Frank Luntz | Media Matters for America

Frank Luntz

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  • Breitbart keeps running “articles” touting Job Creators Network, a Mercer-backed lobbying group that's also an advertiser

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Media Matters / Sarah Wasko

    UPDATE (9/18): Following the publication of this piece, added the following text to several of its posts about JCN and "Job Creators Network has featured advertising on Breitbart News Network regarding TaxCutsNow." Breitbart recently posted an article touting the group with the headline: "Job Creators Network Holds Historic Small Business Tax Cut Rally at IRS Building in DC." has been running near-daily “articles” outfitted with videos, petition links, and press release-style language promoting the work of the business lobbying group Job Creators Network. The group, which has been paying conservative media to create “grassroots” support for tax cuts, is a front-page sponsor of the right-wing outlet and has received funding from the foundation of part owner Rebekah Mercer.

    The Job Creators Network (JCN) is a conservative organization co-founded by Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus. The Mercer Family Foundation, run by Republican megadonor and Breitbart News investor/owner Rebekah Mercer, gave JCN -- which was originally called the Job Creators Alliance -- $100,000 in both 2014 and 2013.

    JCN announced on September 5 that it would launch a “multi-million dollar advocacy campaign calling for small business tax cuts now” and the group would “publicize the need for tax cuts with an in-depth TV, print, radio, and digital advertising buy. … Radio ads will play in heavy rotation on major conservative talk shows including Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, and Mike Gallagher.”

    An advertisement for appeared at the top of on September 12, 13, and 14, alongside a Breitbart “Action Center” logo and a message to “sign the petition” demanding “tax cuts now!”

    Since late August, has posted nine “articles” promoting that read like press releases or sponsored content. None of the articles mentioned any financial ties between Breitbart and JCN, which Breitbart repeatedly described as “one of the nation’s largest pro-jobs grassroots organizations.” They’re all bylined by’s Jerome Hudson, whose beat has been billed as “news as it relates to race relations, politics, and popular culture.” Hudson did not respond to a request for comment about whether JCN’s sponsorship influenced the pieces.

    Those pieces largely follow the same script: a promotion of the group’s tax cut petition; an embedded video of a JCN advertisement or event; and the dates of upcoming stops of the group’s bus tour, which will conclude in Washington, D.C., on September 15 with CNN contributor Stephen Moore as the headliner.

    None of the pieces contained any apparent news value; they seem to exist just to promote JCN and its TaxCutsNow campaign. The most recent Breitbart piece, for instance, repurposed a press release announcing that billionaire publisher Steve Forbes -- who has pushed for tax cuts for decades -- had endorsed the tax cut campaign.

    Here are their headlines:

    Breitbart’s promotion of JCN at times delves into comical language. Its September 13 piece touted JCN’s Tulsa, OK, tour stop as “a massive rally.” (Breitbart elsewhere has claimed that JCN is embarking on a “massive weeks-long national bus tour” and that it “will begin on Sunday, September 10 with a massive event in Oklahoma City, OK.”) That “massive” rally description was contradicted by Breitbart’s own piece, which embedded a video and picture of the crowd that showed only a few dozen attendees. Photos on JCN’s Facebook page also showed a small turnout, and Tulsa World reported that the rally had the attention of “several dozen interested parties.”

    The pro-JCN pieces also passed along misinformation. For instance, the September 12 piece quoted President Donald Trump claiming (as he often does) that the United States is the “highest-taxed nation in the world.” In fact, as The Associated Press has noted, the U.S. tax burden “is actually one of the lowest among the 32 developed and large emerging-market economies tracked by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.”

    JCN has used Breitbart’s support to exaggerate grass-roots backing for its campaign. During the Tulsa rally, CEO Alfredo Ortiz appeared to reference the group’s paid advertising on Breitbart and said that “Breitbart actually just took [JCN’s petition] and posted it right on the front page, including a nice video. … The message is being heard.” Ortiz did not respond to a request for comment.

