Issues ››› Trade
  • STUDY: TV News Shows Largely Ignore Historic Trade Negotiations

    Trans-Pacific Partnership Barely Noticed By Weeknight News Over The Past 18 Months


    Weeknight television news programs have given little attention to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a sweeping trade agreement between the United States, Canada, and 10 nations from the Asia-Pacific region. Although the nations involved in the negotiations create a huge amount of economic activity, only PBS and MSNBC have devoted any significant coverage to the TPP since August 2013.

  • Fox's O'Reilly Calls For Boycott Of Mexico: Will It Be As Ineffective As His Boycott Of France?

    Blog ››› ››› TERRY KREPEL

    Fox News host Bill O'Reilly is calling for his viewers to boycott Mexico, though his four-year boycott of France during the Iraq War was a failure despite his false and conflicting claims to the contrary.
    On the June 18 edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly declared that Mexico "is not our friend" and that Americans "should stop going there" because the country is allegedly allowing human trafficking into the United States and because the Mexican president is "giving us the middle finger" over the case of a U.S. Marine jailed in Mexico for allegedly inadvertently crossing the border. O'Reilly urged viewers to boycott the country, telling them, "Let's stop rewarding Mexico until they stop hurting us."

    O'Reilly previously threatened a boycott of Mexico in 2006 over its promise to sue the United States if evidence emerged that the National Guard had directly helped to detain Mexican citizens trying to illegally enter the United States. But O'Reilly's longest-lasting boycott was against France for opposing the Iraq War; he began his boycott in March 2003 and lifted it in May 2007 after the election of Nicolas Sarkozy as French president.

    During the boycott period, O'Reilly made numerous claims about its purported success that proved to be either conflicting or completely wrong:

    • On the April 27, 2004, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly claimed that the Paris Business Review had documented the success of O'Reilly's boycott against France for not sufficiently supporting the United States in its fight against terrorism and in Iraq. O'Reilly said, "They've lost billions of dollars in France according to the Paris Business Review." A Media Matters search at the time found no evidence of the existence of a publication called the Paris Business Review.
    • On the July 14, 2004, edition of The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly stated: "French exports to the USA have fallen by more than a billion dollars from 2001 to 2003." But that decline was unrelated to O'Reilly's purported boycott, which he called for in March 2003. The decline in those years actually occurred between 2001 and 2002. It was a decline of $2.2 billion; French exports in 2003 actually increased $979 million from the previous year. In fact, French exports to the U.S. increased every year during the duration of O'Reilly's boycott.
    • O'Reilly also made numerous conflicting claims about the effects of his boycott on the French economy. For instance, on the October 24, 2005, broadcast of his radio show, O'Reilly declared that his boycott effort has "hurt the French economy, not to a tremendous extent, but to an annoying extent. To the extent that they sent the French ambassador to New York to try to talk me out of it." Previously, O'Reilly had variously claimed that the boycott effort had caused France to lose "billions of dollars," "more than a billion dollars," and "$138 million."
  • STUDY: Media Leave Viewers In The Dark About Trans-Pacific Partnership


    Congress is debating whether to give the president the authority to fast-track a massive free trade agreement -- the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- between the U.S., Canada, and 10 nations from the Asia-Pacific region. The nations involved in the talks account for nearly 40 percent of the world's GDP and 26 percent of the world's trade, but weekday evening television news broadcasts have largely ignored the topic.

  • Myths And Facts About Solar Energy

    ››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL

    Conservative media have denigrated solar energy by denying its sustainability, ignoring its successes, and arguing the U.S. should simply cede the solar market to China. Yet this booming industry has made great strides, and with the right policies can become a major source of our power.

  • The "Some People" Who Criticized Romney On China? Sen. Marco Rubio

    Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

    At tonight's presidential debate, moderator Bob Schieffer asked Mitt Romney about his statement that he would declare China a currency manipulator his first day in office: "If you declare them a currency manipulator on day one, some people are saying you're just going to start a trade war with China on day one. Is that -- isn't there a risk that that could happen?" It's curious that Schieffer characterized this criticism as coming from "some people" when it was made directly to Schieffer himself yesterday morning by none other than Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), one of Romney's chief surrogates.

    Appearing on CBS' Face The Nation Sunday, Rubio told Schieffer regarding labeling China a currency manipulator: "A trade war is not the right way to approach it and I think that if you label them a currency manipulator, that's what it may result in, it would hurt American businesses."

    Again, Rubio is a top Romney campaign surrogate and an important Republican voice on Capitol Hill. Seems like Schieffer should have mentioned the source of that China criticism.

  • Chicago Tribune's Steve Chapman Defends Bribery And Corporate Corruption

    Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL

    "Economic growth is a good thing, even when it's lubricated by graft."

