90 Miles From Tyranny : CBS ‘fact check’ tries its best deny Trump economy is better than Obama’s . . . and its best is not very good

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

CBS ‘fact check’ tries its best deny Trump economy is better than Obama’s . . . and its best is not very good

Ah, the “fact check” genre of journalism. Legacy journalists love it because it allows them to appear all about “facts” while actually giving them a platform to editorialize.

The classic journalism fact-checker used to check things like the spelling of names, the correctness of addresses and dates – you know, actual objective facts. The new wave of “fact-checkers” takes statements by Republicans, particularly Donald Trump, and attempts to instruct you they are wrong using “facts” that could including anything from the opinion of some “expert” to a government body’s future projections.

I have seen “fact-checkers” claim it was “false” when a Republican predicted an economic bill would spur a certain level of growth, because a projection from the Congressional Budget Office said otherwise. So Party A’s forecast for the future is “false” because Party B’s projection for the future is different. That is not fact-checking. That is editorializing.

So it’s in this vein that today we consider the latest effort from CBS News, which can’t let stand the claim by President Trump that the present economy is better than the one we had under Barack Obama. That this is true seems wholly beyond dispute just by looking at the GDP growth numbers of the last several quarters. But CBS has to defend its hero, so this is how they tried to do it:

HASSETT: “There was an inflection at the election of Donald Trump, and … a whole bunch of data items started heading north.”

THE FACTS: If you look at a chart of monthly job gains or the economy’s growth rate, that inflection point is hard to spot. Hassett notably did not include in his presentation any mention of overall job creation or the broadest measurement of the economy’s output, GDP.

That’s probably because the growth rate Mr. Trump repeatedly cites, the 4.2 percent expansion at an annual rate that occurred in the April-June quarter, isn’t out of line with Obama’s record. The economy grew more quickly than that four times during Mr. Obama’s eight years in office.

Economists generally acknowledge that growth has accelerated this year compared with 2016 and 2017, and most of them partly credit last year’s tax cuts for fueling more consumer and business spending. The economy is on pace to grow at a 3 percent or faster pace in 2018, which would be the first time since 2005 it would reach that mark.

Yet it barely missed that cutoff in 2015, when it expanded 2.9 percent under Mr. Obama.

(Hassett is White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett.)

So what has CBS tried to do here? It’s attempted to rebut Trump and Hassett on the 4.2 percent growth rate in the second quarter by pointing out that Obama had four different quarters that hit that mark or did better. That’s true.

But talk about “lacking context,” which is a favorite thing of media “fact-checkers” to do . . . Trump has been president for six full quarters. He’s averaged close to 3 percent GDP growth and he’s already topped the vaunted 4 percent mark once, with many economists thinking he’ll do it again in...Read More HERE

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