    The Standing Committee of Correspondents of the Senate Press Gallery in April rejected Breitbart’s application for permanent congressional credentials, citing concerns over the Mercer family’s ties to the site and potential conflicts of interest. As Media Matters has documented, the site’s top editors “have used the site to promote nonprofit organizations, for-profit companies, and personal clients who in turn pay them hefty salaries. ”

    JCN is one of the few groups that actually wants to associate its brand with, which is notorious for posting toxic content. Since November, the activist group Sleeping Giants has been successfully persuading advertisers to disassociate themselves from Breitbart. In June, ads for the site had reportedly shrunk by “nearly 90 percent” in just three months.

    Other conservative media personalities have been promoting JCN and online in recent weeks. Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich and CBS News contributor Frank Luntz tweeted the following:

    Media Matters asked Luntz whether he or his firm Luntz Global are working for JCN; the Republican consultant did not directly answer that question, instead stating in part that “more than half of America live paycheck to paycheck - and no one knows this more than a small business owner.” He added, “I strongly support what JCN is trying to achieve.” Luntz has participated in JCN events in prior years. Here is Luntz's email response about his relationship with JCN: 

    Sean Hannity, on the other hand, promoted the website in two tweets while noting that the post was an “#ad”:

    Salem Radio hosts Dennis Prager, Mike Gallagher, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, and Larry Elder also promoted the website with identical language and disclosed their post was an advertisement:

    Media Matters previously documented JCN’s efforts to recruit conservative radio hosts to do live-read ads for the website, which has a list of upcoming town halls by legislators and encourages conservatives “to show up at town halls and to have your voice heard.”

  • Media Shouldn’t Fall For GOP’s Sham Plan To “Repair” The ACA

    Blog ››› ››› CAT DUFFY

    The GOP has shifted from its message of “repealing and replacing” Obamacare to “repairing” the law. Media must press conservatives on what their so-called “repairs” to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) might look like, especially in the likely event that “repairing” the ACA is really just repealing it with no replacement.

    Republicans reportedly started transitioning away from their pledge to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, focusing on a more appealing call to “repair” the health care law. Frank Luntz, a GOP consultant known for repackaging conservative misinformation to advance a Republican agenda, encouraged conservatives to pledge to “repair” the ACA because that word “‘captures exactly what the large majority of the American people want.’” As lawmakers like Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) have adopted the “repair” buzzword, others, like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), continue to obfuscate, claiming, “if we’re going to repair the U.S. health care system, … you must repeal and replace Obamacare,” indicating that GOP disarray over the ACA extends to its messaging strategies.

    The GOP’s pledge to “repeal and replace” the law has largely backfired. After seven years, Republicans still have no replacement for the law. The GOP still can’t agree on the timing or the substance of any replacement plan. Most of its “replacement” plans are fact sheets rather than legislative language, and all of them would reduce coverage for millions of Americans.

    The continued fight over the potential replacement has also inadvertently highlighted the tangible gains achieved by the ACA and made the public acutely aware of the negative impacts of repeal. New polling finds the ACA is increasingly popular, especially as news outlets highlight stories of individuals who would be impacted by repeal.

    As Slate’s Jim Newell explained, the semantic change alone “does not signal a new course in the repeal-and-replace progress.” But, even if the GOP does decide to abandon its promise to repeal the ACA and instead focus on “repairing" the law, it remains vitally important for news outlets to force conservative politicians to clarify which portions of the ACA they intend to repair and how. Media have largely failed at questioning potential replacement plans for the law. And as top GOP lawmakers continue to falsely repeat right-wing media myths about the alleged “collapse” of the ACA, media must fact-check the GOP’s messaging strategies and interrogate its plans for repealing or repairing the law. If the GOP actually intends to make “repairs” to the ACA, those repairs may just be another messaging strategy for its plans to scale back services, gut Medicaid, and give a tax-break to the wealthy.

    With millions of lives at stake, news outlets must aggressively question GOP lawmakers about what portions of the ACA they intend to repair and force lawmakers to clarify that repairing the ACA is not simply a buzzword phrase for repealing the law with no replacement.

  • Nine Ways Fox News Tried To Rehabilitate Trump After His Disastrous Debate

    ››› ››› BOBBY LEWIS

    Following the first 2016 presidential debate, Fox News defended Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s poor debate performance with an array of excuses and misinformation including misleading charts, “unscientific” online polling, and attacks on moderator Lester Holt. The network also offered Trump an immediate post-debate refuge with host Sean Hannity.

