Fox Business

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  • CPAC Got Rid Of Milo, But Not The Rest Of Their Bigoted Lineup

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    The Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) has rescinded the speaking offer its leadership made to former Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos, who has a history of bigotry, following the circulation of a video in which Yiannopoulos appeared to endorse pedophilia. Yet Yiannopoulos isn’t the only person scheduled to speak at the 2017 CPAC who has a history of making offensive remarks; the conference’s roster is full of speakers who push xenophobic or otherwise discriminatory agendas and action and buy into conspiracy theories.

  • Day After Flynn Bombshell, Trump Calls On Only Murdoch Outlets At Press Conference

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Following a bombshell report that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn may have violated the Logan Act, President Donald Trump called on reporters only from outlets owned by Rupert Murdoch at a February 10 U.S.-Japan joint press conference, favoring news sources that have been major supporters and receiving no questions about the Flynn report.

    Speaking at a press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Trump took questions from the New York Post’s Daniel Halper and Fox Business’ Blake Burman, both of whom asked about an appeals court decision upholding the suspension of his Muslim ban executive order. Neither reporter asked Trump about reports that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had spoken with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. about Russian sanctions prior to Trump’s inauguration, which Trump aides had previously denied. If it’s true, Flynn could be in violation of the Logan Act, which, as The New York Times explains, “prohibits private citizens from negotiating with foreign governments in disputes involving the American government.”

    Murdoch has staunchly supported Trump since he began his presidential campaign. The media mogul recently sat in on an interview Trump had with one of his British newspapers and, according to the Financial Times, Trump’s daughter Ivanka was until recently “a trustee for a large bloc of shares in 21st Century Fox and News Corp that belongs to Rupert Murdoch’s two youngest daughters.” Trump has also been helpful to Murdoch in return, asking for his input on Federal Communications Commission chairman nominees.

    Murdoch’s support of Trump has directly impacted the former’s outlets. The New York Post was one of the only papers in the country to endorse Trump during either the primary or general election campaign. And according to New York magazine, Fox News under Murdoch’s direction has been pushed to go “in a more pro-Trump direction.” Fox's pro-Trump direction can also be seen on Fox Business, where hosts have spun polls to push "Trumponomics." Reporters at another Murdoch-owned outlet, The Wall Street Journal, have expressed concerns that they have been pressured “to reflect pro-Trump viewpoints.”

    Trump’s decision to take questions from only these conservative-leaning outlets also fits into a broader administration approach of seemingly focusing on right-wing outlets in order to avoid challenging queries.

  • Voter Fraud Myths Pushed By Trump Have Long Been Propagated By Right-Wing Media

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ & CAT DUFFY

    Throughout his campaign, and continuing now as President, Donald Trump has made a series of baseless claims alleging mass voter fraud in order to either preemptively cast doubt on the election results, or to dispute the fact he didn’t win the popular vote. Trump’s allegations, which ranged from “people are going to walk in” and “vote ten times,” to claiming “he would have won the popular vote had it not been for millions of illegal votes,” and most recently his decision to ask for “a major investigation into voter fraud” are based on a series of myths that right-wing media have pushed for years -- including the arguments that strict voter ID laws are needed to prevent voter fraud, that dead people are voting, and that there is widespread noncitizen voting.

  • Fox News Retools Misleading Jobs Report Spin One Last Time

    Will The Network Continue Its Nitpicking Misinformation Campaign After Trump Takes Office?

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Today marked the release of the final monthly jobs report during President Obama’s time in office, and Fox News wasted no time in spinning the document, which showed consistent job gains, new workforce entries, and sizable year-to-year wage increases, by claiming that it’s “not a great picture of the employment situation.” The network has exploited the monthly jobs report to attack the president since he took office in January 2009, but its campaign of misinformation will likely come to a screeching halt next month.

    On the first Friday of every month, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases its monthly employment situation summary detailing key indicators of the national labor market from the previous month. The report for December 2016 showed another month of consistent performance from the American economy, with 156,000 new jobs created, a 2.9 percent increase in hourly wages over the previous year, and the unemployment rate remaining “little changed” at 4.7 percent. The December jobs figure came in below some economic forecasts, but the miss was offset by major upward revisions to jobs estimates in October and November. Meanwhile, the slight 0.1-point increase in the unemployment rate was driven mostly by an influx of job seekers entering the labor market last month. According to The Wall Street Journal, December marked the 75th consecutive month of job growth -- the longest streak on record.

    On CNN’s New Day, chief business correspondent Christine Romans outlined the details of what she called “a solid finish to the year.” Romans said the economy created roughly 2.2 million jobs in 2016 and stressed that “altogether for the Obama presidency, it’s a net 11 million new jobs” even though he inherited the Great Recession and took office in a year when “5 million jobs just disappeared”:

    Investment analyst and Bloomberg View columnist Conor Sen argued that the December report “is about as strong of a jobs print as we can get at this point in the cycle.” University of Michigan economist and New York Times columnist Justin Wolfers compared the economy to “the little engine that could,” arguing that after accounting for prevailing economic trends, the December report was “good news.” New York Times senior economic correspondent Neil Irwin noted that the 2.9 percent average hourly wage increase “is the highest of this expansion,” concluding, “Boom.” Economist Elise Gould of the Economic Policy Institute wrote in a January 6 blog post, “All told, it’s clear that the next president is inheriting an economy much stronger than it was at the start of the previous administration,” a sentiment echoed by MSNBC’s Steve Benen, who said the report stands as yet more evidence that “the president is handing off a healthy economy to his successor (who spent 2016 telling voters the economy is terrible).”

    The generally positive outlook on the economy portrayed by these journalists, economists, and other experts was once again absent at Fox News, which painted the report as another example of the president’s failing policies.

