Broadcast evening news programs devoted zero coverage to Senate Republicans' harmful block on extending long-term unemployment benefits. The failed measure received only minimal attention from national media throughout the day.
One economic study, two news outlets, and two very different reports on its findings.
When the nonpartisan CBO released its Budget and Economic Outlook for the years 2014 to 2024 this week, right-wing media distorted its projection that the supply of labor would decline by about 2 million workers over the next three years, due to the ACA allowing workers the option to work less and still maintain health coverage. In the conservative echo chamber, pundits from Jennifer Rubin to Fox anchors argued that the CBO report proved the ACA is destroying jobs.
CNN's Carol Costello corrected the record about this conservative "spin" on the CBO report on February 5, explaining, "To be clear, the CBO did not say jobs would actually be lost. It said workers could choose to work fewer hours to meet Obamacare requirements for coverage," and calling out the misinformation surrounding the report:
COSTELLO: [C]ritics say a new nonpartisan report proves the law will indeed kill jobs. But when you cut through the spin, this is all about workers' choices, not job cuts.
As Costello was clarifying the CBO's findings, the very "spin" she highlighted was underway on Fox News. Anchor Bill Hemmer dismissed the notion that the CBO projection concerned workers' choice, arguing that it boiled down to "job losses" caused by the ACA. Frequent Fox guest Art Laffer added, "If you don't love your work, it doesn't mean you should be paid not to work so you can sit at home and dream. That's just silly."
Fox has attacked health reform at every turn, pushing myths and phony scandals to argue for its repeal. The network's repeated misinformation on the CBO report in order to continue its war on the ACA, no matter what the facts, is just another example of Fox prioritizing politics over accurate reporting.
Scrambling to mitigate news that conservative filmmaker and Fox News darling Dinesh D'Souza was indicted for felony federal campaign finance violations, the network suggested that Democrat Pierce O'Donnell's 2012 misdemeanor convictions for the same crime is evidence that the Obama administration is targeting political enemies -- but O'Donnell was originally charged with even more felony counts than D'Souza.
D'Souza, known for his conspiratorial film 2016: Obama's America, was indicted this week "by a federal grand jury for arranging excessive campaign contributions to a candidate for the U.S. Senate," according to Reuters. D'Souza allegedly repaid people who, at his direction, contributed $20,000 to New York Republican senate candidate Wendy Long, well beyond the legal contribution limit.
His allies in the conservative media handled news of the indictment by accusing the Department of Justice of seeking to silence people on President Obama's "enemies list" in the custom of "Nazi Germany" and "Stalin."
Fox's evening news show Special Report attempted to further this conspiracy theory by pointing to the case of Pierce O'Donnell, an attorney who pled guilty to making approximately $26,000 in illegal campaign contributions to disgraced former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards' 2004 campaign. The program repeatedly suggested political retribution was at play because O'Donnell "faced only a misdemeanor conviction" for a near identical crime to D'Souza's, who is charged with a felony. Correspondent Doug McKelway and contributor Charles Krauthammer raised these claims in different segments during the program.
But there is a fatal flaw in Fox's argument: O'Donnell was actually indicted for three felonies, more serious charges than D'Souza faces.
Broadcast nightly news shows completely ignored the day's landmark court ruling striking down federal net neutrality regulations, an omission that deals a huge disservice to the public audience and a boon to the news outlets' parent corporations.
Net neutrality -- the principle that corporate internet providers should provide equal access to content for subscribers -- was dealt a serious blow the morning of January 14 when the D.C. Court of Appeals invalidated the Federal Communications Commission's requirement that providers offer equal access to online information, regardless of the source. Prior to the ruling, the FCC prevented internet providers from blocking (or slowing down access to) content in order to benefit their own business interests.
That evening, neither NBC, CBS, nor ABC acknowledged the ruling in their evening news broadcasts.
Here's why that's important -- NBC is owned by Comcast Corporation, which bills itself as the nation's largest high-speed Internet provider. CBS' parent company is CBS Corporation, which also owns multiple sports networks and Showtime, while ABC is part of The Walt Disney Company empire, also the owner of ESPN.
This is a huge conflict of interest for the broadcast news channels, as their parent corporations all have a vested interest in striking down net neutrality laws and promoting their own content at the expense of competitors that lack an advantage in size or Internet service. As PCWorld explained:
Fox News can't seem to talk about the Chris Christie bridge closure scandal without invoking Benghazi.
Fox & Friends devoted five segments during its January 10 broadcast to the growing scandal surrounding Republican Gov. Chris Christie and his administration's involvement in deliberate traffic gridlock across the George Washington Bridge as political retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee, NJ.
But in every segment purporting to discuss Christie, the hosts and guests used the story to attack President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by bringing up the September 2012 attacks on U.S. facilities in Benghazi, Libya.
Frequent Fox guest and former Reagan economic advisor Art Laffer argued for the abolishment of the minimum wage for some workers, describing the law as the "black teenage unemployment act." He added that the federal requirement "makes no sense whatsoever."
Laffer, the so-called father of trickle-down economics, appeared on the January 8 edition of Fox News' Happening Now to discuss the possible extension of recently-expired unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed. When host Jenna Lee asked Laffer and American Enterprise Institute's Michael Strain about other ways to improve the economy, Laffer recommended doing away with the minimum wage for some workers, saying that "honestly" the requirement is the "black teenage unemployment act." Strain agreed, and suggested lowering the minimum wage "for the long-term unemployed" to $4 an hour.
