A Tale of Two Presidents: How Media Treated Bush’s Unemployment #’s Compared to Obama’s

It never ceases to amaze me how differently the Old Media treats Republican presidents compared to how they treat Democrat Presidents during times of unemployment reporting. Today, in the vaunted era of Obama, the unemployment numbers for November 2009 have come out and it shows some of the highest unemployment numbers since the Great Depression. Despite that the Old Media seems to be playing this as a sign of optimism. Such optimism was decidedly not in the cards when that same Old Media was reporting rates during Bush’s years, however.

Let’s take two reports from The New York Times for example. One from September 7, 2002 in Bush’s first term and one from December 4, 2009, early in the Obama presidency.

In 2002, The New York Times reported Bush’s 5.7 percent unemployment rate, noting that it was a drop from 5.9 percent, with the following headline: Unemployment Fell in August, But Drop Is Called Insignificant.

For the Times, David Leonhardt started off on a sour note whilst reporting this drop in unemployment.

The labor market improved slightly last month but offered little hope that the economy would soon emerge from its prolonged weakness.

For the Times a 5.7 percent unemployment rate in 2002 was doom and gloom. This rate did not excite, said the Times. Later in the piece Leonhardt reported that the decline was “almost meaningless” and that ”(t)he drop in the unemployment rate should be ignored.”

Remember, in 2002 Bush was president.

Flash forward to 2009 as the Times finds that from Bush’s 5 percent to Obama’s 10 percent unemployment we have double the bad news but as far as the Times is concerned it is actually all good news. On Dec. 4, the Times happily issued a report with this headline: U.S. Economy Lost Only 11,000 Jobs in November.

Hallelujah, we “only” lost 11,000 jobs! Yes, it was all sunny optimism for a 10 percent rate. The Times went on with more happy talk.

In the strongest jobs report since the recession began two years ago, the nation’s employers all but stopped shedding jobs in November, the government reported on Friday, and they appeared to be on the verge of finally rebuilding the work force.

The Times then informed us that, “(t)he sudden and unexpected improvement surprised even the most optimistic forecasters.”

Let’s review to what party the president today belongs, shall we? Yes, a Democrat.

During a Republican administration, a report of a drop in unemployment is seen as meaningless, easily dismissed, and no sign that the economy is turning around. Yet when a Democrat is in office the same paper reports that a 10 percent rate — double what it was during the Bush years — is a sign that everything is wonderful and the economy is obviously on the mend.

The difference couldn’t be more stark. The Old Media is obviously little but an arm of the Democratic Party.

(Cross posted at StopTheACLU.com)

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