  • Wash. Post Report: Leaked Poll Proves Most Businesses Support Raising Minimum Wage

    Data From GOP Pollster Counters Right-Wing Media Claim That Businesses Oppose Raising Wages

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Time to raise the wage

    The Washington Post reported on leaked documents obtained by the Center for Media and Democracy that disprove right-wing media claims that businesses are opposed to raising the minimum wage.

    On April 4, The Washington Post reported on a leaked poll conducted for the Council of State Chambers of Commerce, which shows that the vast majority of business executives who were questioned said they support raising the minimum wage. The poll, conducted by Republican pollster Frank Luntz, found that "80 percent of respondents said they supported raising their state's minimum wage, while only eight percent opposed it."

    An advocate quoted in the Post's piece noted that other polls have found similar results to the findings uncovered by the Center for Media and Democracy. The advocacy organization Small Business Majority found that 60 percent of small-business owners supported raising the minimum wage to at least $12 per hour, confirming similar findings from a July 2014 report produced by the American Sustainable Business Council and Business for a Fair Minimum Wage, which found that a majority of businesses support raising the minimum wage.

    Right-wing media have repeatedly pushed the myth that businesses are opposed to raising the minimum wage while spreading debunked claims that raising the minimum wage leads to job losses. In one instance, Fox Business host Stuart Varney claimed that a minimum wage increase in Seattle had cost the area 1,000 jobs in food services in the month after the increase went into effect, when in reality 1,800 jobs had been created since the start of the year, regardless of the wage change.

    But economists have also repeatedly debunked the claim that raising the minimum wage would kill jobs. Researchers at Cornell University found that raising the regular and tipped minimum wages for workers in the restaurant and hospitality industries has "not had large or reliable effects" on the number of people working in the industry and concluded that business groups opposed to wage increases should just embrace "reasonable increases." Recent strong job data out of Washington state, where the cities of Seattle and SeaTac are in the process of phasing in the highest municipal minimum wages in the country, undermined right-wing media claims that raising the minimum wage kills jobs.

    The Post reported that Luntz said the polling data shows that it's "undeniable that they [business executives] support the increase." He told state chamber executives that if they're "fighting a minimum wage increase," they could suggest other "poverty-reduction methods like the Earned Income Tax Credit" in order to "defuse" the support (emphasis added):

    Whenever minimum wage increases are proposed on the state or federal level, business groups tend to fight them tooth and nail. But actual opposition may not be as united as the groups' rhetoric might make it appear, according to internal research conducted by a leading consultant for state chambers of commerce.

    The survey of 1,000 business executives across the country was conducted by LuntzGlobal, the firm run by Republican pollster Frank Luntz, and obtained by a liberal watchdog group called the Center for Media and Democracy. ... [[is this an in-line ellipsis?]]Among the most interesting findings: 80 percent of respondents said they supported raising their state's minimum wage, while only eight percent opposed it.

    "That's where it's undeniable that they support the increase," Luntz told state chamber executives in a webinar describing the results, noting that it squares with other polling they've done. "And this is universal. If you're fighting against a minimum wage increase, you're fighting an uphill battle, because most Americans, even most Republicans, are okay with raising the minimum wage."

    Luntz then provided some tips on how to defuse that support, such as suggesting other poverty-reduction methods like the Earned Income Tax Credit. "Where you might find some comfort if you are opposing it in your state is, 'how big of a priority is it against other priorities?'" he said. "Most folks think there are bigger priorities. Creating more jobs rather than raising the minimum wage is a priority that most everyone agrees with. So when you put it up against other issues, you can find other alternatives and other things to focus on. But in isolation, and you ask about the minimum wage, it's definitely a winner."

    *This post has been updated to reflect the 2014 report was jointly produced.

  • Fox's Howard Kurtz Lets Frank Luntz Praise Marco Rubio Without Disclosing Past Financial Ties

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Fox News host Howard Kurtz invited Republican pollster Frank Luntz onto his show to praise Republican presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) without disclosing Luntz's past financial ties to Rubio.

