Fox News' Martha MacCallum claimed that “after weeks of economic doom and gloom, the Obama administration is now singing a slightly different tune. Take a look at what was said in recent interviews this weekend.” Fox News then aired clips of administration officials purportedly giving an optimistic view of the economy, which included video of Joe Biden stating: “The fundamentals of the economy are strong.” However, Biden did not make those remarks during an “interview” over the past weekend; he made those remarks at a September 2008 campaign event in which he criticized statements by John McCain.
During the March 16 edition of Fox News' The Live Desk, co-host Martha MacCallum claimed that “after weeks of economic doom and gloom, the Obama administration is now singing a slightly different tune. Take a look at what was said in recent interviews this weekend.” Fox News then aired clips of administration officials purportedly giving an optimistic view of the economy, which included a clip of Joe Biden stating: “The fundamentals of the economy are strong.” After the clips aired, MacCallum contrasted the administration's purported remarks from “this weekend” with what then-Sen. Obama said during the 2008 presidential campaign, when he criticized Sen. John McCain for stating that the “fundamentals of our economy are strong, but these are very, very difficult times.” However, Biden did not make his remarks during an “interview” over the past weekend; Biden made his remarks at a September 15, 2008, campaign event, and, like Obama, was criticizing McCain for his remarks -- not echoing McCain. Think Progress also noted Fox News' editing of Biden's remarks.
During the September 15, 2008, campaign event in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, Biden said:
BIDEN: John McCain has confessed, and I quote -- I want to make sure I get it right -- he said: “It's easy for me to be in Washington and, frankly, be somewhat divorced from the day-to-day challenges people have.” Well, he's right. He's right. If all you do is walk the halls of power, all you'll hear is the wants of the powerful.
Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that's why John McCain could say with a straight face, as recently as this morning -- and this is a quote: "The fundamentals of the economy are strong." That's what John says. He says that “we've made great progress economically” in the Bush years.
Ladies and gentlemen, ladies and gentlemen, I could walk from here to Lansing, and I wouldn't run into a single person who thought our economy was doing well, unless I ran into John McCain.
Folks, John just doesn't get it. He just doesn't understand what average, middle-class people are going through the last 8 years. He doesn't get it. I don't doubt that John cares. He just doesn't think -- he doesn't think that we have any responsibility to help people who are hurting.
During the March 16 edition of The Live Desk, Fox News only aired the bolded portion of Biden's remarks, in which he's quoting McCain.
From the March 16 edition of The Live Desk, which purported to show video of Biden speaking “this weekend”:
From the September 15, 2008, edition of Fox News' Happening Now, which aired Biden's remarks in Michigan live:
Fox News also aired video of White House Council of Economic Advisers member Austan Goolsbee stating on the March 15 edition of Fox News Sunday that “the core strength of the economy is middle-class workers.” However, Goolsbee said immediately after that, “Over the last eight years, before this president came into office, we saw an unbelievable squeeze on the middle class like nothing we have seen in decades.” From the March 15 edition of Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday:
CHRIS WALLACE (host): Finally, I want to get into a little bit of the Obama budget with you -- $3.6 trillion, which calls for major tax increases on the wealthy.
And I want to read you something from -- and this is it right here -- the president's budget. “While middle-class families have been playing by the rules, living up to their responsibilities as neighbors and citizens, those at the commanding heights of our economy have not.”
Mr. Goolsbee, it's a blanket statement from the administration. People who make money have not played by the rules?
GOOLSBEE: I think you're stretching a little bit the blanket statement. It's not saying that it's been illegal. It's saying the rules of the game that the American economy has followed for decades is that the core strength of the economy is middle-class workers.
Over the last eight years, before this president came into office, we saw an unbelievable squeeze on the middle class like nothing we have seen in decades.
We go through the first boom in recorded economic history of the country, where the median family's income falls by $2,000 while corporate profits and overall GDP rise dramatically.
WALLACE: But --
GOOLSBEE: The president is saying in his budget that he's carrying out in the recovery package and in the budget giving a tax cut to 95 percent of working people and that people who make more than $250,000 a year will go back to the rates as they were at the end of the '90s, that if they pay a bit more, that isn't going to bring the economy down. And that style of thinking, that it's going to trickle down and we should just keep cutting taxes at the top, got us where we are today. It didn't solve the problem.
From the March 16 edition of Fox News' The Live Desk with Martha and Trace:
MacCALLUM: Well, after weeks of economic doom and gloom, the Obama administration is now singing a slightly different tune. Take a look at what was said in recent interviews this weekend.
CHRISTINA ROMER (Council of Economic Advisers chairwoman) [video clip]: The American workers are sound. We have a good capital stock.
LARRY SUMMERS (Obama economic adviser) [video clip]: There does seem to be some sign of stability in January and February -- is better than if that were not the case.
BIDEN [video clip]: The fundamentals of the economy are strong.
GOOLSBEE [video clip]: The core strength of the economy is middle-class workers.
MacCALLUM: All right. Well, the mantra for the weekend is clear, looking at what was said over the course of the shows on Sunday. Let's bring in our panelists. Bill Kristol is the editor of -- the editor of The Weekly Standard, of course, and a Fox News contributor. And Gary Burtless is a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution. Welcome to both of you.
Bill, you know, my ears perked up when I heard all that, because I remembered on the campaign trail how, you know, John McCain got lambasted for suggesting that the underlying fundamentals of the economy were still intact. And before you say what you're going to say, let's just play a little bit to remind everybody.
McCAIN [video clip]: The fundamentals of our economy are strong, but these are very, very difficult times.
OBAMA [video clip]: He said, and I quote, “The fundamentals of our economy are strong.”
MacCALLUM: So, Bill, a bit of a different tune -- I guess it's OK to say that now.