Joe Olivo? Again?

I’m grateful to all of you for your response to my recent post about Joe Olivo. He’s a member of the National Federation of Independent Business — the ALEC/Koch/Rove-affiliated group that was the lead plaintiff in the suit against the health care act that was just decided at the Supreme Court — but he also owns a printing company in New Jersey, and he makes frequent media appearances posing as a mere small businessman who just so happens to give good quote, in a Koch-y, pro-corporatist way. I posted because he appeared on NBC and NPR just hours after the health care ruling came down, each time identified as a guy who owns a printing company, with no mention of his NFIB ties.

I saw in comments and on Twitter that a number of you got in touch with NPR and other media outlets about the media’s constant use of Olivo without an acknowledgment of his NFIB affiliation. I would have hoped NPR, at least, got the message.

But there he was again, on NPR yesterday.

He was being interviewed by Guy Raz on All Things Considered on the subject of a bill championed by Senator Tom Harkin that would raise the minimum wage. (Needless to say, Olivo’s against the idea.) Here’s how this is presented in the online version of the story:

Opponents of Harkin’s minimum wage bill point to jobs, saying that with such high unemployment, an increase in the minimum wage will make a bad situation worse.

Joe Olivo owns a small printing press in New Jersey that employs 47 people. Olivo tells Raz that a higher minimum wage basically raises the whole wage scale and would force him to make cuts.

“What happens is the employee who’s been here for 3 years and has more experience than a person making an entry-level wage, they will rightfully want more for their seniority,” Olivo says. “So what it does to me as a business owner, by pushing up wage scale, it increases my expenses.”

Olivo says that means he either has to increase revenues — difficult in the current economy — or he must find ways to cut expenses: cutting employees, not hiring new employees or bring in new technology to decrease the number of employees he needs.

“So it really hurts my current employees and it also prevents me from bringing on new ones,” he says.

No mention of his NFIB ties — none. And there’s none in the audio version of the story. (Olivo comes in at about 7:06.)

What’s odd is that the Olivo interview is followed by a chat with Bill Dunkelberg, NFIB’s chief economist. He’s ID’d as an NFIB guy. (He also thinks that maybe we shouldn’t have a minimum wage at all.) But Olivo gets no such ID.

Now, granted, this story does give quite a bit of time (in fact, the majority) to proponents of a minimum wage increase — Senator Harkin and a mother of four from Chicago who’s trying to get by on the current minimum wage.

But Olivo is presented as that mother of four’s opposite number, a regular American who’s subject to the whims of an unfeeling government — and that’s not what he is. He’s an on-call surrogate for the corpocracy who gets almost as much media time as a minor Kardashian.

No responsible member of the press should ever interview Joe Olivo again. At the very least, Joe Olivo should never, ever be interviewed without being prominently identified as the NFIB operative he is.

Guy Raz, you should be ashamed of yourself.

(X-posted at No More Mister Nice Blog.)


UPDATE: If you’re wondering, Olivo’s title, per the caption of one of the Olivo videos at the NFIB’s YouTube page, is “vice-chair of NFIB/New Jersey Leadership Council.” So he’s more than just a humble dues-paying member. (And NFIB posts a lot of Olivo videos.)

58 replies
  1. 1
    Cacti says:

    Doesn’t NPR stand for Nice Polite Republicans?

  2. 2
    Ben Cisco says:

    Hey, it’s the Nice Polite Republicans – you really shouldn’t be surprised by now.

  3. 3
    Brachiator says:

    Doesn’t NPR have a public editor who is supposed to look into this kind of thing?

    It sounds as though NPR is falling into typical hack journalism where they look into their Rolodex or their contact list and go to easily quotable Usual Suspects for reliable soundbites.

  4. 4
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    NPR is worthless. They’ve been told about this asshole, and they interview him anyway.

    NPR: part of the problem, not part of the solution.

  5. 5
    Smiling Mortician says:

    @Brachiator: Falling? NPR fell a while ago. My favorite game when listening to NPR in recent years has been to try to guess what Democratic initiative is in the news based on which Republican they’re interviewing on All Things Considered.

  6. 6
    Bulworth says:

    Poor Joe Oliva. Seems like everything the gubmit wants to do might hurt him, I mean might hurt his employees.

  7. 7
    redshirt says:

    NPR now functions in the propaganda machine as the necessary “Even the Liberal NPR says…” cog. It’s an important part of the machine.

  8. 8
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Guy Raz, you should be ashamed of yourself.

    Ha! Fat chance of that ever happening.

    His name is now on the tumbrel list.

  9. 9
    Allan says:

    How NPR responded to my complaint the last time. Note that they make NO promise not to use Olivo again without noting his affiliation.

