Melissa Francis, formerly of CNBC, has been at the Fox Business Network less than six months, but she’s already facing a standard line of criticism for her association with Fox News.
On her new FBN program “MONEY with Melissa Francis” on Thursday, the newly minted host interviewed outgoing Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Barney Frank about several issues in the business news cycle, two of which Frank took issue with.
Frank, speaking about the economy and unemployment, was challenged by Francis about the lack of improvement in certain economic metrics. He called that interpretation “the Fox perspective”:
FRANCIS: The jobs number you’re quoting — that 4 million-plus is absolute bottom to the top, if you look at where we are at an unemployment rate 8.2 percent, it has ticked higher and the GDP number below 2 percent is not great. I mean, certainly you’re not happy with that?
FRANK: I understand the Fox perspective on all this —
FRANCIS: No, those are numbers
FRANK: Please don’t interrupt you. May — you tell me when I can talk.
FRANCIS: Please talk.
FRANK: Thank you. Yes, I said, those are the numbers you say from the absolute bottom. That is relevant place to measure. Barrack Obama inherited worst economy in 80 years. And we have begun to improve. There have been a couple of retardants.
Frank described Europe and cuts in local and state governments as retardants to the current economic recovery.
Later, Francis asked Frank about an exemption to his signature financial reform Dood-Frank law being given to Emigrant Bank of New York, which happens to be owned by Howard Milstein, a bundler for President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. The exemption is likely to save the bank $300 million according to some reports.
But to associate the exemption with Milstein’s political activities was “Fox bias” according to Frank [emphasis added]:
FRANCIS: Let me turn you to a story that is making news here in New York. It is a bank called Emigrant Bank, which was given an exception to your signature legislation, which of course is the Dodd-Frank bill. And they were given an exception to the rule which will save them about $300 million. At the same time, the owner of the bank is Howard Milstein and he is an Obama bundler. There are those who are asking a question, this bank is only one been exempt to the Dodd-Frank rule and they’re trying to figure out why. Do you know why?
FRANK: Well I will take exception to saying this. Yes he is an Obama bundler and significant contributor to many Republicans. I apologize if this offends you, but this is Fox bias. In fact the administration said it is against that bill. Michael Grimm, a Republican from Staten Island is on the committee, was the main sponsor of the bill. So giving the impression this is favor to Obama is just outrageously wrong. In fact, the Obama administration didn’t like the bill. I was approached by Congressman Grimm, a Republican from Staten Island, said would I agree to let the bill go to the floor of the House, without a hearing without any committee vote. I said I don’t think in substance it is a bad bill but I think that is bad procedure. So it’s because frankly I insisted we had a hearing and we had it done publicly it was the Republican committee that brought the bill up. [It was] the Republican chairman who moved the bill forward. The Obama administration has said no. So that linkage to Obama is really outrageous.
FRANCIS: I think my question was do you know why they are the only ones got the exception.
FRANK: No, your question was he is an Obama bundler.
FRANCIS: Do you know why they got the extension?
FRANK: Yes, because the Republican from Staten Island, Michael Grimm and some Democrats from Long Island said that there was a problem because banks under a certain amount of assets were supposed to be exempt. They were told by the FTC to increase their capital and they temporarily increased their capital and that put them over the level. But your question wasn’t just why they got the exception. It was why a guy who is an Obama bundler got the [exception]. I think we ought to be clear about that.
FRANCIS: OK, Congressman Barney Frank we always appreciate your time. It is always an enjoyable experience. I thank you so much for coming on tonight. We appreciate it. A lot of good information.