The Hill

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  • What You Need To Know About Rumored Trump Labor Secretary Andy Puzder

    Trump Reportedly Leaning Toward Prolific Right-Wing Op-Ed Writer And Fast Food CEO To Head Department Of Labor

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Media outlets have reported that President-elect Donald Trump is considering Andy Puzder, a right-wing commentator and fast food CEO, for secretary of labor. Puzder is known for writing op-eds denouncing worker rights and the minimum wage, and his company is infamous for its “supermodel-centric marketing strategy” designed to offend viewers and stoke sales.

    According to a November 15 article in Politico, Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants, which operates burger chains Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, was on the short list to replace Tom Perez as the secretary of labor in the incoming Trump administration. The same day, The Atlantic also reported on Trump’s possible choice of Puzder, noting the CEO’s history of fundraising for Trump and his staunch opposition to Obamacare and raising the minimum wage.

    In his op-eds and media appearances, Puzder frequently peddles right-wing misinformation advocating policies that hurt American workers. Puzder has praised the job destruction that comes with workplace automation, boasting in a March 16 interview with Business Insider that he wanted to automate more of his restaurants to avoid paying worker salaries and benefits. Puzder claimed that replacing people with machines would be preferable because machines “never take a vacation” or complain when discriminated against. From Business Insider:

    "They're always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there's never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case," says Puzder of swapping employees for machines.

    Puzder opposes new overtime rules proposed by the Department of Labor that would extend guaranteed overtime pay to qualified salaried workers making less than $47,476 a year. Puzder defended his position by claiming that having a salaried position -- and thus no overtime pay -- is an “opportunity” that confers “prestige” and “an increased sense of ownership” to overworked and underpaid managers. Puzder has also frequently attacked the push to raise the minimum wage and Obamacare’s health insurance expansion, misleadingly claiming that stronger wages and benefits actually hurt workers.

    Puzder even attacked working-class Americans during an appearance on Fox & Friends, claiming that low-income workers might be wary of higher paying jobs if the salary increase results in a loss of government benefits. Puzder wrote in an op-ed in The Hill of a so-called "Welfare Cliff," where employees turn down promotions that could lead to $80,000 salaries because they "don't want to lose the free stuff from the government." Yet, by Puzder's own admission, the company he runs does not pay anywhere near the $80,000 annual salary that his employees were supposedly passing up so as to qualify for anti-poverty assistance.

    In addition to being an outspoken media advocate of poverty wages in the fast food industry and an opponent of policies aimed at helping American workers, Puzder also runs a company that boosts its sales via a “supermodel-centric marketing strategy” catered to exploiting his customers’ base impulses. Puzder told Entrepreneur magazine that complaints that his ads are sexist “aren't necessarily bad” for the company and that he thinks his company’s “sales go up” amid public outcry over ads that degrade women. The fast food chain has been running these ads for years, and Jezebel compiled “a history of disgusting Carl's Jr. ads” from 2005 to 2013. Puzder’s stance on objectifying women for commercial gain is eerily reminiscent of Donald Trump’s own history of degrading remarks about women.

    As the president-elect begins the transfer of power, media need to inform Americans of Trump’s potential cabinet picks, the potential policies these cabinet members may support, and how those policies will affect American workers. Experts have already started to express fear that Trump’s proposals for the economy -- budget-busting tax cuts for the rich and unfunded deficit spending -- may create a short-term “sugar high” followed by an economic crash. The next labor secretary could exacerbate those economic worries if he or she promotes policies that undermine the livelihoods of millions of Americans.

  • Media Credulously Repeat NRA’s False Claim That Clinton Opposes Gun Ownership

    ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON

    Media outlets reporting on the NRA’s new $5 million ad buy that claims Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton “could take away” your “right to self-defense” failed to hold the gun organization to account for the falsity of that claim. While media reporting on the ad repeated and gave credence to the NRA’s claims, they often failed to cite Clinton’s actual positions on gun regulation or mention the fact-checkers who have debunked a nearly identical NRA ad targeting Clinton as “false.”

  • Trump Blames Clinton For Execution Of Iranian Scientist After The Right-Wing Lie Was Debunked

    ››› ››› NINA MAST

    Echoing a myth peddled by right-wing media, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump claimed that there was a link between the execution of Shahram Amiri, a nuclear scientist in Iran, and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton’s private email server, which contained a couple emails that appear to discuss Amiri’s case. But there is no evidence either that Clinton’s server was hacked, which would have been necessary for Iran to see the emails, or that the email discussion of Amiri had any connection to his eventual death.

