Elizabeth MacDonald

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  • Fox Business Cherry-Picks Economic Data To Accuse Obama Of "Cherry-Picking" Economic Data​

    Panelists Ignore The Entire Bush Administration And Great Recession

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    A Fox Business panel attempting to downplay the latest round of positive economic indicators devolved into self-parody. The host and guests misleadingly framed median income data to omit the economic calamities of the Bush administration while accusing President Obama of “cherry-picking the time frame” and “playing with the numbers” related to other examples of economic improvement.

    On the September 14 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co., host Stuart Varney and guests Elizabeth MacDonald and Tammy Bruce slammed President Obama for defending his economic legacy during a campaign stop in Pennsylvania. The segment began with Varney and MacDonald lamenting that new median household income data released yesterday by the Census Bureau is “still below the peak back in 1999,” with MacDonald mockingly adding, “You’re nearly [as] rich as you were 17 years ago.”

    Varney complained that Obama was “cherry-picking” data to claim his administration has created nearly 15 million net new jobs, and MacDonald added, “He’s not factoring in 2009, … so he’s playing with the numbers.” MacDonald further claimed that a “majority of net new jobs” during the Obama administration have been in “low-paying fast-food or health sector” industries. Bruce concluded the segment by lamenting the administration’s so-called “spin” and “theater” while citing evidence from outside sources that she claimed contradicts the significant increase in median household income from 2014 to 2015.

    The complaint that Obama is “not factoring in 2009” is particularly telling, given that the segment began with Varney and MacDonald ignoring all of the reasons that median incomes remained lower in 2015 than at their 1999 peak. What happened between 1999 and 2015 to cause this income stagnation? The answer is simple: two recessions, both of which occurred during the Bush administration and neither of which was Obama’s fault. From the Census report:

    Contrary to Varney’s claim, President Obama was not “cherry-picking” data to prop up his economic legacy. Even Fox’s complaint about shifting the “time frame” on net job creation carries little weight. CNNMoney explained last January that the president is basing his calculation on net jobs created since the low point of his presidency. He does not include 2009, because the economy the president inherited that year was rocked by recession and “it took time for the administration’s policies to take effect.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Obama administration has overseen the creation of 15.1 million private sector jobs since that indicator bottomed out in February 2010 and 10.9 million private sector jobs overall since he took office in January 2009.

    The Census report showed major improvements in the poverty rate and the health care insurance rate and revealed broadly shared income gains across all racial and ethnic groups and by workers at every level of income. The gender wage gap narrowed slightly, with women earning roughly 80 percent as much as men in 2015, up from 79 percent the year before. The Census deemed that increase not to be “statistically significant,” and more work remains to be done to achieve equal pay, but the latest data still reveal the narrowest pay gap in history. Meanwhile, the year-to-year median income increase of 5.2 percent represented “the largest single-year increase since record-keeping began in 1967,” according to The New York Times.

    Fox News and Fox Business have a long history of cherry-picking data to frame the Obama administration and progressive economic policies in the worst possible light. The economy continues to improve despite their protests.

    View the full segment from Varney & Co. here:

  • Fox Business Pushes Almost Every Minimum Wage Myth In Just 90 Seconds

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Stuart Varney Discusses Minimum Wage

    A brief Fox Business panel led by host Stuart Varney used recent minimum wage legislation in California and New York as an excuse to push a series of myths about the supposed negative consequences of raising the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

    On the April 5 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co., host Varney continued his misinformation campaign against proposals to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour with guests Elizabeth MacDonald, Michael Murphy, and Todd Horwitz falsely claiming the increase will hurt small business, lead to low-wage job losses, and result in "robots" replacing human workers:

    Varney led a panel making similarly misleading remarks on the March 28 edition of Varney & Co., during which professional stock trader Keith Fitz-Gerald claimed the proposal to raise California's minimum wage to $15 per hour by 2023 "goes against every law of capitalism," and Fox Business correspondent Ashley Webster falsely claimed the proposal "puts the smaller businesses out of business."

    Right-wing media have repeatedly pushed the myth that businesses are opposed to raising the minimum wage while spreading debunked claims that raising the minimum wage leads to job losses. Contrary to Fox Business' claims that business oppose raising the minimum wage, The Washington Post reported on April 4 that a leaked poll conducted by Republican pollster Frank Luntz found "80 percent of respondents [business executives] said they supported raising their state's minimum wage, while only eight percent opposed it." The advocacy organization Small Business Majority found that 60 percent of small-business owners supported raising the minimum wage to at least $12 per hour.

    Economists have repeatedly debunked the claim that raising the minimum wage would kill jobs and the myth that it will lead to greater workforce automation and robots taking jobs away from workers. Researchers at Cornell University found that raising the regular and tipped minimum wages for workers in the restaurant and hospitality industries has "not had large or reliable effects" on the number of people working in the industry and concluded that business groups opposed to wage increases should just embrace "reasonable increases."

  • Watch Fox Business' Stumble On Robots That Will "Take Your Job" Because Of The Minimum Wage

    Google Is Selling The Robotics Firm That Fox Business Recently Hyped "24/7" As A Threat To Low-Wage Workers

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Less than a month after Fox Business host Stuart Varney declared that humanoid robots from Boston Dynamics are "going to take your job" if the Fight for $15 movement succeeds in raising the federal minimum wage, Fox Business reported that Google is selling the company due to lack of profitability and the company's inability to find customers who actually want to replace workers with robots.

