Fox News suggested that unemployment benefits and other government assistance programs contribute to the nation's unemployment numbers, and even claimed that people are quitting their jobs to become eligible for benefits. In truth, unemployment benefits stimulate the economy and create jobs.
Reporting on news that jobless claims dropped by 27,000 last week, America's Newsroom host Bill Hemmer wondered if "government programs might be keeping unemployment rates higher than they should actually be." Fox correspondent Doug McKelway answered that "some small business owners" say that "it's not unusual at all for people to quit work these days, because they know they can get more from unemployment and other benefits than from hard work." He continued, "Americans are not working as much today, and there is ample evidence that it's not just an economy stuck in neutral but it may be the increasing government incentive not to work."
Despite Hemmer and McKelway's claims, studies show that unemployment benefits stimulate the economy and create jobs. In 2010, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) determined that increasing aid to the unemployed would have a bigger impact on the economy than reducing taxes. The Economic Policy Institute's Lawrence Mishel explained that unemployment insurance is "such good stimulus" because "virtually every dollar spent on extending unemployment insurance benefits goes directly, and immediately, toward the purchase of local goods and services, providing an extremely efficient demand boost." And near the end of 2012, CBO concluded that extending unemployment benefits through 2013 would create 300,000 more new jobs than would otherwise be created.
What's more, the notion that one could quit work in order to receive unemployment benefits is nonsensical -- In order to be eligible for unemployment insurance (UI), the Labor Department makes clear, you must be "unemployed through no fault of your own (determined under State law)." And importantly, as CBO explained, "To maintain eligibility for benefits while unemployed, UI recipients must search for a new job and, in some states, must accept a reasonable job offer."
Fox News host Bill Hemmer highlighted a recent increase in gasoline prices to raise concerns about its "drag on the economy," then claimed that gas prices "rarely" decrease. But the very chart Hemmer used during the segment debunks his own claim -- and Hemmer has previously fearmongered over the economic impact of low gas prices as well.
During the February 14 edition of America's Newsroom, Hemmer followed Fox Business host Stuart Varney's assertion that gas is at "the highest price ever for a gallon of regular gas in the month of February" by pointing to a chart comparing gas prices in early 2012 with those in 2013:
Hemmer said that gas is currently "up 11 or 12 cents over the average where we were a year ago," then repeatedly emphasized the "drag" rising gas prices could have on the economy before concluding, "When these prices go up, rarely do they go back down."
But Hemmer's own chart debunks this claim. As Hemmer noted, average gas prices in January 2013 were "10, maybe even 15 cents" lower than those in January 2012.
After glossing over state Republicans' role in exacerbating long lines at the ballot box, three Fox hosts mocked the hours-long wait and multiple trips a 102-year-old woman endured in order to cast her vote in 2012.
On Fox News Radio's Kilmeade & Friends, host Brian Kilmeade and Fox's Martha MacCallum and Bill Hemmer laughed off the difficulties 102-year-old Desiline Victor endured in order to vote in the 2012 election. Victor, who was invited to the State of the Union address and whom President Obama applauded for enduring a long wait to vote, had to make two trips to the polls and wait in line for over three hours before she was able to cast her ballot. Discussing Victor, MacCallum wondered, "What's the big deal?" and said, "This is such a non-issue. Ridiculous." Hemmer added that at the State of the Union, "They held her up as a victim. What was she a victim of?"
But long lines at polling places are widely acknowledged as a major issue nationwide. In Victor's home state of Florida alone, at least 201,000 eligible voters reportedly did not cast ballots because they were discouraged by lengthy wait times.
Earlier, on MacCallum and Hemmer's show America's Newsroom, Fox correspondent Eric Shawn reported on proposals to extend early voting to ease the problem of long lines at the polls. Shawn noted that Florida had the longest polling place lines in 2012, and then played a clip of Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner addressing Florida's issues, stating that Detzner is "working on ways to fix the problems," including an extension of the state's early voting period in order to shorten voters' wait.
Shawn failed to reveal, however, that Detzner played a role in exacerbating this problem in Florida.
Fox News opened a discussion on potential defense budget cuts with a graph which tracked changes in the United States' defense spending, pushing the distortion that the U.S. is lagging behind China and Russia. But Fox neglected to acknowledge the actual amount these countries expend on defense; in reality, U.S. defense spending is greater than the next 12 top-spending countries combined.
On the February 12 edition of America's Newsroom, host Bill Hemmer displayed a graph comparing the growth in the defense budgets of China, Russia, and the United States from 2007 - 2011. The chart, which assumed that sequester cuts to the U.S.'s defense budget will take effect, projected the change in these countries' defense budgets through 2015.
Hemmer explained that, "We just wanted to give viewers at home an idea about what countries are doing over the past four years and the coming four years from here," and that for the current year on defense spending, "China goes up, Russia goes up, and the U.S. remains flat when compared to these other two countries." In the next four years, Hemmer claimed, "on the percentage they will contribute on their defense budget, China is about 300 percent increase, Russia's not too far behind, [and] the United States is not only flat, but it's trailing now as we move toward the year 2015." The graph segued into a discussion with Fox military analyst Major General Robert Scales on how cuts to the U.S. defense budget will harm our military capacity.
