Fox's Bill O'Reilly and John Stossel forwarded the notion that government assistance does not lift Americans out of poverty, a claim directly contradicted by evidence.
On the September 17 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, host O'Reilly and Fox Business' Stossel discussed persistent and rising income inequality in the U.S. During the segment, Stossel and O'Reilly railed against government anti-poverty measures, with Stossel claiming that government makes "poverty worse with these programs" and that "we should get rid of most of government and allow poor people to become rich."
Stossel's claim about government programs not lifting Americans out of poverty is directly contradicted by evidence released hours before he made the claim.
On September 17, the Census Bureau released its annual report on income, poverty, and health insurance coverage for 2012. While the report showed the poverty rate remained unchanged from 2011, it also highlighted the effectiveness of government anti-poverty programs.
According to the report, if government noncash payments -- such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits -- were taken into account when calculating the poverty rate, millions of Americans would be lifted above the official poverty threshold. From the report:
- If unemployment insurance benefits were excluded from money income, 1.7 million more people would be counted as in poverty in 2012.
- If SNAP benefits were counted as income, 4 million fewer people would be categorized as in poverty in 2012.
- Taking account of the value of the federal earned income tax credit would reduce the number of children classified as in poverty in 2011 by 3.1 million.
Furthermore, as Sharon Parrott, vice president for budget policy and economic opportunity at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, notes, those who weren't lifted out of poverty by SNAP benefits -- also known as food stamps -- were made significantly less poor. The data from the latest Census report reaffirms SNAP as one of the most effective anti-poverty programs.
Fox's misleading campaign against anti-poverty programs -- particularly SNAP -- comes at a critical time. House Republicans plan to decrease funding for the program by nearly $40 billion over ten years, resulting in at least 3.8 million adults and children losing food assistance. The network has even inserted itself into the legislative push against SNAP, distributing its wildly inaccurate documentary on the program to Republican members of congress.
A predictable mix of falsehoods and sexist stereotypes resulted when two male Fox figures attempted to debunk "gender myths" like the gender pay gap, female versus male drivers, and the need for Title IX to support women's athletics.
Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy welcomed Fox Business' John Stossel on August 8 to ostensibly debunk common gender myths. Doocy opened the segment by asking if the differences between boys and girls are so clear, "why are the feminists still pushing gender equality?"
Doocy and Stossel first attempted to tackle the gender pay gap. While admitting that it is true women are paid 77 cents for each dollar men make, Stossel claimed the discrepancy is because, "we don't work the same jobs." The reason, according to him, is that "women have their priorities in order. They often choose jobs that are less time-consuming, not so far away, and not as dangerous." He concluded that if a true pay gap existed, the market would have sorted it out.
The pair ignored the central fact that the gender pay gap measures discrepancies in pay for an equal amount of work. As of 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," a report by the American Association of University Women (AAUW) found. And as the Institute for Women's Policy Research explained, "Women's median earnings are lower than men's in nearly all occupations, whether they work in occupations predominantly done by women, occupations predominantly done by men, or occupations with a more even mix of men and women."
When it came to driving records, Doocy and Stossel did acknowledge that on average, men behind the wheel are more likely to run stop signs, speed, and kill other people. But these statistics did not stop the two from laughing that women are "clearly" worse drivers than men, in part because "they can't maneuver as well."
Back in May, Fox & Friends dedicated more than 13 minutes and multiple segments to questioning whether women can drive or park well.
Last, the men discussed "the myth that Title IX allowed women to play sports in college." Stossel took the stance that without Title IX, which prohibits colleges and universities from discriminating based on gender, this "would have happened anyway. Because at the time, when they passed this, women couldn't get credit cards without a man's signature. Women weren't going to bars alone, or allowed to smoke socially. Life would have changed." Stossel concluded that the law pretends just as many women want to play sports as men do, but "they don't. More men do."
In reality, when Congress passed Title IX in 1972, roughly one in 27 girls, or four percent, participated in sports, according to The New York Times. Just six years later, that number had exploded to 25 percent. Today, roughly one in three girls plays a sport. This increased participation rate is "proof," according to the National Women's Law Center, "that interest often reflects opportunity."
Fox has already sparked outrage this summer with its gender comparisons: In May, host Lou Dobbs called a rise in families with female breadwinners a sign of society's downfall, and paid contributor Erick Erickson added that "biology" and "the natural world" evidenced that men, not women, should hold that "dominant role."
Click below for Stossel and Doocy's full "debunking" attempt.
Fox Business' John Stossel attempted to revive the myth that the gender pay gap is a result of personal choice.
During an August 6 appearance on The O'Reilly Factor, Stossel responded to a statement by co-host Laura Ingraham about liberal criticism of the gender pay gap. Stossel said:
You normal women make different choices, and that's why women are paid less. When it's the same job, they're paid about the same.