    On the February 24 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co., Varney, a frequent minimum wage antagonist, claimed, while rolling footage of a new humanoid robot from Boston Dynamics, that "$15-an-hour minimum wage protesters" should be worried because "that robot is going to take your job." Less than a month later, on the March 18 edition of Varney & Co., Varney reported that Google was selling the robotics division responsible for the purportedly job-stealing robot. Fox Business contributor Elizabeth MacDonald added that Boston Dynamics was being sold because it is unprofitable and noted the "anxiety" the company created because of fears "that these robots could replace workers":

    STUART VARNEY (HOST): Do you remember those those videos that we showed you? We couldn't get enough of them. Robot dogs-- looked like robot dogs, or were stacking shelves with a humanoid robot. Well Google is selling the compa-- the division that does those robotics.

    ELIZABETH MACDONALD: Yeah. they just bought it in late 2013 for half a billion dollars, Boston Dynamics. This is the "robo worker" in play that Boston Dynamics developed. They also as you noted developed a "robo dog." If you kick either of these robots down they can get back. They are so agile, they are so breathtaking, and terrifying -- a source of a lot of anxiety dreams. Why? Even though they broke through the frontiers of robotics, the final frontier for Boston Dynamics: profits and sales. They are not making money. And also, reportedly, bad public relations. The fear is that these robots would replace workers.

    VARNEY: Oh that's it.

    MACDONALD: So they were concerned about PR implications from that.

    VARNEY: How about that?


    MACDONALD: Truly groundbreaking robotics, though.

    VARNEY: Oh, definitely, we ran that video 24/7.

    On March 17, Bloomberg reported that one of the reasons for the sale had been the long time frame needed to make a humanoid robot ready for market, adding that these robotic systems are unlikely to be ready "even ten years out." Bloomberg also suggested that Google was distancing itself from worries that the machines would take jobs or be used for war.

    The sudden failure of what Fox ominously called the "robo worker," highlights the network's rigid opposition to raising the minimum wage even if their arguments are based on faulty data, discredited myths, or science fiction paranoia. In the past, Stuart Varney has cherry-picked data to claim raising the minimum wage costs jobs, in addition to his claims that robots will quickly replace workers if wages are raised too much. Varney is not alone at the network in promoting misinformation about the relationship between job creation, economic health, and the minimum wage. The truth of the matter is that raising the minimum wage has a negligible effect on employment. In February 2013, the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) published a comprehensive analysis of the relationship between employment and the minimum wage and concluded that "the minimum wage has little or no discernible effect on the employment prospects of low-wage workers."

  • Rubio And Cruz Echo Right-Wing Media With Their False Claims That Obamacare "Killed" Jobs

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    During CNN's February 25 Republican presidential debate, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) claimed that the Affordable Care Act "is a job-killing law." The assertions by Cruz and Rubio, which fact-checkers called "false" and "hard to square," echoed years of false right-wing media reports that the health care law would kill jobs.

  • Once Again, The Right Wing's ACA Part-Time Myth Falls Apart

    New Study Finds "Little Evidence" That The Affordable Care Act Pushes Workers To Part-Time Employment

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    CNBC reported that a study published by the journal Health Affairs "found little evidence that the ACA has caused increases in part-time employment as of 2015," debunking a long time conservative media attack on President Obama's health care law. 

    Despite being repeatedly debunked, right-wing pundits have continued to push the false claim that the Affordable Care Act would negatively effect American employment, claiming its enactment would drive losses in full-time jobs while increasing part-time employment -- though no data has supported this assertion.

    A January 5 article from CNBC reported that despite Sen. Ted Cruz's (R-TX) assertion that the ACA has "forced millions of people into part-time work," "the analysis did not find such a shift to a reduction in work hours," and this speculative claim "isn't borne out by reality":

    A new study further undercuts a major claim by critics of the Affordable Care Act, who contended that the law would encourage companies to slash full-time workers' hours and shift them into part-time work in order to avoid having to offer them health insurance.

    The research "found little evidence that the ACA had caused increases in part-time employment as of 2015," according to a summary of the findings published in the journal Health Affairs on Tuesday.

    "We can say with a large degree of confidence that there is nothing we can see nationwide when we look at the whole workforce" that would support a claim that the so-called employer mandate or other Obamacare features have led to increases in part-time employment at the expense of full-time jobs, said Kosali Simon, a professor at Indiana University, and a co-author of the report.


    Critics of the law have said that many employers, rather than subsidize workers' insurance plans or pay the Obamacare fine, would instead cut workers' hours so that they fell below the 30-hour-per-week threshold that would trigger the penalty.

    "There doesn't appear to be any substantial changes in the labor market as a result of Obamacare. The anecdotes are real, but I think it's just not happening in large numbers." -Larry Levitt, senior vice president, Kaiser Family Foundation

    But the research published Tuesday in Health Affairs strongly suggests that such "speculation that employers would reduce work hours to avoid the mandate that they must offer health insurance to full-time employees" isn't borne out by reality.

    "If this were true, one would expect to find increases in employment at the 'kink' just below the thirty-hour threshold," the paper noted.

  • Here's How Conservative Media Are Distorting China's Revised Coal Data To Undermine U.N. Climate Talks

    ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS

    The New York Times recently reported that China had released new data showing that the country has burned significantly more coal in recent years than previously thought. Conservative media are alleging that China is "lying" and using this news to undermine the upcoming United Nations climate conference in Paris, where nations hope to reach an international climate change agreement. But experts say China's revised data, which has been known to policymakers for months, is a result of improved accounting -- not deception -- and has already been incorporated into the international negotiations.

  • Fox News' History Of Defending Jeb Bush's Controversial Statements

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Fox News has consistently helped Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush run defense for many of his controversial remarks, including his assertions that he would have authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, that Americans "need to work longer hours" to boost the economy, and that the federal government spends "too much" on women's health.