    Fox Business host Stuart Varney slammed the report all morning on Varney & Co., and he invited several guests to claim that the report was proof of a sputtering and “sick” economy. Fox & Friends co-hosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade lamented the report as “not a great picture of the employment situation in the country,” ignoring all its positive indicators, while guest and Trump apologist Jeanine Pirro slammed the Obama administration for its supposed failure to advance the economic interests of African-Americans. (Many observers had noted that the December report actually showed the unemployment rate for African-Americans falling to its lowest point since August 2007.) From the January 6 edition of Fox & Friends:

  • The 15 Most Ridiculous Things That Media Figures Said About Environmental Issues In 2016

    Blog ››› ››› KEVIN KALHOEFER & ANDREW SEIFTER

    Donald Trump and the presidential election dominated news coverage in 2016. But talking heads still found plenty of time to make jaw-dropping comments about climate change, energy, and the environment. This year’s list of ridiculous claims includes a dangerous conspiracy theory about Hurricane Matthew, over-the-top worship of fracking and coal, and absurd victim-blaming around the Flint water crisis. Here is our list of the 15 most ridiculous things that media figures said about climate, energy, and environmental issues in 2016.

    1. Rush Limbaugh And Matt Drudge Peddled A Reckless Conspiracy Theory Downplaying The Threat From Hurricane Matthew. Shortly before Hurricane Matthew made landfall in the U.S., Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge concocted a conspiracy theory that the federal government was overstating the hurricane’s severity in order to manufacture concern about climate change. On The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh accused the National Hurricane Center of "playing games" with hurricane forecasting and added, “It's in the interest of the left to have destructive hurricanes because then they can blame it on climate change, which they can desperately continue trying to sell.”

    Limbaugh doubled down on this theory the next day, telling his audience, “There’s politics in the forecasting of hurricanes because there are votes.”

    Drudge, the curator of the widely read Drudge Report website, promoted the conspiracy as well, suggesting that federal officials were exaggerating the danger posed by Hurricane Matthew “to make [an] exaggerated point on climate.”

    [Twitter, 10/6/16]

    [Twitter, 10/6/16]

    Drudge also used his website to persuade Southeast residents not to take the storm seriously, with a banner “STORM FIZZLE? MATTHEW LOOKS RAGGED!” and additional headlines “IT’S A 4?” and “RESIDENTS NOT TAKING SERIOUSLY...”.

    Climate scientist Michael Mann explained that people "could die because of the misinformation that folks like Rush Limbaugh and Matt Drudge are putting out there," and two actual hurricane experts provided a point-by-point rebuttal of Drudge’s claims. But that did nothing to dissuade Drudge, who refused to give up on the conspiracy theory.

    2. Fox News Blamed The Flint Water Crisis On Climate Change Policies, "PC Stuff,” And Even Flint Residents Themselves. National media outlets largely ignored the water crisis in Flint, MI, as it unfolded over almost two years, but when the story did finally make national headlines, Fox News pundits were quick to pin the blame on anyone and anything other than the Republican governor of Michigan.

    On Fox & Friends, host Heather Nauert and guest Mark Aesch suggested that “misplaced priorities,” including climate change and “PC stuff,” allowed the water crisis to happen:

    And on The Kelly File, Fox News digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt placed blame on Flint residents themselves, saying that the "people of Flint should have been protesting in the streets" after noticing that their water was poisoned. Stirewalt also blamed Flint parents for giving their children contaminated water, declaring: "If you were pouring water into a cup for your child and it stunk and it smelled like sulfur and it was rotten, would you give that to your child? No, you'd revolt, you'd march in the street." In addition to being offensive, Stirewalt’s comments were premised on a falsehood; Flint residents did in fact repeatedly protest throughout the year to demand safe drinking water for their families.

    3. CNN’s Alisyn Camerota Claimed Trump EPA Nominee Scott Pruitt “Hasn’t Denied Global Warming.” Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to head the Environmental Protection Agency, is a climate science denier who has refused to accept the clear consensus of the scientific community that human activities such as burning fossil fuels are primarily responsible for global warming. Yet according to CNN New Day anchor Alisyn Camerota, Pruitt simply “sees nuance” and “hasn’t denied global warming.” Camerota falsely claimed that Pruitt only disputes climate “predictions” and “forecasts,” when in fact he has also denied that global warming is human-caused, and even Camerota's premise that climate models are unreliable is incorrect. As Camerota wrongly absolved Pruitt of climate denial, CNN’s on-screen text read: “Climate Change Denier Scott Pruitt To Lead EPA.” Co-anchor Chris Cuomo also pushed back on Camerota, stating that Pruitt “says it’s ‘far from settled.’ That means he’s not accepting the science.”

    Camerota badly butchered climate science, but it's noteworthy she was even discussing the issue given CNN’s spotty track record. In April, a Media Matters analysis found that CNN aired almost five times as much oil industry advertising as climate change-related coverage in the one-week periods following the announcements that 2015 was the hottest year on record and February 2016 was the most abnormally hot month on record. And in one segment later in the year where CNN did cover climate change, CNN Newsroom host Carol Costello speculated, “Are we just talking about this and people's eyes are glazing over?”

    4. MSNBC's Mike Barnicle: ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson "Is A Huge Green Guy.” Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, is the chairman and CEO of ExxonMobil, one of the world’s largest oil companies. Exxon is currently under investigation in several states for possibly violating state laws by deceiving shareholders and the public about climate change, while Tillerson himself has misinformed about climate science and mocked renewable energy. Yet according to Mike Barnicle, a regular on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, “Rex Tillerson is a huge green guy.” And alas, no, we don't think he was comparing Tillerson to the Jolly Green Giant or the Incredible Hulk.

