From the July 27 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Libre Initiative spokesperson and recurring Fox News guest host Rachel Campos-Duffy misled viewers about how minorities and young people have fared economically under President Obama, suggesting that his administration has made both groups worse off when the opposite is true.
On the September 28, 2014 edition of CBS' 60 Minutes, President Obama argued that the United States "is definitely better off" economically than it was when he took office in January 2009. The president said he would compare the success of his response to the "terrible, almost unprecedented financial crisis" that he inherited to the response by "any leader around the world." Two days later, Fox New used those remarks to resurrect its misleading line of attack on Obama's economic record.
During the July 21 edition of Fox Business' Cavuto: Coast to Coast, Campos-Duffy picked it up again, claiming, that "single women, minorities, young people -- these people are doing worse than they were before Obama came into office." As evidence, Campos-Duffy cherry-picked data to mask positive trends in the economy, particularly among minorities and young people:
During her Cavuto appearance, Campos-Duffy repeated the same outdated claims she made in a January 8, 2014 National Review Online article in which she argued that Hispanic family incomes have dropped and "2.5 million more Latinos have fallen into poverty" during the Obama administration, proving that "the Obama economy has not been kind to Hispanics."
In her recent appearance on Fox, Campos-Duffy referenced that same argument from 18 months ago to make a false claim about the number of Hispanics currently living in poverty. According to September 2014 Pew findings, the number actually fell from 13.6 million to 12.7 million from 2012 to 2013 and "the drop in the poverty rates among Hispanics... contributed to the first decline in the nation's overall poverty rate since 2006." Additionally, "the median household income of Hispanics increased" for the first time since 2000. From Pew:
Hispanics are the only major racial or ethnic group to see a statistically significant decline in its poverty rate, according to 2013 Census Bureau figures released this week. The drop in the poverty rate among Hispanics - from 25.6% in 2012 to 23.5% in 2013 - contributed to the first decline in the nation's overall poverty rate since 2006.
Meanwhile, the median household income of Hispanics increased by 3.5% to $40,963, the first annual increase since 2000, according to the Census Bureau. Income changes for whites, blacks and Asians were not statistically significant.
Campos-Duffy claimed that minorities and young people were among those "doing worse than they were before Obama came into office."
The "Obama Economy" Has Provided Years Of Steady Recovery From The "Bush Recession"
Campos-Duffy also argued that Vice President Biden "is in trouble if he's going to run on an Obama economy," which ignores how the U.S. economy under President Obama has steadily improved since the recession that started under President Bush.
What Campos-Duffy failed to mention is that every American was affected by the recession. According to a September 2014 report from the Center for American Progress (CAP), median income nationwide peaked in 1999, toward the end of the Clinton administration, before receding in the wake of two Bush-era recessions. Median income in the United States in 2013, the most recently available data, was less than it was in 1989, but the decline does not originate with the Obama administration. According to CAP, "America's middle class is struggling to recover from both the Great Recession and the decades of unequal economic growth that preceded it."
Still, other economic indicators are improving across the board, including in minority communities. Unemployment rates among minorities are decreasing steadily, in line with nationwide trends, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) compiled by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. As of June, the total civilian unemployment rate was 5.3 percent, which is the lowest since April 2008. For African-Americans and Hispanics, unemployment is at 9.5 percent and 6.6 percent, respectively, evidence of the strongest labor market in either community since the first half of 2008, when the recession was less than six months old.
According to data from the BLS, unemployment rates peaked nationwide in October 2009 and then steadily declined for for nearly six years.
The American economy has not fully recovered from its deepest economic contraction since the Great Depression, but it is steadily improving in important ways for minorities and young people. According to the most-recent Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, the full implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has contributed to sharp declines in uninsured rates for adults nationwide, which stood at just 11.4 percent at the end of June -- the lowest in the history of Gallup's tracking. The nationwide improvement has been particularly pronounced among minorities and young people:
Various conservative media outlets predicted that the ACA would be harm the U.S. economy, but the decrease in uninsured rates coupled with the steady decline in unemployment, particularly among minorities and young people, suggests that the so-called "Obama economy" has been kinder than Campos-Duffy claims. According to NBC News, Hispanics are "the group with the largest gains in insurance" because of the health care law.
