Fox News host Mike Huckabee denied responsibility for shady email pitches sent to subscribers to his email list, telling Media Matters that he is "simply a conduit to send messages" and "can't always vouch for the veracity" of the promoted products.
Huckabee is part of the conservative movement's attempts to cash in on their followers by renting out their email lists to suspect sources. Fox News contributor Scott Brown was recently forced to disown a quack doctor after he sent a sponsored email touting the doctor's dubious Alzheimer's disease cures. Huckabee also sent emails promoting the doctor.
During a press conference held at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) outside Washington, Media Matters asked Huckabee about shady sponsored emails he's sent with his name on it, such as the Alzheimer's disease emails.
Huckabee shrugged off responsibility for the emails, saying "You are supposed to read the disclosure and the disclaimer that is a part of the messages. We are simply the conduit to send messages, these are sponsored and I can't always vouch for the veracity."
Huckabee's sketchy sponsored emails extend beyond questionable medical cures. He recently sent a sponsored email touting the stock recommendation of a financial analyst who was fired from Fox News for ethical violations.
From the March 6 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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Fox dishonestly framed the current National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) case examining outside influence in the Chattanooga Volkswagen union vote as an attack on Sen. Bob Corker's free speech, ignoring that the board has no authority to constrain political speech.
On February 14, workers at the Chattanooga, Tennessee Volkswagen plant voted down a proposal to join the United Auto Workers (UAW) union by a vote of 712 - 626. The vote came after an extended media campaign which culminated on February 13, the day before the scheduled vote, when Corker falsely alleged that if the workers voted against the union, the plant would be rewarded with a new product to manufacture. His claim was immediately rejected by Volkswagen.
The UAW appealed for a re-vote, contending that the "coordinated and widely publicized coercive campaign" by Corker and others infringed on the workers' right to "employee free choice."
But on the March 6 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck framed the fallout of Corker's threats and the impending investigation as "what happens when one of America's most powerful unions doesn't get its way," and as an effort by the UAW to get "a whole new set of rules" if the votes are recast. Hasselbeck then turned to guest Sen. Bob Corker to explain the pending NLRB decision, asking whether the UAW's objection to his threat was really an attempt to stifle free speech:
HASSELBECK: This is a freedom of speech issue, is it not? I mean, The president was out there speaking on behalf of the unions. You were certainly speaking on behalf of your constituents. You worked long and hard to get Volkswagen there from the beginning. Actually had initial meetings in your home. [...] They're telling you you can't speak, but yet the president can? Is this a double standard when it comes to freedom of speech?
CORKER: Yes. And I think, you know, we'll have to see. The UAW has been given until Friday to add additional arguments to their case. You're right, the president weighed in during the election process also. Again, this has happened time and time in the past and never, never before has the NLRB ever overruled because politicians have been involved in this way. So look, I -- you're right. I built the industrial part that Volkswagen is located on when I was mayor with others, recruited them to our state, had been involved with them for five years. Know the management up and down the line, have been, you know, have relationships there. And for me to express concerns about what it would mean to our community and our state over time is something that I think people elect me to do. So again, this is an interesting case. Hopefully even though this is Obama's NLRB, these are his appointees, hopefully they will do the right thing here and not try to muzzle people that are elected by people in their state.
Fox's attempt to frame the NLRB decision as an issue of free speech is dishonest. Offering workers a second chance to consider unionization isn't the same thing as "muzzling" Corker, and giving workers some distance from his comments isn't, as Hasselbeck claimed, a UAW ploy to implement "a whole new set of rules." As former NLRB general counsel Fred Feinstein explained, "the NLRB has no authority over Sen. Corker and cannot control what he says." At most, he said, the Board could conclude that Corker's comments had unfairly tainted the election and could "conceivably order a new one."
The NLRB is responsible for protecting workers legal right to "engage in protected concerted activities-group action to improve wages, benefits, and working conditions and to engage in union activities and support a union," and works to ensure that workers are free of coercion while maintaining their right to "free choice" during union elections. The NLRB typically focuses on whether unions or companies have been involved in illegal coercion of workers during a union vote, but third-party coercion is still a concern. The Huffington Post explained that the NLRB could make the case "that Corker's highly detailed statement created an atmosphere of coercion."
The UAW is only asking for a re-vote, which, if granted, would only allow the unionization of the plant with a majority vote. That's a far cry from Fox's claim that the UAW is planning to "take over" the Volkswagen plant and block officials' free speech in the process.
Conservative radio host Mark Levin is receiving the "inaugural" Andrew Breitbart Defender of the First Amendment Award at noon today at the Conservative Political Action Conference, the annual conference for right-wing activists.
The award, named after the conservative media entrepreneur who passed away in 2012, will be presented by top executives at Breitbart News, the website he founded, and by Citizens United President David Bossie.
Levin has a long history of pushing conservative lies and hateful rhetoric, including recently comparing marriage equality to incest, polygamy, and drug use, comparing supporters of the new health care law to Nazi "brown shirts," claiming "middle class" is a "Marxist term," supporting racial profiling, and likening immigration reform to the "destruction" and "unraveling" of society.
