2011: The Year Of The Right-Wing Media's War On The American Worker

This was a banner year in the right-wing media's campaign to belittle working Americans. In the early part of the year, media conservatives promoted anti-union laws in Wisconsin and Ohio, transitioned to attacking the National Labor Relations Board, and spent the entirety of the year demonizing union workers, low-income Americans, and the unemployed.

Right-Wing Media React To WI Protests Over Collective Bargaining: Insults, False Attacks, Misinformation

Media Conservatives Set Sights On National Labor Relations Board: "Just Get Rid Of The Thing"

Right-Wing Media Viciously Denigrate Union Workers, The Poor, And The Unemployed

Right-Wing Media React To WI Protests Over Collective Bargaining: Insults, False Attacks, Misinformation

Fox & Friends Falsely Claimed "Violent" WI Protesters "Attack[ed]" Grothman

Kilmeade: Protesters Got "Restless And, Dare I Say, Violent." On the March 3 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade introduced a segment on a Republican Wisconsin lawmaker, Sen. Glenn Grothman, being heckled by a chanting crowd of protesters by falsely claiming the protesters were "getting restless and, dare I say, violent." Co-host Steve Doocy claimed that, "If you put yourself in [Grothman's] shoes...it's absolutely scary." Doocy later claimed, "When you look at that and all the incivility there, you realize that to these people, elections have no consequence, mean nothing." During the segment, the on-screen graphics repeatedly referred to the "angry" protesters as "violent" or "attack[ing]" Grothman. From Fox & Friends:

Kilmeade: "A Mob Of Protesters Ambush A Republican State Senator In Wisconsin." Teasing an upcoming segment with Grothman, Kilmeade claimed "a mob of protesters ambush[ed]" Grothman "who wants to go to work." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/3/11, via Media Matters]

Kilmeade Again Claims Grothman Was "Ambushed By A Mob Of Protesters." Later in the show, Kilmeade again teased Grothman's segment by claiming he was "ambushed by a mob of protesters." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/3/11, via Media Matters]

Doocy, Grothman Continue To Portray Protesters As Violent. Later on Fox & Friends, Doocy introduced a segment with Grothman by claiming he was "chased by a mob of protesters outside the capitol building." Doocy first asked Grothman, "Where was your security?" and later, "Were you scared?" Later in the segment, Doocy claimed, "There is a double standard. If Republicans surrounded a democrat lawmaker and did stuff like this, do you think it would be a big story?" Doocy ended the interview by asking Grothman if he is "going to have security if [he] need[s] it" and telling Grothman to "stay safe." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/3/11, via Media Matters]

In Fact, There Was No Evidence Of Violence On The Video

Twelve-Minute Long Video Shows No Violence Occurred. The video, which was shot by Wisconsin area photographer Phil Ejercito, show that Grothman was heckled by protesters, but no violence occurred. In fact, at one point during the video, a protester can be heard to shout "don't touch him" and at another, the protesters chanted "peace" and "peaceful." [YouTube, 03/01/11]

Grothman Himself Claimed "He Didn't Think He Was Ever In Any Real Danger." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that, Grothman "told the [Cap Times] he didn't think he was ever in any real danger." From the Journal Sentinel:

Grothman downplayed the situation and told the paper he didn't think he was ever in any real danger.

"I really think if I had had to, I could have walked through the crowd and it would have been okay," he told the Cap Times. "They're loud, they'll give you the finger, and they yell at you, but I really think deep down inside they're just mostly college kids having fun, just like they're having fun sleeping with their girfriends on air mattresses. That's the guts of that crowd." [Journal Sentinel, 03/02/11]

Grothman Called Protesters "Good People" And Noted That He Was Not Scared. During his interview on Fox & Friends, Doocy asked Grothman if he was scared by the protesters. Grothman responded "Not really, because I think most people are basically good people. I mean, they've been running around the capitol for over a week now, chanting, blowing their horns, pounding their drums." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 03/03/11]

