Media outlets have uncritically promoted House Speaker John Boehner's latest attempt to frame the Republican Congress' harmful agenda as a set of "jobs bills." But the Republican plan offers negligible hiring incentives, will cost over a million workers their health care coverage, and will increase the budget deficit by billions.
Fox News host Kennedy likened a federal requirement that publicly traded corporations disclose how much money CEOs make relative to workers to the practice of making women feel guilty for their perceived sexual behavior.
The Securities and Exchange Commission could vote as early as this month on a so-called pay ratio rule. "As proposed in September 2013, the SEC rules would require public companies to publish the ratio of the CEO's compensation to the median pay of employees," Politico reported. "Republicans in Congress and at the SEC have criticized the rule and don't want the agency to complete it."
Fox News co-host Eric Bolling claimed unequivocally that minimum wage increases "cost jobs, period," citing the story of a Michigan restaurant that closed after the state increased its minimum wage in September. In fact, the unemployment rate in Michigan has decreased since the wage increase took effect.
On the January 5 edition of The Five, Bolling criticized minimum wage increases that took effect in states across the U.S. on January 1. Bolling highlighted the case of a Michigan restaurant that closed after the state raised the minimum wage as evidence for his claim that "minimum wage rate hikes do cost jobs, period."
But Michigan's unemployment rate has fallen after the state increased the minimum wage. Starting on September 1, 2014, Michigan's minimum wage rose from $7.40 an hour to $8.15 an hour. In the months following the wage increase, the unemployment rate fell from 7.2 percent in September to 6.7 percent in November, the lowest since April 2006.
The lack of women on The Economist's list of the most influential economists in 2014 points to the larger problem of how women are severely underrepresented in economic discussions in the media.
The Economist magazine released a list ranking the top 25 "influential economists" for 2014. The magazine's ranking was created by Appinions, a startup company, that tracked economists based on "how much attention was paid to their utterances in the mainstream media, the blogosphere and in social media over a 90-day period."
The list was quickly met with controversy for failing to include women, with critics highlighting the exclusion of Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen. Responding to the controversy, The Economist wrote that criticism of the list "misunderstands how and why it was put together" and that it was "not a ranking of the most influential economists of 2014, but a list of those economists who got most attention in the last quarter of 2014."
But the controversy surrounding the apparent lack of women featured in The Economist's list points to a larger problem -- the lack of gender representation featured in economic discussions in the media. The Economist's study calculated influence based on media attention, a methodology that ignores the fact that media overwhelmingly turn to male economists, leaving women severely underrepresented during economic discussions in the media.
A Media Matters analysis of weekday evening cable news over one year found that female economists accounted for less than ten percent of total economist appearances throughout the year while male economists dominated over 90 percent of weekday evening cable news appearances. It also showed that men in general were hosted significantly more frequently than women to discuss the economy, with women accounting for only 28 percent of all guests in segments on the topic.
2014 was a year of eye-popping media numbers, from millions of dollars' worth of coverage devoted to a trumped-up scandal to mere seconds devoted to historic news. Here are some of the most important -- and most surprising -- figures from the year.
Conservative media outlets amplified a misleading study from the anti-immigrant Center for Immigration Studies, which claimed that "all net employment growth has gone to immigrants" between November 2007 and November 2014. But data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that job growth among the native-born has far outpaced job growth among immigrants during the economic recovery.
Fox News obscured the fact that Republican lawmakers are holding renewal of a terrorism insurance program hostage in order to continue chipping away at financial regulatory reform.
The Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), first passed after 9/11 and subsequently renewed by Congress, allows the federal government to aid insurance companies in providing terrorism insurance to businesses. One of the biggest beneficiaries of TRIA are professional sports organizations like the NFL.
If TRIA is not renewed, these organizations could lose terrorism insurance coverage. Thus on the December 15 edition of Fox & Friends First, Fox Business contributor Lauren Simonetti claimed that the Super Bowl may be in danger of cancelation. According to Simonetti, "The reason is Congress," adding "unless this act is reauthorized by the end of the year," the Super Bowl could be canceled:
The New York Times overlooked the millions of dollars in campaign contributions spent by lobbyists and special interest groups that benefitted from the provisions added to the omnibus spending bill passed by Congress last week.
The Sunday broadcast political shows overwhelmingly ignored the omnibus spending bill's rollback of key regulations on Wall Street and campaign finance. Only ABC's This Week covered the provisions, which come at a time when the financial services industry and large donors are playing an increasingly outsized role in elections.
