Issues ››› Trade
  • Chicago Tribune's Steve Chapman Defends Bribery And Corporate Corruption

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    "Economic growth is a good thing, even when it's lubricated by graft."

    So argued Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman, dismissing concerns about corporate bribery raised amid reports that Wal-Mart officials have covered up evidence tying the company to bribery in Mexico. Chapman's Sunday column defended Wal-Mart, whose largest subsidiary (Wal-Mart de Mexico), is under investigation by the Justice Department (DOJ). The New York Times reported:

    In September 2005, a senior Wal-Mart lawyer received an alarming e-mail from a former executive at the company's largest foreign subsidiary, Wal-Mart de Mexico. In the e-mail and follow-up conversations, the former executive described how Wal-Mart de Mexico had orchestrated a campaign of bribery to win market dominance. In its rush to build stores, he said, the company had paid bribes to obtain permits in virtually every corner of the country.

    The allegations of illicit payments put Wal-Mart under the jurisdiction of DOJ, which is investigating potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, a law that has been described as an "anti-bribery, anti-corruption measure prohibit American companies from paying off foreign officials and to create an international example for ethical business practices."

    The law has been in effect for 35 years, but Chapman questioned the wisdom of using U.S. law to govern corporate behavior overseas:

    The question is why it's the duty of the U.S. government to dictate business practices in nations with very different business climates. You would think the Justice Department has plenty to do enforcing American laws on American soil without trying to sanitize the rest of the world.

    Our idea of appropriate business practices ought to prevail in America, but less developed countries are entitled to do things their own way. If Mexico doesn't police bribery and can't change its economic culture, why should Uncle Sam take on the job? [...]

    By deterring American companies from investing in such places, we deprive their citizens of goods and jobs that would improve their lives.

    When extortionate officials block Wal-Mart from opening stores in Mexico, ordinary Mexicans suffer. Economic growth is a good thing, even when it's lubricated by graft.

  • DISCONNECTED: Charting The Charlotte Observer's Failure To Cover The Fight For Internet Access In North Carolina


    CORRECTION: Media Matters has identified a serious error that resulted in the omission of several Charlotte Observer columns and articles discussing municipal broadband during the time of this debate. We cannot support our earlier conclusion that the Charlotte Observer did not inform its readers on the issue of North Carolina's "digital divide" over the past two years. Media Matters prides itself on a long history of accuracy in its media studies, and we apologize for the error.

  • Fox Ignores Facts Of Global Economy To Attack Obama Campaign Over Euro-Zone Fears

    ››› ››› CHELSEA RUDMAN

    Fox & Friends claimed that the Obama administration is using the European economic crisis as "an excuse" to explain continued economic struggles in the U.S., saying that Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod is "totally wrong" to be concerned about "what happens in Europe." In fact, economists and experts agree that European recessions and the declining value of the euro are having a large negative impact on the U.S. economy -- as did other global events, like the earthquake in Japan and the Arab Spring.

  • Gibson Guitar Raid: A Fox Case Study

    Blog ››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

    Fox News Correspondent John RobertsOn August 24, federal agents entered the Tennessee factories of the Gibson Guitar Corporation and confiscated wood, hard drives, and guitars on the suspicion that Gibson had illegally imported Indian hardwood. The story is newsworthy to be sure, and it was covered by the Associated Press, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, CNN and others. But Fox stands apart from the rest for both the volume and tone of its coverage.

    Fox discussed Gibson 24 times in a little over two weeks, including both the Fox News Channel (14) and the Fox Business Network (10). By contrast, CNN reported on the story 8 times, 7 of which were the same taped news report aired during different hours of programming over three days.

    Unlike the other news outlets, Fox speculated that the raid was politically motivated, citing the Gibson CEO's Republican party identification. At the same time, Fox largely omitted important background information that sheds light on why Gibson may have been targeted. Fox also linked the story to narratives about the Obama administration, regulation and jobs -- in line with Congressional Republicans who have incorporated the Gibson case into their broader criticisms of the administration.

  • Knee Jerk: Drudge, Fox Nation Tie Market Slide To Obama's Jobs Speech

    Blog ››› ››› KEVIN ZIEBER

    Right-wing media are once again pinning stock market fluctuations on President Obama, specifically his jobs speech last night.

    Here's Drudge's take:

    And here's Fox Nation:

    Fox has made a habit of crediting Obama's words with downward market fluctuations.

    Incidentally, both the articles Drudge and Fox Nation link to linked the market sell-off to turmoil in European markets and uncertainty about the health of Greece's economy.

  • Fox News Resurrects Petrobras Conspiracy Theory

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Fox News has revived the false conspiracy theory that President Obama arranged for an Export-Import Bank loan to a Brazilian oil company in order to enrich George Soros at the expense of the United States. In fact, the loan in question was approved by a Bush-appointed bank board and will go toward the purchase of U.S. goods and services.

  • Hannity and O'Reilly still silent on South Korean trade deal

    Blog ››› ››› NED RESNIKOFF

    On Tuesday, we noted that, after declaring President Obama's November trip to Asia an unmitigated failure, neither Sean Hannity nor Bill O'Reilly acknowledged the free trade deal with South Korea that the White House subsequently secured. But surely they've mentioned it by now, right?

    Well, no. No they haven't. And the omission is even starker given that their colleague, Neil Cavuto, brought it up on his Fox Business show last night and went so far as to apologize at length for his original dismissal of the trip to Asia. Cavuto said: "I wasn't alone in criticizing the president's trip. That doesn't make it right or me right. Me, dismissing a trip I didn't even know about. Because that trip apparently bore fruit."

    "This trade deal is a big deal, even though no one's reporting on this deal," Cavuto said. "I really don't know why." Good question!