Dear Media, Please Stop Interviewing Corporate Shill Joe Olivo

I'm grateful to all of you for your response to my recent post about Joe Olivo. He's a member of the National Federation of Independent Business -- the ALEC/Koch/Rove-affiliated group that was the lead plaintiff in the suit against the health care act that was just decided at the Supreme Court -- but he also owns a printing company in New Jersey, and he makes frequent media appearances posing as a mere small businessman who just so happens to give good quote, in a Koch-y, pro-corporatist way. I posted because he appeared on NBC and NPRjust hours after the health care ruling came down, each time identified as a guy who owns a printing company, with no mention of his NFIB ties.

I saw in comments and on Twitter that a number of you got in touch with NPR and other media outlets about the media's constant use of Olivo without an acknowledgment of his NFIB affiliation. I would have hoped NPR, at least, got the message.

But there he was again, on NPR yesterday. 

He was being interviewed by Guy Raz on All Things Considered on the subject of a bill championed by Senator Tom Harkin that would raise the minimum wage. (Needless to say, Olivo's against the idea.) Here's how this is presented in the online version of the story:

Opponents of Harkin's minimum wage bill point to jobs, saying that with such high unemployment, an increase in the minimum wage will make a bad situation worse.

Joe Olivo owns a small printing press in New Jersey that employs 47 people. Olivo tells Raz that a higher minimum wage basically raises the whole wage scale and would force him to make cuts.

"What happens is the employee who's been here for 3 years and has more experience than a person making an entry-level wage, they will rightfully want more for their seniority," Olivo says. "So what it does to me as a business owner, by pushing up wage scale, it increases my expenses."

Olivo says that means he either has to increase revenues — difficult in the current economy — or he must find ways to cut expenses: cutting employees, not hiring new employees or bring in new technology to decrease the number of employees he needs.

"So it really hurts my current employees and it also prevents me from bringing on new ones," he says.

No mention of his NFIB ties -- none. And there's none in the audio version of the story. (Olivo comes in at about 7:06.)

What's odd is that the Olivo interview is followed by a chat with Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB's chief economist. He's ID'd as an NFIB guy. (He also thinks that maybe we shouldn't have a minimum wage at all.) But Olivo gets no such ID.

Now, granted, this story does give quite a bit of time (in fact, the majority) to proponents of a minimum wage increase -- Senator Harkin and a mother of four from Chicago who's trying to get by on the current minimum wage. 

But Olivo is presented as that mother of four's opposite number, a regular American who's subject to the whims of an unfeeling government -- and that's not what he is. He's an on-call surrogate for the corpocracy who gets almost as much media time as a minor Kardashian. 

No responsible member of the press should ever interview Joe Olivo again. At the very least, Joe Olivo should never, ever be interviewed without being prominently identified as the NFIB operative he is. 

Guy Raz, you should be ashamed of yourself.

No More Mister Nice Blog / By Steve M

Posted at July 9, 2012, 4:31am

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