Congress' controversial $1.1 trillion spending bill to avoid a government shutdown took several days of debate to pass in the Senate and barely passed through the House of Representatives, due to the inclusion of provisions "easing rules on campaign finance and the banking industry," as NPR explained.
The deal reverses a requirement of 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform, allowing banks to "place both standard accounts and accounts that handle riskier derivative trades under the protection of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp." The provision was drafted by Citigroup bank and provides a major benefit to big banks that allows riskier trades and transfers accountability for banks' failures -- and potentially future financial crises -- onto the government and taxpayers. The bill also rolls back campaign finance regulations, dramatically increasing the limit wealthy individuals may donate to national political parties.
This erosion of key Wall Street and campaign finance regulations was all but ignored on the broadcast Sunday political talk shows. Neither NBC's Meet The Press, CBS's Face The Nation, nor Fox Broadcasting Company's Fox News Sunday acknowledged the controversial provisions in their discussion of the spending bill, glossing over the specific rollback of regulations in favor of general discussions on inner-party divisions on the vote. Only ABC's This Week highlighted the provisions. Host Martha Raddatz explained how the bill "dramatically ease[s] restrictions on the amount of cash individuals can donate to campaigns," while a later panel discussion emphasized the rollback of Wall Street regulations.
The shows' failure to cover the rollback of banking regulations and systematic erosion of campaign finance comes at a time when dark money, large donors, and outside spending are playing an increasingly outsized roll in elections and the financial services sector -- the very industry which drafted and stands to benefit from the Dodd-Frank reversal -- is already outspending all other industries in midterm elections.
Rush Limbaugh claimed on Fox News Sunday that the American people were "begging" the GOP to stop Obama by shutting down the government and denied the harmful effects of the 2013 shutdown, which cost an estimated $24 billion.
On the December 7 edition of Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Limbaugh to defend his recent demands for congressional Republicans to force a government shutdown. Limbaugh stated that the results of the 2010 and 2014 elections showed the American people were "begging" the GOP to stop President Obama and that Republicans don't need to worry about the political risk of another shutdown. He then claimed that the "only thing that happened in that shutdown was Barack Obama closed [...] the World War II Memorial to World War II vets" and "shut down some White House tours."
But the shutdown was a significant blow to the U.S. economy. Standard & Poor's found the shutdown cost $24 billion in economic activity. Moody's Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi similarly estimated that it "stunted fourth quarter GDP growth by 0.5 points, resulting in a $20 billion hit," by disrupting "federal spending, global trade and investments in housing and businesses." Following the 2013 shutdown, Fox repeatedly downplayed its economic impact.
From the December 4 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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The Las Vegas Review-Journal criticized a long-awaited draft Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule to reduce smog pollution as economically harmful, echoing unfounded industry fears about EPA regulations. The EPA's estimates, however, are based on sound science and show that the smog regulation will have long-term economic benefits.
From the December 2 edition of Courtside Entertainment Group's The Laura Ingraham Show:
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Right-wing media outlets hyped widely discredited research from the Heritage Foundation to push the myth that President Obama's executive actions on immigration will cost the U.S. economy more than $2 trillion in federal benefits paid to those undocumented immigrants whose deportations are deferred. But Obama's exercise of prosecutorial discretion on behalf of certain undocumented parents of U.S. Citizens and lawful permanent residents does not confer federal means-tested benefits and economists report that allowing more immigrants to legally work will raise revenues and boost the economy.
ABC's World News Tonight pushed the myth that building the Keystone XL pipeline could create up to 40,000 jobs. In fact, the pipeline is expected to create as few as 50 permanent jobs.
During a November 18 report on the failed Senate vote to approve the Keystone XL pipeline, World News Tonight anchor David Muir stated that "many argued it could have created thousands of American jobs." ABC White House correspondent Jonathan Karl added that "the jobs estimates range from 4,000 to 40,000 jobs. Proponents say it not only creates jobs, but it could lead to energy independence."
But PolitiFact has classified similar claims that the construction of the pipeline would create tens of thousands of jobs to be "mostly false," because a vast majority of the jobs would be temporary, and it "does not amount to tens of thousands of full-time jobs in the most common sense of employment." According to PolitiFact, "the State Department estimates the operation of the pipeline will only create 35 permanent, full-time jobs and 15 temporary contractors" once construction is complete.
The pipeline would also do little for "energy independence." Much of the oil that would be carried by the pipeline is slated for export, and U.S. imports of oil would be minimally affected by the supply that would flow through the pipeline.