Fox News worried over the country's crumbling infrastructure following an Amtrak derailment, ignoring their own role in cheerleading persistent Republican efforts to obstruct investments in rebuilding infrastructure.
An Amtrak train bound for New York City crashed May 13 in Philadelphia, leaving at least six dead and over a hundred injured. Speed is being investigated as a possible factor in the crash, though an official cause is not yet known.
Speculating on possible causes for the deadly crash, Fox News' Fox & Friends decried the country's crumbling infrastructure. Co-host Steve Doocy asserted that "infrastructure in this country is falling apart," while former New York City mayor and frequent Fox guest Rudy Giuliani added "We do know for sure, whether it is the cause or not, that the infrastructure in this country has not been fixed. It badly needs it," concluding, it's "an investment we have to make."
Yet Fox News itself and other right-wing media have long been champions of cuts to infrastructure spending, suggesting that federal, state, and local funds for infrastructure are being abused or stolen, and dismissing the role of Republican obstruction in rebuilding crumbling infrastructure.
Indeed, the nation's infrastructure is crumbling due in part to Republican efforts to block public spending on infrastructure.
The vast system of public infrastructure in the United States -- ranging from roads and park trails to canals and ports -- is currently graded as D+, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers' (ASCE) most recent report card for America's infrastructure, and would need an investment of $3.6 trillion by 2020 to improve.
One in ten bridges in the U.S. are structurally deficient, and states have been forced to convert roads to gravel due to a lack of sufficient funding for repairs. Nearly 14,000 dams are considered high-hazard, meaning failure of the dam would likely cause the loss of life.
But public investment in infrastructure has fallen to its lowest level since World War II, according to analysis from the Financial Times, which attributes the record-low public investments to Republicans blocking President Obama's push for more spending on infrastructure.
Republicans have consistently blocked infrastructure spending proposals. And the recently passed GOP-controlled House and Senate budgets each call for significant cuts to highway construction and transportation infrastructure funding, according to the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP). Both budgets would cut transportation funding by 22-28 percent over ten years, at a time when experts are urging more investment in infrastructure "in order to reduce congestion, increase capacity, and improve the performance and safety of our nation's highways, bridges, and transit systems."
From the May 13 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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From The May 13 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Fox's Martha MacCallum repeated the age old conservative adage that anti-poverty programs failed, despite evidence demonstrating that government programs aimed at reducing poverty have worked.
This week Georgetown University will host a "summit of Catholic, evangelical and other religious leaders" who are "coming together to make overcoming poverty a clear moral imperative and urgent national priority." The summit featured President Obama, who called out Fox News for it's "constant menu" of slanted poverty coverage that ignores "typical" stories like that of a waitress "who is raising a couple of kids and is doing everything right but still can't pay the bills" in favor of coverage that suggests "the poor are sponges, leches, don't want to work, are lazy [and] are undeserving."
During the May 12 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, host Martha MacCallum said she hopes the summit leads to new ideas that decrease poverty, because statistics show that anti-poverty programs "have not worked." MacCallum cited the "record numbers of dollars" spent on welfare programs, claiming that "a lot of it gets wasted."
At least three government programs like Social Security, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, and Medicaid have been effective at combating poverty. Overall, the poverty rate has dropped from 19 percent in 1964 to 14.5 percent today. Moreover, without anti-poverty programs, the number of Americans living in poverty in 2012 would have been double its recorded rate, according to an analysis by Columbia University researchers.
Social Security, long hailed as one of the most successful anti-poverty government programs, ensures seniors have a cost of living adjusted stream of income. According to The New York Times Economix Blog, without Social Security, the official elderly poverty would stand at 44 percent as opposed to 9 percent with the program. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
Social Security benefits play a vital role in reducing poverty. Without Social Security, 22.2 million more Americans would be poor, according to the latest available Census data (for 2012). Although most of those whom Social Security keeps out of poverty are elderly, nearly a third are under age 65, including 1 million children ... Depending on their design, reductions in Social Security benefits could significantly increase poverty, particularly among the elderly.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (known as SNAP or food stamps) provides nutrition assistance to over 40 million Americans. According to a New York Times report, SNAP reduced the poverty rate by nearly eight percent in 2009, at the height of the Great Recession. A USDA study found "an average decline of 4.4 percent in the prevalence of poverty due to SNAP benefits, while the average decline in the depth and severity of poverty was 10.3 and 13.2 percent, respectively."