Photographer Slammed Fox's Coverage As "Establish[ing] A Fictional Narrative"

Photographer Phil Ejercito: I condemn the use of my work to distort the truth about the spirited but non-violent protests here in Madison. In a statement to Media Matters, Phil Ejercito, the local photographer who shot the footage of Sen. Grothman being heckled by the crowd, said he "condemn[ed] the use of my work to distort the truth about the spirited but non-violent protests here in Madison," calling it a "a genuinely dangerous narrative that Fox News is helping to create." From Ejercito's statement to Media Matters:

It sickens me to see the truth so willfully distorted. In deciding to release this video, I considered how it would be used, but I (perhaps naively) believed that the facts in the video would speak for itself - the people of Wisconsin are angry, Senator Grothman got a well-deserved ribbing, the Walker administration's lockdown of the Capitol is misguided, and Representative Hulsey acted honorably. It is simply astounding that the same faction of the right-wing that would claim that torture in Abu Ghraib was "fraternity hazing" would equate heckling as a "violent attack."

Let there be no ambiguity: I condemn the use of my work to distort the truth about the spirited but non-violent protests here in Madison. I believe that this is a genuinely dangerous narrative that Fox News is helping to create... I am deeply disturbed to consider that my work is being misused to establish a fictional narrative of violence by the working families of Wisconsin, and I encourage people to watch the entire clip on YouTube for themselves to understand the full context and decide for themselves what truthfully took place. [Media Matters, 03/04/11]

Fox Repeatedly Concealed Key Details About Guests Criticizing Wisconsin Protesters

Fox Bills GOP Senate Candidate, Local GOP Officeholder As Concerned Parents. Fox News hosted Dave Westlake and Amber Hahn, who were both identified as "Wisconsin parent[s]." Fox did not disclose that Westlake was a 2010 Republican Senate candidate and Han was the treasurer for the Columbia County, Wisconsin, Republican Party. [Media Matters, 3/1/11]

Fox Suggests CEO Of Multinational Company Represents "Small Businesses." Fox hosted Gary Reynolds, CEO of GMR Marketing to criticize protesters for "attacking small businesses who supported and support Governor Scott Walker," in the words of Fox co-host Brian Kilmeade. However, GMR Marketing says it has 24 offices in 12 countries and that it is "the world's largest engagement marketing agency." The company lists Sony, Microsoft, Bank of America and Visa among its clients. [Media Matters, 3/1/11]

Fox News Forced To Air "Fox Lies" Protests

Protesters Shout "Fox Lies" During Live Report From WI Capitol. On the February 18 edition of Your World, protesters chanted "Fox lies" during correspondent Jeff Flock's live report on the labor protests from the Wisconsin Capitol building. During the segment, guest host Chris Cotter stated, "Well, I'll tell you, Jeff, those folks protesting Fox -- I'm wondering if they would prefer a state-run television network providing all the coverage." [Fox News, Your World, 2/18/11]

Protesters Chant "Tell The Truth" During Live Segment From Madison, WI. On the February 21 edition of The Fox Report, labor protesters chanted "tell the truth" throughout correspondent Mike Tobin's live report on the protests from Madison, WI. [Fox News, The Fox Report, 2/21/11]

Protesters Interrupt Live Fox Interview With Chants Of "Tell The Truth." On the February 21 edition of Your World, labor protesters in Madison interrupted guest host Stuart Varney's live interview with Brett Healy of the conservative MacIver Institute. Varney later interviewed Healy via telephone while footage of a protester holding a sign saying, "Fox News will lie about this," aired:

Fox Falsely Claimed WI Gov. Walker Is "Actually Doing What He Campaigned On"

Gingrich: Walker Is "Actually Doing What He Campaigned On." During the February 24 edition of On the Record, Fox News contributor Newt Gingrich said:

VAN SUSTEREN: Is Wisconsin's Governor Scott Walker doing right thing or not? His budget plan is rattling unions and sent Democrats running across state lines to Illinois as protesters continue to swarm Madison and seize the state capitol building. Now, everyone is asking, Did the governor make the right move? Many states across America are broke. So should other states follow the Wisconsin governor's lead, or try something else?