    5. Disregarding Everything Trump Has Said And Done On The Subject, MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough Claimed “I Just Know” Trump Believes In Climate Science. On Morning Joe, co-host Joe Scarborough defended Trump after it was announced he had selected Pruitt, a climate science denier, to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Scarborough -- who along with co-host Mika Brzezinski has repeatedly carried water for Trump -- insisted, “I just know” that Trump “has to believe” in climate science.

    Scarborough’s comments followed a wave of TV coverage about how Trump had supposedly “reversed course” on climate change, which was based on a New York Times interview in which Trump said he has an “open mind” about the Paris climate agreement and that “there is some connectivity” between human activities and climate change. But few of these reports addressed any of the substantive reasons that such a reversal was highly unlikely, such as his transition team’s plan to abandon the Obama administration’s landmark climate policy, indications that he will dismantle NASA’s climate research program, and his appointment of fossil fuel industry allies as transition team advisers -- not to mention the full context of Trump’s remarks to the Times.

    6. Trump Adviser Stephen Moore: Being Against Fracking “Is Like Being Against A Cure For Cancer.” While discussing his new book Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy on C-SPAN2's Book TV, conservative economist and Trump economic adviser Stephen Moore stated that opposing fracking “is like being against a cure for cancer” because it is “one of the great seismic technological breakthroughs” that is “giving us huge amounts of energy at very low prices.” Never mind that many of the chemicals involved in fracking have actually been linked to cancer. 

    7. Stephen Moore: “We Have The Cleanest Coal In The World.” Moore’s preposterous praise for fossil fuels wasn’t just confined to fracking. On Fox Business’ Varney & Co., he declared that the U.S. has “the cleanest coal in the world.” That statement is quite difficult to square with the fact that “Coal combustion contributes to four of the top five leading causes of death in the U.S.—heart disease, cancer, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory diseases—according to Physicians for Social Responsibility,” as Climate Nexus has noted.

    Pro-coal propaganda also found a home on Fox Business’ sister network, Fox News, where The Five co-host Greg Gutfeld asserted that “coal is a moral substance. Where coal reaches, people live longer, happier lives.”

    8. Breitbart’s James Delingpole: Climate Change Is “The Greatest-Ever Conspiracy Against The Taxpayer.” In an article promoting a speech he gave to the World Taxpayers’ Associations in Berlin, Breitbart’s James Delingpole wrote: “Climate change is the biggest scam in the history of the world – a $1.5 trillion-a-year conspiracy against the taxpayer, every cent, penny and centime of which ends in the pockets of the wrong kind of people.” In the speech itself, Delingpole similarly claimed that “the global warming industry” is “a fraud; a sham; a conspiracy against the taxpayer.”

    Breitbart, which was until recent months run by Trump’s chief White House strategist Stephen Bannon, has frequently denied climate change and viciously attacked climate scientists. Delingpole, in particular, has described climate scientists as “talentless lowlifes” and referred to climate advocates as “eco Nazis,” “eco fascists,” and “scum-sucking slime balls.” Bannon has criticized Pope Francis for succumbing to “hysteria” about climate change; The Washington Post has written about how Bannon influenced Trump’s views on the issue during his time at Breitbart.

    9. Fox Report On Law Gas Prices: “Put The Tesla In The Garage And Break Out The Hummer.” Just 10 days after Trump was elected president, Fox News began giving him credit for low gas prices, the latest proof of the network’s blatant double standard when it comes to covering gas prices under Republican and Democratic presidents. But simply shilling for Trump was apparently not enough for Fox Business reporter Jeff Flock, who provided the slanted gas prices report on Fox News’ America’s News Headquarters. At the conclusion of the report, Flock also displayed a brazen lack of concern about climate change, declaring: “I would say put the Tesla in the garage and break out the Hummer.”

    10. Wall Street Journal’s Mary Kissel Instructed Viewers To “Trust” A Climate Science-Denying Fossil Fuel Front Group. In a video interview posted on The Wall Street Journal’s website, Journal editorial board member Mary Kissel instructed viewers who are “confused about the science surrounding climate change” to “trust” Rod Nichols, chairman of a climate science-denying fossil fuel front group known as the CO2 Coalition. During the interview, Nichols denied that human activities such as burning oil and coal are responsible for recent global warming, claiming that “climate change has been going on for hundreds of millions of years,” “there is not going to be any catastrophic climate change,” and “CO2 will be good for the world.” Kissel asked Nichols, “Why don't we hear more viewpoints like the ones that your coalition represents,” and concluded that the CO2 Coalition’s research papers are “terrific.”

    The Wall Street Journal has made a habit of “trusting” climate science deniers like Nichols -- or at least repeating their false claims about climate science. A recent Media Matters analysis of climate-related opinion pieces found that the Journal far outpaced other major newspapers in climate science misinformation, publishing 31 opinion pieces that featured climate denial or other scientifically inaccurate claims about climate change over a year-and-a-half period.

    11. Fox Host Clayton Morris: Rubio's Climate Science Denial At Presidential Debate Was An "Articulate Moment.” During a Fox News discussion of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s performance at a CNN presidential debate, Fox and Friends co-host Clayton Morris described Rubio’s claim that the climate is “always” changing -- a common talking point among climate science deniers -- as “a really articulate moment.” 

    While Morris’ endorsement of Rubio’s climate denial as “articulate” is particularly striking, a 2015 Media Matters analysis found that media frequently failed to fact-check GOP presidential candidates’ climate change denial.

