Maria Bartiromo

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  • Fox Business' GOP Convention Coverage Promotes 5 Big Coal Myths In 7 Minutes

    Blog ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS & ANDREW SEIFTER

    During Fox Business’ July 20 coverage of the Republican National Convention, host Maria Bartiromo and coal industry executive Robert Murray peddled industry-friendly myths while attacking clean energy with falsehoods. Murray also said he is thus far “elated” with the GOP convention, which is aligned with a radical anti-environmental platform, and he repeatedly declared that the energy policies of the Obama administration and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton are “evil.”

    Here are five Big Coal myths that Bartiromo and Murray espoused during the segment:

    Myth #1: Obama regulations are to blame for the coal industry’s decline. Bartiromo aired a clip of Clinton that has repeatedly been distorted by conservative media to claim she wants to harm coal miners, and then Bartiromo claimed that “the policies in place have already put [coal industry employees] out of work.” Murray declared that “there’s hundreds of thousands of people” at the Environmental Protection Agency and other government agencies “writing rules against we who are trying to maintain jobs,” and added: “The coal industry is virtually destroyed … we had 200,000 miners before Obama. We now have 60,000.” But industry experts say market forces, including technological advances and competition from natural gas and renewables, are the primary cause of the coal industry’s decline -- not policies from the Obama administration.

    Myth #2: Murray “cares” about coal miners. As he was attacking environmental protections, Murray stated: “I’ve been forced to lay off 3,300 coal miners this year. It just kills me because I am a coal miner. I care about these people.” Bartiromo might have pointed out in response that Murray has pressured employees to support his favored political candidates, allegedly fired employees to influence the 2012 presidential election, and has repeatedly fought against health benefits, safety protections, and labor rights for coal miners.

    Myth #3: Coal energy is cheaper than wind energy. During the segment, Murray claimed that wind energy is highly subsidized and far more expensive than coal, which he said provides “low-cost reliable electricity.” However, according to both the U.S. Energy Information Agency and the investment banking firm Lazard, the unsubsidized cost of wind energy is substantially lower than that of coal.

    Myth #4: It’s not possible to retrain coal miners for jobs in the clean energy economy. Bartiromo baselessly dismissed the concept of retraining coal miners for clean energy industry jobs, declaring: “The other thing is the skill sets and the training. What does a coal miner know about windmills? How do they know about solar panels? There’s no training." However, according to a recent study by researchers at Oregon State University and Michigan Technological University, “a relatively minor investment in retraining would allow the vast majority of coal workers to switch to [solar photovoltaic]-related positions even in the event of the elimination of the coal industry.”

    Myth #5: There is a “war on coal.” The “war on coal” is a favorite talking point of the coal industry and the Republican party, most recently adopted in the GOP’s 2016 energy platform. Fox Business endorsed it with on-screen text:

    The “war on coal” was manufactured by the GOP and the coal industry to attack Democrats during the 2012 election -- as Greenpeace has pointed out, then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney released an ad claiming President Obama was “ruining” the coal industry around the same time that House Republicans pushed a “Stop the War on Coal Act.” Associated Press reporter Vicki Smith succinctly explained the misleading nature of the phrase at the time:

    The war on coal is a sound bite and a headline, perpetuated by pundits, power companies and public relations consultants who have crafted a neat label for a complex set of realities, one that compels people to choose sides.

    It's easier to call the geologic, market and environmental forces reshaping coal — cheap natural gas, harder-to-mine coal seams, slowing economies — some kind of political or cultural "war" than to acknowledge the world is changing, and leaving some people behind.

    The full video, from the July 20 edition of Fox Business’ Mornings with Maria:

  • GOP Lawmakers Latch Onto Fox’s Unsubstantiated Claims About A Clinton Foundation Investigation

    ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    GOP lawmakers reportedly circulated a letter requesting several federal agencies investigate the Clinton Foundation, parroting “unresolved media reports” to allege that the nonprofit was a “lawless ‘pay to play’ enterprise.” This latest move echoes months of unsubstantiated assertions from Fox News that the foundation was already under investigation for supposed abuses during Hillary Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state.

  • Fox Figures Circle The Wagons Around Boss Roger Ailes Amid Sexual Harassment Allegations

    ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    Fox News personalities are training their fire on former colleague Gretchen Carlson after the former host filed a “sexual harassment/retaliation” lawsuit against Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. Carlson’s suit comes after years of overt sexism by Fox guests and on-air personalities and stirred a flurry of new attention to Ailes’ notorious track record of vulgar conduct and sexist behavior toward women.

  • Myths & Facts: The Minimum Wage

    ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    On June 25, 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) into law and established the first nationwide minimum hourly wage. The relative value of the minimum wage has fluctuated considerably over time, but it has steadily eroded since reaching an inflation-adjusted peak in 1968 -- the $1.60 per hour wage that year would be worth roughly $11.05 today. For several years, in the face of a growing movement to lift local, state, and federal minimum wages to a livable standard, right-wing media opponents have frequently promoted a number of misleading and discredited myths about the minimum wage’s economic effects.

  • How Conservative Media Enabled Trump’s Outrageous Lies

    ››› ››› CYDNEY HARGIS & JARED HOLT

    Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and conservative media figures repeatedly enabled each other to spread baseless smears and outright lies throughout the Republican presidential primary election cycle. Voices in conservative media repeatedly legitimized Trump’s debunked conspiracies, policy proposals, and statistics, some of which echoed longtime narratives from prominent right-wing media figures.

