “this form of socialism, this grab bag of take-money-off-the-rich,” was so popular, Huckabee blamed liberals in teaching positions for having “indoctrinated people coming up through the education system that there’s something really wrong with people who have been successful.” Huckabee continued by blaming American voters, saying, “We have a real economic ignorance going on in America.” Later in Varney’s show, Fox contributor Bill McGurn claimed that Democrats simply “don’t like wealth,” prompting Varney to ask if “jealousy of wealthy people [is] the norm.”

    On Fox’s America’s Newsroom, Fox Business host Charles Payne claimed “there’s a racial element” to raising taxes on the rich and said Democrats are “trying to use tax policy [as] a social justice tool to rewrite the wrongs of yesteryear,” adding, “It’s a punitive action.” Later in the day on his Fox Business show Making Money, Payne declared the Democrats’ tax proposals “the war on the wealthy” and rhetorically asked if Democrats can “win on class warfare.” On Tuesday, Payne returned to America’s Newsroom to blame the education of America’s children for the popularity of taxing the rich: “The idea of fairness has been promoted in our schools for a long time. And we're starting to see kids who grew up in this notion that fairness above all, and now they are becoming voting age and they are bringing this ideology with them.”

    On the Fox Business show Cavuto Coast to Coast, Reagan administration economist Art Laffer slammed Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) proposal to greatly increase the estate tax rate for billionaires, saying, “There is no tax that is more vulgar, in my mind, than the death tax.” After a short rant, Laffer declared that the estate tax is “the most anti-family, anti-human tax I know of.”

    Fox Business show Bulls & Bears featured several panelists who ranted against Democratic proposals to tax the rich more. Host David Asman kicked the discussion off by asking, “Isn’t demonizing the rich an attack on the American dream?” Gary Kaltbaum, who runs his own investment firm, responded by calling the proposals “a war on the wealthy” and “just one big giant con because these socialists hate successful people.” Jonathan Hoenig, who owns the aptly named investment fund company Capitalistpig, ranted that American voters “have been brainwashed -- I mean, Americans writ large have been brainwashed in schools” into supporting tax increases on the rich, and claimed, “We’ve never seen this explicit hatred for success, envy of people who produce something.” Hoenig concluded that taxing the rich will run America into “the poor house.”

    And Fox Business host Lisa Kennedy Montgomery used her daily monologue to dismiss the popularity of taxing the rich as a “rush on both sides to fan the flames of jealousy” and called Democrats’ proposals “an emotional and irrational appeal that amounts to redistribution.” She ominously warned rich people: “God help you if you find success in the new world. Even if capitalism is still marginally more popular, socialism has a better PR team. And when it gains a foothold, they're coming to neuter your golden nuggets.”

  • CNBC personalities tout Howard Schultz, Jamie Dimon as candidates for president

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Several CNBC hosts and contributors endorsed the idea of billionaire CEOs running for president after former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz teased a presidential campaign as an independent on CBS’ 60 Minutes. Some CNBC personalities supported Schultz as they discussed his potential candidacy and his event with CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin, while others held up JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon as the ideal CEO to run for president.

    Squawk Box co-host Joe Kernen: “I’m a big backer” of Howard Schultz’s possible run for president as an independent.

    JOE KERNEN (CO-HOST): My favorite line last night … where [Howard Schultz] said, “My biggest problem is with the $21.5 trillion [national debt]; that’s the most horrific example of what’s going” -- and it’s not just the Republicans’ fault. Not just the Republicans’ fault, the $21.5 trillion. Democrats share some of the blame too for that.

    KERNEN: He’s a lifelong Democrat. He’s well intentioned -- I’m a big backer of his run here. I am. Big.

    CNBC contributor Jeffrey Sonnenfeld: Howard Schultz exemplifies “five qualities of mythic American business heroes.”

    SARA EISEN (CO-ANCHOR): Jeff, you know Howard Schultz, you know his track record as a businessman. Running as a centrist independent -- does he have a shot?

    JEFFREY SONNENFELD (CNBC CONTRIBUTOR): I think he’s got a shot. I think he seriously intends to do it. He’s -- there are five qualities of mythic American business heroes, and he’s got all five of them. One of them is the common touch. He can relate to anybody, his humble origins growing up in a housing project. He’s overcome adversity. His dad had been disabled when he was young and Howard had a rough route early in his career. He’s a fabulous communicator; I’ve seen him electrify audiences as the third quality. And as a fourth one, he’s terrific at basically trying to show that he’s got sweeping social visions to get people quite excited. He’s passioned and principled about what he believes in.

    CNBC host Kelly Evans suggested Jamie Dimon could “come out and potentially run an independent” for president because he’s “more centrist than either party.”

    KELLY EVANS (HOST): You know, Robert, I’m also thinking about Jamie Dimon and there’s been a number of CEOs who have done quite well and probably are more centrist than either party, at least the energy in the parties represents at the moment. And someone like that could come out and potentially run an independent campaign, right? Or is that route completely over, a total dead end, and there’s no prospect for anybody of that kind of philosophy right now?

    ROBERT COSTA (NBC NEWS POLITICAL ANALYST): You could flirt with the idea, talk about it with friends on Wall Street, or get encouragement if you’re at Davos. But you have to really make an effort to run in the national level in presidential politics. The most telling example of this is Michael Bloomberg. He has decided if he does run, it would be on the Democratic side because he knows the infrastructure within a party is almost necessary if you really want to compete. Jamie Dimon, if he wanted to run -- or Howard Schultz -- you have to get in right now and almost start to build your own party within the whole U.S. system.

    EVANS: Yeah, like [President Emmanuel] Macron in France.

    Fast Money panelist Karen Finerman: Jamie Dimon would be the best CEO to run for president.

    MELISSA LEE (HOST): So who would be the best CEO to run for president? We wanted to ask the traders; each have their own picks.

    KAREN FINERMAN (PANELIST): Mine of course would be Jamie Dimon. Not just because I love Jamie Dimon, but I actually think Jamie Dimon is a proven leader in the depths of the absolute worst crisis we’ve seen. He was so far above everyone else and I think he can work together -- When he does his annual letter, he lays out a lot of things beside just banking, right, and the economy. It’s a lot broader than that. It’s about what does America need to move forward and how do we work together to get that to happen. Obviously, I think that the stigma of being a bank CEO is still -- there is still something to that, right? I believe he’s a Democrat, would run as a Democrat. I think he would be great -- that bank stigma -- and him saying I’m not going to do it, but you never know.

    LEE: You never know.

    FINERMAN: That would be my choice.