REPORT: Fox Obsesses Over Obama “Doing Fine” Comment While Whitewashing Romney Attack On Public Workers

Fox News discussed President Barack Obama's recent comment that the “private sector is doing fine” almost four times as often as Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's suggestion that we don't need “more firemen, more policemen, more teachers.” Similarly, the network ran video of Obama's comment nearly seven times more often than video of Romney's attack on public workers.

Obama Drew Contrast Between Private Sector And Public Sector Job Growth

Obama: Private Sector Job Growth Is “Doing Fine.” During a June 8 press conference, Obama drew a contrast between job growth in the private sector -- which, as Obama said, has added about 4.3 million jobs in the past 27 months -- and the public sector, which has lost 550,000 jobs over the same period, saying, “The private sector is doing fine”:

OBAMA: The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we've created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine. Where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government -- oftentimes, cuts initiated by governors or mayors who are not getting the kind of help that they have in the past from the federal government and who don't have the same kind of flexibility as the federal government in dealing with fewer revenues coming in.

And so, if Republicans want to be helpful, if they really want to move forward and put people back to work, what they should be thinking about is, how do we help state and local governments and how do we help the construction industry. Because the recipes that they're promoting are basically the kinds of policies that would add weakness to the economy, would result in further layoffs, would not provide relief in the housing market, and would result, I think most economists estimate, in lower growth and fewer jobs, not more. [, 6/8/12]

Obama Later Clarified “Doing Fine” Comment. During a Q&A with reporters later in the day on June 8, Obama clarified his remark:

OBAMA: Listen, it is absolutely clear that the economy is not doing fine. That's the reason I had the press conference. That's why I spent yesterday, the day before yesterday, this past week, this past month, and this past year talking about how we can make the economy stronger.

The economy is not doing fine. There are too many people out of work. The housing market is still weak and too many homes underwater. And that's precisely why I asked Congress to start taking some steps that can make a difference.

Now, I think if you look at what I said this morning and what I've been saying consistently over the last year, we've actually seen some good momentum in the private sector. We've seen 4.3 million jobs created -- 800,000 this year alone -- record corporate profits. And so that has not been the biggest drag on the economy.

The folks who are hurting, where we have problems and where we can do even better, is small businesses that are having a tough time getting financing; we've seen teachers and police officers and firefighters who've been laid off -- all of which, by the way, when they get laid off spend less money buying goods and going to restaurants and contributing to additional economic growth. The construction industry is still very weak, and that's one of the areas where we've still seen job losses instead of job gains. [Wall Street Journal,6/8/12]

Romney Attacks Obama, Suggests We Don't Need “More Firemen, More Policemen, More Teachers”

Romney: Obama “Is Defining What It Means To Be Detached And Out Of Touch.” During a campaign speech in Iowa, Romney criticized the president's remarks during the earlier press briefing on the economy:

ROMNEY: Now, this morning, the president had a press conference. I don't know if you heard it. But he called a press conference and pulled people in. He said a number of things, and one of the most interesting things he said was this: He said the private sector is doing fine. He said the private sector is doing fine. Is he really that out of touch? I think he is defining what it means to be detached and out of touch with the American people. [CBS News, 6/8/12]

Romney: Obama “Says We Need More Firemen, More Policemen, More Teachers. Did He Not Get The Message Of Wisconsin?” But Fox News repeatedly left out this portion of Romney's speech that followed his criticism of Obama:

ROMNEY: For the president of the United States to stand up and say that private sector is doing fine is going to go down in history as an extraordinary miscalculation and misunderstanding by a president who's out of touch. And we're going to take back this country and we're going to get America working again.

And his answer for economic vitality by the way was of course pushing aside the private sector, which he said is doing fine; instead, he wants to add more to government. He wants another stimulus. He wants to hire more government workers. He says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin?

The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people. [CNN, 6/8/12]

Economists: Public Sectors Cutbacks Are Slowing Recovery

Krugman: Public Sector Cuts Are Hampering Economic Recovery. Economist Paul Krugman, while acknowledging that Obama “screwed up the line,” stated on the June 11 edition of CBS' This Morning:

KRUGMAN: The truth is the private sector is doing better than the public sector, which is not well enough. And actually, the real story about this economy is that this cutbacks at the public sector are what's hurting the recovery.