    During the February 28 edition of MediaBuzz, Kurtz spoke to Luntz about his focus groups with Republican primary voters and the media's coverage of the Republican presidential primary.

    Kurtz said there had been a notion that Rubio was "a media darling," but that "everybody in the media beat up on him and some practically said he was finished" after coming in fifth place in the New Hampshire GOP primary. Luntz in response said Rubio was "a great communicator," and that people thought "because he always sounds good, because he always sounds reasonable, therefore the media's in bed with him. That's not the case." Luntz also said that Rubio had "won the last two out of three debates," according to focus groups conducted by Luntz:

    HOWARD KURTZ (HOST): So people are convinced that Fox or some other channel or some other network is for or against Rubio or Trump or Cruz. As if there's -- everyone is getting marching orders.

    FRANK LUNTZ: I give you credit for putting that -- I'm shocked. That would never be on CNN. That would never be on MSNBC.

    KURTZ: If it were about that network.

    LUNTZ: If it were about their own network. So good for you for putting that on. Yes. And I get it all the time. If I go to the Trump blogs, then Fox is in the pockets of Rubio. If you go to Cruz blogs, it's in the pockets of Trump. If you go to the Rubio blogs, it's in the pockets of everybody else. People see what they want to see and they disregard the rest. We are all seeing things through rose colored glasses and it becomes almost impossible to be fair, which is why these debates are so important. Because it's the one time when you can actually hold the candidates accountable.

    KURTZ: But just briefly on Rubio. The notion he's a media darling, after he had that performance where he was sort of hammered for being robotic and then finished fifth in New Hampshire, everybody in the media beat up on him and some practically said he was finished. So it's not like the entire business is pumping up this guy.

    LUNTZ: He's a great communicator. And that's - they're conflating good communication with support from the media. They think that because he always sounds good, because he always sounds reasonable, therefore the media's in bed with him and that's not the case. But Rubio has won the last two out of three debates.

    KURTZ: In your view or the view of the public?

    LUNTZ: In the view of the focus groups and yet it hasn't moved numbers.

    A January 2012 Wall Street Journal article reported that Rubio hired Luntz to assist in writing his book 100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future when he was in the Florida House of Representatives, which Kurtz failed to disclose.  

    Fox News has repeatedly failed to disclose Luntz's ties to Rubio while allowing him to praise the presidential candidate. Host Neil Cavuto let Luntz in January claim that Rubio "is the most optimistic, the most focused on the American dream of any of the candidates" and "what the public needs right now." The Kelly File later that month had Luntz host a focus group after a GOP debate in which he advised them to "watch how well [Rubio] did on immigration." And in early February host Megyn Kelly again invited Luntz on to discuss Rubio, where Luntz claimed "Rubio is in perfect position" to do well in upcoming primaries.

  • Megyn Kelly Allows GOP Pollster Frank Luntz To Criticize An Anti-Rubio Ad Without Disclosing Luntz's Ties To Rubio

    Frank Luntz Blasts An Ad Critical Of Rubio As "Crap"

    Blog ››› ››› CRISTIANO LIMA

    Fox News host Megyn Kelly invited Republican pollster Frank Luntz on her show to attack a negative ad targeting Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) without disclosing his financial ties to the presidential candidate.

    Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly brought Luntz on the February 2 edition of The Kelly File to discuss Rubio's third place finish in the Iowa caucus. Luntz offered glowing praise for the candidate, arguing that "Rubio is in perfect position" to do well in upcoming primaries. When asked about a negative ad targeting Rubio created by a pro-Jeb Bush Super PAC, Luntz called it "crap," saying that "all of these ads have failed" and "that money has been wasted":

    FRANK LUNTZ: Jeb Bush will spend when this is all over one hundred million dollars. Unprecedented for a Super PAC. And that money has been wasted. If I was a donor, if I was one of these people who contributed half a million, I would demand my money back with interest. ;All of these ads have failed. They've got another one with Marco's boots and it's done to Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made For Walking." It's crap. I don't know any other way. It's not persuasive. It doesn't turn voters. I cleaned up my language for you. I do not want to get thrown off the air. But when I play these ads to these focus groups they use the actual word to describe their reaction. It's a waste of money and it actually helps Rubio and it hurts Bush at the same time. 

