Hardball, Big Story, and Your World reports accepted Bush administration's misleading wage and jobs claims

››› ››› BEN ARMBRUSTER

MSNBC and Fox News uncritically reported claims by the Bush administration, including that "wages for the average middle-class American today are actually higher than they were just a couple of years ago," ignoring a report alleging that the median hourly real wage has "declined 2 percent since 2003."

On the October 23 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, discussing her recent interview with President Bush, Maria Bartiromo, host of CNBC's The Closing Bell, uncritically relayed Bush's claim during the interview that "wages for the average middle-class American today are actually higher than they were just a couple of years ago." Neither Bartiromo nor host Chris Matthews noted that real wages -- wages adjusted for inflation -- have not risen in the past "couple of years"; according to an August 28 New York Times report, the median hourly real wage has "declined 2 percent since 2003."

In addition, on the October 23 edition of Fox News' The Big Story with John Gibson, Fox News chief political correspondent Carl Cameron falsely claimed that the United States has created "some five million jobs" in "the ... five years under the Bush administration." In fact, because there was a net loss of 2.6 million U.S. jobs from February 2001 through July 2003, there has been a net gain of 3.2 million new jobs in the first 68 months of the Bush presidency, as Media Matters for America has documented. Similarly, on the October 23 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox News chief White House correspondent Brett Baier uncritically reported that Bush recently "touted the nation's job creation of 6.6 million new jobs since August of 2003," ignoring the earlier job losses.

From the October 23 edition of MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to Hardball. Maria Bartiromo, host of CNBC's The Closing Bell, interviewed President Bush today and asked him about our economy, the escalating violence in Iraq, and how those two issues will influence the midterm elections. Maria, you got the hot -- the hot get today.

BARTIROMO: Thanks very much, Chris. You know, the president was very, very confident when I spoke with him about two hours ago about his chances coming up to the midterm elections. He said that he is not worried, by one iota, that the Republicans are going to lose either house of Congress. He was very confident on that and, in particular, because of the economy.

You know, he talked about the fact that inflation is low, in addition to the fact that oil prices have come all the way down from close to $80 a barrel -- now below $60 a barrel -- and he also said that, even though we are seeing a gap between the rich and poor, wages for the average middle-class American today are actually higher than they were just a couple of years ago.

So, with all that good news, the obvious question, of course, Chris, is: Well, if everything is going so well, how come the poll numbers are so weak?

From the October 23 edition of Fox News' The Big Story with John Gibson:

BANDERAS: All right. Obviously, the economy is what the president currently is touting on. But do you think that the booming economy is enough to save Republicans in November?

CAMERON: It's certainly part of what Republicans want to emphasize. They would like to point out that Democrats have a cut and run strategy, in the real -- in the GOP vernacular, overseas in terms of foreign policy. And when it comes to the domestic front, Republicans argue that Democrats would raise taxes, and that would be an obvious drag on the economy that could undo what growth and what job creation there's been in the last six -- five years under the Bush administration -- some five million jobs -- as the administration is often wont to tout.

The problem is not so much the actual statistical condition of the economy, it's what people feel out in the country, and they're being reminded by Democrats all the time that it could be better. And so Republicans keep on trying to ring that bell. It's just a question of whether or not voters can hear it, hence the president's insistence on saying it daily.

From the October 23 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:

CAVUTO: Well, stocks up on Wall Street as the president talks up the economy in Washington -- chief White House correspondent Brett Baier with the latest on that. Hey, Brett.

BAIER: Hey, Neil. Touring a minority-owned bank here in Washington today, President Bush also met with area small business owners saying the strength of the nation's economy largely depends on the strength of the nation's small business sector. The president touring the Urban Trust Bank -- traveling there, here in D.C. It opened earlier this year, designed to provide a service to urban and minority customers with a focus on underserved small businesses and home buyers. Now, the president today focused on entrepreneurs; he touted the nation's job creation of 6.6 million new jobs since August of 2003, and the president said, with today's U.S. economy, people can, quote, "have a dream and work hard to achieve that dream."

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.