    12. Fox Hosts Mocked Leonardo DiCaprio's Oscar Speech On Climate Change: "Focus On Something Else Other Than The Weather.” When actor Leonardo DiCaprio took home the Oscar for best actor for his role in The Revenant, the hosts of Fox News’ The Five and Fox and Friends mocked DiCaprio for devoting much of his acceptance speech to making the case for climate change action. On The Five, co-host Jesse Watters declared, “So the guy finally gets an Academy Award and he's talking about the weather. What's going on here?” Co-host Eric Bolling helpfully added, “Focus on something else other than the weather.”

    That wasn’t the only time in 2016 that DiCaprio was caught in Fox News’ crosshairs for having the nerve to talk about climate change. Later in the year, The Five aired footage from an event in which President Obama criticized congressional climate deniers and DiCaprio said, “The scientific consensus is in, and the argument is now over. If you do not believe in climate change, you do not believe in facts, or in science, or empirical truths, and therefore in my humble opinion should not be allowed to hold public office.” The Five co-host Greg Gutfeld then responded by likening criticism of climate science deniers to religious extremism, saying: “You have to wonder about a belief system that doesn't want any challenges, that doesn't want any of their theories to be questioned. This -- what he is talking about is radical Islam of science. He is actually turning science into a religion.”

    13. Fox’s Meghan McCain: "The Liberal Hysteria Over Climate Change Was So Overblown That Now People Have A Hard Time Even Believing It.” Rather than criticize conservatives or Republicans who frequently deny climate science, Fox News host Meghan Mccain blamed liberals for public confusion about climate change, declaring on Fox News' Outnumbered that “the liberal hysteria over climate change was so overblown that now people have a hard time even believing it and believing that it's something that's justified.” McCain, who also mocked Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton for campaigning on the issue with Al Gore, added, “I do think there are signs we should look at, but if Al Gore, if you take his word for it, there's a big flood that's going to come in and wipe us all away in five minutes.”

    McCain is the daughter of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who notoriously flip-flopped on climate change legislation in 2009, undercutting congressional efforts to address the issue.

    14. Fox’s Steve Doocy: Obama’s Monument Designation Was Done To “Appease Environmental Terrorists.” On Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy declared that President Obama’s designation of the first marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean was “done to appease environmental terrorists.” Not so shockingly, Doocy and his co-hosts did not comment when their guest, Deadliest Catch’s Keith Colburn, acknowledged that "increased water temperatures" from climate change are impacting fisheries across the United States.

    15. Fox Hosts Flipped Out About Portland Public Schools Decision To Stop Teaching Climate Denial To Children. In May, the Portland Public Schools board unanimously approved a resolution “aimed at eliminating doubt of climate change and its causes in schools.” But while climate science denial may no longer be taught in Portland public schools, it still has a place on Fox News, as the hosts of Outnumbered demonstrated in their flippant response to the resolution.

    Co-host Lisa Kennedy Montgomery said the Portland schools decision is “so anti-scientific,” adding, “There are still scientists, believe it or not, out there who say, ‘No, we still have to look at the data.’ And it's impossible to predict how the climate is going to change over hundreds or thousands of years.” Co-host Jesse Waters remarked, “So getting out of the ice age, how did the Earth warm up after the ice age? There were no humans there with cars and factories.” He also stated, “It gets hot, it gets cold, this spring has been freezing. It's not getting warmer, it seems like it's getting colder. Am I wrong?”

    But Fox News pundits aren’t just defenders of teaching climate science denial; they’re also partially to blame for it, according to researchers at Southern Methodist University (SMU). Last year, the SMU researchers released a study that found some children's textbooks that depict the reality of human-caused climate change with uncertainty are influenced by a climate science knowledge gap that finds its roots partly in conservative media misinformation. In particular, the SMU researchers pointed to previous research that showed Fox has disproportionately interviewed climate science deniers and that its viewers are more likely to be climate science deniers themselves.

  • Wall Street Journal Virtually Alone In Defending Trump’s Pick For Labor Secretary

    Even Breitbart Opposes Fast-Food CEO Andy Puzder Running The Department Of Labor

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    The Wall Street Journal editorial board stands virtually alone in defense of President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for secretary of labor, Andy Puzder, a notoriously anti-worker fast-food CEO and frequent right-wing op-ed contributor to the Journal.

    The Journal’s editorial board published a defense of Puzder on December 8, praising his opposition to raising the federal minimum wage, expanding Obamacare, and strengthening overtime protections for workers. The editorial board continued that they hoped Puzder would roll back other progressive advances for working-class Americans, including reversing an executive order mandating paid sick leave for federal contractors and undoing the Labor Department’s fiduciary rule requiring investment brokers to act in a client's best interests. From the Journal:

    Donald Trump’s selection of CKE CEO Andy Puzder to lead his Labor Department has incited a tantrum on the left, which is a good sign. The burger maven once told us that he often picked up litter around his restaurants, and departing chief Tom Perez is leaving plenty to clean up.

    [...]

    He is also the rare executive who promotes free markets rather than merely his narrow business interests. Mr. Puzder has expounded in these pages on the unintended consequences of ObamaCare’s mandates and a $15 minimum wage. He’s also detailed how the Obama Administration has contributed to the shrinking labor force and large number of underemployed workers.

    The Journal was one of the few voices to speak in support of Puzder’s nomination for secretary of labor. During a December 9 segment on Fox Business, host Stuart Varney used the controversy surrounding the nomination as “an excuse to run those racy ads” objectifying women, which Puzder’s company has become known for.

    One of the only other defenders of Puzder is Stephen Moore -- a discredited economist, Trump economic adviser, and a former Journal editorial board member -- who, while defending his boss’ pick, attacked Media Matters and “the big unions” for what he called “a loud and libelous campaign” to damage Puzder’s nomination.

