Rupert Murdoch's Anti-American Fox News Declared War on Blue Collar and Middle-Class Workers in 2011
In 2011, as President Obama and congressional Democrats pushed for increasing taxes on the wealthiest Americans, Fox ramped up its defense of the rich while accusing Obama of attempting to incite a class war. Along the way, Fox relentlessly attacked poor and unemployed Americans, union workers who fought back against attempts by Republicans to strip their right to collectively bargain, and the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has been highlighting increasing income inequality in America. Here, Media Matters looks back at Fox's year of class warfare.
"We Should Be Supporting" The "Mega-Wealthy": Fox Fiercely Defended The Rich
Throughout 2011, Fox figures obsessively defended the wealthy against any possible tax increases proposed by President Obama and congressional Democrats -- even claiming that the rich should pay less in taxes while the poor should pay more. Some Fox figures claimed that "most Americans say" that "patriotism is paying less taxes," while others claimed that those making $200,000 a year are not rich and that increasing their taxes would be unfair.
Laura Ingraham Complained That Raising The Tax Rate For The Wealthy Is "Demoniz[ing] The Rich." On the April 12 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham referred to a plan to raise the taxes of the wealthiest Americans as a plan that "demoni[zes] the rich." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/12/11, via Media Matters]
Fox Regular Jonathan Hoenig on Cashin' In: "Wealthy Earners Should Pay Even Less. The Poor Should Pay Much More" In Taxes. On the March 5 edition of Fox News' Cashin' In, Fox News regular Jonathan Hoenig said: "Wealthy earners should pay even less. The poor should pay much more" in taxes. [Fox News, Cashin' In, 3/5/11, via Media Matters]
Peter Johnson Jr.: "Most Americans Say" That "Patriotism Is Paying Less Taxes." On the April 18 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. said: "What we have on this tax day is a White House that says, 'If you don't pay more taxes, then you're not being patriotic.' There's a lot of other Americans, and most Americans, who say the opposite: that patriotism is paying less taxes." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/18/11, via Media Matters]
Kilmeade On Taxes: "We Should Be Supporting" The "Mega-Wealthy," Not "Punish[ing] Them." On the July 22 edition of Fox & Friends, guest Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO), said that "we can't ... continue to cut taxes for the mega-wealthy in this country when we have a debt and deficit problem." Co-host Brian Kilmeade replied: "The mega-wealthy are paying the majority of taxes for the entire nation, and they're the ones who are going to bring us out of this. You would think, rather than punish them, we should be supporting them." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/22/11]
Fox Continued To Claim That $200,000 Per Year Income Is Not Rich. On the April 21 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Gretchen Carlson suggested that people making $200,000 a year in income are not rich, saying of Obama's plan to let tax cuts for the wealthy expire: "It's not just billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg who may pay more taxes. ... It's the people making $200,000 and above. There's a huge disparity between that and the billionaires." Carlson's comment followed many similar remarks Fox News anchors made in 2010, when they repeatedly claimed someone making $200,000 or $250,000 per year is "not rich." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/21/11, via Media Matters]
Fox Used "Misleading" Statistic To Claim The Number Of Millionaires Is Decreasing And That Obama's "Plan To Redistribute The Wealth Is Working." On the August 18 edition of Fox & Friends, Fox Business host Stuart Varney used a Wall Street Journal editorial to claim that "[t]he number of millionaires, of people making the million dollars a year, [is] down very, very sharply." The August 20 edition of Fox & Friends Saturday echoed this claim and suggested it showed that Obama's "plan to redistribute the wealth is working."
In Fact, Economists, Experts Called WSJ Editorial "Misleading" For Using A "Narrower Measure Of Worth." Economists and experts contacted by Media Matters said the Journal's definition of "millionaire" was "misleading" because it was based on households' income, rather than using the more traditional measure of wealth or investible assets. Both the Tax Policy Center and the Center for Economic and Policy Research have pointed out that in fact the wealth of the wealthiest Americans has increased dramatically in the past few decades. [Media Matters, 8/18/11; Fox News, Fox & Friends Saturday, 8/20/11, via Media Matters]
Poor and unemployed Americans were not spared from vicious attacks from Fox in 2011. Fox figures suggested that unemployed Americans are lazy, while the poor were scolded for not being suitably "ashamed" for their poverty and for lacking a "richness in spirit." Fox also seized on a Heritage Foundation report about the ownership of appliances among the poor to downplay the hardships faced by Americans in poverty.
John Stossel: People Affected By Government Shutdown "Shouldn't Be Getting Those Handouts Anyway." On the April 6 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, while talking about a possible government shutdown, Fox Business host John Stossel claimed that "most of us" wouldn't notice a shutdown and that those "who would notice shouldn't be getting those handouts anyway." [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 4/6/11, via Media Matters]
Ben Stein Claimed That "A Lot Of" The Unemployed "Would Not Prefer To Go To Work." On the April 30 broadcast of Fox News' Cavuto on Business, Stein said that "a lot of" unemployed Americans "would not prefer to go to work." [Fox Business, Cavuto on Business, 4/30/11, via Media Matters]
Fox Business Scolded Poor People For Not Being "Ashamed" Enough By Their Poverty. During the May 19 edition of Fox Business' Varney & Co., Varney attacked anti-poverty programs as evidence that the U.S. now has an "entitlement mentality." Fox contributor Charles Payne then scolded people in poverty for not being "embarrassed" about needing public assistance:
This attitude goes all the way back to the radical Calvinists who believed that any bad luck that came your way was completely your fault. Get run over bu an oxcart and can't plow your fields, oh well that means God must mean for you and your family to suffer or even starve to death. These are not the egalitarian principles on which the U.S. was founded. We are not supposed to see the masses of people, our fellow citizens as just so much disposable trash the way Medieval kings and modern conservatives and their propagandists at Fox see the American people.