With a rising unemployment rate set to dent President Barack Obama’s re-election efforts, the mainstream media is about to go into full-spin mode. They can take their cues from the Bureau of Labor Statistics itself, which announced that the jobless rate had risen from 8.2 to 8.3 percent in July but called the result “essentially unchanged.” Look, also, for the media to emphasize that jobs grew by 163,000–without noting that the number is seasonally adjusted to account for one million holiday jobs lost each year at this time, and without noting that June’s job numbers were revised downwards radically, from 80,000 to 64,000.
(Update: As predicted, National Public Radio led the hourly news at 9:00 a.m. EDT with the announcement of job increases, rather than the rise in the unemployment rate, spinning the result as a sign of economic recovery, and later blaming the higher jobless rate on the government’s use of two different job surveys. the Wall Street Journal–whose news page is infamously more liberal than its editorial page–also led with the number of jobs added–an estimate, let it be noted again–rather than the rise to 8.3% unemployment.)
The Obama campaign’s tactics include these and other lines, including: the claim that jobs are, at least, moving in the right direction (far too slowly, but never mind); the boast that there has been positive private-sector job growth for nearly thirty months (as opposed to more than fifty months under George W. Bush); and, when all else fails, the excuse that Obama “inherited” a bad economy (as did Bush from Clinton, but you didn’t hear him complaining, and nobody told Obama that he had to run for president in the first place).
Even before the announcement of today’s higher unemployment rate, Douglas Hibbs’s “Bread and Peace” predictive model of election results suggested that President Obama was headed for defeat. His approval numbers are low–as low as they have ever been, according to some polls–and yet the media has spun outrageously slanted election polls to convince the public that he is headed to certain victory over Mitt Romney. If that is the case, in these economic circumstances, that will largely be because of media spin that has obscured both the truth about the economy, and the fact that President Obama is responsible for it.