University of Northern Iowa
| The Huffington Post
Peter Dreier and Christopher R. Martin's study about the term "job killer" takes the news media to task for letting a partisan talking point slip by un-fact-checked:
The cavalier nature in which the “job killer” allegations are reported suggests that term is used loosely by those who oppose government regulations, and they can get away with it because news organizations fail to ask—or at least report – whether they have any evidence for the claims they make, and also fail to seek opposing views to counter the “job killer” claims.
Dreier and Martin write an engaging, thorough history of the term, from 1922 until its enshrinement in a Republican "framing strategy" in 1993. Since then, the academics write, it's been smooth sailing for the term, which they find has little correlation with actual unemployment. They studied its use in four news organizations -- The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and the Associated Press -- since 1984.
Some interesting tidbits emerge: The term's almost always used toward policies, usually those favored by the Democratic Party, and rarely toward individuals. Democrats and labor union officials, they note, each accounted for about 5 percent of its uses. And the term's use is higher during Democratic administrations. "In fact, the year 2011 was the biggest year yet for 'job killer' allegations," they write. "Given that Republicans and business organizations were the leading sources of 'job killer' allegations, this political explanation makes sense."
- Between 1984 and 2011, the phrase “job killer” appeared in 381 stories from the four news organizations studied. "Associated Press news service had 115 stories, the New York Times 55 stories, the Wall Street Journal 151 stories, and the Washington Post 60 stories" using the phrase, according to the research.