TV Media: Don’t Let The Facts Get In The Way Of A Pessimistic Poll

If you watch a lot of cable news, you know that whenever there’s a poll that comes out it is suddenly “news.” Networks spend a lot of money on polling and they aren’t going to waste it by ignoring the results. I have even heard news channels report on rivals’ polls, such is the need to fill air time with mostly meaningless snapshots of public opinion.

Most of the snapshots lately have shown some bad news for President Obama, both regarding foreign policy and things here at home, including the economy. But that’s not surprising considering the trouble in the world and the relentless beating he takes on Fox and its creepy companion, talk radio, 24 hours a day, every day.

The right in this country, because it has a theological conviction that the media are on the side of the devil, Barack Hussein Obama, thinks the networks are actually protecting him from the results of their own polling. Breitbart, one of the papal outposts of right-wing paranoia, posted a piece today with this headline:


The “study” was done by The Media Research Center, which is an outfit designed to intimidate journalists and networks into practicing “both sides are equally guilty” journalism, a strategy that works quite well for the right I might add. The story ends with this:

The media is not dumb. During the Bush years, the media knew that pounding these numbers to death would only serve to sour the public even more on the Bush presidency. A frenzy of pessimism breeds pessimism.

This same media is obviously willing to go to extraordinary, even absurd lengths, to protect Obama from that same feeding frenzy.

While it is obviously absurd to think the media (it’s not really one thing, but let’s pretend it is) is/are protecting the President, I can agree with the writer that “pessimism breeds pessimism.” That is why the country, fed a steady diet of pessimism for so long, is so down on itself and the President, despite the good economic news. Oh, you didn’t know there was good economic news? That’s the point. You may not have known about it, since news reports, especially on cable news channels, tend to focus on all the negative aspects of the economy (which there are too many, to be sure), while ignoring the reality of what has happened since President Obama came into office.

On that note, here goes, courtesy of Adam Hartung at Forbes (you should really read his entire post, “Obama Outperforms Reagan On Jobs, Growth And Investing”) and his guest, Bob Deitrick, CEO and author:

“Jobless claims [for August] were just over 300,000; lowest since 2007.  Despite the lower than expected August jobs number [142,000 jobs were created], America will create about 2.5 million new jobs in 2014.”

♦ “This is the best private sector jobs creation performance in American history”:

Unemployment Reagan v Obama

♦ Here is a chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showing labor participation since 1948:Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics - Databases, Tables and Calculators by Subject“As this chart…shows, as the Baby Boomers entered the workforce and societal acceptance of women working changed, labor participation grew.

“Now that ‘Boomers’ are retiring we are seeing the percentage of those seeking employment decline. This has nothing to do with job availability, and everything to do with a highly predictable aging demographic.

“What’s now clear is that the Obama administration policies have outperformed the Reagan administration policies for job creation and unemployment reduction. Even though Reagan had the benefit of a growing Boomer class to ignite economic growth, while Obama has been forced to deal with a retiring workforce developing special needs. During the eight years preceding Obama there was a net reduction in jobs in America. We now are rapidly moving toward higher, sustainable jobs growth.”

♦ “…the Institute for Supply Management (ISM) released its manufacturing report, and it surprised nearly everyone.  The latest Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) scored 59, two points higher than July and about that much higher than prognosticators expected.  This represents 63 straight months of economic expansion, and 25 consecutive months of manufacturing expansion.”

♦ “As the last 15 months have proven, jobs and economy are improving, and investors are benefiting”:

Investment Returns Reagan v Obama“While most Americans think they are not involved with the stock market, truthfully they are.  Via their 401K, pension plan and employer savings accounts 2/3 of Americans have a clear vested interest in stock performance.

“As this chart shows, over the first 67 months of their presidencies there is a clear “winner” from an investor’s viewpoint. A dollar invested when Reagan assumed the presidency would have yielded a staggering 190% return.  Such returns were unheard of prior to his leadership.

“However, it is undeniable that President Obama has surpassed the previous president.  Investors have gained a remarkable 220% over the last 5.5 years!  This level of investor growth is unprecedented by any administration, and has proven quite beneficial for everyone.