    Controversy has been mounting over Puzder’s nomination after initial reporting failed to note the many right-wing media myths he has pushed to support his anti-worker agenda. The New York Times blasted Puzder in an editorial on December 8 titled “Andrew Puzder Is The Wrong Choice For Labor Secretary” for his stances on worker rights, and for Puzder’s companies' -- Carl's Jr. and Hardee’s -- record of labor law violations. From The New York Times:

    Here is the record at those restaurants. When the Obama Labor Department looked at thousands of complaints involving fast-food workers, it found labor law violations in 60 percent of the investigations at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, usually for failure to pay the minimum wage or time and a half for overtime.

    MSNBC’s Morning Joe mocked Puzder on December 9 for his statement to Business Insider that machines are preferable to workers, and co-host Mika Brzezinski reported that opposition to Puzder came from both the left and from the alt-right website Breitbart News, which had been instrumental in helping Trump get elected.

    Puzder has a history supporting anti-worker policies and had claimed that replacing people with machines would be preferable because machines “never take a vacation” or complain when discriminated against. Puzder opposes new overtime rules proposed by the Department of Labor that would extend guaranteed overtime pay to millions of American workers. Puzder has also misleadingly claimed that stronger wages and benefits actually hurt workers, frequently attacking the push to raise the minimum wage, and Obamacare’s health insurance expansion.

    Finally, as Gary Legum pointed out in a column published by Salon, if Puzder is confirmed, he may be the “least qualified labor secretary” since the early 1980s, when the Reagan administration appointed construction magnate Raymond Donovan to the same post.

  • Reports Show Trump May Have Had Little To Do With SoftBank Deal He Took Credit For

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON & ALEX MORASH

    On December 6, President-elect Donald Trump credited his election victory for spurring Japanese telecommunications and technology giant SoftBank to propose a $50 billion investment in the United States, which he claimed would create as many as 50,000 jobs. Later reporting from The Wall Street Journal and others debunked Trump’s boasts, but not before numerous media outlets amplified his unsubstantiated claims.

  • Right-Wing Media Slam Student Loan Assistance, Calling It A “Con” And A “Bailout”

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board joined a chorus of right-wing outlets in blasting the federal government’s income-based student loan repayment program, calling it a costly “con” meant to “buy millennial votes.” Yet right-wing media are ignoring the benefits of a program that could relieve millions of student borrowers of a portion of their remaining debt and that is still generating a profit.

    Right-wing media lambasted the Department of Education and student borrowers after the Journal reported on November 30 the latest findings from the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which found that the government is on track to forgive $108 billion of $352 billion in student loans as part of federal income-driven repayment plans. The Journal’s editorial board blasted the government on December 1, calling the latest findings proof that the Department of Education’s loan program is a “con” designed to “buy millennial votes.” (The editorial column was the Journal’s second since November 1 lamenting the federal program, which has led to millions of students earning student loan forgiveness.) Earlier that day, Fox News host Jon Scott questioned if the program was a “bailout” for student borrowers. Fox Business host Stuart Varney also called the program “a bailout” on the November 30 edition of Varney & Co., while his guest Steve Costes added that the program is “a shame.”

    Federal student loan borrowers have multiple repayment plan options, including income-based plans that require borrowers to pay back loans based on a percentage of their income for a certain number of years, after which the remainder is eligible to be forgiven. The GAO’s findings were for the hypothetical cost in loan principal forgiveness for the 5.3 million borrowers who signed up for income-based repayment plans for loans issued over a 22-year period, between 1995 to 2017. These borrowers will likely see an average of $21 forgiven for every $100 in loans received. Despite right-wing media complaining about the cost of borrower relief for those on income-based payment plans, the GAO found that the Department of Education still nets a profit on student loans.

    The reason the government still makes a profit even after loan forgiveness is because many federal student loans have an interest rate at 6.8 percent -- a figure that is much higher than inflation or the 1 percent interest rate banks receive from the Federal Reserve. The 6.8 percent interest rate is so high that the GAO’s hypothetical borrower would pay almost double the original principal of their loan if the income-based plan had no cutoff date for forgiveness:

    Student loan debt is a leading concern among young people, with The Atlantic finding nearly 30 percent of Americans aged 18 to 29 “cited paying off student loans as their biggest financial challenge.” According to Fortune, “there is little doubt that many Millennials are struggling financially” after a survey by PwC found that 79 percent of the 42 percent of millennials that have student loans struggle to pay those loans. Evidence shows student debt can impact personal wealth, delay homeownership affect personal decisions to marry or start a family, and that it has “cripple[d] retail sales growth.” The financial stress of student loans has a “devastating toll” on borrowers’ mental health, according to Complex, which cited findings by researchers that “student loans were associated with poorer psychological functioning.”

    While right-wing media push many myths about student debt, student concerns are valid; according to a November 21 op-ed published by Investopedia, Americans with student loan debt have “a challenging road ahead of them in the present and the future” due to workers being unable to save for retirement. The op-ed, which was authored by a financial adviser, even questioned whether people with student loans "will be able to retire” at all. The increasing debt burden can even hinder career advancement as graduates can be forced to take jobs that may have no chance of wage growth or career development so they can make debt payments on time.

    Conservative media have labeled higher education as a "privilege" and suggested students ought to choose fictional cheaper colleges. Some outlets have even defended schools that take advantage of students and leave them with significant debt. But research shows college matters now more than ever, and the cost to attend is rising across the board. The student debt crisis is especially damaging for poor students and students of color, who more frequently attend cheaper open-access and community colleges and are still forced to borrow in higher numbers to pay for their education.

