Big Three Hype Fast Food Workers' Protests; Censor SEIU's Involvement

On Thursday, ABC, CBS, and NBC's morning newscasts all spotlighted how "fast food workers across the country are holding strikes to demand higher wages", but failed to point out the involvement of left-leaning groups in organizing the protests. ABC's Good Morning America and CBS This Morning featured spokesmen from the "Fast Food Forward" movement, but didn't include their respective involvement in the SEIU and a successor organization to ACORN.

The ABC and CBS morning shows also slanted towards the protesters by a two-to-one margin in the number of soundbites from the protesters and liberal supporters, versus opponents of raising the minimum wage. While NBC's Today didn't feature any of the protest organizers, the show played three clips from a fast food employee and a protest supporter, versus two from opponents. [MP3 audio available here; video clips below the jump]

ABC's Josh Elliott did lead into correspondent Rebecca Jarvis' report by hinting at the other side of the wage debate: "Thousands of workers at fast food chains, such as McDonald's and Burger King, are walking off the job today – demanding pay raises. But the questions this morning, then – how much would an increase in their pay end up costing you, the consumer?"

Jarvis picked up where Elliott left off: "A typical fast food worker in America makes about $9 an hour. But even those who support their efforts to increase their wages say...if they were to increase those wages, that would increase the price of fast food by 20 percent." She soon played a clip from Jonathan Westin of "Fast Food Forward", who asserted that "until we actually lift workers up, and then, give them wages they can live off of, there won't be a true recovery from the greatest recession since the Depression."

The ABC correspondent failed to mention that Westin is the executive director of New York Communities for Change, which is the "renamed and reorganized descendent of the now defunct ACORN", as Commentary's Bethany Mandel pointed out in a July 30, 2013 item.


Later in the segment, Jarvis noted how "protesters say a typical cashier or cook makes less than $19,000 a year – about a thousand dollars below the federal poverty line for a family of three. They want the minimum wage more than doubled, from $7.25 an hour to fifteen. And now, the President is joining the conversation." She then played a clip from President Obama, who bemoaned how "there are...retail salespeople who work their tails off – and are still living at or barely above poverty." She didn't include any soundbites from conservatives/Republicans and/or the business community during her report.

Correspondent Terrell Brown zeroed in on the plight of one of the protesters in Illinois – Nancy Salgado – during his report on CBS This Morning. Brown featured three clips from Salgado, as well another from her fellow demonstrators. Like Jarvis, he turned to a "Fast Food Forward" leader – Kendall Fells (pictured at right). But like his colleague at ABC, the ABC journalist omitted that Fells is a paid employee of SEIU whose earned six figures in 2010.

Brown did follow his soundbite from Fells with two from the National Restaurant Association's Angelo Amador. He also got the closest to mentioning the left-of-center political affiliation of the protest organizers: "The National Restaurant Association, the industry's lobbying group, says walkouts, like those planned for today, are stunts staged by union-paid protesters, and most industry employees are happy."

Kristine Marsh and Julia Seymour of the MRC's Business and Media Institute documented how the Big Three networks slanted towards the SEIU-backed protesters when they held demonstrations during the summer of 2013.

[Update: the full transcripts of the segments from ABC's Good Morning America; CBS This Morning; and NBC's Today on Thursday are available on MRC.org.]

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center