    MEGYN KELLY (HOST): Oh really? So it has the reverse effect of that intended? 

    LUNTZ: Because it makes people angry. They're angry at the person who hosts the ads. You heard the end of that. It says Jeb Bush is a leader. What people hear is Jeb Bush is running a negative ad against his friend, Marco Rubio, and they hate it.

    The Wall Street Journal reported in January 2012 that Luntz was hired by Rubio to assist in writing his "100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future," which Luntz and host Megyn Kelly failed to disclose.

    Fox News and Megyn Kelly have failed to divulge Luntz's ties with Rubio while inviting him to provide political commentary on several other occasions. During a January 28 appearance on The Kelly File, Luntz lauded Rubio's performance in a GOP debate without any financial disclosure, touting "how well he did on immigration." Similarly, during a January 7 appearance on Your World with Neil Cavuto, Luntz praised Rubio without disclosure, calling him "the most optimistic, the most focused on the American dream of any of the candidates" and "what the public needs right now."

    News ethicists and journalist have criticized Luntz and his former employer, CBS News for their lack of disclosure of Luntz's relationship with candidates he praises on-air.

  • Fox Allows GOP Pollster Frank Luntz To Tout Marco Rubio's Debate Performance Without Disclosing Past Financial Ties

    Blog ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    Fox News invited Republican pollster Frank Luntz to lead a post-debate focus group, where Luntz lauded Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-FL) debate performance without disclosing Luntz's past financial ties relationship to the GOP presidential candidate.

    Following the January 28 Republican presidential primary debate, Luntz convened a focus group on a post-debate edition of The Kelly File to analyze the candidates' debate performances. During the segment, Luntz discussed Rubio's debate performance and asked the panel about his electability and likability. Luntz also aired two flattering clips of Rubio during the debate, one of which Luntz introduced by saying "watch how well he did on immigration."

    A January 2012 Wall Street Journal article reported that Rubio hired Luntz to assist in writing his "100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future," which Luntz and host Megyn Kelly failed to disclose.  

    This is not the first time Fox News has failed to disclose Luntz' ties with Rubio when asking him on for political commentary. During a January 7 appearance on Your World with Neil Cavuto, Luntz lauded Rubio without disclosure, calling him "the most optimistic, the most focused on the American dream of any of the candidates" and "what the public needs right now."

    In June 2014, CBS came under fire from veteran news ethicists and observers for failing to disclose Luntz had received more than $15,000 in consulting fees from Rep. Eric Cantor's (R-VA) congressional campaignwhile hosting him as a political analyst to comment on Cantor's electoral defeat. In March 2013 on Fox's Fox & Friends Luntz praised his former clients Marco Rubio and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) without disclosing his past work for the politicians, and during an October 2015 appearance on CBS in which Luntz pushed Ryan for the role of Speaker of the House, Luntz and CBS failed to disclose the $100,000 he had received from Ryan since 2012.

  • Fox Allows Pollster Frank Luntz To Shill For Marco Rubio Without Disclosing Financial Ties

    Frank Luntz Has A Long History Of Political Commentary Without Disclosure

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Fox News host Neil Cavuto invited  Republican pollster Frank Luntz on his show to offer praise for GOP presidential candidate Marco Rubio (R-FL) without disclosing Luntz' past ties to Rubio.

    During a January 7, appearance on Your World with Neil Cavuto, host Neil Cavuto discussed recent turmoil in the stock market and asked Luntz to respond to how he believed the economy could affect the presidential race. Luntz responded that Marco Rubio would be the best political candidate for the economy claiming that he "is the most optimistic, the most focused on the American dream of any of the candidates" and "what the public needs right now":

    FRANK LUNTZ: Marco Rubio is the most optimistic, the most focused on the American dream of any of the candidates, and Rubio's intense passion about making America great again, to use Trump's slogan, it really applies to Marco Rubio because he is the one who talks about how his father and mother came from Cuba with very limited means and now look at what's happened to him. The guy is a United States senator, leading presidential candidate. 