JENNA LEE: One of the things you both agree on is maybe looking at minimum wage, and Art, you have an idea for minimum wage that you think could encourage hiring and it involves state government so what is that plan?
LAFFER: Yeah, well the minimum wage makes no sense whatsoever to me. I mean, honestly, it's just the teenage -- black teenage unemployment act and this is the very groups that we need to have jobs not be put out of work because of the minimum wage so I'm really very much in favor of at least for teenagers getting rid of the minimum wage so we can bring them back into the labor force, get them the skills they need to continue being productive members of our society for years and years. I mean, that's the way I'd go on minimum wage.
STRAIN: I certainly agree with Art that we should lower the minimum wage for teenagers, I also think we should lower the minimum wage for the long-term unemployed. You know, right now, if you're a worker and you apply for a job and you've been unemployed for 7 months, the firm may say 'hey, you know, I wonder if there is something about this person maybe previous firms have seen something that I'm not seeing -- I'm not going to hire them.' And the reason that, well a reason that a firm might feel that way is because the government says that you have to take a $7.25 per hour risk on that worker. So if we lower that down to, say, $4 an hour, then the risk is much less to the firm, firms are going to be more likely to hire these workers. Now, I think if we do that, for workers that are heads of households and that are working full time, we don't want them living in poverty, so, if we're going to lower the minimum wage for those workers then we need to have some sort of a wage subsidy or an expansion of the earned income tax credit or something to make up the difference.
LEE: I'm going to need a calculator.
Right-wing media have responded to a Supreme Court justice's decision to temporarily block the Affordable Care Act's (ACA) birth control mandate by falsely claiming that abortifacients are included in the coverage required by the health care law.
Media Matters looks back at the best of the worst of right-wing media's treatment of women in 2013.
The media's hastily-crafted image of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as a "different" type of politician is cracking amidst reports of an act of political retribution, a foreseeable consequence of prematurely characterizing potential national candidates so far out from an election.
Amidst speculation that Christie may seek the Republican nomination for president in 2016, media have been quick to paint him as a new, "fresh," straight-shooting politician.
In the last month alone, TIME magazine has declared that Christie governed with "kind of bipartisan dealmaking that no one seems to do anymore." MSNBC's Morning Joe called the governor "different," "fresh," and "sort of a change from public people that you see coming out of Washington." In a GQ profile, Christie was deemed "that most unlikely of pols: a happy warrior," while National Journal described him as "the Republican governor with a can-do attitude" who "made it through 2013 largely unscathed. No scandals, no embarrassments or gaffes." ABC's Barbara Walters crowned Christie as one of her 10 Most Fascinating People, casting him as a "passionate and compassionate" politician who cannot lie.
But the problem with writing Christie's character in platitudes so far in advance of 2016 has also become apparent this month.
Christie is increasingly implicated in a growing scandal involving the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the closure of access lanes onto the George Washington Bridge, the most-traveled bridge in the country. In September, David Wildstein, an ex-blogger and high school friend of Christie's whom the governor appointed to a director's position within the Port Authority, unexpectedly ordered the closure of two of three local access lanes from Fort Lee, NJ onto the bridge. He gave no reason for the lane closures that lasted four days, handicapping commuters, school commutes, and even emergency workers who could not respond timely to crisis calls.
Speculation is swirling that the closures were an act of political retribution -- payback for the refusal of Fort Lee's mayor to endorse Christie in his re-election to the governorship. Lending credit to the theory is the fact that neither Christie appointees nor Christie himself have provided a valid explanation for the closures. Another Christie appointee to the Port Authority, Bill Baroni, claimed the lanes were closed as part of a traffic safety study, but that excuse was shot down by Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye, an appointee of Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, who testified that he was unaware of any such traffic safety study.
Fox's Megyn Kelly attempted to justify her insistence that Santa Claus was a white man, accusing critics of blowing her remarks out of proportion and targeting the network.
Kelly sparked widespread outrage this week when she insisted to "kids watching at home" that, like Jesus, Santa Claus is a white man. Her remarks came during a discussion on The Kelly File about a post by Slate's Aisha Harris, which detailed the alienation Harris felt as a child reconciling the ubiquitous images of a white Santa with the black Santa she experienced in her own neighborhood.
On December 13, Kelly defended her 'white Santa' comments as a "tongue-in-cheek message" for kids, which she argued was justified because she was merely acknowledging that "we continually see Saint Nick as a white man in modern day America." She also blamed critics of Fox News for ginning up the controversy by race-baiting and assuming "the worst in people":
KELLY: This would be funny if it were not so telling about our society, in particular the knee-jerk instinct by so many to race-bait and to assume the worst in people, especially people employed by the very powerful Fox News Channel.
I acknowledged -- as Harris did -- that the most commonly depicted image of Santa does in fact have white skin. By the way I also did say Jesus was white. As I learned in the last two days, that is far from settled. For me, the fact that an offhand jest I made during a segment about whether Santa should be replaced by a penguin has now become a national firestorm says two things. Race is still an incredibly volatile issue in this country, and Fox News, and yours truly are big targets for many people.
Later in the program, Kelly hosted political analyst Zerlina Maxwell to discuss the 'white Santa' controversy. Maxwell explained that her family, like Harris', had a black Santa in their household when she was young. Rather than attempting to identify with Maxwell, Kelly responded that many Fox viewers took issue with the suggestion that a white Santa could alienate black children, asking, "Why is white skin alienating? And why is that not racist?":