Chamber of Commerce No Longer “Represents” 3 Million Businesses

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.


Late last month, for the first time in more than a decade, the US Chamber of Commerce changed the boilerplate language that appears at the bottom of its press releases. The nation’s largest business lobby no longer claims to be “representing more than 3 million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region.” Instead, it claims to be “representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses” (emphasis added). The smallness of the tweak masks its major significance: Representing somebody, which strongly implies a direct relationship, is very different from representing their interests. The Chamber is in effect acknowleging that the “3 million” businesses aren’t actually its members.

Since I began drawing attention to the Chamber’s inflated membership claims late last year, it has been under heavy fire from reporters and activists for routinely misrepresenting its true size. It was forced to admit that its true membership isn’t the 3 million businesses that it has claimed, but something on the order of 300,000. The New York Times and other large publications began using the smaller number in their stories. And yet the Chamber’s press releases went conspicuously unchanged.

Unfortunately, the Chamber’s belated move to correct the record just further muddies the waters. It still doesn’t explain exactly who these “3 million businesses” are. And its new claim to speak for their “interests” (when there are only about 5 million US businesses with payroll) is deeply disingenuous given its staunch opposition to just about every item on the Democratic political agenda. It would be more accurate to say that the Chamber “represents the interests of a small number of big-business donors that profit from polluting the environment and exploiting their workers.” But that has a different ring, doesn’t it?

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate