Breitbart.com and National Review Online (NRO) are using today's Equal Pay Day holiday to misinform about gender wage inequality. Right-wing media have routinely downplayed and obscured legitimate concerns about wage inequality.
Equal Pay Day was created by the National Committee on Pay Equity (NCPE) in 1996 as a public awareness event to illustrate the gap between men's and women's wages. According to a White House proclamation released on Equal Pay Day in 2012, "National Equal Pay Day represents the date in the current year through which women must work to match what men earned in the previous year, reminding us that we must keep striving for an America where everyone gets an equal day's pay for an equal day's work."
Breitbart.com and NRO both posted a video today that claims the gender wage gap is a myth, positing that the gap fails to account for women's choices, which are primarily responsible for any discrepancies in salary. The video comes from the conservative Independent Women's Forum, a group The New York Times described as "a right-wing public policy group that provides pseudofeminist support for extreme positions that are in fact dangerous to women."
Although the wage gap has decreased since the 1963 passage of the Equal Pay Act, women's earnings remain far below that of men. A report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) found that "in 2011, women working full time in the United States typically were paid just 77 percent of what men were paid, a gap of 23 percent." According to the National Women's Law Center, the wage gap for minority women is even worse: African-American and Hispanic women make 64 and 55 cents for every dollar their white, non-Hispanic male counterparts earn. The claim that personal choice is responsible for the gender wage gap has also been debunked, mostly recently in the AAUW's 2013 Gender Pay Gap Report.
Breitbart.com and NRO's misleading claims about gender wage inequality follow a long trend of right-wing media's misinformation on equal pay. Here are just a few examples since 2012:
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."
While hyping a GOP-led attack on the National Labor Relations Board, Fox News continued its pattern of misleading viewers about the NLRB's actions regarding Boeing's facility in South Carolina.
Reporting on the December 13 edition of America's Newsroom about a newly released report from the Republican-controlled House Oversight Committee, which criticized the NLRB as engaging in "militant advocacy for unions," Fox correspondent Doug McKelway claimed that the NLRB tried to "shut down" the Boeing plant:
McKELWAY: The best example of all this may be the NLRB's attempt to shut down Boeing's new assembly line in right-to-work South Carolina. Boeing spent billions, employed thousands of highly paid nonunion workers, while at the same time expanding operations at its unionized Washington state plant. Unionized employment actually increased in Washington state, yet the NLRB tried to have the South Carolina plant shut down.
In fact, the NLRB has a history of pursuing cases similar to the action it took against Boeing. The NLRB accused Boeing of moving a production line for the 787 Dreamliner from Washington state to South Carolina because Washington state employees "engag[ed] in ... lawful strikes" and Boeing wanted to discourage such activity in the future -- the type of action the NLRB has long pursued.
Fox misrepresented recent remarks by Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein to suggest that she is undermining Democrats' attempts to rebut charges that U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice is unfit to be Secretary of State. In fact, Feinstein has strongly defended Rice, saying that the attack on Rice "has to stop."
The attacks on Rice stem from her appearance on Sunday morning political shows on September 16 to describe what the administration had learned about the attacks on a diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya. Since then, Fox and congressional Republicans have sought to scandalize Susan Rice's appearance in those interviews and use them as ammunition in a campaign to prevent her from being nominated as secretary of state. But David Petraeus, who was CIA director at the time of the Benghazi attack, has reportedly testified that Rice's comments were based on unclassified talking points provided by the intelligence community that Petraeus himself approved.
Rice's opponents have disingenuously seized on the fact that language in the talking points Rice used originally pointed to Al Qaeda affiliates as the perpetrators of the attack, but the language was changed to refer more generally to "extremists."
During the November 20 edition of Fox & Friends First, correspondent Doug McKelway reported on the attacks on Rice and claimed: "The fallout from the scandal is now dimming Ambassador Rice's prospect for the job of secretary of state." McKelway then reported that House Republicans had sent a letter opposing Rice and added: "Congressional Democrats' defense of the White House in this matter is partly being weakened also by the powerful chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, a Democrat, who has vowed to find out who specifically took the Al Qaeda language out of the CIA talking points."
Feinstein said she would hold hearings on the Benghazi talking points during a November 18 Meet the Press appearance. But during the same appearance, Feinstein strongly defended Rice, saying she had reviewed all of Rice's comments on the Sunday shows and did not understand why Rice "was being pilloried" for her comments:
FEINSTEIN: What has concerned me about this is really the politicization of a public statement that was put out by the entire intelligence committee, which Susan Rice on the 16th, who was asked to go before the people and use that statement, did. I have read every one of the five interviews she did that day. She was within the context of that statement. And for this, she has been pilloried for two months. I don't understand it. It has to stop. If it continues, it's going to set up once again a partisan divide in these -- the House and the Senate, which Congressman Rogers and I have tried to overcome and have overcome with some success with respect to the intelligence committees.
Fox previously cherry picked comments made by Feinstein's during her recent Meet the Press appearance, to make it seem as though she was going to investigate whether the White House had nefariously edited intelligence community talking points regarding the attack on the U.S. diplomatic facility in Benghazi.
During the second presidential debate, a town hall participant asked how the candidates planned to fix workplace inequality, "specifically regarding females making only 72 percent of what their male counterparts earn." Fox News reporter Doug McKelway labeled this figure a "myth," but research shows that even when adjusting for all variables known to affect earnings, women are consistently paid less.
