Fact check: Tucker Carlson's commentary on billionaires


On August 30, 2018, Tucker Carlson commented about the treatment of workers of corporations owned by billionaires on his show on Fox (Tucker Carlson Tonight). It has been viewed more than 75,000 times on YouTube since it was posted.

Tucker: There’s nothing free about this market

Activist corporations are taking advantage of American taxpayers. #Tucker FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-encompassing news service dedicated to delivering breaking news as well as political and business news. The number one network in cable, FNC has been the most watched television news channel for more than 15 years and according to a Suffolk University/USA Today poll, is the most trusted television news source in the country.

He made many claims.

Claim 1:

“Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, is worth about $150 billion [€129bn]. That’s enough to make him the richest man in the world by far.” (0:0)

Fact Check:

True. As of September 5, 2018, Bezos’s net worth is $163.6 billion, according to Forbes magazine. Bill Gates of Microsoft is second and has a net worth of $95.7 billion.

Claim 2:

“Nearly one in three Amazon Employees in Arizona, for example, are on food stamps last year.”

Fact Check:

True. Carlson claimed the data is from the New Food Economy (a non-profit “newsroom” for reporting on food).

In Arizona, new data suggests that one in three of the [Amazon’s] own employees depend on SNAP to put food on the table. [SNAP means Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which helps poor people get food.]

Claim 3:

“What about the Walton family? They founded Walmart. Collectively they are worth about 175 billion. That’s more than the entire gross domestic product of Qatar, the oil rich gulf state.” (0:40)

Fact Check:

Possibly true. According to the most recent data WikiTribune was able to gather, the Waltons are collectively worth about $163 billion (Forbes). (However Britain’s The Sunday Times puts the number at $174.9 billion in its annual Rich List – behind a paywall). Qatar’s GDP is about $167.61 billion for 2017.

Claim 4:

“Meet Travis Kalanick, the youthful founder of Uber. His personal fortune is close to five billion dollars.” (1:10)

Fact Check:

True. See Forbes’ estimate that Kalanick is worth $4.8 billion.

Claim 5:

“His drivers, by contrast, often make less than minimum wage. One recent study found that his drivers often lose money working for the company.” (1:18)

Fact Check:

Half true. The study Carlson likely cited is found here (research conducted by the MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research). However, the researchers admitted they had made crucial mistakes after criticisms from Uber. The head researcher for the MIT study recalculated (Forbes) the figures in responding to Uber’s criticisms and found that median hourly wage is between $8.55 and $10 per hour (higher than the $3.37 that the original study claimed). The recalculated figures also show that between 4 -8 percent of drivers actually lose money working for Uber (rather than the 30 percent originally claimed).

Checking this claim is dependent on the vague meaning of “often”. Is 4 to 8 percent “often”? We rate it as half true.

Claim 6:

Carlson then blamed this lack of economic equality on corporate America “enabling this progressive lunacy”. He cited figures that wealthy families donate more to Democrats than Republicans.

“The bulk of the Walton family backed Hillary Clinton in the last election.” (2:48)

Fact Check:

Unverified and very misleading given the context of his statement. While Alice Walton (Sam Walton’s daughter) and Sam Rawlings Walton (Sam Walton’s grandson) each gave over $300,000 to Clinton’s Hillary Victory Fund, WikiTribune could not find any evidence that the bulk of the Walton family either donated more to democrats than Republicans in the 2016 election or voted for her in “bulk”.

There is evidence (reported in the Huffington Post) that the Walmart PAC and the Walton family have contributed to Republicans about 70 percent of the time between the 2000 election cycle and 2013.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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