    Blaming students for the student loan debt crisis ignores the facts and distracts from finding real solutions to America's skyrocketing student debt burden.

  • Conservative Media Wrongly Pin Democrats' Election Losses On Climate Change Focus

    ››› ››› KEVIN KALHOEFER

    In the aftermath of the election, conservative media figures have alleged that Democratic candidates’ emphasis on climate change was a reason they lost, claiming this focus alienated or drove away voters. But numerous polls conducted in the run-up to the election indicated that a majority of Americans consider climate change an important issue and favor government action to address it, and an exit poll similarly revealed that most voters in Florida view climate change as a serious problem. While these polls indicate that a focus on climate change didn’t harm environmentally friendly Democratic candidates, a plausible explanation for why the issue may not have helped them is the lack of attention it received from the media, including during debates.

  • Trump Fanboy And Possible Administration Hire Eric Bolling’s Bigotry And Conspiracy Theories

    At Fox News, Bolling Has Pushed Racism, Anti-Muslim Views, Conspiracy Theories, And More

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT & JARED HOLT

    Fox News host Eric Bolling is reportedly in discussion to take a position in the Department of Commerce in the upcoming Donald Trump administration. During his employment by Fox News -- where the self-described Trump “fan” was one of the loudest pro-Trump voices on a pro-Trump network -- Bolling has trafficked in racist stereotypes, spread fear of Muslims in America, and engaged in conspiracy theories, including the birtherism made famous by Trump.

    Bolling’s Race Problem

    Bolling: "I Don't Think There's Racism," Because We Have A Black President And Black Entertainment Channels.

    Bolling: Rappers Should Be Happy White People Are Buying “The Black” Music And “Financing Their Lifestyles.”

    Bolling: El Chapo Is "The One Mexican We Want, We Can't Get."

    Bolling Calls Obama, Holder "Race Merchants" For Defending Voting Rights Act.

    Fox's Bolling: "In America, We Create, We Make iPhones," Whereas The Chinese Make "Finger Trap[s]."

    Bolling Tweet: President Obama Is "Chugging 40's" In Ireland "While Tornadoes Ravage MO."

    [Twitter, 5/23/11; Facebook, 5/23/11]

    Bolling: "What's With All The Hoods In The Hizzy?" During the June 10, 2011, edition of his Fox Business show, Bolling teased a segment about President Barack Obama hosting Ali Bongo Ondimba, president of Gabon, by saying: "Guess who's coming to dinner? A dictator. Mr. Obama shares a laugh with one of Africa's kleptocrats. It's not the first time he's had a hoodlum in the hizzouse." In a subsequent tease, Bolling said, "Smile for the birdie," while footage of a smiling Bongo with a flashing tooth, apparently made to resemble a gold-plated tooth, was shown on-air. Bolling continued: "Our president's sitting with one of Africa's most wanted. It's not the first time he's had a hood in the big crib." Footage of rapper Common appeared on air as Bolling spoke. Bolling began the actual segment by saying: "So what's with all the hoods in the hizzy?"

    Bolling: "There's No Racial Aspect Of Profiling."

    Bolling’s Anti-Muslim Record

    Fox's Eric Bolling: "Every Terrorist On American Soil Has Been A Muslim."

    Bolling: Downtown NYC Islamic Center "May Be A Meeting Place For Some Of The Scariest Minds -- Some Of The Biggest Terrorist Minds."

    Bolling: "The People Who Flew Planes Into [The Twin Towers] Are Going To Be Represented 500 Feet Away" At The Downtown NYC Islamic Center.

    Bolling Defended GOP Presidential Candidate Ben Carson’s Objection To A Muslim Being President. On the September 21, 2015, edition of Fox News’ The Five, Bolling said, “unless you're willing to denounce Sharia law as the governing law over yourself, and anyone you oversee, I wouldn't vote for a Muslim either.”

    Bolling Defended Trump Lie About U.S. Muslims Celebrating 9/11: "I Know There Were Muslims" In The U.S. "Who Were Happy That The World Trade Center Came Down."

    Bolling Claimed The Obama Administration "Answers To The Quran First And The Constitution Second." On the September 17, 2012 edition of Fox News’ The Five, Bolling said, “the Obama administration, through all this appeasement and apologizing, answers to the Quran first and to the Constitution second.” Later in the show, Bolling said, “I have to clarify something very quickly. You remember when I said Obama, he answers to the Quran before the Constitution? What I meant was, rather than appeasing the Muslims, he should worry about free speech first. That's it. I'm done with it, and I don't want to hear about it."

    Bolling’s Conspiracy Theories

    Bolling: Border On Obama’s Long-Form Birth Certificate "Had To Be Photoshopped In." Following the release of Obama's long-form birth certificate, Bolling claimed that the birth certificate's "green border … had to be Photoshopped in." Bolling also suggested Obama's birth certificate wasn't authentic because the doctor "who signed it" didn't tell his family he had helped deliver baby Obama. [Fox Business, Follow the Money, 4/27/11]

    Bolling Repeatedly Suggested That Obama "Let" The Deepwater Horizon Rig Leak So He Could Limit Offshore Drilling. Following the Deepwater Horizon explosion in the Gulf of Mexico, Bolling suggested on the May 3, 2010, edition of Fox & Friends that the Obama administration might have "let" the rig leak before "address[ing] it." On the May 27, 2010, edition of Happy Hour, Bolling again speculated about whether Obama "let" the rig leak so he "could renege on his promise ... to allow some offshore drilling." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 5/3/10; Fox Business, Happy Hour, 5/27/10]