Meanwhile, Laura Ingraham dismissed those concerned with equal pay as "feminists and all the Lilly Ledbetter supporters."
In reality, personal choice is not responsible for the gender wage gap.
In its 2013 Gender Pay Gap Report, the American Association of University Women (AAUW) found that women were paid 82 percent of what men were paid just one year out of college, and that lifetime gender wage disparities cannot be explained by personal choice.
Moreover, according to an April 2012 fact sheet from the Institute for Women's Policy Research, "Women's median earnings are lower than men's in nearly all occupations, whether they work in occupations predominantly done by women, occupations predominantly done by men, or occupations with a more even mix of men and women."
House Republicans reportedly plan to remove food stamp funding from the federal farm bill, a move that stands to further jeopardize the survival of the critical anti-poverty program. This move comes after years of right-wing media figures demonizing food stamp recipients as lazy or dependent, with Rush Limbaugh going so far as to propose dumpster diving as an alternative.
Here's a look back at some of the most egregious right-wing attacks on food stamps:
From the June 27 edition of Fox Business' Stossel:
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From the May 30 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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Bill O'Reilly labeled electric carmaker Tesla Motors a failure, claiming it had net losses. But Tesla has actually turned a profit, leading Fox News to label it a "success story" just last week.
O'Reilly stated that Tesla, which received a $465 million Department of Energy loan guarantee, had "$523 million in losses." But Tesla actually made a profit in the first quarter of 2013, and has arranged to repay its loan five years early. O'Reilly's figure is from a 2011 Investor's Business Daily editorial, as Raw Story first noted. In 2011, Tesla had annual net losses of $254 million, adding to previous losses, but CEO Elon Musk always saw Tesla turning a profit in 2013 once its car production ramped up.
In fact, Fox News itself labeled Tesla a "success story," and Fox Business anchor Lou Dobbs reluctantly acknowledged that it was one of the "winners" of the Obama administration's clean energy programs.
Fox Business host John Stossel contradicted himself within just a few paragraphs over whether the "free market" can remedy pollution.
In a FoxNews.com column, Stossel acknowledged that the "free market ... doesn't offer a practical remedy to pollution," but went on tout "capitalism" as the answer to pollution just a few paragraphs later:
Originally, environmental rules were a good thing. I love the free market, but it doesn't offer a practical remedy to pollution. I could sue polluters for violating my property rights, but under our legal system, that's not even close to practical.
So in the '70s, government passed rules that demanded we stop polluting the air and water. Industry put scrubbers in smokestacks. Towns installed sewage treatment. Now the air is quite clean, and I can swim in the rivers around Manhattan.
Throughout the world, most reductions in pollution have been achieved because of capitalism, not government control.
Fracking for natural gas reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
Even much-hated coal and oil provide benefits. [emphasis added]
Stossel was right the first time. Experts from across the political spectrum say that when the "free market" does not account for the external costs that fossil fuel production imposes on society, the government must step in to put a price on pollution. As Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman put it:
Externalities like pollution are one of the classic forms of market failure, and Econ 101 says that this failure should be remedied through pollution taxes or tradable emissions permits that get the price right. [...] So if you really believed in the logic of free markets, you'd be all in favor of pollution taxes, right?
Krugman highlighted a 2011 study by centrist economists which found that coal imposes more costs on society than any other industry and may be "underregulated" as its price does not account for these damages.
Fox Business host John Stossel is dismissing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposed ban on plastic foam containers by claiming the containers are "not so bad" for the environment. But the non-recyclable containers pose health and environmental risks and impose significant costs on the city.
On Thursday's edition of Fox and Friends, Stossel said that we need not worry about waste from the plastic foam containers colloquially called "Styrofoam" because "we're not running out of landfills":
But shifting from products that end up in landfills to products that can be recycled can save the city money, and the health and environmental risks of Styrofoam are indeed "bad."
Using recyclable products rather than Styrofoam saves the city money. Even if there is room for more landfills, as Stossel claims, it will be cheaper for the city if recyclable products replace Styrofoam containers. The Associated Press reported:
It costs the city an average of $86 per ton to landfill some 2 million tons of garbage a year; by contrast, the city nets a payment of at least $10 a ton for recycling paper and about $14 a ton for recycling glass and plastic, [New York City's head of recycling, Ron] Gonen said.
Reuters added that Styrofoam imposes costs on the city's recycling program:
An estimated 20,000 tons of Styrofoam enter the city's waste stream each year, and it can add an estimated $20 per ton to the cost of recycling because it needs to be removed from the recycling stream, the city said.
The largest single source of trash, or municipal solid waste (MSW), is containers and packaging, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.
As around 70 percent of paper and steel containers, and over a third of aluminum and glass containers are recycled, replacing Styrofoam containers with these alternatives could save the city significant amounts of money.
