CNN Presents One-Sided
Study as Fact
No balance presented in Lou Dobbs
Tonight story about 'War on the Middle Class'
By Ken Shepherd
Free Market Project
Nov. 22, 2005
In its fight against American business - which it depicted as waging
a "war on the middle class" - CNN's "Lou Dobbs Tonight" once again
was out crusading for the left while cloaking the ideology of the
subjects of its coverage.
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
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
"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
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
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 Free Market Project on the Lou
Dobbs program's anti-free market bias,