In what amounted to an absolutely effortless segment, the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart last night ribbed Fox News for misleading coverage of a report by the Congressional Budget Office that made big news earlier this week. Among the findings in the report was that the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or ObamaCare) would prompt 2 million workers to leave the workforce.
Fox News, as Stewart showed, jumped on the findings. Sean Hannity said this about the report on Wednesday night: “And yesterday, we learned that the CBO is projecting that this debacle will cost nearly 2.5 million jobs.” That’s wrong. However, the night before, Hannity, at least in introducing the topic, proceeded more carefully:
HANNITY: All right, President Obama, no matter what you say about FOX News, guess what? We’re not going to stop reporting the truth!
For example, today the CBO released numbers that prove “Obamacare” is the utter mess we’ve been telling you about. The headline from The Washington Post — glad they finally caught up — “CBO, health care law will mean 2 million fewer workers.” And Reuters, “”Obamacare” to cut work hours by equivalent of 2 million jobs, CBO.”
On Wednesday night’s edition of “The Kelly File,” guest-host Martha MacCallum asked guest Chris Stirewalt:
So, Chris, you know, with all of the talk about the 2.3 million jobs that would be lost, I mean, this is something that really, truly affects so many more people across this country.
Wrong again. Sure, there was “talk” about jobs “lost” — ill-informed talk. The CBO found that people would likely voluntarily withdraw from the labor force; saying that jobs would be “lost” implies that such withdrawal would be involuntary. Now let’s take an excerpt from Wednesday night’s O’Reilly Factor, in which Fox News Chief Political Correspondent Carl Cameron abridged things as follows:
O’REILLY: Should I be concerned about what the CBO guy just said?
CAMERON: Well sure, I mean to translate what he said is that folks particularly of lower incomes who are under Obamacare will qualify for subsidies whether they are working or not. And they may decide to work a little bit less or not at all because their healthcare will be guaranteed. CBO says they could cut their hours. Stop working in order to qualify for the subsidy or avoid losing it and it’s about two million people that could drop out of the workforce shrink the workforce for the next three years.
Fair! And here’s Fox News’s Shannon Bream on Tuesday’s “Special Report with Bret Baier”:
And we saw the CBO numbers earlier today. And essentially, they say 2 million plus fewer people will be working as full- time employees. Now, the White House says that is because of choices, because they have options to work fewer hours and have subsidized health care through Obamacare.
Fair and balanced!
On her Wednesday night program, Fox Host Greta Van Susteren asked a guest: “So will Obamacare discourage people from working?” Double fair and balanced! The truth is that digging through the Fox News prime-time archive on Nexis yields plenty, plenty of instances in which Fox News anchors doing their best to nail the details on this sensitive and politically explosive report, not to mention some instances — pounced upon by Stewart — in which they’re just essentially winging it.
But any efforts by Fox News staffers to properly portray the findings, however, are undermined by FoxNews.com, where this headline still rules the roost: “ObamaCare could lead to loss of nearly 2.3 million US jobs, report says.”
It all drives at the layers of Fox News. There’s the tendentious and bombastic Hannity; the often-lauded work of “Special Report”; the lawyerly ways of Van Susteren; and the anything-goes ethic at Fox News web properties. Plenty to talk about.