Fox News and Trump’s Own Adviser Call BS on His Boast About the Economy
The president’s Monday morning claim about the GDP and unemployment was so patently false that even his favorite cable channel went after him for it.
In what now seems like a daily occurrence, Donald Trump woke up Monday morning and fired off 16 bizarre tweets, including several misleading or false claims about the economy—one of which was so patently false that both Fox News and Trump’s own top economic adviser had to publicly correct the president.
“The GDP Rate (4.2%) is higher than the Unemployment Rate (3.9%) for the first time in over 100 years!,” Trump wrote at 6:03 a.m., starting off his flurry of tweets.
The president’s claim that the U.S. gross domestic product is higher than the unemployment rate for the first time in over a century is, however, incorrect.
In Monday’s White House press briefing, Trump’s Council of Economic Advisers chairman Kevin Hassett chuckled as reporters cornered him into conceding the president’s claim was “just not true.”
“From the initial fact to what the president said,” Hassett continued, “I don't know the whole chain of command. What is true it is that it’s the highest in 10 years. At some point somebody probably conveyed it to him adding a zero to that, and they shouldn't have done that.”
“I’m not chairman of the Counsel of Twitter Advisers,” Hassett further joked.
In fact—though comparing unrelated economic measurements is already odd—this has happened several times since 1948, according to several economists and the Fox News research team.
“Since 1948, there have been 63 quarters with a GDP growth rate higher than avg quarterly unemployment rate,” Fox News’ research arm tweeted in direct response to the president, along with a bulleted list of 11 recent quarters in which the GDP was higher than the unemployment rate.
That means that in the 70 years since the U.S. Labor Department started publishing monthly unemployment statistics, the growth rate has been higher than the jobless level more than 20 percent of the time.
Just last week, Fox news anchors Shepard Smith and Chris Wallace slammed Trump for what was widely considered an embarrassing week for the president. “I have to say, it’s kind of been a 1-2-3 punch for Donald Trump this week,” Wallace said on Smith’s daytime news broadcast. “First you had the Bob Woodward book, and as if that weren’t bad enough, you had the anonymous op-ed piece in The New York Times. And now you have Barack Obama getting off the political sidelines and back into the arena, taking some powerful shots, unusually powerful shots for a former president, against the current president.”
Smith agreed, adding that the op-ed like this one is “protected under the First Amendment.” So “unless they can come up with something else,” he or she should have nothing to worry about.
The Fox research team‘s tweet also reflects a growing division between the cable outlet’s right-wing opinion programming and its daytime “hard-news” reporting teams.
In July, despite its primetime stars openly viewing CNN as an enemy of the Trump agenda, Fox News publicly expressed solidarity with their rival network and condemned the White House after a CNN reporter Kaitlin Collins was banished from a Rose Garden press conference after questioning Trump about his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen.
“We stand in strong solidarity with CNN for the right to full access for our journalists as part of a free and unfettered press,” Fox News president Jay Wallace said in a statement.
Fox News political news host Bret Baier doubled down on the network’s support—despite several of his colleagues publicly defending Trump’s anti-CNN vendetta—saying on-air: “As a member of the White House press pool, Fox stands firmly with CNN on this issue of access.”
And some on the network’s news side have expressed the sentiment that Trump’s cozy relationship with many Fox News hosts hurts the network’s journalistic integrity.
Nearly a dozen reporters, pundits, and hosts inside Fox News told The Daily Beast last year they felt Trump’s biggest supporter and unofficial adviser Sean Hannity was “embarrassing” to the network for his repeated touting of a conspiracy theory that suggested a former DNC staffer was murdered for leaking to Hillary Clinton-related emails to WikiLeaks.
But despite Monday’s backlash from his preferred network, the Trump White house often brags about false statistics to bolster its record the economy and jobs.
Last month, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders incorrectly claimed that the president has created three times as many jobs for black workers than his predecessor, President Barack Obama, did during his entire time in office.
“This president since he took office, in the year and a half that he’s been here has created 700,000 new jobs for African-Americans,” Sanders told reporters in a August 14 press briefing. “That’s 700,000 African-Americans that are working now that weren’t working when this president took place. When President Obama left, after eight years in office, he had only created 195,000 jobs for African-Americans.”
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, that claim was not true. The U.S. economy added about 3 million jobs for black workers while Obama was in office, according to BLS data.
Sanders eventually backtracked her claim hours later in a tweet.