    Thank you for contacting the NPR Ombudsman.

    We appreciate your thoughts regarding the June 29 Morning Edition story, “Business Owners Mixed On Health Care Ruling.” Your comments will be taken into consideration. Please note that a correction to the story has been issued since its publication: “The audio of this story, as did a previous Web version, says that under the Affordable Care Act, businesses with 50 or more employees will be required to provide employee health care starting in 2014. Actually those employers will be required to either provide health care or pay a fine.”

    Our office also received feedback regarding Joe Olivo, president and CEO of Perfect Printing in Moorestown, N.J., who was interviewed in the report. We will share your correspondence with the appropriate editors and staff members.

    What you hear on the air, or read on, is governed by a strong code of ethics and practices. These standards are in place to protect and support the integrity, impartiality and conduct of our journalists. I encourage you to review the Ethics Handbook, which is posted online at

  10. 10
    Commenting at Balloon Juice Since 1937 says:

    he either has to increase revenues — … or he must find ways to cut expenses

    Or Joe The Owner could take a pay cut.

  11. 11
    PeakVT says:

    I hope you forward this to NPR, SteveM.

  12. 12
    Punchy says:

    Guy Raz is a fabulous gay pr0n name.

  13. 13
    Commenting at Balloon Juice Since 1937 says:

    Poor NPR. They only have one number listed under ‘Small Business Owner’ in their rolodex.

  14. 14
    SW says:

    Lazy assed piece of shit.

  15. 15
    Brachiator says:

    @Smiling Mortician:

    Falling? NPR fell a while ago. My favorite game when listening to NPR in recent years has been to try to guess what Democratic initiative is in the news based on which Republican they’re interviewing on All Things Considered

    So why listen to the show at all? It seems like it only causes frustration.

    Although I listen to public radio, I don’t think I ever much listened to All Things. Fortunately, there are some locally based shows that are much better.

    But it is also sad to note here how little NPR appears to do what it is supposed to do, serve the public.

  16. 16
    Bulworth says:

    Maybe Joe should spend more time at his printing shop, printing stuff and working.

  17. 17
    Davis X. Machina says:


    But it is also sad to note here how little NPR appears to do what it is supposed to do, serve the public.

    It serves its public, not the public.

    Comforting the comfortable….

  18. 18
    kc says:

    See, this is why I listen to Free Beer and Hot Wings instead of NPR.

  19. 19
    redshirt says:

    I’ve turned off all radio entirely. Thank the maker for the iPod!

  20. 20
    peach flavored shampoo says:

    Who cares? How many people listen to NPR on a Sunday? Eleventeen?

  21. 21
    Face says:

    Joe Olivo owns a small printing press in New Jersey that employs 47 people. Olivo tells Raz that a higher minimum wage basically raises the whole wage scale and would force him to make cuts.

    Life’s a bitch for a sweatshop owner.

  22. 22
    Z says:

    I’m just guessing that background material in nearly all stories about, say, Montel Williams advocating medical marijuana and Jane Fonda giving her thoughts on war, tended towards discussing their roles as famous advocates for their causes rather than their roles on film/television. And those are celebrities that aren’t trying to trick people into thinking they’re anything but what they are.

  23. 23
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    The problem with your argument is that there are almost no responsible press people left. Like I said to my wife the other day, the rich own everything.

    That’s why they’re called presstitutes, they spread it for the money.

  24. 24
    NotMax says:

    Truly surprised that in the dumbed-down atmospherics all too common of late, the reporters don’t reference him as Joe the Printer.

  25. 25
    Older_Wiser says:

    I think I know more of where Joe Olivo is coming from now:

    Not a Black face in the bunch. I count 38 employees, BTW, not 47. So business has picked up since that photo was taken?

    Quit yer bitchin’, Joe, you slimy surrogate.

  26. 26

    @peach flavored shampoo:

    How many people listen to NPR on a Sunday?

    Probably more than during the week, since that’s when they have the fun stuff like Car Talk and Prairie Home Companion.

  27. 27
    scav says:

    Joe Ol-Over NPR could start contributing his opinions on movies and classical music and any number of things, I’d be ghinking. The little Spam-Interview that metastasized. #JoeOlivo was so threatened by the percussion on Mozart’s Divertimento in D last night that he had to lay off another Employee last night. #JoeOlivo thinks your girlfrined looked hotter before her last haircut. He could be NPR’s Magic 8-ball.

    ETA: J(oe)O(livo)Considers < instert topic here >

  28. 28
    Bizono says:

    Guy Raz is on Twitter (@nprguyraz), and he’s already being questioned about using Joe Olivo as a source (Steve M’s post here is being referenced). Should be interesting to see how/if Guy responds.

