May 9, 2017

AP Fact-Check Goes Entirely After GOP, Trump Admin Claims, Misleads in Jobs-Related Headline

The Associated Press had a variety of howlers from Democrats and leftists it could have included in its May 8 (updated on May 9) “fact check” roundup based on events of the past week. As those who have watched the wire service’s conduct since the 2016 election campaign could have predicted, it included none, and instead solely went after the Trump administration and GOP politicians on nine different claims.

As I noted in a mid-April NewsBusters post, the “fact check” enterprises in the establishment press disproportionately hound Republican and conservative politicians and officials, and go after Democrats and leftists just often enough to maintain a bogus veneer of respectability.

Here just a few of many bogus leftist contentions during the past week which the AP did not include, all of which certainly deserved mention in any top-nine list of recent questionable assertions:

  • The ridiculous claim made primarily by many in the media, but also by Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California, that the House’s version of the American Health Care made being a victim of sexual assault a preexisting condition. (The Washington Post uncharacteristically fact-checked this item with integrity, giving it the paper’s worst possible grade of Four Pinocchios.)
  • The misuse by New York Magazine, Newsweek and others, retweeted frequently by Democratic operatives and other leftists, of an ignorant claim made by the terrorist Islamic State group that its followers can easily exploit the mythical “gun show loophole” to get their hands on guns to commit terrorist acts.
  • Comedian Jimmy Kimmel’s ignorant misrepresentations, fully refuted by Michelle Malkin in her May 3 syndicated column, that the American Health Care Act would make treatment for a congenital heart defect like that tragically suffered by his recently born son inaccessible to those without his family’s financial means.

The AP’s Calvin Woodward and Jim Drinkard accumulated nine GOP and Trump administration claims , with the help of six other AP reporters. This post will only look at the first claim, which relates to the economy, and was clearly positioned as the AP’s highest-impact item.

Though its conclusion was correct, the AP botched its analysis of Sanders’ statement, and ruined their presentation with a deceptive headline:

AP FACT CHECK: No, manufacturing and coal are not rebounding

… when the latest jobs report came out, the White House eagerly trumpeted the robust results. But it was out of tune.

Manufacturing, coal mining and construction were little more than bit players in last month’s employment growth, contrary to White House claims that those sectors led the surge.

… SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, deputy White House spokeswoman, in a briefing Friday: “We especially saw expansion in the sectors of the economy the president has had a particular focus on: construction, manufacturing and mining.” Later in the briefing: “Primarily the places where we saw the most growth in this jobs report were in manufacturing, coal miners, other places.”

THE FACTS: Manufacturing, coal mining and construction together accounted for less than 6 percent of the job growth. Of the 211,000 jobs added, 173,000 were in services while manufacturing jobs only grew by 6,000 and construction jobs by 5,000. Coal mining? By 200 jobs.

The AP’s fact check on the April jobs numbers is disingenuous. Moreover, the circumstances in the economy’s goods-producing sectors in recent months absolutely do not justify the dismissive headline seen above.

The three goods-producing sectors Sarah Huckabee Sanders cited showed employment gains in April totaling a combined 21,000 seasonally adjusted jobs (Mining, +10.000; Construction, +5,000; Manufacturing, +6,000). That’s 10 percent of all jobs added in April, not the 6 percent AP cited.

The AP used a wrong metric. Sanders’ quoted reference to “coal miners, other places” was an awkward but obvious attempt to describe all mining. In concentrating only on coal, the AP’s economics writers, whom I believe know better, chose to ignore Sanders’ clear intent.

Nevertheless, the percentage job growth in the three goods-producing sectors in April was only 0.105 percent, while growth in all other areas of the private sector was 0.167 percent. Thus, even with its botched analysis, the AP is right, and Sanders was wrong, in that April was a relatively subpar month in the goods-producing sectors.

However, the results of the past six months going back to November contradict the AP’s misleading headline claiming that there has been no “rebounding” in the goods-producing sectors. Based on the full scope of Sanders’ comments, goods-producing should have been the focus of the analysis. The AP limited the subject of its headline and analysis to manufacturing and coal so it could create falsely sensational headline and a harsher fact check. It should be obvious that it had no justification to exclude all of mining except coal only because Sanders didn’t say “construction” and “mining” twice.

The three goods-producing sectors have added 250,000 of the 1,025,000 seasonally adjusted private-sector jobs gained during the past six months. That’s 24.4 percent of all private-sector jobs added. As of October, the good-producing sectors employed 16.1 percent of all private-sector workers, down from 16.4 percent in February 2010, when the economy finally stopped losing jobs.

Thus, after losing 3,000 jobs during the first ten months of 2016, the goods-producing sectors have since collectively contributed disproportionately to employment gains, and have turned in six consecutive positive months. Why? Because, contrary to what the Associated Press falsely claimed in its headline, these sectors have been rebounding.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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