Though the U.S. Labor Department's monthly employment data for August showed that the U.S. economy produced fewer new jobs than expected and not enough jobs to keep pace with population growth -- let alone make up for the 1.65 million private-sector jobs lost since President George W. Bush took office -- FOX News Channel reporters and commentators spun the data as good news for Bush (much as they did last month). Their comments closely echoed Bush-Cheney '04 talking points on the figures.
On the September 3 edition of Special Report with Brit Hume, White House correspondent Jim Angle reported that Bush "welcomed some positive news on the economy" while campaigning in Wisconsin. Angle gave his favorable take on the job numbers even though he noted moments later that the economy "needs to create more than 150,000 [jobs] just to keep up with population growth," and even though chief political correspondent Carl Cameron, whose report followed Angle's, noted that Senator John Kerry had "zeroed in on the latest Labor Department report indicating slower than expected job growth in August."
Angle also reported that Bush "told them [his audience in Wisconsin] the unemployment rate fell to 5.4 percent, the lowest since October of 2001." But Angle failed to note that the decline in the unemployment rate was mainly due to unemployed workers dropping out of the labor force entirely, not finding new jobs, as the Labor Department press release explained. While Angle failed to report this fact, other news outlets did, including the Associated Press, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times.
On the September 6 edition of The Big Story with John Gibson, correspondent Heather Nauert asked Bush-Cheney '04 spokesman Terry Holt: "Why don't you address the economic issue for us, please, because as we hear it, the jobs numbers are looking pretty good." In a subsequent interview with FOX News Channel senior business correspondent Terry Keenan, Nauert observed: "So things are looking good. Now, we know that Kerry is going to start focusing in his campaign on more of the domestic issues, on health care, on the economy. But with things looking good, how can he convince people that they're bad?"