  29. 29
    cervantes says:

    Actually one of the biggest problems with “journalism” today is just plain laziness. The reason we get stenography and ringer interviewees is because, for a reporter, it beats actually working. It’s just easier being a tool.

  30. 30
  31. 31
    RaflW says:

    Guy Raz: @nprguyraz
    NPR Ombudsman: @SchumacherMatos
    And of course @NPRnews

    I tweeted them all 10 days ago and just did again. We gotta get this undisclosed ties story moving. Felix Salmon noticed last time, let’s help him see this, too…

  32. 32
    Zach says:

    Yeah, I heard that report. It was awful. It was the classic D said/R said/R said with one of the Rs presented as some run of the mill businessman. It made me so mad when they went to the dude I’d just read about being the goto ‘Small businessman.’

    It really was a horrible piece. People listening to it basically had less actionable information after hearing it than they did before. Three people talked book, no actual research into the subject or reporting was done. I guess they did mention that in real dollars the minimum wage is less than it was when first implemented.

    And this after I’d just started listening to NPR news again due to their new policy book. It admitted this type of piece was worthless. I guess they’re still working out the kinks.

  33. 33
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    (He also thinks that maybe we shouldn’t have a minimum wage at all.)


    ***slowly nodding head in agreement…***

    If we could only reduce the going rate for yer average worker to the level of those poor farks who hang out on street medians and in gas station parking lots hoping to cadge a buck for washing yer car windows (if yer lucky enough to afford a car), the rest of us would be oh so much better off…

    And children… fark… what do they even NEED to go to school for?

    Those nimble little fingers are suited for all kinds of tasks too intricate for adults…


    Idle hands are the debbil’s playground…

  34. 34
    kindness says:

    It’s NPR, the ‘New Fox’ station.

    This morning I had to listen to a 5 minute segment of Cokie fluffing Republicans and dissing that black president immediately followed by Mara’s 5 minute tongue bath of all things republican (with a few Democrats/Obama are evil thrown in).

    No….Those here who continue to give contributions to NPR are only funding your enemies, no matter how soft a place in your heart NPR used to have….they Fox now. Stop giving them money to beat us up with.

  35. 35
    dr. bloor says:

    NPR: No Point in Returning.

  36. 36
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:


    Actually one of the biggest problems with “journalism” today is just plain laziness.

    Laziness and a really limited view of what’s going on. Back when (at least) $8 billion in cash disappeared from a US air base outside of Bagdhad, it was all over the lefty blogs and Air America, had been for weeks. Al Franken, who was still at Air America, asked Susan Page and her husband (also a political reporter for I forget which major outlet) about it at the Beltway Nerd Prom. Not only had they never heard of it, they didn’t believe Franken till he got Sanctioned VSP Norm Ornstein to tell them it was true. Or on CNN about a year ago when the Usual Suspects (King, Crowley, Blitzer) were Very Seriously bloating about the need for austerity, Piers Morgan (I think it was) pointed out that austerity in Britain had led to a double dip recession. The others just kind of stared at him like cattle. Neither David Brooks nor Tom Friedman nor the ghost of David Broder had told them that there was some kind of real world evidence of how austerity actually affects an economy.

  37. 37
    Hollowbean says:

    Aside from the ripping on NPR, listening to Joe’s explanation of the economic conditions as a business owner would lead to undue suffering on employees and customers due to the raise in the minimum wage, I encountered two things which I found humorous…

    1. Joe is a business owner, so if anything he shows how ignorant business owners are towards macro economics.

    2.In the scenario outlined in this article, I think the fallacy would be that demand for goods wouldn’t rise, offsetting the cost per item spike logic… it demand would rise because an availability of capital to buy goods. Thus Joe would have got a C- because he didn’t take his theoretical outcome to completion. (It’s what Keynes is all about right?)

    Last note, to give NPR a bump, if you listened beyond Joe, within minutes they bring this point #2 up in the next segment through a open ended question to other non economists.

    I don’t know how to read into the article… it’s either that they were showing the average businessman doesn’t know his macro or the listener needs to read between the lines.

    It’s cool to hate on NPR though, I think they need to spend a little more time having an opinion and telling us how an idea might be off base if there is some claim of authority behind it.

  38. 38
    scav says:

    @kindness: Neo Phox Radio, the latiny bit and the edjamacation in knowing how to pronounce a P and an H in rapid succession will tickle their sense of elite savoir faire.