Craig Harrington contributed research to this blog.
A Fox News report on the so-called "unintended consequences" of Seattle, Washington's municipal minimum wage increase included the unsubstantiated claim that better pay is encouraging workers to work less so that they stay in poverty and continue receiving government benefits. This report fits the network's anti-minimum wage, poor-shaming narrative, but ignores the many benefits of increasing the minimum wage.
In June 2014, the Seattle City Council unanimously approved legislation increasing the city's minimum wage to $11 per hour for most employees on April 1, 2015 and to $15 per hour over the course of a 3-to-7-year phase-in period. The decision was praised by many groups like the National Employment Law Project (NELP) as a necessary step toward alleviating inequality and lifting low-wage workers out of poverty.
On the July 22 editions of Fox News' America's Newsroom, Happening Now, and Special Report, correspondent Dan Springer reported that Seattle is facing the "unintended consequences" of increasing its minimum wage. The worst of these consequences, he claims, is that some employees "make too much money to stay on certain welfare programs" and are requesting fewer hours because "the raises [are] pushing them over the income threshold and out of welfare programs like subsidized food, child care, and rent." In all three segments, Springer's evidence for this alleged poverty trap was an interview with Seattle-based radio host Jason Rantz, not with actual recipients who rely on government assistance.
Other so-called "consequences" of the increased minimum wage included restaurants raising prices and requesting patrons not to tip their wait staff. Springer also cited a comic book store in San Francisco (not Seattle) which blames that city's increased minimum wage for its lack of profitability:
The core of Fox's claim that many low-income Americans would rather stay on anti-poverty relief programs than work fits the network's long-standing campaign to attack and shame low-income workers. It is also a variation of the discredited "Welfare Cliff" argument frequently pushed by the network.
In addition, the claim that increased wages are boosting restaurant prices, and thereby hurting tipped workers, is blatantly misleading and plays into Fox's misinformation campaign against the minimum wage. For example, Ivar's Salmon House, a Seattle icon, increased its menu prices and no longer accepts tips. But, according to NPR, the restaurant decided to institute the full $15 minimum wage three years ahead of schedule for its employees and now automatically prices gratuity into the bill, which thus far has not hurt sales or workers. Several restaurants, including one in the District of Columbia, have responded to calls for an increased minimum wage by unilaterally raising their own pay and informing customers that it is no longer necessary to tip wait staff.
Conservative media have claimed for more than a year that Seattle's minimum wage would hurt the city's restaurants and small businesses, but a March 17 report by The Seattle Times revealed little anxiety about the pay increase. In fact, according to data from the Seattle Office of Economic and Financial Analysis, the city witnessed a small spike in restaurant permit requests in the month before wage increases were set to go into effect but otherwise requests have remained relatively flat. Finally, according to a June 4 report by Common Dreams, several of the most outspoken local opponents of Seattle's minimum wage increase have actually opened new restaurants and increased staff hiring since the ordinance went into effect.
Fox host Sean Hannity allowed Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to walk back comments he made during a 2013 New York Times interview in which Kasich expressed his concern "about the fact there seems to be a war on the poor" emanating from his own party.
On the July 21 edition of Fox News' Hannity, host Sean Hannity interviewed newly-declared Republican presidential candidate John Kasich at Ohio State University. Kasich used the softball interview to rehabilitate his conservative credentials while quietly disavowing his previous comments about the draconian agenda of GOP policymakers on Capitol Hill. When asked whether or not he truly believed "Republicans are waging war" on the poor, Kasich deflected the question by saying, "I don't know where that came from." Both then impugned the credibility of The New York Times while Kasich outlined the ways he plans to help poor and struggling Americans as president, including repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA):
HANNITY: Let me ask you, in the lead up to this, a lot of articles were written -- "Is John Kasich conservative enough?" Now, you were quoted in The New York Times as saying about your party, the Republican Party, that it's waging "a war on the poor." When you accepted Medicaid expansion, you went out there and you talked about St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, he's not gonna ask me if I decreased the size of government but whether I helped the poor. Do you really believe Republicans are waging war on--
KASICH: No, no, but look, I don't know where that came from, but here's what I will tell you--
HANNITY: The New York Times.