  • Nine Times Reporters Botched The Facts On Hillary Clinton's Emails

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Media outlets have had to correct numerous reports on  Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state due to flawed journalistic processes that favored anonymous sourcing and failed to prioritize accuracy. With the FBI calling for no criminal charges following its probe into the use of the server, Media Matters looks back at nine corrections from seven different publications.  

  • Fox News Misses Important Context On Economic-Based Election Predictions To Claim GOP Victory

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH

    Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. left out important context during a discussion of economic models that predict a GOP victory in the presidential election. Johnson seemed to be drawing his information from The Hill, which had reported on the models the day before, but he failed to mention the paper's point that the models "are being challenged like never before by the presence" of Republican front-runner Donald Trump.

    On the April 5 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Johnson discussed a story first reported by The Hill, which detailed how three economic models -- from Yale University economist Ray Fair, Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz, and Moody's Analytics -- can be used to predict election outcomes. Johnson, who did not credit The Hill for the story, said that "whether it's Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump ... or any of the other candidates that are now running, the Republicans win according to these models":

    AINSLEY EARHARDT (CO-HOST): The numbers don't lie. A Republican in the White House, no matter the nominee, is a mathematical certainty--that's what two highly respected economic models are saying this morning. These models have picked the winner in nearly every presidential contest for decades, but what makes them so sure this time? Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. joins us now to weigh in on this.

    PETER JOHNSON JR.: Good morning. This is really fascinating. They're saying whether it's Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, whether it's any of the candidates that are now running, the Republicans win. So let's look at the models and why they're saying it, because you'll find it interesting. So, the first model is the Ray Fair election model. It says the GOP wins. The Alan Abramowitz election model -- he's from Emory University -- says the GOP wins. And then Moody's has a model; they say the Democrats win. Let's look at what they're saying here. The Fair election model, created by Yale professor Ray Fair, it's correctly forecast all but three presidential elections since 1916. And so, let's talk about the factors with regard to that. In his model, the per capita growth rate before the election of the GDP, inflation over the entire presidential term, and the number of quarters the per capita GDP grows. So it's all, Ainsley, economically based. Not based on individual personalities, not based on current poll numbers at all.

    EARHARDT: What about some of the other models? What are the factors?

    JOHNSON: There's another model, Professor Abramowitz's election model, he's an Emory professor. He's predicted every presidential election, since it launched in 1992, accurately. And his factors include an incumbent president's job approval rating, the economy's growth during the first half of the year, how long the incumbent party has been in the White House. And based on those factors, he says he's able to predict that the Republicans will win. Now, there's a lot of volatility obviously in this race. We have two of the highest negative presidential campaigns that we might see as nominees in the end, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. They both carry a lot of negatives. So what effect will that have on the economics?

    EARHARDT: And they don't predict which Republican candidate will win; they just say a Republican.

    JOHNSON: It's based on income. It's based on economic growth. It's based on voters being affected by the statistics in a visceral way. In a real way. The final look at it is Moody's. Moody's says they're going to judge it by electoral college votes, income growth by state, home gasoline prices by state, and presidential approval numbers currently. Their particular model says that the Democrat wins. So most of these models are pointing to the Republicans, but Moody's say it's a Democrat. So by the numbers, the Republicans win, according to these models.

    But The Hill notes that this year's unusual campaign is casting uncertainty on the economic models, saying that Trump's presence has "shaken up politics," and that his fights with his opponents "have electrified his supporters but have turned off other voters."

    Supporting that point, Ray Fair told The Hill, "If there's any time in which personalities would trump the economy it would be this election." The New York Times also recently reported on his prediction, noting that Fair "says his model may well be wrong about this election. 'Each election has weird things in it, yet the model usually works pretty well,' he said. 'This year, though, I don't know. This year really could be different.'"

    Regarding the Abramowitz model, The Hill pointed out that "the Democratic candidate can expect to receive 48.7 percent of the vote -- with Obama's approval rating at 50 percent," but it also mentioned that since Abramowitz's last prediction, President Obama's approval rating has gone up to 52 percent. The article even cited a recent quote from Abramowitz in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where he noted that the president's rising approval rating may be "significant for the general election."

    The Hill also quoted economist Dan White from Moody's, who explained that "there's a lot more uncertainty" in this election "that could upset the balance and the historical relationship of how marginal voters vote." The Moody's model predicts that "the Democratic nominee would take 332 electoral votes compared to 206 for the Republican nominee," The Hill explained -- the same Electoral College outcome witnessed in 2012. White told the paper that a factor in the prediction was the president's increased approval rating, which he said may have been boosted by "the unruly GOP."

  • The Hill Uncritically Repeats Judicial Watch's Clinton Email Smear

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    UPDATE: Following the publication of this post, The Hill added the following editor's note to the article: "This story was corrected on March 23 to reflect that the 'commitments to action' included non-monetary assistance. A previous version contained incorrect information."

