Fox Business News’ “Money with Melissa Francis” erroneously reported recently that federal gas taxes can be used to finance the construction of museums and other non-transportation projects, officials with the Associated General Contractors noted in a letter sent to the show’s host in late January.
Association officials added that the error is significant because it incorrectly leaves viewers with the impression that some portion of the federal gas taxes they pay are being wasted on projects that do nothing to improve the safety and reliability of their commutes, when in fact the opposite is true.
“We understand that you and some of your Fox Business News colleagues have taken a strong stance in opposition to the many Democrat and Republican officials who have suggested raising the federal gas tax to bring our aging roads and bridges back into a state of good and safe repair,” said Brian Turmail, the association’s senior executive director of public affairs. “Yet as a journalist, you must understand the need to rely on accurate information while reporting and providing on-air commentary.”
During a segment that aired on January 16, the show’s host, Melissa Francis, cited the recent groundbreaking for the Michael Haydon Transportation Museum in Lexington, Ky., as proof that federal gas tax dollars are still being used to fund non-transportation related projects. However, the source of federal funding for that project was the Transportation Enhancements program.
This federal program was eliminated in 2012 when Congress enacted a series of transportation reforms backed by advocacy groups, including AGC of America. In other words, the funding for this facility was appropriated by Congress before museums became ineligible for federal transportation funding in 2012.
Turmail called on Melissa Francis to make an on-air correction to her incorrect story. “Leaving aside the question of how, or why, you and your research team could have gotten this story wrong; we expect you will provide an on-air correction now that you are aware of your error,” Turmail said.
He noted that figuring out the best way to finance needed repairs to our roads and bridges is an important public policy debate. “The last thing any of us would want is for that debate to be inappropriately influenced by your erroneous reporting,” he added.