  39. 39
    Jay C says:


    Really: perusing their website, it’s obvious that Perfect Printing isn’t quite the hole-in-the-wall Mom-n-Pop “small business” the lazy media hacks seem to want to make it out to be: printing IS a moderately labor-intensive business, even in the digital age, but if PP really does employ 48 or 49 people, they are only a “small” business by the arbitrary 50-employee standard: though I wouldn’t doubt that it is a family-owned firm (given the various “Olivos” featured on the site); hence Joe The Printer’s seeming obsession with employee-numbers as the source for yet another of his tedious anti-Obama gripes.

  40. 40
    cervantes says:

    Jim, Foolish Literalist — Limited view of what’s going on is of course related to laziness. Can’t bother to learn anything.

  41. 41
    bemused says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist:

    I listened to Al on Air America all the time and I’ve never forgotten that story. Media has been miserably lacking for a long time.

    I always enjoyed Norm Ornstein when he was a guest on Franken’s show. Ornstein has a wry sense of humor and I could understand why he and Franken have been friends from way back.

  42. 42
    Walker says:

    My mother used to be a fundraiser for a regional NPR. For most markets, young peoole simply do not give enough money. Primary giving is by an older demographic. An older, more conservative demographic.

  43. 43
    Allan says:

    “No, Mr. Customer, I’m afraid I’m going to have to turn down your huge new account because to properly service you, I’d need to hire a couple more employees.”

    – Words Joe Olivo would never say, even if you paid him to.

  44. 44
    gene108 says:

    I remember when my local NPR station had a couple of news shows, during peak commuting times in the morning and afternoon and just played classical music the rest of the day.

    Maybe filling in 24/7 of talk radio content has diluted what they are capable of.

  45. 45
    Another Halocene Human says:

    @gene108: Gingrich slashed CPB in the 1990s. After that happened, NPR was sponsored by ADM. They are bought and paid for by corporations, just like regular news. They are over as the people’s broadcast and have been for a generation.

  46. 46
    Smiling Mortician says:


    So why listen to the show at all? It seems like it only causes frustration.

    Where I live, a news junkie in a car really doesn’t have very many choices.

  47. 47
    comrade scott's agenda of rage says:


    It sounds as though NPR is falling into typical hack journalism where they look into their Rolodex or their contact list and go to easily quotable Usual Suspects for reliable soundbites.

    “Is failing”? More like “been that way since the Clinton Impeachment”.

  48. 48
    Hoosierville says:

    @Allan: This is the exact response I got from them too. Word for word.

  49. 49
    El Cid says:

    NPR have to do journalism? That’s so unfair.

    It’s not like some corporate big money heiress left them $200 million dollars to support their actual journalistic initiatives.

    Oh, whoops, that happened.

  50. 50
    deep says:

    @Roger Moore:

    Small nit pick: Prairie Home Companion isn’t an NPR show, it’s American Public Media.

  51. 51
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    Oh, please. Guy Raz is a talking head. He doesn’t do any actual journalism. I stopped listening to the Sunday show after his first show when they promoted him to the anchor position.

  52. 52
    Cathy W says:


    …which is why the small business that hired my husband a few years ago when they had a big new client coming online is no longer a small business. Imagine, a business hiring employees based on increased customer demand for its products and services! That’s in defiance of all known economic principles, isn’t it?

  53. 53
    mcmullje says:


    I got exactly the same letter. Crap!

  54. 54
    JoyfulA says:

    @Hoosierville: That’s exactly the same response I got from NPR, too.

    Then again, I quit having anything to do with public radio circa the late Clinton era.

  55. 55
    Another Halocene Human says:

    The software ate my post. Is anyone else listening to D e m o c r a c y N o w?

  56. 56
    Schlemizel says:

    @deep: Yes and two and a half men is not a CBS show . . . so what?

  57. 57
    Mike Nobis says:

    @Cacti: I am an NFIB member as are over 300,000 small business owners. I guess it is our turn to become the villains in the main stream media. The left doesn’t want the rest of the country to know the real truth about the economy and the message small business owners have to share. If any small business owner dares tell the truth about what the Obamacare law will do to them or their employees, destroy them. No way do you want the country to know what is really happening. The real losers in this whole mess will be the poor. The rich and successful will always use their brains to figure out how to survive and flourish, the poor will become more enslaved to a system that in the end will devour them and all hope for living. history has proved that out over and over again. No way do I want to live like that.

  58. 58
    Gaynelle Lafoe says:

    A code of ethics for normative economists behaviour the author suggests by adapting the code for engineers? I think not. Why not principles from a code for business or lawyers, or some other profession? Same answer, but the wrong question. Why not borrow from a moral code for individuals?: we’re already over-credentialized and professionalized.

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