Consistent with Fox pattern, Chris Wallace used terminology favored by Employee Free Choice Act opponents

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

Consistent with a pattern on Fox News, Chris Wallace used a term echoed by opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act when he identified the EFCA as "union card check." Wallace later acknowledged that he was using the terminology of one side of the debate on the bill.

Consistent with a pattern on Fox News, during the January 4 edition of Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace used a term employed by opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) when he identified the EFCA as "union card check." When challenged by House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) about the use of the term "union card check," Wallace acknowledged that he was using the terminology of one side of the debate on the bill.

Wallace claimed, "Big Labor's top priority is what's called union card check, and that would be eliminating the right to a secret ballot in determining whether or not you're gonna organize -- unionize -- a working place." Moments later, after Hoyer responded, "It's the Free Choice Act," Wallace stated: "Well, union card check, free choice. Both sides have their best -- their euphemisms." Hoyer then said to Wallace, "Of course, and you used one side," to which Wallace replied, "And you used the other. OK."

The 2008 Republican national platform similarly identified the EFCA as " 'card check' legislation" in its statement of opposition to the bill. The platform stated: "The recent attempt by congressional Democrats to deny workers a secret ballot in union referenda is an assault, not only against a fundamental principle of labor law, but even more against the dignity and honor of the American work force. We oppose 'card check' legislation, which deprives workers of their privacy and their right to vote, because it exposes workers to intimidation by union organizers."

Media Matters for America has previously documented several instances of Fox News hosts, reporters, and contributors using the term "card check" to refer to EFCA. Other instances of Fox News contributors and anchors using the phrase "card check" to refer to EFCA include the following:

  • During the December 28, 2008, edition of Fox News Sunday, Fox News Washington deputy managing editor Bill Sammon stated: "Much to the chagrin of Big Labor, Barack Obama and the Democrats will refrain from attempting to pass card check legislation in the first 100 days."
  • During the December 26, 2008, edition of Fox News' Special Report, Fox News contributor Nina Easton stated that President-elect Barack Obama "could stand up to labor. And one of the first things he could do is let card check, which enables unions to easily -- very, very easily organize -- let that die in the Senate." Later in the discussion, Fox News contributor Fred Barnes stated of Obama: "What he needs to do is find -- I think his resolution should be that he should find someone to save him from his liberal friends who are in his Cabinet now, who do want card check to go through, particularly his labor secretary, who would turn over the entire American workforce to organized labor."
  • During the December 18, 2008, edition of Special Report, Barnes claimed that "[Obama transition team economic adviser Larry] Summers' advice has been, to labor, give them card check. You know, support them when they try to get that through Congress and sign that bill."

Additionally, during the January 4 Fox News Sunday, Wallace stated: "[W]hen we last talked about this in November, you talked about the possibility of a compromise that would recognize the fact that there should not be unreasonable delays in giving an election, but on the other hand maybe not taking away the secret ballot from workers in a company," and asked Hoyer, "[A]re you prepared to take away the secret ballot?" In fact, Wallace's assertion that EFCA would eliminate employees' rights to a secret ballot is false. Indeed, Hoyer responded, "Again, let me stress, Chris, nobody's gonna take away the secret ballot. The employees currently have and will have the opportunity to opt for a secret ballot. They don't have to sign the card. They can say, 'Look, we'll have an election, and we may vote.' But they have that choice right now, and they will continue to have that choice."

From the January 4 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:

WALLACE: Big Labor's top priority is what's called union card check, and that would be eliminating the right to a secret ballot in determining whether or not you're gonna organize -- unionize -- a working place.

I love the way that you're smiling already. Are you gonna move on that in the first month?

HOYER: I'm smiling because of the way you phrase it. It's the Free Choice Act, of course, and what it does is --

WALLACE: Well, union card check, free choice. Both sides have their best -- their euphemisms.

HOYER: Of course, and you used one side. That's why I was smiling.

WALLACE: And you used the other. OK.

HOYER: Well, my point being that we believe that one of the problems that has existed in America is that working people have had a very, very difficult time in getting represented by unions in the workplace.

Workplace has resisted that. The NLRB has not been very vigorous in assuring the lack of unfair labor practices. So we believe that employees -- if over 50 percent of them sign and say, "We want to be represented by a union," they ought to be able to be represented by a union.

Let me say that many, many employers currently under existing law recognize such signatures right now and start to bargain and have a union representative.

WALLACE: Whatever you call it, congressman, are you gonna pass it in the first month?

HOYER: I don't know about the first month, but we're gonna pass it early.

WALLACE: You had talked about -- when we last talked about this in November, you talked about the possibility of a compromise that would recognize the fact that there should not be unreasonable delays in giving an election, but on the other hand maybe not taking away the secret ballot from workers in a company.

Is there a compromise out there, or are you prepared to take away the secret ballot?

HOYER: Again, let me stress, Chris, nobody's gonna take away the secret ballot. The employees currently have and will have the opportunity to opt for a secret ballot. They don't have to sign the card. They can say, "Look, we'll have an election, and we may vote." But they have that choice right now, and they will continue to have that choice.

