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Dismissing positive jobs reports and a record-high stock market, Fox News is laying the groundwork for Trump to attack Biden’s economy

Fox News has downplayed recent positive economic news under President Joe Biden, laying the groundwork for former President Donald Trump to rewrite history about his economic record on the 2024 campaign trail.

Fox personalities have attempted to undermine the positive indicators under Biden, downplaying job creation numbers, record highs in the stock market, and other figures the network praised during Trump’s presidency.

  • Data shows that the economy is currently strong

    • U.S. GDP grew at a rate of 3.3% in the last quarter of 2023, exceeding Wall Street expectations and showing the economy “easily skirted a recession that many forecasters had thought was inevitable” over the last two years. On average, GDP growth during Biden’s first three years in office (3.4%) exceeded GDP growth in the first three years of Trump’s administration (2.5%). [CNBC, 1/25/24; Twitter/X, 1/25/24]
    • The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 recently set record highs, capping off a “stellar showing” for the stock market in 2023. [ABC News, 1/22/24
    • The University of Michigan’s Survey of Consumers found that consumer sentiment has reached “its highest level since July 2021,” showing the “largest increase since 1991” in positive perceptions of the economy over a two-month period. Retail spending also “beat economists’ expectations,” growing 0.6% in December amid a “strong holiday season.” [CNBC, 1/19/24; CNN, 1/17/24
    • While consumer inflation did hit record highs in 2022, it experienced a “steady slowdown” in 2023 and has “tumbled from a peak of around 9% in June 2022 to 3.4%.” Additionally, CNN reports that the core measure (excluding energy and food) of “the Personal Consumption Expenditures price index — the inflation gauge that the Fed uses as its target rate … is at its lowest point since March 2021.” [The Associated Press, 1/24/24; CNN, 1/26/24]
    • Jobless claims for the first full week of January fell to their lowest levels since 2022, capping “a year of exceptional gains for American workers” in 2023, which saw 2.7 million jobs created. The economy has also maintained an unemployment rate below 4% for over two years, “a stretch last accomplished in the 1960s.” [CNN, 1/18/24; The Washington Post, 1/5/24]
  • Fox News has repeatedly downplayed good news about the economy under Biden

    • Fox & Friends ignored the December 2023 jobs report that blew past expectations and was characterized by a Fox Business anchor multiple times as “strong.” Instead, Fox host Lawrence Jones spent much of the January 5 show interviewing diners about their economic concerns, including claiming that “people just have been hit hard and we're trying to find some type of way to keep the money in our pocket,” and asking for a show of hands if “we’re on the wrong track, economy-wise.” [Media Matters, 1/5/24]
    • Fox Business anchor David Asman claimed “somebody is fiddling with” jobs numbers because of downward revisions in 2023, saying, “They are playing some kind of game with the numbers here to make things at the moment look better than they really are.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics has explained why revisions happen: “The short answer is, the revised estimate includes additional information that was not available at the time of the initial release — information that makes the revised estimate more accurate.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 1/5/24; Bureau of Labor Statistics, 7/10/13]
    • Fox Business host and former Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow also downplayed positive jobs numbers by pointing to downward revisions, claiming “the economy is not as strong” as was thought. On-air graphics during the segment stated “Numbers Behind Bidenomics Don’t Add Up” and “Fake Numbers, Fake Economy.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 1/8/24]
    • Kudlow claimed Biden can’t take credit for jobs returning that were lost under Trump during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. “You can't say you created 14 million jobs when most of that number comes from jobs returning post-COVID,” Kudlow said. “Pre-pandemic, Trump created 9 million jobs. Biden has created 4 million jobs. Nine minus four is 5 million jobs. He didn’t do near as well as Donald Trump did.” [Fox News, America Reports, 1/19/24]
    • Fox guest and former Trump economic adviser Steve Moore falsely suggested that inflation has continued to outpace wage growth, even though this has not been true for many months. Moore said: “If you look at middle America, what they’re really looking at is what things cost and whether their incomes are keeping pace. And most of them are saying they’re not.” However, wage growth has actually been outpacing inflation since May 2023. [Fox News, America Reports, 1/23/24; USA Today, 1/10/24]
    • Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy: “I know the administration puts out numbers and they say, look, the numbers are better. The problem is people don't feel it.” Doocy continued: “And I think so many people are like … I could afford more gas, I could afford more groceries during Trump. And Trump has made it very clear. He is promising to bring us back to those old days. So, if he gets the nomination, if he is elected, you know, he’s got to do that. And he has said on the first day he’s going to drill, and undoubtedly that's going to bring down some prices as we know it.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 1/16/24]
    • Kudlow: “Stocks are up, inflation is down, it is very interesting but on the other hand real wages still seem to be falling.” In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported: “Real average hourly earnings for all employees increased 0.2 percent from November to December, seasonally adjusted.” Additionally, BLS reported that real wages rose over the past year: “Real average hourly earnings increased 0.8 percent, seasonally adjusted, from December 2022 to December 2023.” [Fox Business, Kudlow, 1/22/24; Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1/11/24]
    • The January 25 edition of Fox & Friends ran a segment attacking “Bidenomics” – but devoted only 27 seconds to a strong GDP report. As Mediaite noted, the network ran only one correspondent segment on the report showing “better than expected numbers” after the co-hosts accused Biden’s economic policy of being “tone deaf” and “reckless.” [Mediaite, 1/25/24]
  • This is in stark contrast to how Fox covered economic news under Trump, covering up for mediocre or even negative performance and giving him credit for President Barack Obama’s economic record