Medicaid ensures that over 66 million Americans have access to affordable healthcare and has "greatly reduced the number of Americans without health insurance." Expanded access to health insurance through Medicaid has effectively reduced the poverty rate. A 2014 study found that Medicaid decreased poverty rates "by 1.0 percent, 2.2 percent, and 0.7 percent among children, disabled adults, and the elderly." Recent expansions in the program have also led to a healthier society. As noted by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:
Expansions of Medicaid eligibility for low-income children in the late 1980s and early 1990s led to a 5.1 percent reduction in childhood deaths. Also, expansions of Medicaid coverage for low-income pregnant women led to an 8.5 percent reduction in infant mortality and a 7.8 percent reduction in the incidence of low birth weight.
Broadcast nightly news programs have remained silent on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) over the past three months of weekday programming, even as Congress is scheduled to vote this week on whether to grant President Obama authority to finalize the terms of the massive trade deal. The coverage blackout continues a trend extending back to 2013.
On May 12, the Senate plans to vote on legislation that would grant "fast-track" trade promotion authority to Obama as he attempts to complete negotiations among the 12 member nations that comprise the TPP. "Once Congress grants a president trade promotion authority, lawmakers have the ability to vote up or down on a final trade agreement, but they forfeit the right to amend the deal or filibuster it," The New York Times explained.
Debates over the merits of the deal itself and of granting the president trade promotion authority have erupted among Democratic and Republican members of Congress, but coverage of the negotiations has been largely absent from evening news programming on the major broadcast networks.
A Media Matters analysis of ABC's World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, and NBC's Nightly News from August 1, 2013, through May 10, 2015, found that the programs completely ignored the trade negotiations and related policy debates. Only PBS NewsHour devoted substantive coverage to the TPP, with 14 total segments:
Coverage of the TPP among major cable outlets has been similarly one-sided. Since August 1, 2013, MSNBC has mentioned the Trans-Pacific Partnership in 124 evening and primetime segments, the overwhelming majority of which (103) came during The Ed Show. Fox News trails far behind with just 12 mentions of the TPP over that time period, 10 of which have come since February 1, 2015. CNN has been almost completely absent from the discussion, registering only 2 mentions of the trade negotiations:
From the May 10 edition of NBC News' Meet The Press:
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From the May 10 edition of Fox Broadcasting's Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace:
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From the May 1 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the April 30 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Sean Hannity falsely claimed that Hillary Clinton's campaign admitted to paying female staffers less than male staffers while she was a senator, when in fact the opposite was true. Clinton's campaign reported that she paid men and women equally.
On the April 22 edition of his radio show, Hannity said that the Clinton campaign had "confirmed the accuracy" of a report from the conservative Free Beacon that Clinton had paid female staffers less than male staffers in her senate office:
HANNITY: There is another story I wanted to bring up about Hillary, and her campaign confirmed the accuracy of which to the Washington Free Beacon -- an analysis that showed that women working in Clinton's senate office were paid 72 cents for each dollar paid to men. The campaign told FactCheck.org that it does not dispute the accuracy of the report, which analyzed the office's publicly available disbursement forms from fiscal years 2002 to 2008, and found that men working for Clinton had a median salary of $15,708 higher than women.
In fact, the campaign told FactCheck.org that the Free Beacon analysis had been based on "incomplete" information and provided data showing that Clinton paid women equally. From the FactCheck.org article:
"The Free Beacon based their analysis off an incomplete, and therefore inaccurate set of numbers," said Josh Schwerin, a spokesman for the Clinton campaign. "The fact is, Hillary paid full-time men and women equally."
