Frequent Fox News guest Peter Morici claimed that President Obama's "most effective jobs program" has been convincing job seekers to stop looking for work or settle for part-time work. But the president's policies have created millions of jobs, and economists have found that there are other reasons besides the economy that the labor participation rate has declined.
After the release of the January 4 unemployment report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Morici used a FoxNews.com op-ed to attack Obama's economic record. He wrote that if the labor force participation rate was the same today as in the Great Depression, the unemployment rate would stand at 9.7 percent. Morici also claimed:
"Convincing millions of Americans they don't want a job or compelling desperate workers to settle for part time work has been the Obama administration's most effective jobs program."
In fact, prominent economists have found that the labor participation rate is "right about where it should be." The Washington Post's Ezra Klein explained that the rate is not necessarily driven by economic conditions:
Fox News is again using its own bogus narrative to stoke fears of a civil war in the U.S. between "makers" and "takers," after repeatedly pushing the argument that people who receive government benefits are "takers" and pitting them against "makers."
In a January 3 op-ed, Fox News columnist Arthur Herman wrote that riots in Argentina foreshadowed "a coming civil war between makers and takers" in the U.S. Herman revived former presidential candidate Mitt Romney's infamous 47 percent remarks to argue that that the government is creating a dependency nation of people "unable to fend for themselves -- and increasingly resentful of those who can." He added:
When the economy tanks and the government checks have to shrink, their only alternative is to take to the streets. That's what happening in Argentina, and in Greece; and that's where the growth of government is taking us here, as this current budget deal increases handouts -- and more and more Americans are finding that an unemployment or Social Security disability check is their only life line.
But the concept of society being divided into "makers" and "takers" is a manufactured distinction, one that Fox has pushed aggressively.
Fox News is reporting that gun owners are rushing to buy firearms in light of President Obama's reelection at the same time it promotes the very conspiracies about the president's gun policies triggering those sales.
A December 6 FoxNews.com article on the firearms "buying spree" reports that to gun owners, "Obama's re-election, and the apocalypse -- amount to the same thing" while also credulously quoting the unfounded claim of NRA president David Keene that, "Obama is coming right at us" and his second term will be "an all-out assault on the Second Amendment."
The simultaneous reporting of an uptick in gun sales and promotion of wild-eyed conspiracy theories about Obama's gun policies is commonplace at Fox News, despite the fact that President Obama expanded, rather than restricted, where a gun can be carried during his first term.
On the December 3 edition of Hannity on Fox News, WorldNetDaily columnist Erik Rush discussed the murder-suicide involving NFL player Jovan Belcher, alleging, "Whenever there is a high-profile gun crime the fearmongering begins, the histrionics begin, and all of this stuff really has its genesis in the political left, and particularly the big government political leftists, who want to disarm the public."
Addressing the murder-suicide involving Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher, discredited gun researcher John Lott downplayed the relationship between firearm availability and the incidence of murder in a FoxNews.com column. Lott took issue with NBC sportscaster Bob Costas discussing the tragedy during halftime on Sunday Night Football. Quoting FoxSports.com columnist Jason Whitlock, Costas said, "If Jovan Belcher didn't possess a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today."
Lott disputed that the presence of a firearm had anything to do with the murder-suicide, writing, "Even if no weapon existed, the strength differential is so large that Belcher could have easily killed [his girlfriend Kasandra] Perkins in any number of ways."
Lott's attempt to take guns out of the equation was the latest effort by right-wing media to silence the discussion of gun violence in the wake of Saturday's murder-suicide. It is also at odds with research about the relationship between gun availability and gun violence.
As Forbes contributor Rob Waters noted, the presence of a firearm drastically increases the lethality of domestic violence incidents. Using statistics compiled by the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, Waters wrote that, "If a gun is used during a domestic violence assault, there's a 23-fold increased likelihood that the victim will die. Women who are victims of domestic violence are five times more likely to be killed if their abuser owns a firearm."