Fox's chart, focused exclusively on growth in defense spending across a specific period of time compared to 2004 budgets, suggests China and Russia are far out-scaling the U.S. on defense spending. But date constraints and percentage change in budgets are meaningless outside the context of actual expenditure. Hemmer conveniently disregarded the actual dollar amount the U.S. spends on defense compared to China and Russia.
The U.S. spends more on defense than the next 12 top-spending countries combined. PolitiFact examined data by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), both "considered to be leading authorities on worldwide military spending numbers," and determined that, "In 2011 -- the most recent year available -- the United States led the world in military spending at $711 billion ... The next top 12 spending nations accounted for a combined total of $670.9 billion." IISS data discovered that the U.S spends $252.6 billion more on defense than the next top nine nations.
Fox News promoted a proposal by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to eliminate the state income tax and increase sales tax by a corresponding amount, saying that with such a plan, "everybody wins." In fact, the plan would seriously harm middle and lower income tax voters while providing little or no benefit to the economy.
Fox News deceptively cropped video of a 2008 campaign speech to falsely suggest that President Obama is acting hypocritically in reportedly supporting an assault weapons ban.
During the January 7 edition of America's Newsroom, anchor Bill Hemmer claimed that a report that the White House is considering a comprehensive gun violence prevention package, which includes reinstituting the assault weapons ban, "comes in stark contrast to President Obama's position back in 2008, when candidate Obama promised that he would protect the rights of all gun owners." After airing a clip of Obama telling a campaign audience that he believes in the Second Amendment and won't confiscate firearms, Hemmer said that those were comments Obama made when he "was trying to get elected":
HEMMER: If true, the new gun control push comes in stark contrast to President Obama's position back in 2008, when candidate Obama promised that he would protect the rights of all gun owners.
OBAMA (VIDEO CLIP): So I don't want any misunderstanding. When ya'll go home and you're talking to your buddies, and they say, "He wants to take my gun away," you've heard it here, I'm on television so everybody knows it, I believe in the Second Amendment, I believe in people's lawful right to bear arms. I will not take your shotgun away, I will not take your rifle away, I won't take your handgun away.
HEMMER: So that was September of 2008, of course, on the trail that was, when candidate Obama was trying to get elected.
But Hemmer cropped the video of Obama's speech to remove his statement during the same event that he also supported the passage of "some common-sense gun laws." From video of the event posted on YouTube by the Obama campaign's Sportsmen for Obama:
OBAMA: I just want to be absolutely clear, so I don't want any misunderstanding. When ya'll go home and you're talking to your buddies, and they say, "He wants to take my gun away," you've heard it here, I'm on television so everybody knows it, I believe in the Second Amendment, I believe in people's lawful right to bear arms. I will not take your shotgun away, I will not take your rifle away, I won't take your handgun away... There are some common-sense gun safety laws that I believe in. But I am not going to take your guns away. So if you want to find an excuse not to vote for me, don't use that one.
Indeed, contrary to Hemmer's suggestion of hypocrisy, President Obama said during the 2008 campaign that while he supported the rights of individuals to own shotguns, rifles, and handguns, he also supported permanently reinstituting the ban on assault weapons that lapsed during the Bush administration. During a July 2007 speech at a Chicago church, he called for such a policy to stop the "epidemic of violence that's sickening the soul of this nation."
Fox has a long history of deceptively cropping video in order to smear progressives.
Fox News is continuing its hunt for "pork" in a Hurricane Sandy relief bill blocked by House Speaker John Boehner, claiming that the bill included $600 million for the Environmental Protection Agency to address climate change. But the funds in question actually focused on ensuring affected states' access to clean water, a crucial issue in the wake of the storm - and emblematic of future consequences of climate change.
Rep. Boehner recently canceled a vote on a Sandy relief bill, prompting heavy criticism from some members of his own party. He later reversed course and called for a vote on $9 billion for the National Flood Insurance Program, with another $51 billion in relief spending to be voted on later.
Continuing Fox News' attempts to find "pork" in the bill, Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer proclaimed lawmakers "were just chucking everything" including "$600 million for climate change for the EPA" into the bill, and "that's where the resistance" from Rep. Boehner came:
But the previous day, Rep. Carolyn Maloney had explained to Fox Business that the "money is for wastewater treatment," which she pointed out is "very much needed" in many areas hit by Sandy. Indeed, The New York Times reported that sewage from storm-battered treatment plants had flowed into New York and New Jersey waterways after the storm, "a sign of an environmental and public health disaster that officials say will be one of the most enduring and expensive effects of Hurricane Sandy."
