Economy

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  • How Donald Trump Dominated Fox News' Coverage Of The Economy

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    According to Media Matters’ ongoing quarterly analyses of prime-time weekday cable news coverage of the economy, Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump was by far the most frequently featured guest during economic news segments in the first half of 2016. Trump used an apparent standing invitation for interviews from Fox News to fill the airwaves with misleading claims about the supposedly poor state of the economy, while dubiously promising to boost economic growth and job creation through trickle-down tax cuts and restrictions on free trade.

    In the first and second quarters of 2016, Trump has been a featured guest during a cable prime-time segment focused on economic news and policy 40 times. Trump’s presence on television dwarfed appearances by Sen. Ted Cruz (20) and Gov. John Kasich (10) -- his rivals for the GOP nomination -- as well as Democratic presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders (9) and Hillary Clinton (4):

    Trump’s cable news dominance is mostly a product of Fox News favoritism, where he has appeared 36 times in the past six months -- 18 times in each quarter. During that period, Fox News aired 175 segments dedicated to the economy, and Trump appeared as a guest in over 20 percent of them. All of Trump’s appearances came during interviews on The O’Reilly Factor and Hannity:

    Fox hosts Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity have come under heavy scrutiny for the lavish amount of airtime they give Trump. Hannity has served as the poster boy of Fox News’ embrace of the GOP nominee, leading to him being ridiculed as a Trump “fanboy” for his fawning over the candidate. O'Reilly’s softball interviews have also been seen as embarrassing for the network, leading to accusations that Fox News lacks journalistic integrity and is merely backing Trump to boost ratings. New York magazine correspondent Gabe Sherman reported on May 17 that, "According to one Fox News producer, the channel's ratings dip whenever an anti-Trump segment airs.”

    With Trump being treated with kid-gloves by Hannity and O'Reilly, he was able to use his airtime to push his extreme and unworkable right-wing agenda. Trump’s claims have received criticism from across the political spectrum; conservative Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman slammed Trump on June 29 for his simplistic look at global commerce, which he called “a scam, skillfully pitched to fool the gullible,” and echoed criticism of Trump from economist and Economic Policy Institute (EPI) president Lawrence Mishel.

    Fox’s coverage of Donald Trump has been so biased it received special attention from Jon Stewart during a guest hosting appearance on CBS’ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Stewart took aim at Hannity -- referring to him only as “Lumpy” -- for his blatant hypocrisy in supporting Trump. This obvious turn around led Stewart to lament that "I’m sure it’s easy for people without ethics or principles to embrace someone who embodies everything that they said they hated about the previous president for the past eight years":

  • Wash. Post Editorial Board Lauds U.S. Women’s Soccer Team’s Fight For Equal Pay

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post editorial board highlighted the U.S. women’s national soccer team’s effort to fight “discouraging” gender pay inequality as the 2016 Summer Olympics begin in Rio de Janeiro.

    In March, five members of the women’s soccer team filed a wage-discrimination action against the U.S. Soccer Federation with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The action cited figures showing that, despite generating nearly $20 million more revenue last year than the U.S. men's team and having more success in the World Cup, the women were paid four times less than the men. Right-wing media criticized the action, claiming the pay gap could be attributed to men’s sports being “more interesting” and falsely claiming the women’s team doesn’t “bring in much revenue.” Conservative media repeatedly downplayed soccer’s gender pay disparity even before the complaint, claiming women’s soccer had smaller viewership.

    In an August 4 editorial, The Washington Post editorial board highlighted how the U.S. women’s national soccer team’s “most recent quest for Olympic gold” in Rio de Janeiro coincides with the team’s campaign for equal pay. The board explained that the women’s team “brought in more revenue than the men’s team did last year, earning $23 million to the men’s $21 million,” and urged the men’s team to “put some pressure on the federation by endorsing equal pay for their fellow American footballers.” The board wrote the pay gap was “discouraging not only for fans of women’s soccer but also for anyone who values equality of the sexes.” From the editorial:

    ON WEDNESDAY, the highly decorated U.S. women’s national soccer team began its most recent quest for Olympic gold, but that’s not the only contest its members face. The players recently launched a public campaign for equal pay, using their widely followed social media platforms to advertise gender inequities the U.S. Soccer Federation chooses to ignore.

    [...]

    By taking their fight public, the women should generate more interest — especially if the team adds another gold medal to its collection in Rio de Janeiro. But that may not be enough to tip the scales. Although the federation says it strongly supports women’s soccer, its president, Sunil Gulati, has yet to appear at a bargaining session. Perhaps the U.S. men’s team members could put some pressure on the federation by endorsing equal pay for their fellow American footballers.