According to Breitbart News, Levin is winning the award because he "fearlessly and passionately stands up for conservatives and everyday Americans whose voices the mainstream press often tries to marginalize or silence."
In recent months, conservative media figures have undermined efforts by labor groups to organize across the United States, demonizing labor unions in the process. These anti-union attacks are largely reliant on myths alleging negative side-effects of union participation.
Fox News is providing ample, uncritical airtime to hype Representative Paul Ryan's (R-WI) report on the alleged ineffectiveness of government anti-poverty programs, despite condemnation from numerous economists that the report is misleading and inaccurate.
Fox News has repeatedly made the false claim that liberal states lose billions of dollars due to tax flight, but tax flight is a well-debunked myth, and the most recent study Fox cited only showed that income tax and state-to-state migration were correlated factors.
From the February 28 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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Bill O'Reilly dismissed the significance of the gender wage gap, saying he isn't "buying this inequality business," and claiming that women can overcome wage inequality simply by working hard. However, O'Reilly ignores the true impact and scope of the gender wage gap, which plagues women at all stages of their careers regardless of education or experience level.
On the February 27 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, O'Reilly criticized President Obama's 2014 State of the Union statements on the importance of closing the gender wage gap. During a conversation with Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo, O'Reilly initially acknowledged that the wage gap exists even after accounting for career and life choices. However, soon after he resorted to mocking the gap, saying, "I'm not buying this inequality business," and dismissing pay inequality as a mere political maneuver, "not a reality." O'Reilly concluded that Bartiromo's successful experience in the stock exchange was sufficient evidence that motivation and hard work can eliminate the gender wage gap, a message O'Reilly says he hopes "gets out to other women that, look, [the gender pay gap is] not perfect but it's good."
Fox News distorted comments by Democratic congressional candidate Alex Sink about the need for immigration reform, completely misinterpreting the meaning of her remarks to cast them as outrageous and beyond the pale. In fact, as the Miami Herald noted, Republican lawmakers have made similar comments in the past without the hint of the conservative outrage Sink's comments have received. Moreover, the comments broadcast by Fox were not Sink's full remarks on the topic.
During a candidate forum in Florida hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, Sink addressed the need for immigration reform by stressing the fact that coastal communities rely heavily on immigrant labor and that without reform, employers are put "in a position of hiring undocumented and illegal workers":
SINK: Immigration reform is important in our country. It's one of the main agenda items of the beaches' Chamber Of Commerce for obvious reasons. Because we have a lot of employers over on the beaches that rely upon workers, and especially in this high-growth environment, where are you going to get people to work to clean our hotel rooms or do our landscaping? And we don't need to put those employers in a position of hiring undocumented and illegal workers.
Discussing those comments on Fox & Friends, guest host Clayton Morris twisted the meaning of those words, claiming what Sink really said was "we need immigration reform so we can have illegal immigrants doing landscaping and cleaning hotels." Co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck added: "Because what would we do without that, she's saying." Morris continued: "How would our hotels be cleaned?"
Co-host Brian Kilmeade also stated: "She was winning by 2 points prior to those remarks. I don't know if this is going to send her numbers south."
In fact, Sink was making the opposite point: We need immigration reform so that employers, particularly those in high-growth areas like coastal communities, don't resort to hiring unauthorized labor. For a network that has been stridently opposed to immigration reform because of the impact such labor has on the workforce, Sink's comments should have been greeted favorably.
Coverage of Social Security in three major national print outlets relied on reporting figures in raw numbers devoid of relevant context -- such as previous years' figures -- that could provide a more accurate picture of the program's finances. These findings, calculated since July 2013, are consistent with a previous Media Matters analysis of print media's coverage of Social Security.
The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Phil Gramm and Mike Solon pushing "pro-growth tax reform" and criticizing "regulatory burden" and "antibusiness bias." The Journal did not disclose that the authors are partners of an anti-regulation lobbying firm, and that Solon is frequent business lobbyist.
Gramm is a former Republican Senator, and Solon worked as a Gramm Senate staffer for over a decade. They run Gramm Partners, a D.C. lobbying firm. The firm's website states that it works "on the issues that matter most to financial companies" and has "a track record of delivering major accomplishments -- and stopping bad deals in their tracks." The two also run US Policy Metrics, "an economic and public policy research firm serving asset managers, hedge funds and the investor community."
According to 2013 data (the most recent available), Solon has lobbied for a variety of clients including the "lobby giant" Akin Gump, Fidelity, American Express, Mortgage Insurance Companies of America, Exxon Mobil, and US Chamber of Commerce. In addition to heading a lobbying firm, Gramm gained notoriety during the 2008 campaign because he co-chaired Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign and was also a "lobbyist for a Swiss bank at the center of the housing credit crisis." Gramm does not appear to have registered as a lobbyist since 2007. Gramm Partners' lobbyist registration form states it is lobbying on behalf of Akin Gump on issues that include budget and taxes.
The Journal's identification of Gramm and Solon simply states: "Mr. Gramm, a former chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, is senior partner of US Policy Metrics and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Mr. Solon was a policy adviser to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and is a partner at US Policy Metrics."