After President Obama's re-election, conservative media figures attacked New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for his praise of the president's leadership following Hurricane Sandy. Their attacks followed News Corp. chief Rupert Murdoch's pre-election statement that Christie would be to blame if Obama won the election.
Fox News is blaming fact-checkers for Mitt Romney's loss in the presidential election, claiming that they tilted the race in President Obama's favor. Fox repeatedly attacked fact-checkers for debunking many of Romney's falsehoods during the campaign -- following the Romney camp's dismissal of fact checks as biased.
PBS' Frontline recently aired a documentary titled "Climate of Doubt," examining how conservative groups, frequently funded by the fossil fuel industry, have pushed Republicans to reject the scientific consensus on manmade global warming. Here, Media Matters looks back at how Fox News has contributed to that "Climate of Doubt," often teaming up with industry to misrepresent science and attack all efforts to address this threat.
FoxNews.com is trying to dispute President Barack Obama's accurate assertion during the second debate that gasoline prices plummeted right before he was inaugurated due to the broader economic downturn, citing experts that "question" his claim. But one expert's argument has been called "ridiculous," and the other two did not dispute Obama's main point - that market factors, not U.S. energy policy, have propelled oil and gasoline prices upward since a temporary lull in early 2009.
In last week's presidential debate, Mitt Romney misleadingly claimed that gas prices have doubled during Obama's tenure. Obama correctly responded that gas prices plummeted just before he took office as the global economy experienced a massive recession. But Fox News, which had advised Romney to use this claim, remained in denial.
Bill O'Reilly tried to dispute Obama's claim by saying that if gas prices were low due to the recession, they couldn't be rising now because "the economy's still bad." Or as FoxNews.com recently claimed, Obama "impl[ied] that they are higher now because things are better." The U.S. economy was in free fall in 2008 and in many ways it is better off today than four years ago, but Fox is missing the more fundamental point that oil is a global commodity. Gas prices are almost back to the levels that they were prior to the recession because global oil demand is rising -- not U.S. oil demand, as Fox suggested. As Severin Borenstein of U.C. Berkeley's Haas School of Business explained in an email to Media Matters:
Oil prices increased due to changes in the WORLD supply/demand balance. Growing demand in the developing world, declining supply from Mexico, Venezuela, Iran, etc. Note that the highest oil prices ever were in June 2008, under Bush. Those weren't Bush's fault and current oil prices aren't Obama's. Talking about U.S. demand as the major driver of oil prices is missing the point that it is a world oil market.
Indeed, this chart from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis illustrates that oil and gasoline prices were on a long-term upward trend -- peaking in 2008 before falling sharply just prior to Obama's inauguration:
Media outlets praised Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's speech on foreign policy, calling it "tremendous" and "a fabulous speech that exuded leadership." But the speech relied on numerous falsehoods, including many that have already been debunked.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney threw his right-wing media cheerleaders under the bus when he stated that his comments about 47 percent of Americans were "completely wrong." Prior to this statement, the right-wing media had embraced Romney's comments and even encouraged them to be used on the campaign trail.
Conservative media have claimed that the Obama administration is waging a "war" on "cheap," "clean" coal that will cause blackouts and massive layoffs. In fact, the Obama administration has simply implemented long overdue and legally required clean air regulations to protect public health without hurting electric reliability or employment, and much of the transition away from coal is due to the rise of cheaper, cleaner natural gas.
The National Review Online and a FoxNews.com op-ed are citing recent layoffs by Alpha Natural Resources, a coal producer, to claim that the Obama administration is waging a "war" on coal miners. But both are ignoring that competition with natural gas is a major reason for the company's layoffs.