    Rubio's message is the most optimistic, the most forward thinking of them all and that's what the public needs right now when they have the greatest concern, the greatest anxiety, based on what's happening on the Wall Street and the markets across the globe.

    A January 2012 Wall Street Journal article reported that Rubio hired Luntz to assist in writing his "100 Innovative Ideas for Florida's Future," which Cavuto failed to disclose.  

    This is not the first time news networks have failed to disclose Luntz' ties with Republican politicians when asking him on for political commentary. In June 2014, CBS came under fire from veteran ethicists and observers for failing to disclose Luntz had received more than $15,000 in consulting fees from Rep. Eric Cantor's (R-VA) congressional campaign. In March 2013 on Fox's Fox & Friends Luntz praised his former clients  Marco Rubio and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) without disclosing his past work for the politicians, and during an October 2015 appearance on CBS in which Luntz pushed Ryan for the role of Speaker of the House, Luntz and CBS failed to disclose the $100,000 he had received from Ryan since 2012.

  • The Worst Media Failures On Public Education In 2015

    Blog ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    2015 was an important year in education policy, with the passage of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the beginning of the 2016 election campaigns, and local fights for teachers and public schools making national headlines. In an important year for students and teachers across the education spectrum, however, some media outlets used their platforms to push falsehoods. Here are five of the worst media failures on public education this year.

    5. Campbell Brown Hired Transphobic, Sexist, Racially Insensitive Writer To "Fact-Check" Education Policy Reporting

    This summer, teachers union opponent and former journalist Campbell Brown launched a "non-profit, non-partisan news site about education," called The Seventy Four. In spite of the site's stated mission to combat "misinformation and political spin" with "investigation, expertise, and experience," Brown hired Eric Owens, who has a long history of attacks on students and teachers, to write for the site. Owens has a long history of attacking and mocking teachers and students with transphobic, sexist, victim-blaming, and racially insensitive rhetoric as the education editor at the Daily Caller.

    4. National Newspaper Editorials Promoted Anti-Teachers Union Myths

    This year, The Wall Street Journal continued its campaign of misinformation on teachers unions, pushing harmful, union-opposed policies such as a Louisiana voucher program that was found to violate desegregation requirements and a Washington, D.C. voucher program reported to waste federal dollars on "unsuitable learning environments." The WSJ editorial board often explicitly attributed its support of these unsuccessful policies to combating teachers unions. In an October editorial, for example, the board wrote that being "unpopular with unions... ought to be a requirement for any education leadership position," ignoring the troubling realities of the programs they attempted to defend in spite of well-founded union concerns.

    As ESSA moved through Congress in late November, the editorial board doubled down on its teacher-blaming rhetoric, claiming that the new legislation was favored by "teachers unions who want less accountability," and advocating for the continuation of unpopular high-stakes testing and voucher policies in the states.

    The Washington Post editorial board similarly advocated for continuing the extensive testing requirements of the No Child Left Behind legislation, lending support to a high-stakes testing policy with questionable public or research support, and villainized teachers unions in the process. In its February editorial on the issue, the Post claimed that teachers unions "give lip service to accountability as long as their members aren't the ones held to account," and cited this self-interest as the source of unions' opposition to flawed teacher evaluation models that utilize students' standardized test scores to punish teachers.

    3. Fox News Continued Their Assault On Public Schools, Educators, And Unions

    Fox News featured offensive and often inaccurate commentary on public education and the teaching profession throughout the year -- in some cases doubling down on the anti-teacher rhetoric many Fox figures pushed in 2014.

    In February, Outnumbered co-host Kennedy kicked off the teacher-bashing by arguing that "there really shouldn't be public schools," before the hosts agreed that the federal Department of Education ought to be abolished. In April, Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy slurred prospective bilingual educators, referring to immigrants with legal permission to work in the United States as "illegals" during a segment highlighting an initiative to boost language learning in schools.