    So argued Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman, dismissing concerns about corporate bribery raised amid reports that Wal-Mart officials have covered up evidence tying the company to bribery in Mexico. Chapman's Sunday column defended Wal-Mart, whose largest subsidiary (Wal-Mart de Mexico), is under investigation by the Justice Department (DOJ). The New York Times reported:

    In September 2005, a senior Wal-Mart lawyer received an alarming e-mail from a former executive at the company's largest foreign subsidiary, Wal-Mart de Mexico. In the e-mail and follow-up conversations, the former executive described how Wal-Mart de Mexico had orchestrated a campaign of bribery to win market dominance. In its rush to build stores, he said, the company had paid bribes to obtain permits in virtually every corner of the country.

    The allegations of illicit payments put Wal-Mart under the jurisdiction of DOJ, which is investigating potential violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, a law that has been described as an "anti-bribery, anti-corruption measure prohibit American companies from paying off foreign officials and to create an international example for ethical business practices."

    The law has been in effect for 35 years, but Chapman questioned the wisdom of using U.S. law to govern corporate behavior overseas:

    The question is why it's the duty of the U.S. government to dictate business practices in nations with very different business climates. You would think the Justice Department has plenty to do enforcing American laws on American soil without trying to sanitize the rest of the world.

    Our idea of appropriate business practices ought to prevail in America, but less developed countries are entitled to do things their own way. If Mexico doesn't police bribery and can't change its economic culture, why should Uncle Sam take on the job? [...]

    By deterring American companies from investing in such places, we deprive their citizens of goods and jobs that would improve their lives.

    When extortionate officials block Wal-Mart from opening stores in Mexico, ordinary Mexicans suffer. Economic growth is a good thing, even when it's lubricated by graft.

  • DISCONNECTED: Charting The Charlotte Observer's Failure To Cover The Fight For Internet Access In North Carolina


    CORRECTION: Media Matters has identified a serious error that resulted in the omission of several Charlotte Observer columns and articles discussing municipal broadband during the time of this debate. We cannot support our earlier conclusion that the Charlotte Observer did not inform its readers on the issue of North Carolina's "digital divide" over the past two years. Media Matters prides itself on a long history of accuracy in its media studies, and we apologize for the error.

  • Fox Ignores Facts Of Global Economy To Attack Obama Campaign Over Euro-Zone Fears

    ››› ››› CHELSEA RUDMAN

    Fox & Friends claimed that the Obama administration is using the European economic crisis as "an excuse" to explain continued economic struggles in the U.S., saying that Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod is "totally wrong" to be concerned about "what happens in Europe." In fact, economists and experts agree that European recessions and the declining value of the euro are having a large negative impact on the U.S. economy -- as did other global events, like the earthquake in Japan and the Arab Spring.

  • Gibson Guitar Raid: A Fox Case Study

    Blog ››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

    Fox News Correspondent John RobertsOn August 24, federal agents entered the Tennessee factories of the Gibson Guitar Corporation and confiscated wood, hard drives, and guitars on the suspicion that Gibson had illegally imported Indian hardwood. The story is newsworthy to be sure, and it was covered by the Associated Press, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, CNN and others. But Fox stands apart from the rest for both the volume and tone of its coverage.

    Fox discussed Gibson 24 times in a little over two weeks, including both the Fox News Channel (14) and the Fox Business Network (10). By contrast, CNN reported on the story 8 times, 7 of which were the same taped news report aired during different hours of programming over three days.

    Unlike the other news outlets, Fox speculated that the raid was politically motivated, citing the Gibson CEO's Republican party identification. At the same time, Fox largely omitted important background information that sheds light on why Gibson may have been targeted. Fox also linked the story to narratives about the Obama administration, regulation and jobs -- in line with Congressional Republicans who have incorporated the Gibson case into their broader criticisms of the administration.

  • Knee Jerk: Drudge, Fox Nation Tie Market Slide To Obama's Jobs Speech

    Blog ››› ››› KEVIN ZIEBER

    Right-wing media are once again pinning stock market fluctuations on President Obama, specifically his jobs speech last night.

    Here's Drudge's take:

    And here's Fox Nation:

    Fox has made a habit of crediting Obama's words with downward market fluctuations.

    Incidentally, both the articles Drudge and Fox Nation link to linked the market sell-off to turmoil in European markets and uncertainty about the health of Greece's economy.

  • Fox News Resurrects Petrobras Conspiracy Theory

    ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT

    Fox News has revived the false conspiracy theory that President Obama arranged for an Export-Import Bank loan to a Brazilian oil company in order to enrich George Soros at the expense of the United States. In fact, the loan in question was approved by a Bush-appointed bank board and will go toward the purchase of U.S. goods and services.