Don’t Be Fooled By “Won’t Lead To Lost Jobs”

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Let’s take a microscope to Fortune magazine’s reporting that President-Elect Donald Trump did not really cause or have any influence in Ford Motor Company’s recent decision to keep production of a Lincoln branded SUV in Louisville, Kentucky.

… U.S. jobs were never at stake, according to reports,” said the Fortune account posted at http://fortune.com/2016/11/18/donald-trump-ford-mexico-kentucky/. “Ford currently produces the Lincoln MKC and the Ford Escape at its Louisville Assembly Plant, the Washington Post reports. The company had considered moving production of the Lincoln MKC from Kentucky to Mexico in order to build more Ford Escapes at the Kentucky plant, but Ford had previously said the change wouldn’t lead to any lost jobs in Kentucky.

Now, though, the company is keeping Lincoln MKC production in Kentucky and will not produce additional Ford Escapes there.”

This kind of reporting resembles what was written or spoken about Ford’s move of its small car manufacturing from a plant in Michigan to one in Mexico. No American jobs would be lost, CEO Mark Fields had said, because Ford would replace what it was removing from American soil by closing plants in Canada and relocating their work to America.

It’s a matter of perspective. In Ford’s eyes, they aren’t depriving Americans of jobs because the net result of their actions keeps employment the same, supposedly. From a cumulative perspective, however, Ford is playing a shell game. It is depriving Americans of the new jobs the company is creating. Ford intends to give those new jobs to Mexicans rather than to Americans. The reality stands out for all to see that Ford’s employment is shifting from Americans to Mexicans.

That’s wrong.

What we want to see is that Ford decides to build the plant in which they would manufacture Lincoln MKCs in the United States, moving production there, creating new jobs for Americans, and upping production at the Louisville factory.

Let’s look at Fortune’s reporting, and Mr. Fields’ comments, from some other angles.

First, the subheadline on Fortune’s piece reads: “Ford had only contemplated moving one of its production lines”. In the first paragraph, the author writes, “but the automaker actually had no plans to relocate the plant.” I’m not sure where the bright line is between contemplating and planning – not that one does not exist – but the Ford CEO felt enough about it to call Mr. Trump and offer the news to him as part of an extended olive branch. It may well be an airy offering, but it is worthy to note that, at least superficially, Mr. Fields acted in response to Mr. Trump’s electoral authority.

One cannot blame Mr. Trump for raising Mr. Fields’ consciousness on the issue of depriving jobs to Americans. Indeed, it is to Mr. Trump’s credit that American corporations are beginning to sense the impact of his election and voters’ disdain for such corporate practices.

Second, since Fortune wants to squeeze the air out of Mr. Trump’s balloon, why did it not answer the question of what IS the reason for Ford’s decision? Since making more Ford Escapes was the supplied reason for the contemplated move, why won’t the automaker produce more? Have sales declined? Have sales of the Lincoln MKC declined? Does Ford lack the finances for a new facility in Mexico or anywhere else? The failure of the article to provide a reason for Ford’s decision, while circumstantial, casts doubt on the motivations for the article and the information it presented, which was not complete.

Third, why didn’t the magazine take the time to ask Mr. Fields whether the election of Mr. Trump signals the end of any plans for Ford to relocate or build new factories on foreign soil? Is that not relevant to Mr. Trump’s claim, either in substantiation or contradiction?

Fourth, why is Fortune, whose sole beat is business, relying on a report from The Washington Post, a scandalously biased publication owned by Amazon monopolist Jeff Bezos, a die-hard Trump foe?

Fifth and finally, to circle back to where we began, why didn’t Fortune ask Mr. Fields about loss of jobs through new job creation overseas and not just lost job avoidance by substitution? Clearly, the Fortune article was written to advance a particular viewpoint and to paint Trump as claiming victory when there was no victory to take. Fortune deliberately omitted other information pertinent to understanding Ford’s situation and the impact of Mr. Trump’s ascension to the presidency. It did not even bother to confirm or disconfirm Trump’s assertions by asking Mr. Field.

As such, the Fortune article neither promotes objectivity nor understanding nor service to readers. It only lends credence to and further grounds citizens’ and readers’ perceptions that the media cannot write or utter a word without engaging in dishonesty, whether it be by commission or omission, flat out lies or half-truths, or by the substitution of facts with fictions and opinion, often accusatory labels bereft of substance.

Don’t be fooled by the euphemism “won’t lead to lost jobs”. It’s a clever contrivance for big American corporations to deflect attention away from the truth that they are creating, or are trying to create, new jobs for foreigners instead of Americans.

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