KASICH: Yeah but, I-- Okay, well then it has to be true, okay? But here's the thing--
HANNITY: How dare I quote a New York paper.
In fact, during an interview with a New York Times reporter following his October 22, 2013 decision to accept Medicaid expansion in the state of Ohio under the ACA , Kasich expressed his concern that "there seems to be a war on the poor" coming from Republican ranks, including the stigma that low-income Americans are "shiftless and lazy":
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In his grand Statehouse office beneath a bust of Lincoln, Gov. John R. Kasich let loose on fellow Republicans in Washington.
"I'm concerned about the fact there seems to be a war on the poor," he said, sitting at the head of a burnished table as members of his cabinet lingered after a meeting. "That if you're poor, somehow you're shiftless and lazy."
But few have gone further than Mr. Kasich in critiquing his party's views on poverty programs, and last week he circumvented his own Republican legislature and its Tea Party wing by using a little-known state board to expand Medicaid to 275,000 poor Ohioans under President Obama's health care law.
Kasich's remarks were widely reported at the time by numerous reputable news outlets, including New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman. A November 1, 2013 column by Salon editor-at-large Joan Walsh pointed out the hypocrisy of Kasich lamenting his party's "war on the poor" while he simultaneously pushed an initiative to cut food assistance for up to 130,000 Ohio residents. Kasich's supposed willingness to take on the GOP's backwards anti-poverty agenda is often pointed to as an indication of his seriousness as a president candidate.
Fox's decision to let Kasich disavow his "war on the poor" comment is interesting, particularly in light of recent criticism from Heritage Foundation economist and Fox News contributor Stephen Moore that the governor's stance on poverty is "not an answer that conservatives are very persuaded by." Moore's intuition may be right. Kasich is a distant 11th -place contender in the Real Clear Politics polling average of the 16 declared Republican candidates. Kasich is also far behind in the crucial Fox News Primary and is in desperate need of positive exposure on the network.
From the July 15 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
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Fox News is on the defensive after Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush said making Americans "work longer hours" was a central facet of his economic growth plan, claiming that Bush meant to say that the "Obama economy" is forcing Americans into part-time work. However, Fox's reasoning is based on faulty data and imaginary links between hours worked, productivity, and wages.
Since 2010, Fox News' hosts and analysts have kept up a steady drumbeat of dire warnings that the United States is on a road to financial and economic ruin and could meet the same fate as Greece if it doesn't implement draconian cuts to social safety net programs as a way to cut the debt and deficit. But Greece, which pursued such cuts, accelerated its economic deterioration, while the United States has rejected extreme austerity measures and enjoyed six years of continuous economic recovery.
Univision Noticias failed to adequately disclose for readers the financial ties between an op-ed contributor and organizations aligned against raising the federal minimum wage, allowing the author to misleadingly claim that increasing the baseline hourly wage would actually hurt minority workers and destroy jobs.
In a July 6 Spanish-language op-ed published by Univision.com, Daniel Garza of the far-right Libre Initiative claimed that the "inconvenient reality" of a minimum wage hike is that it would hurt "the most vulnerable" by increasing labor costs and reducing demand for workers. Garza cited a February 2014 report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) as apparent proof that raising the minimum wage would bring dire consequences to "the most vulnerable" among the population, and blamed a 2009 minimum wage increase for destroying hundreds of thousands of jobs -- completely ignoring the actual culprit for job loss that year, the recession. Translated from Univision.com:
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) predicted a loss of approximately 500,000 jobs. When Congress raised the minimum wage by 10.6 percent in 2009, more than 600,000 youths lost their jobs. Currently, the minimum wage contributes significantly to the fiscal disaster by running through Puerto Rico, where the law has contributed to a high level of unemployment, according to The Washington Post.