Former speaker of the House Newt Gingrich joins us. He and his wife, Callista, are authors of the new book "Ronald Reagan: Rendezvous With Destiny."

Good evening, Mr. Speaker. And I know you've written an op-ed piece in support of Governor Walker. But I'm just curious. What should he be doing tonight? Because tomorrow's supposedly a drop-dead date on this bonding, and the Democrats say they're not coming home.

NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA), FMR. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think he should do whatever he has to technically to pay for the bonding and blame the Democrats for the carnage that that's going to cause. They are forcing this crisis. You got to make sure they own the responsibility.

But you have to put Scott Walker in context. After having been elected three times as county executive of the largest government in the state, Milwaukee County, he campaigned for a year-and-a-half on a very clear program. Nothing he's doing is new. Everything he's doing was in his platform. It's what the people voted on.

The amazing thing is the Republicans gained seats in the senate, gained seats in the house. There are no new elected freshmen Democrats. The governor himself won decisively. And the Democrats, having lost the argument with the people -- this is not Republican-Democrat. The people of Wisconsin elected a 60 percent Republican majority in the house, a virtually 60 percent Republican majority in the senate and a Republican governor. And the governor's now executing -- this seems to be a shock to Democrats. He's actually doing what he campaigned on.

The contrast with President Obama breaking his word this week is startling. I mean, Scott Walker is doing what he said he would do. [Fox News, On the Record, 2/24/11, accessed via Nexis]

Doocy: "The Governor Ran On The Platform That He Was Going To Address Collective Bargaining." On Fox & Friends, Doocy claimed that "to [the Wisconsin protesters], elections have no consequence. Mean nothing. Keep in mind, in that state, the governor ran on the platform that he was going to address collective bargaining and all the other stuff and that's what he did. And yet, look at what's happening there right now." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/3/11, via Media Matters]

Doocy Again Falsely Claims Walker "Made It Very Clear" That Collective Bargaining Was "One Of the Things He Was Going To Address." Later on Fox & Friends, during an interview with Grothman, Doocy claimed that "all these people with the signs, the horns, the whistles, apparently they weren't paying attention to the fact that there was an election this past November and the message in the fact that Scott Walker became the governor, he had made it very clear, this is one of the things he was going to address. Collective bargaining. And the unions." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 3/3/11, via Media Matters]

Asman: Walker "Did Announce When He Was Running For Governor This Is What He Was Going To Do." During the February 25 edition of America's Nightly Scoreboard, host David Asman said:

ASMAN: The bill strips most public sector unions of collective bargain or at least some of their collective bargaining privileges. Democrats and their supporters yelling "Shame" as you can hear after the vote as Republicans walked out. Now Democrats are investigating whether the vote was legal. The bill goes to the Senate where Democrats have gone AWOL. So how is all of this going to get resolved, Lee?

LEE HAWKINS, "WALL STREET JOURNAL": I don't know, but I think this is indicative of what we're going to see in the future. He's from that young new faction of the Republican base that's been dying to have this ideological debate with the unions probably since he was a teenager watching Ronald Reagan on television.

And he campaigned on the deficit issue. So basically he's actually following through on what he campaigned on, and what he is going to happen as we're going to see a fierce debate on this and many others.

ASMAN: I'm glad you brought that up because he did announce when he was running for governor this is what he was going to do. No surprises. And Mitch Daniels did the same thing in Indiana. [Fox Business, America's Nightly Scoreboard, 2/25/11, accessed via Nexis]

PolitiFact: Walker Did Not Campaign On Proposal To "Sharply Curb Collective Bargaining Rights"

PolitiFact: Walker Did Not "'Campaign On' His Union Bargaining Plan." On February 22, PolitiFact Wisconsin gave a "false" rating to the claim that Walker campaigned on the proposal to sharply curtail collective bargaining rights:

In the turbulent wake of his controversial plan to sharply curtail collective bargaining rights, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker has faced criticism that he gave no warning of such a dramatic plan during the long 2010 governor's race.

