Media Matters today launched Financial Media Matters (www.FinancialMediaMatters.org) a website dedicated to holding accountable those who report on the financial and business industry as well as those who report on labor, economic, and other fiscal matters. The new website will focus extensively on ensuring that outlets such as CNBC, Fox Business Network, and The Wall Street Journal are held accountable.
"As people across the country struggle with losing their jobs, losing their homes, and losing their nest eggs, Americans are depending on the media -- especially the financial media -- for answers," said Eric Burns, President of Media Matters. He added, "We are launching Financial Media Matters because the public deserves accurate and honest reporting on what is happening and what is being done to fix the economic crisis."
Which reminds me, have you checked out Burns' open letter to CNBC regaring Larry Kudlow potentially using his platform to further his possible candidacy for Senate in Connecticut?
The Noise Machine jumped on Obama's 60 Minutes interview and the fact that CBS's Steve Kroft at one point asked Obama if he was "punch drunk." Kroft was concerned Obama was laughing too much at his very serious questions about the economy. Obama assured him it was just gallows humor.
The president was actually just being polite--he was laughing because the premise of one of Kroft's questions was so dumb. It was about the AIG bonus scandal [emphasis added].
KROFT: There is a perception right now, at least in New York, which is where I live and work.
KROFT: That, um, people feel they thought that you were going to be supportive. And now I think there are a lot of people say, "Look, we're not going to be able to keep our best people. They're not going to stay and work here for $250,000 a year when they can go work for a hedge fund, if they can find one that's still working.
Obama chuckled at the idea that angry executives on The Street who had their pay capped would bolt and go find jobs at hedge funds. He laughed because it's funny.
Hedge funds closures last year totaled $84 billion in worth, and more than 1,400 hedge funds were liquidated in 2008. So yeah, it's pretty funny to think that disgruntled bankers are going to parachute into new hedge funds jobs.
Joe Scarborough falsely claimed that the president's "own OMB director admits" that his budget will "create an unsustainable debt." In fact, OMB director Peter Orszag recently said that deficits at the level estimated by CBO in scoring Obama's proposed budget "would ultimately not be sustainable," but also said: "I think that what you're going to see, again, under our assumptions, our policies lead to lower deficits than that." Orszag also recently asserted that "[t]he President's Budget," if enacted, would "put the nation on a sustainable fiscal path."
We noted over the weekend that:
Even when announcing how "the public" is reacting to a news story, the press doesn't actually really care what "the public" thinks. The press decided immediately that the AIG story was a "cataclysmic" event for Obama and that "the public" was blaming him.
Polling guru Nate Silver digs through the data and fleshes out that claim:
But so far, and in spite of numerous assertions to the contrary inside both the blogosphere and the mainstream media, there's little evidence that the bonus controversy is hurting Barack Obama.
Mr. Stewart's criticisms of CNBC, delivered over many nights with the help of out-of-context video clips, included several that singled out Mr. Cramer, accusing him of promoting companies like Bear Stearns before they collapsed.
Out of context? That seems like a judgment call that the Times ought to stay away from. I can understand if CNBC wants to make that claim. But it sure seems weird for the newspaper to declare, as fact, that the CNBC clips that Comedy Central aired were out of context. By doing so, the Times is basically calling Stewart's CNBC critique a cheap shot.
UPDATE: CJR notes that the Times piece also lets CNBC's corporate boss Jeff Zucker spin at will.
On Fox & Friends, John Fund advanced the Republican falsehood that Democrats created the right for AIG to pay bonuses by passing the economic recovery bill. In fact, the recovery bill did not create the right for AIG -- or any company -- to pay bonuses. Rather, AIG reportedly disclosed that it had entered into agreements to pay these bonuses more than a year ago, the Bush Treasury Department approved of the AIG bailout with this agreement in place, and the relevant provision in the recovery act actually restricted the ability of companies receiving money from TARP to award bonuses in the future.
A Washington Post article reported that "Republicans have seized on the AIG issue in the belief that it has the potential to link Obama more closely to the widely unpopular $700 billion bailout legislation for the financial sector -- legislation that was crafted in the Bush administration." But the article did not note that a Bush-appointed special inspector general for TARP stated in congressional testimony that the Bush administration Treasury Department knew about the AIG bonus contracts and did not insist on their abrogation as a condition of AIG's receiving bailout money.