Styrofoam can leach chemicals that are likely cancerous. The U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH) has listed styrene as a likely human carcinogen. Polystyrene, the technical name of Styrofoam, can leach this chemical into foods, according to the NIH:
As Fox Business host John Stossel declared America's water pollution problem over, a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) report found that more than half of America's rivers and streams are in poor condition because of pollution.
Stossel appeared on Tuesday's edition of The O'Reilly Factor to preview an anti-environmental episode called "Green Tyranny," and claimed that the problem of pollution in the U.S. was "largely solved" and no longer worth the use of government funding.
BILL O'REILLY (host): All right. So, that's Stossel jumping in the Hudson River, showing off and all of that. And your point to jump in the Hudson River was?
STOSSEL: That we need some environmental rules. Thank goodness, we've had some when I was a kid. You couldn't open a window in the city because soot would come in.
But they've cleaned up the water. So, it used to go -- 8 million people flushing, used to go straight in the Hudson River.
O'REILLY: All right. It doesn't do that anymore. It's treated and all of that. So, the Hudson -- I mean, I wouldn't be swimming there on a regular basis, Stossel. Your mustache is gonna falll off, all right?
Yeah, you can show up and jump in there for 10 seconds but, come on.
STOSSEL: It's pretty good. My point is that they spent several hundred million dollars.
O'REILLY: Cleaning up the river.
STOSSEL: Cleaning up the river and the air.
O'REILLY: Which was worth it though.
STOSSEL: Which was worth it.
STOSSEL: But stick a fork in it. It's done. They did a great job. The air -- every time somebody buys a new car, the air gets cleaner because the old cars pollute more. But government only grows. So, now, they're spending billions of dollars on --
O'REILLY: Are you saying that the pollution problem in this country is not worth the money they're spending on?
STOSSEL: Yes. I'm saying it's largely solved. And, now, we're giving money to rich movie actors, subsidies to buy $100,000 electric cars.
Despite Stossel's claims, an EPA report released on Tuesday found 55 percent of U.S. rivers and streams to be in "poor biological condition," based on an index that measures various aquatic creatures. The report also found that 23 percent of rivers and streams were in fair condition, and just under 21 percent were in good condition. The assessment was based on "the results of an unprecedented sampling effort undertaken by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its state and tribal partners" collected in 2008 and 2009 at 1,924 sites across the country. From the EPA's report:
The EPA's "National Rivers and Streams Assessment" also determined that 9 percent of waterways studied posed a danger to human health. The Associated Press reported:
In 9 percent of rivers and streams, bacteria exceeded thresholds protective of human health. And mercury, which is toxic, was found in fish tissue along 13,000 miles of streams at levels exceeding health-based standards. Mercury occurs naturally but also can enter the environment from coal-burning power plants and from burning hazardous wastes.
The assessment raised red flags particularly in urban areas. According to the EPA, 26.9 percent of the urban sites tested -- 2,970 miles of the 11,002 -- exceed the EPA quality standards for mercury (300 parts per billion in fish tissue), and 11.6% contained concerning levels of PFCs, artificial chemicals used to make used for decades to make products that resist heat, oil, stains, grease, and water. From the EPA assessment:
Two foundations that have been described as "the dark money ATM of the right" have spent more than $500,000 combined funding a non-profit organization whose primary function is distributing libertarian education materials featuring Fox Business host John Stossel.
Donors Trust and Donors Capital Fund, the affiliated funding groups, were until recently obscure entities. But over the past month a series of reports have detailed how those organizations have paid out more than $400 million to over 1,000 conservative groups since their 1999 founding. Those reports have described how the two organizations have allowed wealthy individuals to discreetly underwrite trending conservative causes like climate change denial.
The groups have also been the primary funders behind an effort to flood American classrooms with packaged libertarian lessons branded with John Stossel's mustachioed face. In 2011, Donors Trust gave $40,000 to the Philadelphia-based Center for Independent Thought (CIT), with the funds earmarked for the distribution of "Stossel in the Classroom" teaching materials, according to IRS filings obtained by Mother Jones.
According to CIT's website, its mission is to "bring the ideas of liberty to freedom-loving people around the globe." They do so primarily through the distribution of free "Stossel in the Classroom" videos, DVDs and discussion guides, which the program claims are currently used by more than 150,000 teachers in middle school, high school, and college classrooms around the country.
The Center spent $360,872 on the "Stossel" program that year, making it by far the largest of the three active programs listed on its website.
From the January 10 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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In response to a compromise on tax policy, conservative media are again comparing the United States to Greece. According to right-wing logic, the deal brings America even closer to the violence and discord in Greece, Italy, Ireland, France, and just about every European country whose citizens have protested austerity measures.
Of course, conservative media figures have spent at least three years ringing this same alarm. Economic experts have spent just as much time dismissing this panicked comparison, but to little avail. This Media Matters video, drawing on three years of television coverage of deficits and spending, shows the prevalence and longevity of the Greece talking point:
From the December 6 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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From the November 29 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
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