The FactCheck.org article states that the campaign supplied Clinton's senate staff employment records, which show that female staffers' median salaries were "virtually identical" to the male staffers' salaries. Those records also indicated that Clinton hired twice the number of women as men.
The article explains that the Free Beacon used a different data set to arrive at its conclusion that women were paid less - and quoted American Enterprise Institute scholar Norman Ornstein, who said he "believes the Clinton campaign methodology provides a more accurate measure of her record on pay equity."
Fox News host Bill O'Reilly parroted a previously debunked claim that President Obama raised taxes more than 442 times since taking office -- a claim rated "Mostly False" by PolitiFact in 2014.
During the April 20 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, Bill O'Reilly pointed to federal tax revenue to dismiss political rhetoric on income inequality, lamenting the tax rates of "Americans earning more than $400,000" and noting that "the U.S. has the highest tax rate on business in the world." O'Reilly complained that President Obama has imposed "punishing taxation," claiming that "since taking office, President Obama has proposed a whopping 442 tax increases" and asking, "how much more can the government take from the affluent without crashing the entire free market economy?":
But O'Reilly's claim that Obama raised taxes comes from Americans for Tax Reform, a conservative anti-tax group headed by Grover Norquist, and was rated as "Mostly False" by PolitiFact in 2014. According to PolitiFact, Americans for Tax Reform "overstate[d] the total number by a significant amount," noting that "removing duplicates eliminates about 159 of the proposals" and "failed to account for other tax cuts that are part of Obama's record, including nearly $220 billion in tax cuts that were part of the federal stimulus."
From the April 17 edition of CNN's New Day:
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Both Fox's Sean Hannity and Univision host Jorge Ramos misrepresented the Latino vote by suggesting that if it weren't for the issue of immigration, Hispanics would favor conservative candidates. But not only do Latino voters prioritize multiple issues in addition to immigration, on those issues they are far more likely to support progressive reforms than Ramos and Hannity suggested.
On the April 15 edition of his Fox show, Hannity misleadingly claimed that Hispanics "generally speaking" were "conservative on social issues," and suggested that the sole reason Latinos might not vote for Hispanic GOP presidential candidates such as Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio was their anti-immigration stances. Ramos agreed, and claimed that the reason Hispanics tend to vote for Democrats was entirely due to immigration:
RAMOS: Republicans, I think, they've missed a huge opportunity, because when it comes to values, they're close to the Hispanic community, but Latinos honestly can't see beyond immigration.
Ramos went on to inaccurately oversimplify the Latino constituency by painting immigration as their "prerequisite" to supporting a candidate, which in his opinion would give Jeb Bush -- who has supported a pathway to citizenship --an edge with Latinos in the 2016 election.
WisconsinWatchdog.org used a methodologically flawed report from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to whitewash Wisconsin's economic performance under Governor Scott Walker despite many analysts pointing to budget deficits and declining economic performance.
An April 8 WisconsinWatchdog.org (formerly branded as the Wisconsin Reporter) report lauded Wisconsin's jump from 17th to 13th place in this year's index of "economic competitiveness" compiled by the controversial right-wing group ALEC. Watchdog.org's report praised the recently passed right-to-work law -- legislation that weakens unions by baring mandatory fees from non-union workers -- though admitted the new legislation was not passed in time to be considered for ALEC's index. However, Walker's deep tax cuts were cited by both Watchdog.org and ALEC as a major reason for the state's jump in the index:
The Rich States, Poor States report emphasizes the relief property taxpayers have experienced in recent years. Buoyed by better-than-expected state revenue over the past two years, Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature pushed hundreds of millions of dollars in tax cuts, particularly relief on the property tax side. Wisconsin taxpayers had for years seen their property taxes rise before the recent round of cuts.
Walker's latest two-year budget proposal includes another $280 million in property tax reductions.