Earlier, I noted that the Washington Post failed to quote a single labor representative in its Employee Free Choice article today, though it quoted three CEOs. Turns out the AP is even worse. This article doesn't quote any labor sources, though it does quote a Starbucks spokesperson, the vice president of the anti-labor National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a Whole Foods spokesperson, a Chamber of Commerce official, a representative of the anti-labor Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, and "Washington labor lawyer Jay Krupin."
Wait, "Washington labor lawyer Jay Krupin" sounds promising. Surely, given the fact that the AP quoted two representatives of major corporations and three representatives of anti-labor interest groups, "labor lawyer" Jay Krupin must represent unions, right?
Probably not. Here's a 2000 restaurant industry newsletter that says Krupin "represents a range of restaurant and other foodservice companies dealing with unions" and quotes him calling unions a "cancer":
Indeed, Jay Krupin, a Washington, D.C., lawyer who represents a range of restaurant and other foodservice companies dealing with unions, contends the foodservice industry has seen more organizing activity in the last year than in recent memory.
That activity is evident "across the board" in the industry, though most likely seen with national restaurant and hotel chains, he says. And while foodservice industry "conferences aren't focusing on the issue of organizing. . . they very well should be," Krupin suggests.
"I think [the expanding organizing efforts are] a hidden cancer, [that] employers are more concerned with profitability and the ability to succeed, to survive in a very competitive market," Krupin says.
And here's a Fortune article from last December that says Krupin has "negotiated more than 300 labor agreements on behalf of employers."
And here's Krupin claiming "instead of having secret ballot election by employees on whether or not they wish to join a union, the labor movement wants to move to a card-check process, which is potentially fraught with issues such as coercion, intimidation and interference."
It's bad enough that the AP quotes several anti-labor activists and not a single labor representative. But it's even worse that the AP identifies a corporate lawyer who has described worker organization efforts as a "cancer" simply as a "labor lawyer," which most readers will probably assume means he is a pro-labor lawyer.
Today's Washington Post article about the Employee Free Choice Act notes "the widespread perception in Democrat-dominated Washington that there is not a level playing field between labor and business."
As if to prove the accuracy of that perception, the Post manages to devote nearly 1,000 words to the Act without ever once quoting or paraphrasing a representative of the labor movement. The Post did, however, manage to quote three CEOs and devote several paragraphs to anti-labor views like these:
Giving organizers the ability to use card check, [Starbucks CEO Howard] Schultz said, would lead to a slew of separate bargaining units at a company like his, leading to "havoc and significant cost and disruption." [Whole Foods CEO John] Mackey had an even grimmer view. "Armed with those weapons, you will see unionization sweep across the United States and set workplaces at war with each other," he said. "I do not think it would be a good thing."
Gee, why would anyone think there is not a level playing field between labor and business?
On CNN Newsroom, Fredricka Whitfield advanced the false Republican accusation that Democrats created the right for AIG to pay bonuses by passing the economic recovery act, asserting that Sen. Chris Dodd was "widely criticized for allowing the bonuses in the first place." In fact, AIG reportedly disclosed that it had entered into agreements to pay these bonuses more than a year ago, and the Bush Treasury department approved of the AIG bailout with this agreement in place. Furthermore, the relevant provision in the recovery act, which was based on an amendment by Dodd, actually restricted the ability of companies receiving money from TARP to award bonuses in the future.
On his Fox News program, Sean Hannity falsely claimed that "a parliamentary procedure called reconciliation" would allow the Obama administration to pass legislation "without any Republicans even having an opportunity to vote." In fact, according to the House Rules Committee's description of the budget reconciliation process, the version of reconciliation legislation agreed to during the conference process is then "brought back to the full House and Senate for a vote on final passage. Approval of the conference agreement on the reconciliation legislation must be by a majority vote of both Houses."
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Despite jumping on -- and in some cases advancing -- false Republican claims that congressional Democrats are responsible for AIG executive bonuses, major media outlets have yet to report that a Bush-appointed special inspector general for TARP confirmed in congressional testimony that the Bush administration Treasury Department knew about the AIG bonus contracts and did not insist on their abrogation as a condition of AIG's receiving bailout money.
On The Live Desk, Trace Gallagher cherry-picked numbers from the Dow Jones industrial average to suggest that President Obama's address to the National Conference of State Legislatures had caused the Dow to drop. But according to information posted on-screen on Fox News, the Dow actually went up slightly during Obama's speech.