WALLACE: But you want to pass the bill, just to be clear here, that the -- that unions, that labor, AFL-CIO, is talking about the Employee Free Choice Act, which would -- which would create a one-step system, a public vote, on whether or not to unionize.

HOYER: Well, a public vote -- you mean a signing of the -- of the card which says, "I want the union to represent me."

WALLACE: Yes, right.

HOYER: What I have said, and I said on your program and will reiterate, that -- that bill that passed the House handily is certainly gonna be the base bill. Will there be discussions? There may well be discussions.

And again, I want to stress nobody is precluding having a secret ballot. What we are saying is that an alternative route will be available. And if employees choose to sign -- over 50 percent of the employees sign a card saying, "We want to be represented by the union," that that will be affected.

HOYER: And give me a sense of the time frame? You said maybe not the first month. How soon?

HOYER: Well, I think it will be early. I think it will be early in the year, certainly in the early spring.

Right now, obviously, our major, major focus is getting people back to work, getting our economy moving, making sure that working people can get back to work and we start creating those 3 million jobs that President-elect Obama has talked about. So that's a priority item for us.

WALLACE: Let's move on to another item.

From the December 28, 2008, edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:

WALLACE: It's a tradition around here that our panel offers predictions for the New Year on a range of topics, and our motto is: "Often in error, but never in doubt." So, with that as fair warning, let's hear from Bill, Jill, Fred, and Ceci.

And let's begin with the area that we supposedly know best, Bill, and that is politics. Your prediction.

SAMMON: Much to the chagrin of Big Labor, Barack Obama and the Democrats will refrain from attempting to pass card check legislation in the first 100 days.

Now, they're gonna do this because they're gonna be worried they'll fall short of a filibuster-proof majority, and they're also worried -- they don't want to get hung up in some gays-in-the-military-type debacle that Clinton got hung up on and kind of mired his first days in office.

So, card check, I think, will be put on the back burner.

WALLACE: Which is -- which would be -- just briefly, would take away the secret ballot and make it much easier for unions to organize a workplace.

SAMMON: Exactly. That's gonna get put on the back burner, and Big Labor will not be happy, because they helped elect Obama, and they want a payback.

WALLACE: Jill Zuckman, politics.

From the December 26, 2008, edition of Fox News' Special Report:

BRET BAIER (host): All right, Nina, your resolution?

EASTON: As he's doing all these grandiose things, I think he should make it a point to offend the left wing, the special-interest groups of the left wing of the Democratic Party.

He's already done it once, supporting the eavesdropping bill, because of his concerns about national security. He did it again, having Rick Warren give the prayer during the Inauguration.

And I think he could do it again. He could stand up to labor. And one of the first things he could do is let card check, which enables unions to easily -- very, very easily organize -- let that die in the Senate. Because that -- that's something that if it is passed, not only he goes to war with business, but it could also, I think, harm the economy in the long run. So, I think that's one place.

And also in the fiscal stimulus, I think he's gonna find there's a lot of places where he's gonna be -- he's gonna need to stand up to those special-interest groups on the left that supported him and financed a lot of pro-Obama stuff during the election.

BAIER: All right, Fred.

FRED BARNES (Weekly Standard executive editor): I'm gonna leave the panel so I can take that job that Charles recommended -- to whisper twice a day -

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER (Washington Post columnist): You'd be good at it.

BARNES: -- into Obama's ear, "You're not immortal." What he needs to do is find -- I think his resolution should be that he should find someone to save him from his liberal friends who are in his Cabinet now, who do want card check to go through, particularly his labor secretary, who would turn over the entire American workforce to organized labor, and his health and human services secretary, Tom Daschle, who thinks that the Clinton healthcare plan was just great -- it was just marketed poorly -- and all these environmental people who don't care about the economy, they just want to deal with the distant threat of global warming.

He needs to be saved from them. Maybe Rahm Emanuel can do it.

BAIER: All right, last word on this panel.

From the December 18, 2008, edition of Fox News' Special Report:

BARNES: I think it's clear in this administration -- I agree that he's not gonna do anything on trade. But that -- but the free-traders have won. I mean, I think it was The Wall Street Journal had a story today saying he's naming Congresswoman Hilda Solis, who's opposed to NAFTA, to be labor secretary, and that conflicts with the USTR [United States trade representative] pick, Ron Kirk.

But labor doesn't matter. Look, you have the trade representative, you have Larry Summers, as Charles said. I mean, these are the people that are important on that issue --

BRIT HUME (host): Larry Summers as --

BARNES: -- will be the number one adviser, economic adviser, at the White House.

These are free-traders. And I think their advice has been -- I've been told that their advice has been, Summers' advice has been, to labor, give them card check. You know, support them when they try to get that through Congress and sign that bill. But don't give them any protectionism on trade. Leave that completely alone, because the economy is fragile enough -- the world economy. So --

HUME: How much could the economy benefit in the near turn by, say, if he put through -- these are pre-exis -- the agreement with -- with Colombia exists. It is before Congress. Congress won't act.

Posted In
Economy
Network/Outlet
Fox News Channel, FOX Broadcasting Company
Person
Chris Wallace
Show/Publication
FOX News Sunday
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