    Unequal pay for female athletes is often attributed to lower revenue production. That’s the case in professional soccer, where National Women’s Soccer League salaries are embarrassingly low because the league lacks the ticket sales Major League Soccer enjoys. However, the narrative changes with America’s international soccer teams. Not only is the U.S. women’s team the most dominant team in the history of its sport, but it also brought in more revenue than the men’s team did last year, earning $23 million to the men’s $21 million. In the next fiscal year, the women are projected to generate $8.5 million more than the men. Though the federation argues that the U.S. men’s national team made more than the women did in past years, thus meriting the men’s higher per-match compensation, the federation did not reverse the practice when the women’s earnings surpassed those of the men.

    Further, unlike with the professional leagues, the national teams share a single employer — U.S. Soccer. According to Jeffrey Kessler, the players’ attorney: “One employer may not discriminate between its male and female employees under the law. Legally, they are required to provide equal pay for equal work.”

    The U.S. Soccer Federation’s failure to close the wage gap — a familiar reality for women of all vocations — is discouraging not only for fans of women’s soccer but also for anyone who values equality of the sexes.

  • STUDY: Brexit Crisis Forces Cable And Broadcast News To Host Economists

    Economists Made Up More Than 7 Percent Of Guests In The Second Quarter Of 2016

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON & ALEX MORASH

    Economic news in the second quarter of 2016 bore striking similarities to trends established in the first quarter, as the presidential candidates’ economic platforms increasingly shaped the news. Coverage of inequality slipped from a high point last quarter, but the unprecedented economic crisis created by the United Kingdom’s so-called “Brexit” referendum did boost participation from economists to the highest point ever recorded by Media Matters.

  • WSJ Op-Ed Bizarrely Claims Lifting Wages Will Increase Teenage Crime

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Repeatedly discredited anti-minimum-wage researchers took to The Wall Street Journal opinion pages to claim raising the minimum wage in Pennsylvania would lead to job losses and force teenagers to “seek income elsewhere” by taking up a life of crime. The authors failed to mention research demonstrating no relationship between raising the minimum wage and job losses, nor did they mention that teenagers make up less than 20 percent of minimum wage workers.

  • Conservative Media Attack Clinton Child Care Plan As Wasteful Spending, Ignoring Economic Boost For Working Families

    ››› ››› PAM VOGEL

    Conservative media have mischaracterized Hillary Clinton’s policy plan to expand funding and support for child care and early education programs, suggesting the presidential nominee is offering voters “goodies,” fearmongering about government overreach in preschool programs, and ignoring the economic boost that quality early learning programs can offer. Here are the facts about the short- and long-term economic benefits of supporting greater access to quality early education programs, particularly for single mothers and low-income families. 

  • New Research On Seattle's Minimum Wage Hike Shows “The Sky Has Not Fallen”

    University Of Washington Researchers Found Seattle Job Market “Exceptionally Strong” While City Raised The Minimum Wage

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Researchers at the University of Washington found the Seattle, WA, economy continued on a path of strong growth after the city began to raise the minimum wage -- counter to dire predictions from right-wing media.

    Seattle Weekly reported that Seattle’s economy has not been met with “devastation” since the city raised the minimum wage to $11 per hour on July 25, according to researchers at the University of Washington, who found that the Seattle economy saw a “boom in job growth” over the last 18 months. Seattle began phasing in its minimum wage increase in April 2015, raising wages to $11 per hour. The Washington cities of Seattle and SeaTac are in the process of phasing in the highest municipal minimum wages in the country -- $15 per hour. Researchers found that from mid-2014 to the end of 2015, “the Seattle labor market was exceptionally strong” and the city’s “job growth rate tripled the national average.” Seattle Weekly reported that the researchers’ findings debunk conservative predictions that the increase “would ‘devastate’ small businesses” and harm low-wage workers:

    The sky has not fallen. That’s the takeaway from a new report on the effects of Seattle’s newly heightened minimum wage.

    “Wages have risen, businesses have withstood the increase, work opportunities have declined modestly, [and] average earnings have changed by no more than a few dollars a week,” said the UW minimum wage research team, led by Jacob Vigdor, in a presentation to city council this morning. This outcome stands in stark contrast against the rhetoric used when the new minimum wage was being debated in 2013 and ‘14, when opponents claimed it would “devastate” small businesses.