Univision failed to disclose the extensive financial ties between Daniel Garza, the Libre Initiative, and the network of anti-minimum wage advocates funded by conservative billionaires Charles and David Koch, which was recently documented by Media Matters. Univision.com has been providing a platform for Garza and the Libre Initiative without disclosing their Koch-backed agenda since at least March 18, 2015.
Other media outlets, like MSNBC, have done a better job in disclosing Garza's financial backers, putting the bias in his opinion columns in context:
"It's not a positive development to have someone like Trump disparage the contribution of immigrants to the conservative brand, especially the Republican brand," Daniel Garza - executive director of the LIBRE Initiative, a group backed by the Koch brothers' donor network devoted to selling Latinos on conservatism - told msnbc in an interview.
Garza's entire anti-minimum wage argument is based on his misinterpretation of a 2014 CBO study. The CBO did not predict "a loss of approximately 500,000 jobs," as Garza claims. It predicted 500,000 fewer net new jobs created from 2014 through 2016 as a result of increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour. The same study also predicted that a $10.10 federal minimum wage would increase the hourly earnings of 16.5 million American workers, while lifting 900,000 Americans out of poverty and injecting billions of dollars into the economy. Garza's mistake isn't surprising, according to the Center for American Progress, the CBO study has been widely misinterpreted:
First of all, CBO does not project that job opportunities for low-wage workers will decline over the next three years if the minimum wage were raised from the current $7.25 to $10.10 per hour, as so many have reported. Only a few weeks ago, CBO published its economic and budget outlook for 2014 to 2024, which estimated that U.S. employment will grow by 7 million jobs between now and 2018. Of course, that projection is based on a number of assumptions about the future that are little more than educated guesses.
A February 2013 study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) showed that decades of minimum wage research reveal no "discernible effect on employment" resulting from incremental increases. There is no evidence that raising the minimum wage affects employment levels, but there is considerable research showing the positive impacts of increasing the minimum wage for low-wage workers -- specifically women and people of color.
From the June 29 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Right-wing media outlets are attacking a new rule from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) designed to increase diversity in American neighborhoods, calling it an attempt by President Obama to dictate where people live. But the program merely provides grant money to encourage communities to provide affordable housing and greater access to community resources.
From the June 4 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Fox News continued its crusade against the Reagan-era affordable telephone service program for low-income Americans, which the network derisively refers to as "Obamaphones," with a misleading segment suggesting that the program has "runaway costs" and traps low-income Americans in poverty.
On May 28, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Tom Wheeler published a proposal to amend and modernize the Lifeline program, which currently provides landline and cellular phone subsidies to qualifying low-income Americans. Wheeler's proposal would expand the user-funded program to include broadband internet services, which he called "essential communications services in the 21st Century."
On the May 29 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Tucker Carlson and Fox Business host Charles Payne attacked the broadband proposal and claimed that the Lifeline telephone service system was "radically expanded" during the Obama administration leading to so-called "runaway costs" and fraud.
Payne, who tweeted prior to his appearance that the Lifeline program was tantamount to "further enslavement of the 'poor'," complained on-air that the subsidy was "yet another program that's going to make it really hard for people to get off the sofa" through "the transfer of wealth from the middle class to people of a little bit lower class." Finally, Payne insisted that the expansion of broadband access to low-income Americans delivers the message to "the people who are on the lower levels of the economic rung, we are actually saying to them 'you can't make it but we'll feather the nest a little bit more'":
PAYNE: I think the moral aspect of this is when we're trying to get people into society, you know, out of wherever they live and into the sort of economic spirit, the economic ladder if you will, it's tough. You take a pay cut.
