CNN Presents One-Sided Study as Fact
Reporting on a study on the middle class's standard of living on the November 21 "Lou Dobbs Tonight," reporter Lisa Sylvester presented as uncontested fact the results of a study by the labor union-funded Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA), which concluded that the middle class's standard of living is stagnant.
Sylvester's story immediately followed one on GM job layoffs, as substitute host Kitty Pilgrim promised viewers "a disturbing new report" which "illustrates the war on the middle class."
"A new study," Pilgrim asserted, "says the living standards of middle class workers in Illinois" was no better now than 16 years ago.
Reporter Lisa Sylvester then opened featuring Joe Bresnahan, a laid-off Maytag factory worker from Illinois who now works for an art supply company. Bresnahan's plant was reportedly shut down and relocated to Mexico to save labor costs, and Bresnahan had to find new work, taking a job which pays less.
Sylvester assured her viewers that Bresnahan's plight was "being repeated all over Illinois," adding that a "new study by the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability (CTBA) shows the medium income of $46,000 is at the same level as it was in 1989."
Yet neither Pilgrim nor reporter Lisa Sylvester mentioned that CTBA is largely funded by labor unions such as the Illinois Federation of Teachers, AFSCME, and SEIU. They certainly didn't present a Maytag spokesman to talk about the cost of labor in U.S. plants, particularly unionized ones, and how that affected profitability for the company and affordability for the consumer.
Sylvester also failed to mention the political leanings of her only two experts, the CTBA's Ralph Martire and Lee Price of the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Neither of the men was given an ideological tag although their views were in sync with the study's findings.
A rundown of recent commentaries by both men, however, yielded their biases against free market economics.
Martire's regularly featured columns in the Chicago Sun-Times, for example, have been critical of federal tax cuts, of Social Security privatization, and of cutting federal spending to pay for Hurricane Katrina relief. A review of EPI's website shows that Price's organization advocates goals of labor unions such as "living wage" legislation, even arguing that it does not on the whole have negative economic consequences such as lost jobs, an argument the Cato Institute discredited in a policy analysis in October 2003.
For a comprehensive study by the Business & Media Institute on the Lou Dobbs program's anti-free market bias, click here.