  • Conservative Media Distort Hillary Clinton's Plan To Revitalize Coal Country

    ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS & JARED HOLT

    Conservative media figures are cherry-picking a comment made by Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during CNN's March 13 Democratic town hall in Columbus, Ohio to deceptively claim that she wants to "destroy" coal miners' livelihoods. Clinton was actually discussing her plan to help the predominantly low-income communities that have been hardest hit by the generation-long decline of the coal industry, which has been primarily driven by market forces beyond the control of any politician.

  • Media Try To Delegitimize Union Voters Who Helped Clinton Win Nevada Caucuses

    ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH

    Following Hillary Clinton's "decisive win" in the Nevada Democratic caucuses, media are attempting to undermine and delegitimize the votes of union members, claiming that Clinton was the beneficiary of a "controlled vote" thanks to "self-neutered" "service-union bosses." This anti-union argument suggests that union members do not make their own voting decisions.

  • Right-Wing Media's False Unemployment Statistics Seep Into Trump's NH Victory Speech

    ››› ››› CRISTINA LOPEZ

    Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump falsely claimed that the unemployment rate could be as high as 42 percent during his victory speech in New Hampshire. This talking point that the official unemployment rate is "phony" is a common refrain among right-wing media figures who have allowed Trump to push the faulty claim, despite the fact that fact-checkers have called it "ridiculous."

  • If Media Can't Explain This Clear Campaign Finance Violation, We All Have A Serious Problem

    Blog ››› ››› SERGIO MUNOZ

    It's true: campaign finance law is absurdly difficult for media to explain to American voters. The numbers are abstractly large, the rules are complicated, and everyone wonders if American voters actually care.

    The polls certainly seem to say Americans are concerned. Across the political spectrum, voters consistently tell the media the tidal wave of money in politics is a grave problem and the case that opened the flood gates -- Citizens United --  should be overturned. Whether it's Republicans complaining about the "special interests" of Washington, D.C. or Democrats warning about the billionaires running our campaigns, the message is clear: clean elections matter.

    The editorial boards and television pundits seem to agree. Like clockwork, with every new discouraging development handed down by the courts on campaign finance law, every new revelation of the monied power brokers pulling politicians' strings, every new failure to effectively enforce the election regulations on the books, solemn editorials are written and monologues are delivered warning American voters that the system has become at-risk to rampant corruption and conflicts of interest.

    And yet here we are: live on Fox Business Network during their televised presidential debate, under questioning from FBN's Maria Bartiromo, a major presidential candidate just admitted he violated a basic campaign finance transparency rule in a fashion that runs antithetical to his core political image and he seems to think no one cares. He certainly doesn't seem to be afraid of the media calling him out, although some are trying. How else do we describe the embarrassing image of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), ostensibly one of the most intelligent legislators in Congress, brazenly admitting in a live presidential debate he broke the law as a senatorial candidate by taking a roughly million dollar campaign loan from Goldman Sachs and Citibank without properly disclosing the sources to the Federal Election Commission (FEC)?

    Maybe the reason Bartiromo didn't follow up her original question with anything more than a "thank you" was that she was as stunned as the rest of us.

    Yes, the candidate also misled about the details of his election violation on national television and media fact checkers duly called out the bait-and-switch after. Disclosing the possible conflict of interest in receiving a million dollars from Goldman Sachs (this Goldman Sachs) and Citibank while you're campaigning as a man of the people railing against the big bad establishment is not the same thing as disclosing the possible conflict of interest after you've been elected, a conflation the candidate nevertheless attempted to sell with a straight face during the debate. That's like a voter explaining they didn't properly register before they cast a ballot but did so afterwards, so it's all good.

    That's not how it works.

    Election disclosure laws are supposed to inform Americans before they vote so they can make an educated decision. In fact, this principle of mandated disclosure may have been the only reason Citizens United was allowed in the first place -- as a counterbalance to the obvious conflicts of interest the Supreme Court was about to tempt politicians with. The entire point behind the legal argument that led the conservatives on the Supreme Court to allow the 1% more unfiltered access to campaigning politicians was the idea that at least Americans would know who was potentially buying influence. In the case of Cruz, who rails against big money and the elite as a point of pride, such information may have been particularly interesting to the Tea Partiers who voted for him.

    But again, here we are. A major presidential candidate seems to think either voters are idiots, or the media are.

    So it's a challenge. The number is a cool million, easy for the typical news consumer to grasp. The case law and implementing disclosure regulations are cut and dry -- if you take money from a bank for your campaign, you have to identify the bank to the FEC. It boils down to the third problem of campaign finance reporting -- does the American public care? They say they do, over and over again, and the media keeps telling us this is an important part of American democracy, so what's the disconnect, if any?

    With this ridiculously clear campaign finance violation on display for all to see, we're about to find out.

    If media can't get the American public to understand why this sort of behavior, certainly not unique to Cruz, is a big problem, it's no longer the fault of the American public. They aren't the experts. It's the media's job to provide the expertise. But if the media can't effectively explain this one to its audience -- it's time to rethink how campaign finance reporting is done.

    After all, Cruz is basically daring you.