The New York Times on Campaign-Time Jobs Reports: Bush in 2004 vs. Obama in 2012
Ed Morrissey at Hot Air provided some insight into the double standard in the New York Times' coverage of two mediocre September jobs report released on the eve of two presidential elections: The current race, pitting a Democratic incumbent against Republican challenger Gov. Mitt Romney, and the 2004 race between sitting Republican President George W. Bush and Democratic Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts.
Morrissey uncovered a contemporaneous account of the September 2004 jobs report by Times reporter Eduardo Porter. (Porter would later become a liberal economics columnist for the paper). Porter had no trouble finding weakness in a report that nevertheless showed unemployment at a rate of 5.4%, one Obama can only envy.
Employment growth in the United States slowed last month, falling far short of expectations, the U.S. government reported Friday.
The new jobs report cast doubts on the strength of the U.S. economic expansion and appeared to bolster Senator John Kerry’s case against President George W. Bush’s handling of the economy just hours before the second presidential debate.
The Labor Department reported that the U.S. economy added just 96,000 jobs in September, substantially less than the roughly 150,000 needed to keep pace with the expansion in the labor force and start absorbing the slack in the job market.
Morrissey compared that account to the paper's Saturday reporting of the current jobs report, saying sarcastically of the Times: "Let’s just say they gave it a … different emphasis." Here's a sample:
The jobless rate abruptly dropped in September to its lowest level since the month President Obama took office, indicating a steadier recovery than previously thought and delivering another jolt to the presidential campaign.
The improvement lent ballast to Mr. Obama’s case that the economy is on the mend and threatened the central argument of Mitt Romney’s candidacy, that Mr. Obama’s failed stewardship is reason enough to replace him.
Employers added a modest 114,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department reported on Friday, but estimates for what had been disappointing gains in July and August were revised upward to more respectable levels.
Morrissey called out the Times' double standard.
In 2004, a jobless rate of 5.4% “cast doubt” on the economy, and suddenly 7.8% is a sign of “a steadier recovery.” In 2012, the NYT never even mentions the need to grow jobs by 150,000 each month to keep up with expansion in the labor force. Not even once.
-- Clay Waters is Editor of the MRC's TimesWatch site.