Walker has forcefully challenged that contention, most bluntly at a Feb. 21, 2011 news conference. A reporter asked if the move to limit union power was payback for pro-union moves made by Democrats in the past.

"It's not a tit for tat," Walker responded. "The simple matter is I campaigned on this all throughout the election. Anybody who says they are shocked on this has been asleep for the past two years."


Let's sum up our research.

Walker contends he clearly "campaigned on" his union bargaining plan.

But Walker, who offered many specific proposals during the campaign, did not go public with even the bare-bones of his multi-faceted plans to sharply curb collective bargaining rights. He could not point to any statements where he did. We could find none either.

While Walker often talked about employees paying more for pensions and health care, in his budget-repair bill he connected it to collective bargaining changes that were far different from his campaign rhetoric in terms of how far his plan goes and the way it would be accomplished.

We rate his statement False. [PolitiFact Wisconsin, 2/22/11]

Fox Apologized For Reversing Results Of Poll: "61 Percent" Of Americans Were NOT "In Favor Of Taking [Bargaining Rights] Away"

Kilmeade: According To USA Today/Gallup Poll, "61 Percent In Favor Of Taking [Bargaining Rights] Away." On the February 23 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, co-host Brian Kilmeade discussed the results of a recent USA Today/Gallup poll to falsely claim that "61 percent" of those polled are "in favor of taking [collective bargaining rights] away." From the broadcast:

KILMEADE: Wow. But is President Obama out of step with history? Joining us now to debate it, knock it around just a little bit, Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman and Jim Glassman, Director of the Bush Center and author of the book Safety Net. First things first, Robert, do you think the president is taking a big risk here?

ROBERT ZIMMERMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Not at all. I think he's showing respect for history and respect for our history of supporting the rights and safety of workers, but more than that, he's speaking for the mainstream of our country and the main stream of Republican governors that are not siding with Governor Walker in his efforts to overturn right to work -- collective bargaining.

KILMEADE: I think Gallup, a relatively mainstream poll, has a differing view. And here is the question that was posed, should you take away--will you favor or are you in disfavor of taking away collective bargaining when it comes to salaries for government workers? Sixty-one percent in favor of taking it away. Thirty-three percent oppose. Six percent up in the air. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/23/11]

A graphic claiming that "61 percent" responded "favor" to the question "Collective bargaining -- take it away: favor or oppose?" was aired on-screen during the segment:

Fox Issued An On-Air Correction For Reversing The Results Of The Poll. Kilmeade issued a correction during the final minute of Fox & Friends -- 44 minutes after the error -- saying: "I want to correct a poll that we did about 22 minutes ago from Gallup. Sixty-one percent oppose taking collective bargaining away from those people in Wisconsin; 33 percent in favor. I had it reversed. I apologize." In fact, the poll asked if people would oppose a similar law in their own states. This graphic accompanied the apology:

USA Today/Gallup Poll Found "61% Would Oppose A Law Similar To [The] Proposal In Wisconsin"

USA Today/Gallup: "61% Would Oppose A Law In Their State Similar To [The] Proposal In Wisconsin." In the poll conducted on February 21, USA Today and Gallup found that 61 percent of those polled would oppose a law similar to the one Gov. Walker is proposing in Wisconsin. From the article accompanying the poll results (emphasis added):

Americans strongly oppose laws taking away the collective bargaining power of public employee unions, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. The poll found 61% would oppose a law in their state similar to such a proposal in Wisconsin, compared with 33% who would favor such a law.

Republican Gov. Scott Walker and Republican legislators in Wisconsin have proposed cutting union rights for most state government workers and making them pay more for benefits. Ohio, New Jersey, Indiana, Iowa and other states with Republican governors are considering similar laws. [USA Today, 2/22/11]

MediaMatters, Tues Dec 20 2011

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