Alpha Natural Resources recently laid off 400 coal miners (although about 270 of those workers will be reassigned to other jobs) and announced that it plans to eliminate 1,200 jobs by 2013. The National Review Online's Henry Payne and FoxNews.com guest contributor Phil Kerpen used this announcement to claim that Obama is waging a "war on [mining] workers" and "war on American jobs," respectively. Both quoted Alpha Natural Resources CEO Kevin Crutchfield on the effects of "a regulatory environment that's aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal." But they cropped the quote to exclude that Crutchfield acknowledged the role of natural gas competition, according to the Associated Press' account of Crutchfield's remarks:
Crutchfield called it "a difficult day," but said the shutdowns and layoffs are a necessary part of ensuring Alpha survives in what has become a difficult U.S. market, where coal companies face a dual challenge: Power plants are shifting to cheap, abundant natural gas, while companies like his face "a regulatory environment that's aggressively aimed at constraining the use of coal."
Payne only dismissively mentioned the role of increased competition from natural gas in reduced coal-fired electricity generation and resultant layoffs and Kerpen ignored natural gas competition altogether. Payne also completely ignored natural gas in a recent column in the Weekly Standard. He quoted a 24/7 Wall Street post saying "future sales forecasts also are being affected by a series of regulatory actions by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which has resulted in utilities announcing plans to shut down a number of generating stations that have traditionally used Central Appalachia coal." Not included was the prior sentence, which said "In addition to lack of demand from power generating plants due to fuel switching to natural gas and a mild winter, the company also blamed an 'onerous regulatory environment' for the closures."
In a post titled "UMW Is Dead, UAW Is Alive," Payne used the cropped quote from Crutchfield to suggest that it is wrong to attribute the layoffs to natural gas competition (and incorrectly suggest the laid off Alpha workers were part of a union):
Mitt Romney's remarks about the 47 percent of Americans who he said are "dependent upon government" echoed right-wing "makers vs. takers" rhetoric -- an argument that has been repeatedly promoted on Fox News.
Conservative media figures are embracing Romney's comments about the 47 percent of Americans that he says are "dependent upon government" and will vote for President Obama by default, following publication of a secret video recording by Mother Jones.
Conservative media outlets are claiming that the military is purchasing more electric vehicles in an attempt to "prop up the Obama administration's green agenda." But military leaders across the political spectrum say that the Pentagon's green initiatives will enhance military effectiveness and strengthen national security.
Last month, Stars and Stripes reported that the Defense Department plans to add about 1,500 "road-capable" electric cars to its fleet over the next few years. So far, the military has purchased 168 plug-in electric vehicles -- including some Chevy Volts. Thomas Hicks, the Navy's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy, recently told Scientific American that the goal of the military's green initiatives is "improving our combat capability, improving our mission effectiveness, and reducing our vulnerabilities to foreign sources of fossil fuel."
But conservative media outlets have conjured up another motive, accusing the Obama administration of using taxpayer dollars to boost GM's sales numbers -- even though the military is buying several types of electric vehicles. A Breitbart post said: "The Obama administration is helping General Motors again by buying up its struggling line of electric cars." And a Washington Free Beacon article stated: "The Pentagon's massive car-buying scheme is the latest example of government trying to help GM raise its sales volumes."
Other conservative outlets are calling the purchases a "political statement," and an attempt to "prop up the Obama administration's green agenda." And Fox News, which never misses an opportunity to lambast the Volt, issued the self-fulfilling prophecy that the military's purchase will become "the latest controversy in the Volt's short life."
Several conservative outlets cited a Reuters report that GM is losing up to $49,000 on every Volt sold to suggest that electric vehicles are a waste of taxpayer money. But as the International Business Times pointed out, this figure does not take into account future Volt sales or the application of its technology to other products, which will lower per-vehicle costs. GM called the Reuters figure "grossly wrong," and said that it expects to break even by the time the second-generation Volt is introduced in a few years. Former GM Vice Chairman Bob Lutz wrote in Forbes that "[m]aybe the Volt, a first-generation technology masterpiece and the most-awarded car in automotive history, will never make a really decent profit. But succeeding generations of the same technology will."
International Business Times noted that the Volt is a forward-looking investment by GM, which "should be reassuring to investors and the market." Likewise, the military's investment in electric vehicles is part of a long-term strategy to reduce its dependence on oil, mitigate the risks of climate change and enhance national security.