Jun
06
2012

Can We Recall Bad Reporting on Wisconsin Budget Deficit?

One would hope that by now that the press would debunk the fuzzy budget math Gov. Scott Walker (R.-Wisc.) was using to justify his attack on collective bargaining rights of public sector workers. Nope. The New York Times (6/6/12): The political war in Wisconsin began in February 2011 when Governor Walker, only weeks into his first term, announced that he needed to cut benefits and collective bargaining rights for most public workers as a way to solve an expected state budget deficit of $3.6 billion. Fox's Bill O'Reilly (6/5/12): On the spending front, when Walker took office there was a […]

Apr
01
2011

NYT's Labor Reporter Pits 'Swaggering' Public Workers Against 'Taxpayers'

In a mostly informative "news analysis" ("Ohio's Anti-Union Law Is Tougher Than Wisconsin's," New York Times, 4/1/11) comparing new anti-union laws that restrict collective bargaining rights in Ohio and Wisconsin, New York Times labor and workplace correspondent Steven Greenhouse seems at one point to adopt the framing and language of anti-labor politicians and pundits: Moreover, at a time of huge budget deficits and of Republican dominance in many states, including states like Ohio and Wisconsin where unions once had swaggering power, the pendulum has swung toward the taxpayer instead of the government workers paid by the taxpayer. Pitting "swaggering" unionized […]

Mar
04
2011

Rose Hearts Huckabee: 'Public' TV on Wisconsin Protests

The Charlie Rose show–which airs mostly on public television stations–has mostly skipped the protests in Wisconsin, one of the biggest labor stories of the past decade. This is not a total surprise–Rose seems to identify with The Bosses more than with the workers–so it was interesting to see how he finally approached the subject on his March 2 show. The first guest was Time's Joe Klein.He seems toidentify with public sector workers, he knows they're not getting rich, but he doesn't like their unions: "Public employees' unions are a pretty questionable proposition," as he put it. The solution in Wisconsinis […]

Mar
02
2011

Bill O'Reilly's Public Opinion Solution: Don't Poll Union Members

You had to assume that there would be folks in the media who wouldn't like the recent CBS/New York Times poll that found strong public support for public workers. Sixty percent of those polled oppose stripping public workers of collective bargaining rights; 56 percent opposed cutting pay or benefits of those workers in the name of deficit reduction. Fox's Bill O'Reilly has a solution to this problem: Union households shouldn't be polled. As he explained last night (3/1/11) And the New York Times headline today reads "Majority in Poll Back Employees in Public Sector." But the poll is misleading because […]

Mar
01
2011

The Public vs. the Media on Unions, Deficits

Today the New York Times reports its new poll (3/1/11): As labor battles erupt in state capitals around the nation, a majority of Americans say they oppose efforts to weaken the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions and are also against cutting the pay or benefits of public workers to reduce state budget deficits, according to the latest New York Times/CBS News poll. That's big enough news, and once again cuts against the People-Don't-Support-These-Overpaid-Union-Workerstrope. But there's more.When the poll asked about fixing the deficit, peoplehad a message rarely heard in the media: Asked how they would choose to reduce […]

Feb
28
2011

What Union Voices Mean to the Wisconsin Debate

As we noted here, there weren't many labor voices booked on the Sunday morning chat shows. One, actually–Richard Trumka from the AFL-CIO. ABC's This Week featured four governors (two Democrats, two Republicans) talking about their fiscal problems. CBS's Face the Nation had a soft interview with New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie. Host Bob Schieffer asked him one question that began, "You have a reputation as a straight talker, I think…." Schieffer went on to play a clip of Christie bravely calling for Social Security cuts. Instead of questioning Christie's totally inaccurate premise–that you "have to raise the retirement age"–Schieffer […]

Feb
28
2011

Who's the Source of O'Reilly's 'Nonpartisan' Pro-Walker Poll?

On his Fox News show Friday, self-described "union guy" Bill O'Reilly was touting the results of a newpoll finding that Wisconsinites are backing Gov. Scott Walker: According to a new poll by WisconsinReporter.com, a nonpartisan group, 71 percent of Wisconsinites believe that Gov. Scott Walker's union cutbacks are fair.71 percent. And 69 percent of Wisconsin residents believe state workers have better benefits than private sector employees. That finding would seem to at odds with other polls of Wisconsin residents.But who is this "nonpartisan" group, anyway?If you go to the WisconsinReporter.com website, the "About"page is blank. TPMuckracker fills in the details: […]

Feb
25
2011

Where Are the Workers' Voices?

As best I can tell, the labor battle in Wisconsin is a big story–and maybe the biggest labor story in years. But as Amanda Terkel reported at the Huffington Post, that doesn't mean you're going to see union advocates on the Sunday chat shows. Terkel noted: A union official told the Huffington Post that when none of the Sunday shows' producers reached out to them to book a labor representative this week, several unions started to pitch the shows with affected workers and local and national leaders who they felt could discuss the protests. The official said the response from […]

Feb
24
2011

The Public Doesn't Hate Public Workers

As Josh Marshall noted recently, one of the assumptions in the media discussion about Wisconsin is that Republican politicians are playing on public outrage over the perks given to public workers. That assumption took a hit after a new Gallup Poll, reported on the front page of USA Today, found this: 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 percent would oppose a law in their state similar to such a proposal in Wisconsin, compared with 33 percent who would favor such a […]

Feb
23
2011

Breaking News: There Is a Labor Movement. In the United States, Even!

I read this in the New York Times a few days ago (2/19/11): The images from Wisconsin–with its protests, shutdown of some public services and missing Democratic senators, who fled the state to block a vote–evoked the Middle East more than the Midwest. There's a labor movement in this country? And in theMidwest, even!?

Feb
23
2011

Factchecking ABC's Factcheck on Public Workers

On Monday (2/21/11), ABC World News wanted to set the record straight on Wisconsin's budget problems. As host George Stephanopoulos put it, the debate is over whether pensions and other benefits for public workers are to blame for the crippling budget shortfalls in Wisconsin and other states. Tonight Barbara Pinto has a reality check. What a relief–this is something that surely screams out for clarification. The report starts with a quote from Republican Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. ABC's Pinto weighed in on his side: Part of that problem, pension plans for America's public workers that are under funded by at […]