In 2012, like most years, U.S. gasoline prices fluctuated according to global market conditions, seasonal changes in demand and several other factors. Fox News fluctuated too, finding bad -- often contradictory -- news in the ups and downs alike. No matter which way gas prices went, the network always found a way to forecast doom for the economy and pin it on Obama. But experts agree that no president can control gas prices.
Early in the year, Fox News launched a relentless campaign to pin unseasonably high gasoline prices on President Obama. The network had tried this before, but this time the coverage reached a fever pitch. During the first two months of 2012, Fox News blamed gas prices on Obama more than three times as often as all other major news outlets combined, even distorting charts to serve their agenda. To do this, Fox often claimed that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline or expanded domestic drilling could lower gas prices, while ignoring that Obama has significantly raised fuel economy standards -- a measure that would help consumers reduce their dependence on oil and vulnerability to price spikes.
The network gloated that prices at the pump could be an "opportunity to disrupt" good economic news for Obama, or maybe even "enough to derail his return to the office." To support that goal, Fox News regularly hosted Eric Bolling, a former minor league baseball player and major Wall Street oil and energy futures trader. While Fox News presented him as an expert, actual experts, even those who support increasing access to oil, have called his claims "absolute and utter rubbish," "idiotic," "nonsense," and "not correct."
Conservative media figures have long insisted that top marginal income tax rates effectively target small businesses. This "zombie lie" has sprung up throughout President Obama's first term as an argument against Democratic proposals to renew the Bush-era rates only for middle- and low-income Americans. Despite continual efforts by experts to debunk this claim, media figures continue to repeat these lies in the 2012 edition of the fight over high-income tax rates.
From the December 18 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom:
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Fox News contributors Steve Moore and Matt McCall falsely claimed that passage of "right-to-work" laws would benefit workers and the economy in Michigan. In fact, economic studies of similar laws have found that they lead to lower wages and do not increase employment.
On America's Newsroom, Moore and McCall celebrated the passage of so-called "right-to-work" laws recently passed by the majority GOP Michigan legislature. The legislation would prohibit unions from collecting dues from nonunion employees. Moore praised the bill's passage, calling it "huge for the economic future of Michigan." McCall agreed, claiming states that had passed right-to-work legislation had higher compensation and lower unemployment:
In fact, "right-to-work" laws have had a significant and negative effect on state economies, employment, and employee compensation. Multiple studies have found that wages and benefits are lower in "right-to-work" states. The Economic Policy Institute found that right-to-work laws "are associated with significantly lower wages and reduced chances of receiving employer-sponsored health insurance and pensions." They estimated these laws decreased hourly wages by 3 percent for all workers:
Fox News is promoting another legal challenge to the Affordable Care Act that originated in a right-wing think-tank and was hyped by conservative blogs. The State of Oklahoma filed a lawsuit based on a problematic theory that alleges tax credits within federally-run health insurance marketplaces called "exchanges" are unauthorized, which was developed by Michael Cannon, Director of Health Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, and National Review Online contributing editor and Case Western Reserve University School of Law professor Jonathan H. Adler. But Fox News has not only failed to report the extensive debunking of this tax credit theory, it has also mischaracterized this challenge to tax credits offered in exchanges as a "serious" constitutional one, although the new constitutional arguments are even more far-fetched than the original statutory claims.
Fox News gave Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist a platform to claim that Obama "doesn't want spending restraint" when it comes to the federal budget. But neither Fox host Bill Hemmer nor Norquist mentioned the fact that Obama has already signed bills that will reduce spending by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years and that Obama has repeatedly endorsed a balanced approach to deficit reduction that includes both tax increases and spending cuts.
Fox's Bill Hemmer attacked the notion that the federal government needs additional revenue, suggesting that current budget issues are solely due to spending. In reality, economists agree that federal revenue is necessary to reduce the deficit and is at a historic low as a share of the economy.
During an interview with Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) about his budget proposal that seeks to generate more revenue through capping deductions, America's Newsroom host Bill Hemmer asked Corker, "Why do you want to go after revenue at all?"
Hemmer downplayed the need for additional revenue, claiming that any new taxes collected will be spent. In doing so, he ignored the fact that additional revenue would greatly contribute to cutting future deficits. In an analysis of President Obama's 2013 budget proposal, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities found that 46 percent of the $3.8 trillion in deficit reduction is attributable to increased revenue.
Hemmer also failed to acknowledge the current state of dwindling federal revenues. According to the Tax Policy Center, federal revenue as a percentage of GDP stood at 15.4 percent in 2011. While this figure is up from 2009 and 2010, federal revenue has not dipped to such a low percentage of the economy since 1950, and is well below the post-World War II average of 18.1 percent.
Of course, Hemmer's statements were in line with Fox's history of dismissing revenue needs when approaching deficits.
Fox attacked unions over the liquidation of Hostess Brands after negotiations with its bakers union failed, but Fox ignored the fact that the company faced myriad financial problems. Similarly, Fox attacked Wal-Mart employees for striking, but failed to acknowledge the workers' concerns. Fox has run a long-standing campaign against unions.