    In fact, no such devastation has occurred. This has been clear for a while—Seattle’s minimum wage increase began April last year—and the new report from the UW research team further confirms it. “The City’s low-wage workers did relatively well after the minimum wage increased, but largely because of the strong regional economy,” the report says. “Seattle’s low wage workers would have experienced almost equally positive trends if the minimum wage had not increased.”

    The report shows that the minimum wage increase was not the source of the economic boom but also that the Seattle economy has not seen a major impact from the minimum wage increase. The researchers “caution that these results show only the short-run impact of Seattle’s increase to a wage of $11/hour” and that it will take many years for the full effect of raising the minimum wage to be seen.

    Conservative media smears against Seattle's minimum wage increase started soon after the city approved an ordinance raising the minimum wage to $15 over the course of a three- to seven-year period. In July 2015, Fox News' Dan Springer falsely claimed that Seattle was facing "unintended consequences" from the wage increase, with some low-income workers attempting to game the system so as to remain eligible for welfare benefits. In August, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) used cherry-picked data to claim Seattle's minimum wage increase "has started having a negative effect on restaurant jobs." Fox Business host Stuart Varney echoed AEI's claim a month later on his show, weeks after the specific job loss claim had been debunked. Other right-wing outlets, including The Daily Caller and Investor's Business Daily, have combed through municipal jobs data in Seattle to exaggerate alleged side effects of the minimum wage.

    Right-wing media are staunchly opposed to increasing the minimum wage and dedicated to promoting the myth that wage increases result in job losses, despite a wealth of evidence showing that minimum wage increases have a negligible effect on employment.

  • Wash. Post Debunks Trump’s Conspiracy Theory About The "Artificial" Employment Rate

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    The Washington Post’s Matt O’Brien countered Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump's "conspiracy theory" that the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has "massaged" the unemployment statistics, explaining that there is "zero evidence [the BLS] has changed the numbers" and that “anyone who suggests otherwise is either uninformed, or trying to uninform others.”

    Right-wing media boasts a long history of pushing the claim that the BLS artificially manipulates employment statistics in a partisan effort to portray the Obama administration as having a positive impact on the economy. Most recently, these efforts have been spearheaded by Trump, who, with the help of his family, has attempted to downplay economic progress and hype the debunked claim that 42 percent of Americans are unemployed.

    The Post explained that, while Trump hasn’t revealed the source of his unemployment statistic, “the simplest explanation is that he's just ballparking how many adults don't work” -- a figure that, right now, is 40.4 percent. But that number is problematic because it “counts college students and stay-at-home parents and retirees as being equally ‘unemployed’ as people who are actively looking for work but can't find any.” From the July 26 article (emphasis original):

    For a year now, the alleged billionaire has insisted that the "real" unemployment rate is something like 42 percent instead of the 4.9 percent it actually is. He hasn't said how he's gotten this — maybe it's from the same "extremely credible source" who told him President Obama's birth certificate was fake? — but the simplest explanation is that he's just ballparking how many adults don't work. That's 40.4 percent right now. The problem with using that number, though, is that it counts college students and stay-at-home parents and retirees as being equally "unemployed" as people who are actively looking for work but can't find any. So it doesn't tell us too much, at least not on its own, unless you think it's a problem that we have more 70-year-olds than we used to.

    Or unless conspiracy theories are one of your favorite accessories, as seems to be the case with the father, and now the son, Donald Trump Jr. On Sunday, he told CNN's Jake Tapper that the official unemployment numbers are "artificial" ones that are "massaged to make the existing economy look good" and "this administration look good." How do they supposedly do this? By, he claimed, defining "the way we actually measure unemployment" to be that "after x number of months, if someone can't find a job, congratulations, they're miraculously off [the jobless rolls]." The only problem with this theory is it's false. The BLS hasn't changed the way it measures unemployment during the Obama years, and there is zero evidence it has changed the numbers themselves. Not only that, but Donald Trump Jr. doesn't even seem to know how unemployment is defined in the first place. As the BLS explains, everyone who doesn't have a job but is trying to find one counts as "unemployed." It doesn't matter how long you've been looking as long as you are in fact still looking.

    But that's not to say the unemployment rate tells us everything we need to know about the labor market. It doesn't. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen will tell you that herself. There are still a lot of people who want full-time but can only find part-time jobs. Still a lot of people who want to work but weren't able to find anything for so long that they've given up looking for now. And still a lot of people who would want to work again if wages were high enough to make worth their while. But none of this is a secret. The BLS publishes this all, too. So-called broad unemployment includes all these people who technically aren't unemployed but aren't fully employed either. That's 9.6 percent today.