CNNs Dobbs Continues to Ignore Growth in Auto Industry

CNNs Dobbs Continues to Ignore Growth in Auto Industry
Anchor blames free trade for foreign dominance, but doesnt point to the job creation that results.

By Ken Shepherd
Business & Media Institute
May 18, 2006

     Japanese automaker Honda recently announced that it plans to open another auto plant in the Midwest that will create 1,500 jobs. The announcement is the latest among international car companies expanding manufacturing operations on American soil. But the good news escaped the notice of the nightly business program Lou Dobbs Tonight, which has been warning about the alleged decline in the U.S. auto industry.

     Dobbs has been bearish in general on American manufacturing jobs. On his April 11, for example, he bemoaned the loss of three million manufacturing jobs when debating talk show host Mark Simone about the health of the American economy under President Bush.

     On February 1, Dobbs angrily complained about being labeled an isolationist by supporters of free trade. We've lost millions of manufacturing jobs, he insisted, griping that anyone who does not accept that policy is [labeled] a protectionist.

     Yet while the CNN host has repeatedly focused on layoffs and plant closures, particularly among Detroit automakers like Ford and General Motors, his program has all but ignored job creation by Honda, Toyota, and other foreign-owned companies operating in the United States.

     Perhaps, the closest Dobbs came to acknowledging the economic benefits of foreign auto makers was on January 23. A search of Nexis has found no stories on Dobbss program about job growth in manufacturing in foreign-based companies in the last six months.

     The January 23 included three brief reports about how middle class families and communities all across the country will be hit by Ford plant closings. Then Dobbs blamed what he considered Ford Motors corporate greed noting that a Japanese CEO earns about a fifth the average American CEOs pay and that Japanese car companies are profitable and growing.

     Two days later on Lou Dobbs Tonight, CNN reporter Bill Tucker blamed free trade for profitable Japanese automakers, while downplaying the economic benefit from the jobs they produce in the United States.

     The United States has failed to protect its auto industry, Tucker complained, noting that General Motors once owned better than 40 percent of the American auto market in 1980 but today commands just 26 percent of the domestic market. Tucker added that free, unfettered access by foreign automakers to our market has turned out to be a good idea horribly executed.

     But Detroits problem is not dirt cheap labor from competitors overseas nor an aversion of the auto industry to union-friendly states. BusinessWeek in February noted that nonunionized American employees in the South at auto plants for Toyota, Honda, and Mercedes earn almost as much as union labor farther north. Most of these operations, the Business & Media Institute reported in January, are in non-right-to-work states.

     Additionally, while General Motors and Ford lost money at home last year, their overseas operations, which also compete with companies like Toyota, have proven profitable.

     The Business & Media Institute has previously documented the medias confusion of troubles in Detroit for a weak auto industry as a whole.