Jonathan Hoenig | Media Matters for America

Jonathan Hoenig

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  • 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.”

  • VIDEO: Fox's Defense Overruled, BP To Blame For Gulf Oil Spill

    Blog ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS

    When BP's Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in 2010, Fox News pundits rushed to the corporation's defense with excuses ranging from pitiful to conspiratorial. But now the ruling is out, exposing the falsities of Fox's defense: BP was to blame for the worst oil spill in U.S. history.

    Fox News pundits pulled out all the stops to deflect blame from BP when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico exploded in 2010, killing 11 workers and causing devastating environmental impacts. They accused environmentalists and the government for "forcing" the company to drill further from shore and touted conspiracy theories. The network berated the Obama administration for "villainiz[ing]" and "demonizing" the corporation and compared Congressional hearings on the disaster to "Soviet-style" trials and "Inca ritual slaughter":

    A federal court, however, ruled on September 4 that BP was largely responsible for the disaster -- not the scapegoats that Fox News tried to pin the blame on.

    Watch the difference between Fox News' spurious defense and the facts:

    A federal judge assigned 67 percent of the blame to BP, concluding that the corporation acted in "gross negligence" and "willful misconduct." The Wall Street Journal reported on several instances where the court found that BP forewent safety measures in the name of profit: 

    Struggling with a dangerously unstable oil well in April 2010, BP chose to drill an additional 100 feet into a fragile rock formation thousands of feet beneath the Gulf of Mexico.

    That decision set in motion a series of failures that led to the deadly Deepwater Horizon catastrophe and the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, a federal judge ruled Thursday.

    "BP's decision to drill the final 100 feet was the initial link in a chain that concluded with the blowout, explosion and oil spill," Judge Carl Barbier wrote. The decision "was dangerous," he added, and "motivated by profit."

    Fox News has a history of aggrandizing corporations, often Big Oil, and often at the expense of people. Will the network continue to baselessly defend BP and other bad-acting corporations?

    Video created by Coleman Lowndes.

  • Fact-Free Fox Assault: Labor Unions Are "Parasites" That Are "Not Doing Anything" For Workers

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    Fox News continued its assault on the labor movement during a Cashin' In panel discussion that characterized unions as parasitic "vestigial" lobbying organizations that do nothing for their members and harm the economy. As evidence of their claims, the panel referenced a decades-long decline in union membership, but ignored the sustained political assault behind the drop as well as the empirically established economic benefits of a robust labor movement.

    On the September 14 edition of Fox News' Cashin' In, host Eric Bolling introduced a segment about union membership drives and protests taking place this month, asking whether the effort was "bad for workers."

    Fox regular Jonathan Hoenig explained that the membership drive was necessary, because unions are "parasites" that "need new blood."

    Guest Sabrina Schaeffer complained that unions are "no longer representing workers. They're representing political views." She added that labor unions provide "very, very little" to their members.

    Fox guest Wayne Rogers argued that unions are "vestigial," saying, "They're not doing anything for the worker."

    The panel blamed unionized workers for the demise of Hostess, the textile industry, and the health of the overall economy while gloating that union membership has reached a 40 year low.

    Bolling's panel was content to dedicate their airtime to glib metaphors and baseless attacks, ignoring a more substantive discussion on the reasons for declining union membership and the benefits that organized labor provide to union worker, non-union workers, and the economy as a whole.

  • The Economic Ignorance Of Fox's Business Block

    Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

    You probably don't spend your Saturday mornings watching Fox News, but if you do, you know that they have a two-hour block of business programming called, amusingly, "The Cost Of Freedom." It features primarily C-list Fox Hosts and D-list pundits extolling the virtues of an unfettered free market and sneeringly contemptuously at every non-military government program. The one prerequisite for appearing on Fox's business block is that you have no real understanding of how the economy works. This morning's edition of Cashin' In and its discussion of poverty and government safety net programs demonstrated quite ably that Fox's business pundits have really no idea what they're talking about.

    It kicked off with panelist Jonathan Hoenig, a hedge fund manager who voices contempt for the non-wealthy, offering the starkly objectivist opinion that the government safety net is "destructive," and creates two classes of people: "victims," defined as "taxpayers" and "productive people;" and "parasites," defined as "recipients of the welfare."

    That's obviously a very silly thing to say; people who receive government benefits also pay taxes and a great many of them are, in fact, "productive people" who often work more than one job. As for the notion that the safety net is "destructive," we'll get to that in a moment. First let's get to Hoenig's co-panelist, conservative columnist Star Parker, who argues that the reason poverty numbers started going up in 2008 was the minimum wage increase passed in 2007:

  • How Conservative Media Wrote Romney's Energy Attacks

    ››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL, JILL FITZSIMMONS & MAX GREENBERG

    Conservative media outlets pushed at least eleven misleading attacks on President Obama's energy policies that have become talking points used by Mitt Romney's campaign. The conservative media bubble has largely prevented voters from hearing the facts about clean energy programs, fossil fuel production and environmental regulation under the Obama administration.

  • "Final Nail In The Coffin Of This Country": Another Year Of Wild Attacks On The Health Care Law

    ››› ››› JUSTIN BERRIER

    After waging an epic misinformation campaign during the debate over the Affordable Care Act and throughout the year following its signing, right-wing media have continued attacking the health care law, claiming that it is the "final nail in the coffin of this country" and that it "makes everyone a slave." As the two-year anniversary of the health care law approaches, Media Matters looks back at the right-wing media's latest attacks on health care reform.

  • The Right-Wing Media's Flawed Keystone XL Rejection Attacks

    ››› ››› MATT GERTZ, MIKE BURNS, ANDY NEWBOLD & MARCUS FELDMAN

    Right-wing media figures are slamming President Obama for the State Department's decision to reject plans to build the Keystone XL pipeline until a full assessment can be made, claiming that he is "killing jobs." But they cite industry-funded estimates of job creation that are wildly inflated. Moreover, the administration had long warned that it would be unable to complete the legally required review under the deadline imposed by a GOP-backed provision and would thus be forced to reject the project, and conservative outlets have previously attacked other Obama proposals that experts say significantly boost economic growth.