This week Fox News reporter Doug McKelway has repeatedly made a claim that only two months ago he said was false.
It has to do with the EPA's recently proposed rule limiting carbon dioxide emissions from future power plants. In a report on March 27, McKelway acknowledged that the rule applies only to "new U.S. power plants," saying it "grandfathers in existing coal plants" and "grants a 12-month waiver for plants under construction."
But yesterday, as we noted, McKelway was on America's Newsroom saying the rule could shut down a quarter of existing coal plants. He said the same thing last night on Special Report, and the companion article posted at FoxNews.com wrongly asserts that "older plants" are subject to the new standard.
Bad memory? Bad intent? Bad journalism, at any rate.
The FoxNews.com article also said 200,000 jobs in the coal industry are threatened by the rule, a claim that Fox Nation turned into a headline. We cannot find the source of this figure and Fox did not cite anyone. Again, the newly proposed rule does not apply to existing coal plants.
In fact, some major coal-powered utilities basically shrugged at the rule, saying they didn't have plans to build any new coal plants anyway. As energy analyst Rob Barnett concluded in recent report, the proposed rule "probably wouldn't shift current investment patterns in the power sector" since "natural-gas plants already have a compelling price advantage."
Both mainstream and conservative media outlets have responded to the recent spike in gasoline prices by circulating talking points rooted in politics rather than facts. As a whole, these claims reflect the misconception, perpetuated by the news media, that changes in U.S. energy policy are a major driver of oil and gasoline prices.
As the employment outlook improves, Fox News is advising Republicans to focus on blaming President Obama for rising gasoline prices -- a claim with no relation to economic fact.
In a Newsweek article titled "Roger's Reality Show," Howard Kurtz wrote that Fox executives acknowledge that the news channel "took a hard right turn." This admission confirms what has long been clear: that Fox's news division has been slanted.
Tonight, one of Fox News' supposedly "straight news" correspondents, Doug McKelway, promoted Republican efforts to derail a case brought by the National Labor Relations Board's (NLRB) general counsel against Boeing.
On Special Report with Bret Baier, McKelway aired lots of footage of Republican members of Congress attacking the NLRB but gave short shrift to the complaint against Boeing. Regarding the specific allegations against Boeing, McKelway reported only that "the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against Boeing for moving the production from Washington state, calling the move quote 'discriminatory' against Boeing's unionized workers."
However, the NLRB has charged Boeing with much more than "discriminatory" behavior towards unionized workers. The complaint filed by the National Labor Relations Board states that Boeing illegally retaliated against unionized workers for engaging in lawful strikes.
The complaint also alleges that Boeing made "coercive statements to its employees that it would remove or had removed work from the Unit because employees had struck" and that Boeing "threatened or impliedly threatened that the Unit would lose additional work in the event of future strikes."
Moreover, as Media Matters has documented labor law experts agree that if the allegations filed by the NLRB against Boeing are true, the Boeing case would be "a classic violation" of labor laws.
This is a paradigmatic example of how Fox's "straight news" operation works: It's hyping the latest GOP effort to tilt the playing field against workers while almost completely ignoring the allegations that a company is violating its workers' rights.
Fox News' supposedly "straight news" reporters recently asserted that federal investments in clean energy are wasteful and that the costs of green jobs outweigh the benefits. These claims are contradicted by several studies showing clean energy investments create more jobs than several other types of investments.
In a series of segments called 10 Ways to Save the Economy, Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier promoted conservative talking points on the financial crisis, stimulus package, estate tax, and deregulation. The segments also frequently echoed the viewpoint of Fox News' conservative opinion programming. None of the ten segments advocated measures favored by progressives to help the economy.
From the July 1 edition of Fox Business' Lou Dobbs Tonight:
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Download Fox News' brand new iPad app and you'll notice something curious: there's an ExxonMobil advertisement on nearly every page, sometimes filling the whole screen. Click on it and you can watch a video of a smiling ExxonMobil geologist touting the natural gas boom. As the tech news website Mashable reported, this is because "Exxon is the exclusive launch partner for Fox News' iPad app":
"We decided we wanted to work with one sponsor," [Fox News' Jeremy] Steinberg said, explaining that there are always question marks surrounding a launch, so Fox News wanted a partner comfortable with that. He said Exxon, which is in the midst of a new branding campaign, thought the app was a perfect platform for broadcasting its message.
It makes sense that one of the biggest funders of interest groups that obfuscate the threat posed by global warming would team up with the news outlet that has done more than any other to promote misinformation about climate science.
The partnership further undermines ExxonMobil's 2008 pledge to stop funding groups "whose positions on climate change could divert attention" from the need to develop secure, clean energy. As an internal email revealed last year, it has been the policy of Fox News to question even the basic fact that the planet has warmed in recent decades.
Climate change is not the only issue on which ExxonMobil might find Fox News' coverage agreeable. Last month in the midst of both soaring profits for big oil and attempts by Congressional Democrats to roll back oil companies' tax breaks, ExxonMobil's spin could be heard on Fox News.
With the notable exception of Bill O'Reilly, many on Fox eagerly passed along talking points first outlined by ExxonMobil vice president of public affairs Ken Cohen in a series of blog posts designed to preempt any backlash against Exxon's massive first quarter earnings report.
From the June 2 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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