On the June 7 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio show, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly claimed that "the unemployment rate now is lower than it was under President [Bill] Clinton." In fact, according to the Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 5.5 percent in June 2008, which, according to BLS data, is higher than during any month of Clinton's second term. Additionally, as the chart below shows, the current unemployment rate is 1.3 percentage points higher than when President Bush took office in January 2001. Previously, on the June 17 edition of MSNBC Live, MSNBC political analyst Rev. Joe Watkins falsely claimed: "No matter what you think about the current administration, at least unemployment is at an all-time low. It's at 5 percent, and some points, less than 5 percent, which has been the lowest it's been in decades."
(Source: BLS data available here)
From the June 7 broadcast of Westwood One's The Radio Factor with Bill O'Reilly:
O'REILLY: Charles, West Palm Beach, Florida. What say you, Charles?
CALLER: How you doing, Bill?
CALLER: I basically want to say that I kind of agree with you as far as the parenting, but as far as the situation with the gap between the rich and the poor, you're way off. It's just like the last caller just said, it's like the deficit. You have all these problems and, it's like, you -- it seems like you're trying to shield for what the problem is. Because when Clinton was in office, everybody was making money. Everybody got a piece of the pie. Now, over seven-and-a-half years of Bush, I just see it. Everybody is suffering. Everybody is losing their jobs and it's just crazy right now.
O'REILLY: All right.
CALLER: It's just out of control.
O'REILLY: The unemployment rate now is lower than it was under President Clinton. You aware of that, Charles?
CALLER: That's what you say. I heard --
O'REILLY: That's what I say. That's what the U.S. Census says. OK? So if you're not gonna believe them, don't believe them. Median and per capita income's higher now than it was under the Bush administration. So, you think it's worse. That's fine. You can think what you want. The stats don't say that. We had seven years of prosperity under Bush. Yes, there is a widening gap between the very wealthy and the working American. There's no doubt about it. But if you think that a big federal government instituting entitlements is gonna turn that around, you're crazy. What it's gonna do is severely hamper the economy so that the unemployment rate will be higher and that people will suffer a lot more than they're suffering now.
It was interesting, Charles -- was it Pew that did the study on poverty? That poverty study? Was it Pew who did it? There was this recent study -- and they'll find it for me -- on poverty that listed all the things that poor people have in America. They studied it. Because if you're below a certain income level, like, I think it's $26,000 dollars or something like that, you're considered poor. People have cars, air conditioners, color televisions -- they have the luxury items, OK?
So, yeah, I don't like the big gap. I think these greed heads making $50 million a year and then, you know, the oil company chieftains and then turning around saying, "Oh, no, no, no. We're not gouging anybody." I think that's deplorable. But the only way that you are gonna improve your status in America economically -- and I'm to talking you, Charles, and everybody else listening -- is to get smart; to learn a skill, to do it well, to get educated, to present yourself well -- that's how you prosper. And you will prosper, because I have. I am the poster boy for this. We'll be back.