Gramm and Solon's op-ed complains that Democrats won't lower tax rates and have a "misplaced perception of the importance of the inequality debate." They added: "A pro-growth tax reform will not undo this administration's doubling of the federal debt held by the public, its tax increases, increased regulatory burden or antibusiness bias. But it would be a major movement in the right direction."
Media Matters has documented how the Journal has repeatedly failed to disclose relevant ties about writers in its editorial page.
From the February 21 edition of Fox News' America's News HQ:
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Fox News remains focused on attacking the idea of raising the minimum wage, a move that would boost incomes for more than 16 million Americans. Ever since President Obama pushed the widely popular initiative to the forefront of his agenda during his State of the Union address last month, Fox commentators have robotically trashed the policy move. And done so from all angles.
They've fretted that raising the minimum rate would mean "higher wages for workers." (That's kind of the whole point.) They've belittled the issue as being unimportant by claiming few people are affected by a national wage increase. (Wrong.) They've derided it as a jobs killer that would doom big business. (Not quite.) And they've dismissed an income boost as nothing more than a "transfer of wealth from some low- income earners to other low-income earners." (Also false. The Congressional Budget Office projects a wage increase would boost net income by $2 billion.)
The attacks have become something a cornerstone to Fox's program in early 2014. This, while Republicans stand firmly opposed to Obama's wage proposal, to the point where it's unlikely to come to a vote, just as Republicans earlier this month filibustered an effort to extend unemployment insurance for U.S. workers.
Here's what's interesting and what helps put into perspective the radical turn that not only Fox News has taken in recent years, but the entire conservative movement in America: In early 2007, after Democrats had gained control of both the House and the Senate, one of their top legislative priorities was passing a bill to raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25. The two-plus dollar boost was the first in a decade.
And you know what the collective Fox News reaction was to the prospect of an increased minimum wage in 2007? Nobody seemed that upset. Based on a review of Fox News' nighttime transcripts via Nexis, the issue was mostly dealt with -- when dealt at all -- in news updates as Democratic and Republicans negotiated the Fair Minimum Wage Act's certain approval.
There wasn't endless hand wringing, condemnations, or predictions of economic doom. For instance, in January of 2007, Fox contributor Mara Liasson described passing the minimum wage as "low-hanging fruit" for Democrats since the idea wasn't at all "controversial." (Indeed, 26 Republican House members had previously urged party leaders to schedule a minimum wage vote.)
Recent profiles of successful individuals illustrate how the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) -- formerly known as "food stamps" -- helps disadvantaged people achieve success, delivering a blow to common right-wing narratives about the program cultivating laziness among recipients.
On February 19, social networking giant Facebook purchased WhatsApp -- a messaging application for smartphones -- for $19 billion. The move made WhatsApp Inc. co-founder Jan Koum a billionaire overnight, with a projected net worth of $6.8 billion.
WhatsApp co-founder, Jan Koum, 37, was born in Ukraine. He arrived in the U.S. when he was just 16 years old and his family struggled. They lived on food stamps, venture capitalist Jim Goetz revealed in a blog post.
In fact, Koum's family picked up their food stamps only a couple of blocks away from WhatsApp's offices in Mountain View, Calif., reports Wired's David Rowan.
Koum is not the only prominent person making headlines who has relied on SNAP at some point in their life. On the February 17 edition of MSNBC's NOW, host Alex Wagner profiled Olympic speed skater Emily Scott. In June 2013, Scott, who had been working at a medical supply company while training 8 hours per day in preparation for Sochi, was forced to apply for food stamps when her monthly Olympic stipend was cut to just $600. As Wagner noted, Scott is the second ranked American speed skater and will compete in the speed skating quarterfinals on February 21.
The success of these two individuals -- one now a billionaire and the other competing in the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics -- helps dispel common myths about food stamp recipients.
In recent years, right-wing media have rushed to demonize food stamp recipients, often portraying them as lazy, dependent, or unwilling to work. Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh has even gone so far as to suggest that children facing hunger should dumpster dive as an alternative to government assistance.
This distorted depiction of the program's beneficiaries culminated in a wildly misleading Fox News report on Jason Greenslate, "a California surfer and aspiring musician." In the report, Fox described Greenslate as "the new face of food stamps," a blatant attempt to portray his lifestyle as characteristic of all food stamp recipients.
Of course, right-wing media's view of those that rely on food stamps is out of touch with reality -- most food stamp recipients stay on the program for short periods of time, 41 percent of them live in a house with earnings, and a majority of recipients are either children or elderly. Furthermore, the program keeps millions out of poverty every year.
On the heels of the Facebook's purchase of WhatsApp, the Huffington Post profiled a number of prominent people who have had to rely on food stamps, ranging from musician Bruce Springsteen to right-wing media darling Dr. Ben Carson.
Hopefully these SNAP success stories making headlines will push right-wing media to tone down the toxic and inaccurate rhetoric about the program and its recipients.
Image via Hubert Burda Media under a Creative Commons License