    The article previously read:

    A conservative legal watchdog has released documents that show staffers to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton interacting with the Clinton Foundation.

    Judicial Watch said the internal State Department documents show Clinton's aides helping orchestrate her public thanks to Clinton Global Initiative project donors in 2009.

    It now reads (emphasis added):

    A conservative legal watchdog has released documents that it says show staffers to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton interacting with the Clinton Foundation. 

    Judicial Watch said the internal State Department documents show Clinton's aides helping orchestrate her public thanks to organizations who had made a commitment to help the Clinton Global Initiative. Those "commitments to action" can include donations and non-monetary assistance, according to the Foundation's website.

    Original post:

    The Hill uncritically reported the latest smear from the conservative organization Judicial Watch, suggesting inappropriate behavior involving Hillary Clinton's emails and the Clinton Global Initiative.

    On March 22, The Hill reported that Judicial Watch released documents which showed "Clinton's aides helping orchestrate her public thanks to Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) project donors in 2009." The Hill claimed that "Clinton addressed Clinton Foundation donor commitments during the Clinton Global Initiative Closing Plenary in September 2009":

    A conservative legal watchdog has released documents that show staffers to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton interacting with the Clinton Foundation.

    Judicial Watch said the internal State Department documents show Clinton's aides helping orchestrate her public thanks to Clinton Global Initiative project donors in 2009.

    [...]

    Clinton addressed Clinton Foundation donor commitments during the Clinton Global Initiative Closing Plenary in September 2009.

    "This is an exceptional gathering of people who have made exceptional commitments to bettering our world," she said on September 25, 2009, at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers in New York, N.Y.

    In reality, Clinton did not discuss donors in her speech, and the emails in question show that the "commitments" The Hill describes as donors are in fact organizations promising a commitment to action to address issues and CGI initiatives around the globe. On the CGI website, "Commitments to Action" are described as, "a plan for addressing a significant global challenge. Commitments can be small or large and financial or nonmonetary in nature."

    The Hill's uncritical reporting on Judicial Watch's claims are not the first time the group's anti-Clinton smears have been parroted by the media. In September 2015, The New York Times also fell for Judicial Watch's chicanery, only to be forced several days later to correct the false report. 

    Judicial Watch has also peddled in conspiracy theories claiming the Department of Justice was organizing rallies against George Zimmerman, that ISIS set up a terrorist camp "just a few miles from El Paso, Texas," and it was also a leading voice in the false outrage over President Obama's "czars."

  • Media Echo Inaccurate GOP Talking Points To Blame Obama And Biden For Republican SCOTUS Obstructionism

    ››› ››› NICK FERNANDEZ

    Media inaccurately equated President Obama's 2006 Senate filibuster vote of then-Judge Samuel Alito and Vice President Biden's 1992 comments on the Senate floor about a Supreme Court nomination in an election year to Senate Republicans' unprecedented attempts to block the president's nomination of Chief Judge Merrick Garland.

  • Four Things The Media Should Know When Covering The "Benghazi Treatment" Of Planned Parenthood By Congressional Republicans

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    Republicans in Congress established the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives in October 2015 following baseless allegations from the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) that Planned Parenthood was involved in the sale of fetal tissue. As state investigations clear Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing but it continues to get the Republican "Benghazi treatment," here are four things the media should know when covering the congressional panel.

  • Los Medios Señalan A Rubio Por Moverse A La Derecha En Inmigración

    ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF English language version

    Los medios están señalando al senador Marco Rubio (R-FL) por su "cambio acelerado hacia la derecha" en inmigración luego de que prometiera -- en el "primer día de su mandato" -- que terminaría con el programa Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA por sus siglas en inglés), instituido por el presidente Obama para proteger a ciertos inmigrantes indocumentados de ser deportados. Los medios conservadores han presionado a Rubio para que endurezca su postura migratoria debido a su pasado apoyo de una reforma migratoria bipartidista.

  • Media Call Out Rubio For Shift Right On Immigration

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN Versión en español

    Media are calling out Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) for his "mad rush to the right" on immigration after he promised to -- on his "first day in office" -- end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program instituted by President Obama to protect some undocumented immigrants from deportation. Right-wing media have pushed Rubio to take a stronger stance on immigration because of his past sponsorship of bipartisan reform.

  • Media Glossing Over Climate Science Denial By GOP "Establishment" Candidates

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

    Rubio Bush Kasich

    In recent weeks, media outlets including The New York Times, PolitiFact, and The Hill have failed to recognize that so-called "establishment" Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, and John Kasich have all made remarks about man-made climate change that conflict with the strongly held consensus of the scientific community. While all three candidates have at one point or another acknowledged some human role in climate change, none accept the community's consensus that humans are the primary cause of global warming.

