By: Roger Aronoff
Accuracy in Media
In the view of The New York Times and other beacons of the liberal media, President Barack Obama’s policies are a resounding success and he rarely makes a misstep. The harmful effects of his policies, as well as his many scandals, must be ignored or covered up with misleading statistics and deceitful reporting that preserve his radical, left-wing legacy, and even make it sound mainstream.
Members of the media often follow the lead of the Times in choosing the angles for their own reporting. And, as we noted last year, Paul Krugman’s columns for that paper, while opinion pieces, reflect the Times’ underlying perspective and political agenda.
Just as last summer Krugman triumphantly announced that 2014 would go down in history as “as one of those years when America took a major turn in the right direction,” his August 10 column seeks to demonstrate how Republican presidential candidates are unable to confront Obama’s “failure to fail,” despite all the dire conservative warnings. In other words, Krugman has once again penned a defense of President Obama’s agenda, particularly Obamacare and America’s economic growth.
“Talk to right-wingers, and they will inevitably assert that it [Obamacare] has been a disaster,” he claims. “But ask exactly what form this disaster has taken, and at best you get unverified anecdotes about rate hikes and declining quality.”
Those “unverified anecdotes” were considered so credible that Krugman’s own paper dedicated a front-page article last October to the crisis facing Americans who could no longer pay for their rising deductibles and their medical expenses under Obamacare: “About 7.3 million Americans are enrolled in private coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces,” wrote the Times, “and more than 80 percent qualified for federal subsidies to help with the cost of their monthly premiums. But many are still on the hook for deductibles that can top $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for families—the trade-off, insurers say, for keeping premiums for the marketplace plans relatively low.”
But the Times’ reporting on this issue was a short-term divergence from its, and other papers,’ long-term campaign to demonstrate that Obamacare has been successful regardless of the evidence demonstrating that it has damaged Americans’ ability to pay for their health care. Any objective analysis—one not secretly swayed by hidden political and familial connections—would conclude that Obamacare has been an abject failure marked by rising costs and declining care.
“Obamacare was supposed to be a job-killer…” writes Krugman, criticizing Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio (R-FL). Krugman writes that “in the year and a half since Obamacare went fully into effect, the U.S. economy has added an average of 237,000 private-sector jobs per month” and labels this a better performance than any “since the 1990s,” better even when compared with President Ronald Reagan’s term in office.
“Many employers cut workers’ hours to avoid the Affordable Care Act’s mandate to provide health insurance to anyone working 30 hours a week or more,” wrote Mortimer Zuckerman for The Wall Street Journal last year. “The unintended consequence of President Obama’s ‘signature legislation’? Fewer full-time workers. In many cases two people are working the same number of hours that one had previously worked.”
Zuckerman broke down the employment figures from the previous month, another one of those months with an increase of about a quarter million people in private-sector jobs: “Full-time jobs last month plunged by 523,000, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What has increased are part-time jobs. They soared by about 800,000 to more than 28 million. Just think of all those Americans working part time, no doubt glad to have the work but also contending with lower pay, diminished benefits and little job security.” That is the America that Obamacare and the Obama economy are creating.
The Hill’s Vicki Needham reported on August 7 that “wage growth remains stagnant even as the labor market makes gains.” Despite this, Needham describes the current “improving” economy as a “boon for President Obama.”
This is an economic shell game, pure and simple. As a Princeton economics professor, and former Enron consultant, Krugman must know better. He does acknowledge that there are “many reasons to qualify” the low unemployment rate, “notably the fact that measured unemployment is low in part because of a decline in the percentage of Americans in the labor force.” But that huge understatement was it as far as balance goes.
The labor participation rate is actually stuck at around 62.6 percent, comparable to the 1970s. That’s more than three percent less labor participation by Americans than there was in January 2009 when President Obama took office, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That translates to approximately 90 million people, depending on how you count them, who either aren’t working or aren’t looking for work.
When such inconvenient facts don’t provide support for Obamacare, amnesty, or additional climate change regulations in the service of Obama’s progressive agenda, journalists try to divert the public’s attention by manufacturing supportive headlines.
CNN reported on August 7 that African Americans now have an unemployment rate below 10 percent, at 9.1 percent as of this July, with the headline, “Black unemployment rate falls to lowest in 7 years.” This is “especially encouraging” because “unemployment for African-Americans was 11.4% last July,” it reports.
Glassdoor Chief Economist Andrew Chamberlain tells CNN Money that “The unemployment rate can fall for good reasons—people find jobs—or bad reasons like people who couldn’t find jobs leave the labor force.”
“Unfortunately, I think [this month] it’s more being driven by people leaving the labor market,” he continued.
Yet, despite Chamberlain’s comments, the article maintains that “experts say the trend over the past year is positive.”
But according to the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, 51 percent of black high school graduates between the age of 17 and 20 are underemployed, meaning unemployed or working part time, but wanting to work full time.
However, the real dereliction of duty by the mainstream media has been with the ongoing underreported or misreported stories that they don’t dare to touch. From the FAA hiring scandal, to the IRS scandal, to Fast & Furious and the Benghazi scandals, the media run faster and harder every day to dream up new stories about trivial events to fill their papers with anything—any diversion that doesn’t implicate the Obama administration for its widespread and growing malfeasance. This week the diversion is Donald Trump vs. Fox News’ Megyn Kelly, after their debate confrontation last Thursday night, plus the subsequent comments Trump made on CNN.
Reporters won’t admit that Hillary Clinton’s ongoing email scandal involving the misuse of classified information, lies, and stonewalling, is, in fact, a State Department scandal. After all, the State Department knew about then-Secretary of State Clinton’s use of private email, and allowed her to do all of her business on a private email server, leaving it vulnerable to sophisticated hackers such as those operating in China, Russia, and North Korea. NBC News reported on Monday that “China’s cyber spies have accessed the private emails of ‘many’ top Obama administration officials, according to a senior U.S. intelligence official and a top secret document obtained by NBC News, and have been doing so since at least April 2010.”
President Obama has admitted that he exchanged emails with Secretary Clinton at her private address, but still maintains that he didn’t know “the details” about her private server, or that she did all of her government business on it. He had originally said he learned about Hillary’s “private email address use through recent news reports, [at] ‘the same time everybody else learned it.’”
That was the same lie he initially told about how he learned about the IRS targeting of conservative groups.
David Axelrod, the former senior advisor to President Obama, said back in February, during his book tour, “And I’m proud of the fact that, basically, you’ve had an administration that’s been in place for six years in which there hasn’t been a major scandal.”
The only reason these scandals aren’t labeled as such can be blamed on a Krugman-like syndrome: an absolute refusal by these reporters to connect the dots from debacles such as Fast & Furious and the Benghazi scandals back to their real source, the Obama White House. Responsibility for these scandals flows from the top down. Since the Justice Department refuses to seriously investigate these scandals, it is left up to Congress and the media, neither of which have the authority to indict anyone, nor, apparently, the appetite or guts to pursue them.