“In 2009, with pension funds underfunded and most private retirement accounts savaged by the financial meltdown and Wall Street losses, Boomers and Seniors were resigned to never retiring.  The nest egg appeared gone, leaving the ‘chickens’ to keep working.  But now that the coffers have been reloaded increasingly people age 55 – 70 are happily discovering they can quit their old jobs and spend time with family, relax, enjoy hobbies or start new at-home businesses from their laptops or tablets.  It is due to a skyrocketing stock market that people can now pursue these dreams and reduce the labor participation rates for ‘better pastures.”

The next time you hear some journalist on the telly talking about how Americans don’t approve of Obama’s handling of the economy (and by and large they don’t), remind yourself to do a better job of explaining to your family, friends, and co-workers that things are much, much better than they think. And if you really want to piss off right-wingers you know, don’t forget to tell them that:

“Obama Outperforms Reagan On Jobs, Growth And Investing”


h/t: Drew Graham


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  1. ansonburlingame

     /  September 10, 2014


    I am so pleased to see that the economy is getting better and Obama is the cause. Now I can stop reading Robert Reich’s columns and just stick to the sports pages.



    • It’s funny, isn’t it? Obama gets all the blame when things go bad, but when things get better he had nothing to do with it. Amazing.

      No one believes Obama, all by himself, caused the upturn in our economic fortunes. It’s just that I get tired of hearing many on your side deplore his policies, which they blame for nearly every problem we face, without reference to the facts.


  2. ansonburlingame

     /  September 11, 2014


    Your blog with the charts was a good indicator of the resilience of the American economy. Over time, those curves almost seem to have a mind of their own. Bascially all Americans want those curves in their individual lives to “go the right direction” and thus ……..?

    All of us, right and left, look at snapshots and cry success or failure, each day.

    Given the direction of the curves you highlight the only argument from the right now is we “should have done that sooner”. But as well, anyone can still find a “bad curve” and make a mountain out of a mole hill as well.

    And us “dumb” Americans have to absorb the daily battle raged on MSNBC and Fox News, (or just ignore one or the other).

    I am now watching (netflix) the old TV show “The White House”. I had heard long ago it was too partisan and never bothered to watch it. Now I enjoy it, watching fiction of all the behind the scenes manuvering in the White House. Whether Dem or GOP I sense it relflects reality today in any WH and thus I enjoy the 7 seasons series, with no ads thank God!!



  3. Tyler

     /  September 12, 2014

    According to data from the OECD, the employment to population ratio for workers between the ages of 25-54 is down by 4 percentage points from its pre-recession level. For workers between the ages of 55-64 it is only down by 1 percentage point.

    It is difficult to envision any obvious reason why people in their prime working years would suddenly decide that they did not want to work other than the weakness of the labor market.


    • Sorry, Tyler, about not approving your comment sooner. I have been inundated by spammers and I missed your post in the queue.

      As for your point about the labor participation rate for the 25-54 demographic, what is your opinion as to why it is down? Here is a chart showing that actually it has been a trend since 1953, falling pretty steadily:

      labor participation rate 25 54 demo

      Much, but not all, of the overall decline in the participation rate is attributable to an aging population, but you are right to note the decline in this demographic and, as far as I can tell, except for the effect of a slower than normal recovery from the recession, the reasons behind these declining numbers are largely unknown. It appears to be something of a mystery and I’d be interested in hearing your ideas. You said “the weakness of the labor market” is the problem. But what has caused that weakness? And why has it been trending like this for so long?



      • I think the Great Recession caused weakness in the labor market which has had a negative effect on the Labor Force Participation Rate. Forty-five million people live in poverty in the US, so there is much work to be done.


        • I heard economist Jared Bernstein mention this morning that those millions in poverty are part of the reason there is less demand in the economy than there needs to be in order to get the job numbers up. He advocated passing the minimum wage and boosting the Earned Income Credit to provide not only assistance to those still suffering from the effects of the recession, but to put more money in the economy to provide some missing demand.


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