PAYNE: You have all of these benefits and if you add them all up. All of them are at 150 percent above poverty, 130 percent above poverty. Obamacare subsidies, 400 percent above poverty! That keeps a lot of people insulated. So here's the thing. Are you really helping someone by making it more difficult for them to go into the workforce? Are you incentivizing them or disincentivizing them? It's pretty clear what's happening here.
From the May 21 edition of MSNBC's Politics Nation:
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Fox News' misleading smear of food stamp recipients as surfing freeloaders found its way into a congressional hearing aimed at examining the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
On May 20, the House Committee on Agriculture held a hearing addressing the "Past, Present, and Future of SNAP." Throughout the hearing, Fox News' misleading 2013 special, "The Great Food Stamp Binge" that attempted to make a surfing freeloader "the new face of food stamps" was referenced several times as evidence of abuse within the program.
Fox's misrepresentation of food stamp recipients found its way into the hearing when two members on the committee used the special as anecdotal evidence of abuse within SNAP. Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-OH) used Fox's example of a "surfer out in California living on food stamps and eating lobster" as evidence of abuse within the program, though he "forg[o]t which network" aired the special.
Later, Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) also referenced "the surfer that was on one of the news channels," claiming, "unfortunately, we see that in our districts, and I hear stories about that every day."
The surfer mentioned by Reps. Gibbs and Yoho was Jason Greenslate who featured in Fox's special as part of Fox News' longstanding history of maligning the poor and misrepresenting food stamp recipients. After it aired, the network delivered physical copies of the special to members of Congress in an attempt to influence a vote to cut SNAP benefits by billions of dollars.
What the special failed to note was the fact that according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service, the fraud and waste rate in SNAP is roughly only 1 percent. The special also ignored the fact that SNAP kept 4.7 million people out of poverty in 2011, many of whom are children, and that 82 percent of SNAP households include a child, elderly person, or disabled American.
Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), fought to correct the record by pointing out the "surfer on food stamps" is "not the reality of the program, and it's our job to tell anybody who says it is, that it isn't" (emphasis added):
REP. MCGOVERN: I want to make sure the record is corrected on this, we heard a couple of times mention the guy who is a surfer on food stamps. That is not the reality of the program, and it's our job to tell anybody who says it is, that it isn't. The majority of people on this program are kids, are senior citizens, are those who are disabled. And of those who are able-bodied, the majority of them work. Given the opportunity between working at a job that pays a wage where I wouldn't have to rely on this benefit, or a job that I have to work full-time and I still need to rely on SNAP, I mean, we know what people would decide. So let's not demonize this program by taking some examples that may have appeared on some news show that I won't mention the name of the news show, but anyway. But the point of the matter is we ought to be talking, we ought to make sure that the narrative we are echoing here reflects the reality.
Fox News failed to mention that 2,700 children will be booted off Arizona's welfare program in the wake of extreme restrictions pushed through by Republicans in the state.
Arizona legislators voted on May 18 to drastically restrict the state's welfare program, capping the lifetime limit for recipients to one year. As the AP reported, the new rule would be "the shortest window" of benefits in the nation, and "As a result, the Arizona Department of Economic Security will drop at least 1,600 families - including more than 2,700 children - from the state's federally funded welfare program on July 1, 2016."
Yet no mention of the thousands of children and families that stand to lose access to the program was made during a May 20 segment on the vote during Fox News' Fox & Friends. During an interview with Arizona state Senator Kelli Ward (R), co-host Steve Doocy instead focused on state budgetary problems, asking "why was this bill important?" Going on to suggest that the bill was produced to address the frustrations about "the way welfare works in the country," Doocy gave an uncritical platform for Sen. Ward to claim that the measures were simply "necessary" despite the consequences:
But the measure will not only hurt those who need such programs most, it may also increase costs to the state in the long run. As Liz Schott, a welfare policy analyst, explained to the AP: "Long-term welfare recipients are often the most vulnerable, suffering from mental and physical disabilities, poor job histories and little education ... But without welfare, they'll likely show up in other ways that will cost taxpayers, from emergency rooms to shelters to the criminal justice system."