    • As soon as Trump took office, Fox News began touting his “fantastic” jobs report from January 2017 – inadvertently praising former President Barack Obama’s record. In a March 2017 edition of The Five, then-Fox host Eric Bolling was even ridiculed by other co-hosts after attempting to credit Trump for Obama’s final economic numbers. [Media Matters, 2/3/17; Fox News, The Five, 3/31/17]
    • Fox Business contributor Elizabeth MacDonald excused an underwhelming GDP report on Fox Business host Stuart Varney's show, arguing that “this is what the president has inherited.” Earlier that month, Varney admitted that if the “very weak jobs report” under Trump in April 2017 had come out under the Obama administration, Fox “would be all over them” for the supposed “failure of the president's economic policy.” [Media Matters, 4/28/174/7/17]
    • Trump appeared to take talking points on the economy directly from Fox News, hyping misleading job creation numbers in June 2017 following a Fox & Friends Weekend segment while failing to mention “that it was the weakest February through May stretch of job growth since the end of the Great Recession.” [Media Matters, 6/12/17]
    • In 2019, multiple Fox News figures followed Trump’s lead and accused the media of trying to spark a recession. After Trump tweeted, “The Fake News Media is doing everything they can to crash the economy because they think that will be bad for me and my re-election,” Fox hosts and contributors jumped in line, suggesting a conspiracy by mainstream media to cause an economic collapse in order to hurt Trump’s campaign. [Media Matters, 8/20/19]
    • Fox Business host Stuart Varney said that Trump should take credit for the good news of the stock market, but not the bad. Varney said that Trump “was right to tout” stock market growth since his inauguration, claiming that “it was his policies which created” the rally. However, Varney dismissed the February 5, 2018, Dow Jones 1,175 point drop as an overdue market correction, saying that “presidents shouldn't stick into that kind of sell-off on a day-to-day basis” and advising Trump to “steer clear of that, please.” [Media Matters, 2/6/18
    • Fox helped Trump hide terrible economic news during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the two and a half hours after the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis released a report showing that GDP contracted at a 32.9% annualized rate in the second quarter of 2020 — the worst drop in U.S. history — Fox covered the news for roughly 1 minute. During that time, both CNN and MSNBC had spent nearly half an hour each covering the terrible economic news. [Media Matters, 7/30/20]
    • Fox host Sean Hannity dismissed the record stock market highs under Biden after spending years touting the stock market under Trump. After repeatedly praising Trump for stock market records, Hannity dismissed stock prices under Biden as inconsequential for most Americans, cautioning that “this thing can come tumbling down just as quickly as it went up.” During the Trump administration, Hannity routinely ran a rolling list of “President’s Trump’s Accomplishments” that would scroll as he lauded Trump’s economic policies. The second accomplishment in the scroll was “stock market reached an all-time high.” Hannity did this at least 11 times between 2017-19. [Media Matters, 1/22/24]
  • Trump is echoing Fox in downplaying the Biden economy, falsely claiming credit for good economic news, and expressing hope for an economic “crash” under Biden

    • Trump has claimed that the Bureau of Labor Statistics is not putting out “real unemployment” numbers – despite touting those same figures during his presidency. In 2016 before he was president, “Trump often questioned the accuracy” of the bureau’s numbers, arguing unemployment “was really 22 percent or even as high as 42 percent,” then cited those same figures while in office to falsely claim he had set record lows. According to then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer, Trump said, “They may have been phony in the past, but it’s very real now.” [The Washington Post, 1/24/24
    • Trump said he hopes the economy crashes during 2024 and claimed, “We have an economy that’s so fragile.” During an interview with former Fox Business host Lou Dobbs, Trump said: “When there’s a crash, I hope it’s going to be during this next 12 months because I don’t want to be Herbert Hoover.” [Rolling Stone, 1/8/24]
    • Trump has continually – and incorrectly – predicted recession and economic peril. Trump wrongly predicted oil and gas prices would go “through the roof like never before” if Obama was reelected in 2012, a “very massive recession” on the 2016 campaign trail, and a “depression the likes of which you’ve never seen” if he lost the 2020 election. Last December, Trump again defied strong economic news to insist “we’ll have a depression the likes of which I don’t believe anybody has ever seen” if he does not win in 2024. [The Washington Post, 4/2/16, 4/22/21; Rolling Stone, 12/13/23
    • Trump falsely claimed credit for a recent record stock market high during the Biden administration. During a Fox News town hall before the Iowa caucuses, Trump said: “I believe the stock market goes up because I'm leading” in the Republican primary, adding that if he loses the election, “I think the stock market would crash.” Yahoo reported that “it was reminiscent of similar claims Trump made during the 2020 campaign about a crash that would follow a Biden victory, which proved false.” [Yahoo Finance, 1/11/24]