By this point in Obama's presidency if we had normal public sector job growth, we'd have around 800,000 more people -- firefighters, schoolteachers, police officers. Instead, we've got 600,000 fewer. So right there is like 1.4 million jobs that we should have had in the public sector, and of course, those would translate into more private sector jobs, too -- so that's what he was trying to get at and of course he screwed up the line. [CBS, This Morning, 6/11/12, via Huffington Post]

Economist Mark Zandi: “Job Losses At State And Local Governments Is The Most Serious Weight On The Job Market.” From an April 29 Washington Post article:

The state and local job losses are significant for several reasons, economists say. For one, these losses have a broad social impact. Laying off teachers means larger class sizes and fewer after-school programs, for example.

What's more, federal aid can go directly to state and local governments to prevent job losses, a relatively effective way to sustain economic growth. (Tax cuts, by contrast, can lead indirectly to job growth if they increase the amount of money consumers spend.)

“The job losses at state and local governments is the most serious weight on the job market,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics, who has advised both parties.


Experts worry that the cuts will have lasting effects.

“There's a big body of research showing that a lot of the things that state and local governments spend their money on have long-term effects on the economy and society as a whole,” said Nicholas Johnson, vice president for state fiscal policy at CBPP. “Cutting school funding now can hurt the education of a future workforce.” [The Washington Post, 4/29/12]

Economist Scott Brown: Economy Would Be Growing A Full Percentage Point Faster Without Drag From Government Job Losses. From a June 6 ABC News report:

“The government is actually contributing to the slow recovery,” said Scott Brown, the chief economist at the Florida-based financial firm Raymond James & Associates.

Brown said that if it were not for the “drag” of this public sector job loss, the economy would likely be growing a full percentage point faster, with GDP growing at 3 percent rather than at 2 percent.

“That would help mop up the jobs lost during the downturn,” he said. “Factor in the drag from government and we are growing at a pace that's roughly enough to absorb the growth in population but not fast enough to make up much of the ground lost.” [ABC News, 6/6/12]

Fox Relentlessly Hypes Obama's “Doing Fine” Comment, But Waits Three Days To Play Video Of Romney's Attack On Public Workers

Few Segments Even Discussed Romney's Attack On Firefighter, Police, And Teacher Hiring. 96 percent of segments included discussion of Obama's “doing fine” comment. A further 52 percent focused on Obama's later clarification. 56 percent of segments also included discussion of Romney's criticism of Obama as “detached” and “out of touch.” But only 26 percent of segments included discussion of Romney's suggestion that we don't need “more firemen, more policemen, more teachers.”

Fox Airs 54 Segments Related To Obama's Comments, But Only Seven Percent Ran Video Of Romney's Attack On Firefighter, Police, And Teacher Hiring. Between June 8 and June 12, Fox News aired 54 segments related to Obama's June 8 press briefing. 50 percent, or 27, of these segments aired Obama's “doing fine” comment, and 31 percent, or 17, aired Romney's subsequent criticism that Obama is “detached” and “out of touch” with the American people. A mere 15 percent, or eight, aired Obama's later clarification. Only seven percent, or four, aired Romney suggesting that we shouldn't hire “more firemen, more policemen, more teachers.”

Fox Took Three Days To Air Video Of Romney's Attack On Firefighter, Police, And Teacher Hiring. Between June 8 and June 10, 2012, Fox News only aired Obama's “doing fine” comment, Obama's later clarification, and Romney's subsequent criticism of Obama as “detached” and “out of touch.” Not until the following Monday, June 11, did Fox News finally air the complete Romney clip that included his attack on hiring “more firemen, more policemen, more teachers.”

Fox Focuses On Obama's “Doing Fine” Comment Out Of Context

Fox Dismisses The Severity Of Government Worker Layoffs. On Monday, June 11, Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier and The Five both aired segments touting the 4.2 percent government worker unemployment statistic to suggest that the public sector is thriving. However, according to Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED) compiled by Business Insider, public sector jobs continue to decline as private sector jobs rise.

Further, The Wall Street Journal reported that the overall unemployment rate in April would have been lower -- at 7.1 percent -- had the number of government workers not fallen since December of 2008. Economist Mark Zandi proclaimed that “the job losses at state and local governments is the most serious weight on the job market. And a February report from the non-partisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities stated that government job losses hurt those who don't work in government. [Media Matters, 6/12/12]

Fox Edits Out Romney's Attack On Firefighter, Police, And Teacher Hiring. The June 11 edition of Fox & Friends removed remarks from David Axelrod, communications director for the Obama campaign, so that Romney's suggestion that we don't need “more firemen, more police, more teachers” would not appear in the clip. [Media Matters, 6/11/12]


Media Matters reviewed Nexis transcripts and raw video for any mentions of “Romney” or “Obama” between June 8 and June 12 on Fox News.