    In a January 23 article purporting to explain "where the GOP field stands" on climate change, The Hill reported that Rubio "has said that he believes in the science behind climate change," Bush "says he believes the science behind climate change and mankind's role in causing it," and Kasich "acknowledges climate change." And on February 9 and February 13, respectively, PolitiFact and The Times took issue with Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' statement that no Republican candidate acknowledges that "climate change is real," arguing, in PolitiFact's words, that both Bush and Kasich have said climate change is "real" and "man-made." None of these articles noted that Rubio, Bush, and Kasich have all contradicted the scientific consensus by questioning the extent to which humans impact the climate.

    For these media outlets, simply establishing that Rubio, Bush, and Kasich acknowledged humans play some role in climate change was sufficient proof that they are not climate science deniers. But the consensus view of the scientific community -- including major scientific institutions like NASA and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) -- is that human activities such as burning fossil fuels are the primary cause of global warming. The IPCC has determined with at least 95 percent probability that human activities are the "dominant cause" of climate change, which is equal to the amount of certainty scientists have that cigarettes are deadly.

    Rubio came closest to acknowledging this scientific reality during a May 2014 interview on Fox News, in which he said: "There is a majority of scientists that say that global carbon emission by humans causes some changes in the climate." But in his next breath, he added that "there is no consensus" on how much of climate change "is directly attributable to human carbon emission." Similarly, in an April 2015 appearance on CBS' Face the Nation, Rubio said: "[T]here's never been a moment where the climate is not changing. The question is what percentage of that -- or what is due to human activity?"

    In other media appearances, Rubio has been more overt in his climate science denial, such as when he told ABC News, "I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it." That comment earned Rubio a "false" rating on PolitiFact's Truth-O-Meter.

    As evidence that Bush believes climate change is "real," PolitiFact pointed to his July 2015 remark, "Human activity has contributed to it." The Times cited a more recent remark, from February 2016, in which Bush said: "I think the climate is changing. It is inconceivable to me that five billion people living on this planet don't have an impact on that." However, neither outlet mentioned other remarks Bush has made that show he "does not acknowledge the scientific consensus that human activity drives climate change," as National Journal put it. For instance, in May 2015, The Washington Post noted that Bush said of climate change: "I don't think the science is clear on what percentage is man-made and what percentage is natural. It's convoluted." Other newspapers, including the Union Leader and Valley News in New Hampshire, have similarly reported that Bush either questioned the "percentage of human involvement" in climate change or claimed "scientists haven't determined how much of it is attributable to people."

    Bush has even made some remarks that seemed to leave open the possibility that human activity could play no role in climate change, saying in June 2015: "Because the climate is changing, whether men are doing it or not - in the case of the sea level rising in Miami - is kind of irrelevant." He's also contradicted the upper range of sea level rise projections in the National Climate Assessment -- and the worst case scenario calculated by four Florida counties -- by declaring that "the sea level is not going to rise by six feet. It might, you know, a thousand years from now, who knows, but it's not going to rise in the near term, in the next 30 years or 50 years."

    Finally, in its "fact-check" of Sanders' remarks, The Times highlighted a quote from Kasich that actually shows he does not acknowledge the scientific consensus that human activities are the primary cause of global warming: "I do believe there is climate change, and I think that human beings impact it. But I also don't know to what degree we impact it." Kasich more directly denied the scientific consensus in September 2015 remarks in New Hampshire, in which he said, "I don't believe that humans are the primary cause of climate change." And when asked during an August 2015 appearance on NBC's Meet the Press whether he agrees with Pope Francis that climate change is man-made, Kasich claimed that "man absolutely affects the environment," but there is a "legitimate debate" about "the overall impact." He also said: "We don't want to destroy people's jobs, based on some theory that is not proven."

    In its piece, PolitiFact also challenged the other portion of Sanders' remark, which was that the GOP candidates refuse to recognize "that we need to transform our energy system" to deal with climate change. But unable to point to climate policies that Bush and Rubio favor, PolitiFact cited Bush's "calls for the repeal or reform" of the Clean Power Plan and Rubio's desire to "get rid of some anti-pollution rules and use the free market" to encourage conservative and efficiency as evidence that they "have offered support for actions to deal with [climate change]."

    Hopefully media outlets will more deeply explore how well the candidates' comments square with climate science going forward, particularly in articles that purport to be "fact-checks." Splitting the GOP field into "outsider" candidates who reject climate science and "establishment" candidates who accept it might make for a compelling media narrative. But it doesn't make for an accurate one.

    Image at top via Flickr user Gage Skidmore using a Creative Commons license.