"Just as I promised, property taxes by the end of 2016 will be lower than they were in 2014. That means lower property taxes for six years in a row," Walker said in his budget address in February.
"Due to property tax relief and other pro-growth reforms, Wisconsin's economic outlook ranking increased four spots," said Jonathan Williams, vice president of Center for State Fiscal Reform at ALEC and co-author of Rich States, Poor States.
"While the effective date of Wisconsin's recent right-to-work law missed the 2015 edition's cut-off date, I predict that this new policy will increase the state's economic outlook ranking in the 2016 edition of this report," he added.
ALEC's analysis has come under some scrutiny, most notably in a joint critique of ALEC's rating system by The Iowa Policy Project and labor analysis outlet Good Jobs First who called ALEC's index "snake oil," and claimed that in promoting tax cuts, the slashing of public services, and other ALEC agenda items, "the [report] provides a recipe for economic inequality and declining incomes for most citizens and for depriving state and local governments of the revenue needed to maintain public infrastructure and education systems."
Business Insider's Joe Weisenthal also criticized a previous version of ALEC's report saying that maps based on the report were a "a joke," because "dynamic economies like New York and California are ranked near the bottom, while un-dynamic economies like Indiana and Wyoming are ranked near the top." He continued:
Obviously ALEC is ranking states based on each state's level of deregulation and awarding the most deregulated states, but the outcomes seem to have very little bearing in where companies actually want to launch and do business.
The economic reality in Wisconsin proves the lack of credibility of WisconsinWatchdog.org's ALEC index coverage. Notably, the state's 2015-2017 biannual budget approved by Walker is projected to produce a nearly $2 billion budget shortfall. While that number is based on requests from agencies that will largely go unfulfilled, the Associated Press noted that "the budget will be about $650 million short by mid-2017 [if] spending [continues] at current levels."
Bloomberg's Economic Evaluation of States also largely disproves the ALEC report, instead ranking Wisconsin 35th in the country overall and showed that major economic indicators like wage growth and home prices in Wisconsin lag behind the national median:
While job growth in Wisconsin was up in the month of February -- the last month where data is available-- long term measurements place the state in a three way tie for "38th place in private-sector job growth." WisconsinWatchdog.org did disclose near the end of it's report that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) "showed Wisconsin posted a private sector job-creation rate of 1.16 percent between September 2013 and September 2014," half of the national average but dismissed it by claiming, without evidence, other economic factors contested the BLS data and showed Wisconsin's "turnaround."
Wisconsin Watchdog.org's promotion of ALEC's favorable assessment of Walker's economy comes as no surprise as the outlet has consistently defended Walker against campaign finance violation allegations and is heavily funded by an organization whose top executive is Walker's former campaign committee chair.
George Will repeated a debunked myth claiming President Reagan added one million jobs in a single month, ignoring that the so-called one million jobs were buoyed by nearly 675,000 striking telecommunication workers returning to their jobs.
On the April 5 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, Fox News contributor George Will slammed the March jobs report, the first time in a year there haven't been at least 200,000 new jobs created during a month, by claiming that Ronald Reagan added over one million jobs during one month. While commenting on the newest jobs report, Will claimed, "during the Reagan recovery ... Reagan had a month of job creation of one million. And this was at a time when there were 75 million fewer Americans":
But Will's claim about Reagan's job creation record is disingenuous. As Business Insider pointed out, Reagan's so-called million job month in September 1983 was simply an outlier inflated due to nearly 675,000 striking communication workers returning to work, noting:
So, sadly for the Reagan zealots, President Reagan, his economy, his tax cuts, his supply-side economics, etc., etc., never produced one million jobs in one month, or anything close to it. It was a simple matter of striking communications workers dinging the payroll numbers one month and, upon their return, goosing them the next. Nothing more, nothing less. Could not be more straightforward.
In fact, according to The Wall Street Journal's Market Watch blog, the average monthly job growth during the Reagan administration was 168,000.