    In August, Fox & Friends included a segment where Fox News regular Frank Luntz conducted a live focus group segment about public education. Questions for the focus group included "Who here has issue with teachers unions?" and "Doesn't it make you angry that you're putting all this money into public schools?" Luntz followed up his leading question about teachers unions by singling out a teacher from the group and asking him to "defend" himself.

    In an October discussion about New York City schools on Fox's The Five, the co-hosts implored the city's public school teachers to "become a better teacher" and "don't suck at your job." That same month, co-host Juan Williams attacked unions' endorsement of Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race, asserting that an "unholy alliance between education unions and Democrats" would be "dangerous for our kids" and would "hurt" "minority communities" and "poor people."

    2. Moderators And Candidates Overlooked K-12 Education Issues Throughout The 2015 Debate Season


    This year also marked the launch of the 2016 presidential campaign season, with five Republican and three Democratic debates held this fall. While candidates outlined their positions time and again on national security issues, women's health care, and taxes, the debates barely mentioned education issues. A Media Matters search of all eight full debate transcripts found only nine mentions of any variation of the term "teach." In fact, according to this review, no candidate or moderator uttered the phrases "No Child Left Behind," "Race To The Top," or "Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)" throughout the 2015 debate season, despite the recent passage of the landmark ESSA legislation replacing No Child Left Behind.

    Moderators did discuss schools and teachers a handful of times throughout the debate season, mostly in relation to national security. In the August 6 Republican debate on Fox News, moderator Bret Baier questioned former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on their disagreement on the Common Core state standards and asked former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) whether he would abolish the Department of Education, among other federal agencies. The moderators of the October 28 CNBC Republican debate also mentioned teachers once, when moderator Carlos Quintanilla asked Donald Trump about his comments that educators ought to be armed. And on CNN's December 15 Republican debate, moderator Wolf Blitzer asked candidates about the closure of the Los Angeles Unified school district following an email threat.

    The other five debates did not feature questions regarding K-12 education policy.

    1. State Newspapers Baselessly Attacked Teachers Unions Across The Country


    Public school educators and their unions in major cities made national headlines in 2015 following strikes, contentious contract negotiations, school board elections, and school funding battles. While research shows that teachers unions not only protect the rights of educators but also benefit students and their communities, state newspapers editorializing on union activities framed unions and educators as selfishly seeking higher pay at the expense of others.

    Amidst a victory year for teachers unions on several fronts, Media Matters found that state newspapers in New York, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, California, and Washington published editorials distorting the facts to question the motives of teachers and attack their right to organize.

    In Buffalo, New York, The Buffalo News repeatedly claimed that teachers unions supporting a parent-led movement against standardized testing want to maintain "the wretched, costly, dysfunctional status quo" and require children to "pay the price." In Scranton, Pennsylvania, The Scranton Times-Tribune lamented that teachers unions had the ability to strike and dismissed teachers' calls to be treated with respect and dignity. In Albuquerque, New Mexico, The Albuquerque Journal mocked teachers' concerns over an unfair evaluation method that was subsequently struck down by a district court that agreed with the unions. In Los Angeles, California, the Los Angeles Times dismissed unions' worries that a charter expansion plan created by one of the paper's education reporting funders would financially jeopardize local public schools, telling those who opposed the plan to "quit whining." And in Seattle, Washington, The Seattle Times repeatedly attacked the local union for "using their students as pawns," as they advocated for fair pay, guaranteed recess time, more funding for schools, and greater equity in school discipline policies.

    These editorial board attacks on educators -- because of the readers they serve and the prominence of local priorities on education policy -- have the dangerous potential to shift public conversation away from the facts and to pit communities against the teachers who advocate for them. After a year where the importance of education policy has become more critical than ever, hopefully this disturbing trend will not continue in 2016.

    Image by Ian MacKenzie under a Creative Commons license.

  • Pro-Koch CBS Analyst Received $1.5 Million From The Kochs

    ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    A newly-released IRS filing reveals that a central group in Charles and David Koch's financial network paid CBS News analyst Frank Luntz's firm roughly $1.5 million in 2014 for messaging work. Luntz recently used his CBS platform to praise Koch donor conference attendees as symbolizing "the American dream," and defend the Kochs' spending -- without disclosing that he's benefited from their largesse.