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Fox and Friends Lie and Spin About Unemployment Under Republicans Vs. Obama

Reported by Guest Blogger - June 12, 2010 -

Guest Blogged by Wuzupdawk

On Thursday (6/10) Fox and Friends used a misleading chart of unemployment averages over the past six decades to make unfavorable comparisons between President Obama and previous presidents. Not only did they massage the statistics to get their desired results, they compared a mere year and a half of Obama’s presidency – which inherited already rising unemployment and an economic meltdown from Bush 43 – to the full presidencies of his predecessors. The truth is that every Democratic reign reduced unemployment and every Republican reign except Reagan/Bush 41 (but not by much) increased it during their time in office.

Here’s the misleading chart from Fox and Friends:


Anyone who was an adult during the Reagan years would suspect something was wrong with these figures right away: unemployment rose to over 10% during the reign of Saint Ronnie and the painful recession of the 1980’s.

Of course, the chart shows averages, but the averages are for full presidencies to Obama’s 1.5 years. Even a school kid would know better than to make a comparison like that, but it’s all good in the spin room at Fox. Here’s how they used it:


Steve Doocy: “We're looking at U.S. unemployment over the last 12 years -- 12 months, that is to say. But when you look over the last number of decades, Obama is in a bad spot because when you look at, starting with LBJ, he had unemployment at 4 percent. Ike was under 5, Nixon 5, Clinton 5, Bush 43 5, JFK 6, Bush 41 -- and just read along. Obama's at the bottom with over 9 percent.” (source)

I decided to fact-check F+F’s stats, using US Bureau of Labor statistics (series ID LNS14000000, 1948-2010). Here is what I found:

- The average monthly unemployment rate under Carter was only 6.5%. Under Reagan it was 7.5% and under Clinton 5.2%.

- George W Bush lucked out(?) by presiding over an over-exuberant, wildly fabricated, farce of a bubble economy that produced an average monthly unemployment rate of only 5.3%

Looking at it another way, here are the rates when each party took over the Presidency versus when they left, and the difference:

Eisenhower (R) start: 2.9% end: 6.6% difference: +3.7 points

Kennedy - Johnson (D) start: 6.6% end: 3.4% difference: -3.2 points

Nixon - Ford (R) start: 3.4% end: 7.5% difference: +4.1 points

Carter (D) start: 7.5% end: 7.5% difference: 0.0 points

Reagan - Bush 41 (R) start: 7.5% end: 7.3% difference: -0.2 points

Clinton (D) start: 7.3% end: 4.2% difference: -3.1 points

Bush 43 (R) start: 4.2% end: 7.7% difference: +3.5 points

Every Democratic reign reduced unemployment and every Republican reign except Reagan/Bush 41 (but not by much) increased it during their time in office. Carter might have had an opportunity to do better, but he only had one term to clean up Nixon's disaster.

Yes, the Republicans do have a great record when it comes to the economy and employment, don't they? Even their savior, Ronald Reagan, couldn't do better than an average rate of 7.5% during his entire term.

So, what did people expect for the last 17 months? That the rapidly declining economy and rapidly increasing unemployment rate should just screech to a halt under Obama? He inherited probably the most disastrous economic environment since the 1930s due in large part to Herr Cheney systematically removing regulations from almost every industry and Herr Bush either sleeping (or at least being blissfully ignorant) while it was all going on. By the time President Obama was sworn in, unemployment had been rising steadily for over a year and had reached 7.7%.

H/T David P.

Alex adds:

If you go over to the Bureau Of Labor site and plug LNS14000000 (the series ID that Wuzupdawk used) into the search box, it’ll take you to the page where he found his statistics, and you can have some fun. I searched the Reagan years and found that, like President Obama, Saint Ronnie inherited an unemployment rate of over 7%, and lo and behold, just like Obama, it hit over 9.5% by May/June of his second year in office. Now THAT might have been a comparison worth making, if Stuart Varney had been willing to tell the truth; but no, according to Varney, President Reagan inherited “double digit unemployment”. I think we can guess where he pulled that figure from.

You can find an extensive report on the astonishing misinformation and downright lies in this segment at Media Matters .