    Bolling Allowed Ann Coulter To Bring Lie That Obama “Attended Madrassas”Onto Fox News. While serving as a guest host for The O'Reilly Factor on December 28, 2009, and for Fox News' Glenn Beck on December 30, 2009, Bolling hosted conservative author Ann Coulter, who falsely claimed Obama "attended madrassas" or Islamic schools. As previously reported by Media Matters, Bolling did not challenge Coulter's claims on either show. [Media Matters, 12/31/09]

    Bolling Floats Conspiracy Theory That DNC Staffer Murdered In DC “Was A Hit.” As guest host on the August 10 edition of The O’Reilly Factor, Bolling and frequent Fox News contributor Monica Crowley floated the idea that a Democratic National Committee staff murdered in Washington, D.C, was the victim of a “hit” and that there was “something more here” than what the official reports of the murder stated. “Where there is smoke, there is fire,” Bolling said. “Lots of smoke right now.” [Fox News, The O’Reilly Factor, 8/10/16]

    Bolling Claimed United Nations Was Working To Achieve "Centralized Control Over All Of Human Life On Planet Earth." Bolling adopted conservative commentator Glenn Beck’s conspiracy theory that President Obama's White House Rural Council was evidence that he was implementing a United Nations plan aimed at achieving "centralized control over all of human life on planet Earth" and then creating a new "One World Order." [Media Matters, 6/25/11]

    Bolling Thought Obama Would Conduct A Military Strike In Libya To Benefit His Re-Election. During the 2012 presidential campaign, Bolling spun a conspiracy theory that claimed that when Obama mentioned a “bump in the road,” he was talking about American deaths in Libya, and that he might conduct a military strike in retaliation for those deaths -- but really for the benefit of his own re-election. Bolling said Obama should use a military strike “for the right reasons” instead of as “a campaign event.” [Media Matters, 9/26/12]

    Bolling Claimed The Muppets Was “Brainwashing” Children With A Liberal Agenda. In 2011, Bolling speculated that the writers of the movie The Muppets were trying to “brainwash” children with an anti-oil-industry liberal agenda, asking, “Is there any Occupy Wall Street muppets?” [Fox Business, Follow the Money, 12/2/2011]

    Bolling Thought Obama Was Trying To "Bring People Closer To The Cities" To Keep An Eye On Them. In 2012, Bolling claimed that “a lot of people” think the Obama administration is conducting “a whole social engineering thing” to bring people “closer to the cities” where there are “a lot more eyeballs they can keep on them.” [Fox News, The Five, 6/1/12]

    Bolling: "Did [Soros] Know? Does He Know" About $2 Billion Petrobras Deal? During a guest appearance on Fox News' Fox & Friends, Bolling revived the false conspiracy theory that Obama arranged for an Export-Import Bank of the United States loan to a Brazilian oil company in order to enrich billionaire philanthropist George Soros at the expense of the United States. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/24/11]

    Bolling Admitted Being A “Fan” Of Trump Throughout Presidential Campaign

    Daily Beast Reported That Bolling’s Colleagues Described Him As A “Trump Apologist.” The Daily Beast reported in a March 7 article that Bolling was “an unabashed Trump fan” whose colleagues have described him “as a Trump ‘apologist’ who ‘Trumpsplains’ the candidate's various offenses”:

    [Eric] Bolling himself is an unabashed Trump fan.

    The self-described "friend of [the] Trump family" has been described by his own colleagues as a Trump "apologist" who "Trumpsplains" the candidate's various offenses. Bolling's special guest for the network's New Year's Eve was none other than The Donald; and his interviews with the GOP frontrunner are games of slow-pitch softball. [The Daily Beast, 3/17/16]

    Bolling: "I'm A Fan" Of Trump. When discussing Trump's decision to sue Univision on the July 1, 2015, edition of The Five, Bolling said, "Donald Trump is just being Donald Trump on and off the campaign trail. I'm a fan." [Fox News, The Five, 7/1/15, via Nexis]

    Bolling Agrees With Greg Gutfeld's Assertion That Bolling "Love[s] Talking About Trump." On the July 24, 2015, edition of The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld said, "You love talking about Trump." Bolling responded by saying, "No, no, I do":

    ERIC BOLLING: And so this is Friday, right? And now we're talking about this. And Martin O'Malley said, did mention this on Sunglass Sunday, right?

    [...]

    BOLLING: Five days later, because of the big Trump announcement, the big Trump hoopla that the media that's been following Donald Trump around everywhere, this was something we started to talk about on Monday.

    GREG GUTFELD: But you love talking about Trump.

    BOLLING: No, no, I do.

    GUTFELD: That's what's you talked about. [Fox News, The Five, 7/24/15, via Nexis]

    Bolling Praised Trump In Interview: "I Like What Donald Trump Is Saying. I Like What He's Doing." During an interview with Trump on the August 1, 2015, edition of Fox News' Cashin' In, host Eric Bolling praised the then-candidate, saying:

    ERIC BOLLING: Yeah, so I've come out and said I like what Donald Trump is saying, I like what he's doing. I have a lot of -- a lot of my fans supports him, my fan base says I like Donald because he says what he means, means what he says, and it's refreshing to hear it. But I get beat up, even from some people in my own tent at times, for defending some of the things you're saying. [Fox News, Cashin' In, 8/1/15]

    Bolling: Trump Is Making The Rest Of Republican Presidential Field Better. On the June 17 edition of The Five, Bolling said Trump “is making the rest of the field better because he's speaking his mind" and "he's got the rest of the field thinking":

    [ERIC] BOLLING: Well. Look, I'm not done Donald Trump's spokesperson, but I will tell you I understand where he's coming from. We need to get tough with China. We need to get tough with all the other countries that are dumping their goods into America without any fees, but if we try to sell into Brazil, we try to sell into China, Japan, some of the other developed and developing countries, they charge us a fee, a tax. So it's like this unfair trade balance that goes on. I get it. He says get tough with them.

    With regards to the southern border, we talked about it yesterday. And I had no idea what his plan was, but I suggested maybe -- I don't know, maybe telling Mexico we're going to pay you $2 less per barrel of oil. Every barrel we buy from you, all the millions of barrels per day that we buy from you and spend the money securing the border. Whether it's a fence, whether it's a moat, whatever you do. Even if it's not even a fence, even if it's a border patrol, pay the border patrol through that. Look, here's the thing. Donald Trump is making the rest of the field better because he's speaking his mind. He's talking to people who have ideas and who are angry about the way politics have been for the last 20, 30, 40 or 50 years. And then finally, someone's willing to step up and have some other ideas. Let's at least try them. Let's at least think about them. See whether or not you like Donald, but you think he can be your president or not, he's got the rest of the field thinking. I think that's a good thing. [Fox News, The Five, 6/17/15, via Nexis]

    Bolling Gushes Over Trump Family: "When The Kids Talk, It's Just, It's Amazing." On the July 18 edition of Fox News’ The Five, Bolling showered the Trump for raising “kids like that who love him the way they do” and who are “amazing” when they speak. Bolling also said Trump’s marriage seemed like “a great relationship all the way around.” [Fox News, The Five, 7/18/16s]

    Bolling Describes Himself As “A Friend Of Trump Family” In a Tweet.

    [Twitter.com, 10/2/15]

    Bolling: People Calling For Boycotts Of Trump Products Are "Economic Terrorists." On the July 2 edition of The Five, Bolling criticized those calling for boycotts of Trump's products as "economic terrorists." [Fox News, The Five, 7/2/15]

    Bolling Defended Trump After He Attacked John McCain's War Heroism. On the July 20 edition of The Five, Bolling defended Trump's remark that Senator John McCain wasn't a war hero, suggesting "it just kind of fell out of his mouth" and that Trump "wished he could take it back":

    BOLLING: Geraldo, do you really think that Donald Trump has disrespect or doesn't think that someone who is captured by the enemy and spent five years in captivity isn't a war hero? Do you honestly think that.

    RIVERA: I think.

    BOLLING: Do you think it just kind of fell out of his mouth and he, you know, he would wished he could take it back. Don't forget, the context of this was someone asked him about John McCain's service to the veterans and he said John McCain who dropped the ball as far as the veteran's administration. [Fox News, The Five, 7/20/15, via Nexis]

    Bolling Has Been Forced To Apologize For Other Inappropriate Remarks

    Bolling Had To Apologize For Asking If The First Female UAE Pilot Who Bombed Islamic State “Would Be Considered Boobs On The Ground.” Bolling had to apologize for asking if the first female pilot leading the United Arab Emirates who conducted bombing against Islamic State terrorists “would be considered boobs on the ground.” Bolling said he “got home” and “got the look” from his wife and “realized some people didn’t think it was funny at all.” [Fox News, The Five, 9/25/14]

    Bolling Forced To Apologize For Claiming Obama Was A Drug Dealer.

    [Twitter.com, 5/11/12]

  • Fox Business Spins Gallup Consumer Confidence Poll To Push “Trumponomics”

    Report Fails To Mention Only Group With A More Positive Outlook Since The Election Is Republicans

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Fox Business spun the first post-election consumer confidence report to misleadingly claim economic confidence “increased sharply” after Donald Trump’s election, failing to note the confidence numbers swung based on party affiliation.

    During the November 16 edition of Fox Business’ Varney & Co., guest host Ashley Webster used the latest consumer confidence report from Gallup to push so-called “Trumponomics” as “a winning formula” for the American economy. Conservative columnist Liz Peek added that she thought the Gallup numbers showed Americans were “cheered up by the idea that Republicans have [control of all three branches of government]”:

    In reality the Gallup poll found the only Americans who are “cheered up” by Republicans having complete control of the federal government are other Republicans. Gallup concluded that Donald Trump becoming the president-elect of the United States “transformed the way Republicans and Democrats view the economy” but it was “too early to say” if these numbers will hold.

    Republicans, who had been unduly pessimistic about the economy under President Obama, substantially lifted their outlook on the economy after the election. According to Gallup, Republican opinions of whether or not the economy was getting better or worse went from -65 points before the election to +5 points after, while Democratic opinions on the same topic shifted from +26 points before the election to -1 point after. At the same time, Republican opinions of the current state of the economy also improved markedly after Election Day, with GOP opinions improving from -21 points to -5 points, while Democratic opinions sagged from +26 points to +17 points.

    Republican economic optimism may be short-lived after Trump takes office, as experts have expressed fear that his proposals for budget-busting tax cuts for the rich and unfunded deficit spending may create a short term “sugar high” followed by an economic crash. Trump’s proposals to severely restrict immigration and international commerce could create the conditions for another recession in the United States and his proposed monetary policies could imperil the financial system. The spending cuts and restrictions to vital anti-poverty programs proposed by Trump and congressional Republicans would push millions of working-class Americans into poverty, while his anti-trade policies could cost 4 million jobs.

    From the November 9-13 Gallup U.S. Daily Survey:

  • Conservative Media Attempt To Sanitize Stephen Bannon’s Ties To White Nationalism And Anti-Semitism

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Conservative media are defending Stephen Bannon, who was recently appointed as President-elect Donald Trump’s chief strategist, amid growing backlash over his ties to anti-Semitism and white nationalists. While Bannon’s appointment has been hailed as a victory by white nationalists, the push to normalize Bannon was aided by major newspapers that downplayed and ignored his extreme ties.