Glenn Beck and right-wing media grossly distort Reid's jobs comments

››› ››› JEREMY SCHULMAN

Glenn Beck played doctored audio of Sen. Harry Reid saying it is "good" news that the economy lost only 36,000 jobs in February -- an assessment many economists agree with. Beck criticized Reid's statement, but Beck's audio cut out Reid's accurate explanation that the "good" news was that unemployment and job losses were lower than economists had expected.

Reid's actual statement: "Good" news that unemployment rate and job losses are lower than expected

From Reid's March 5 floor speech:

REID: Unemployment compensation -- today is a big day in America. Only 36,000 people lost their jobs today, which is really good. Unemployment rate around America has not changed. Prognosticators thought it would go up; it has not. So, we need to extend -- there are about 15 million people in America out of work. These extended unemployment benefits will help millions of those people.

Audio Beck played cropped and distorted Reid's comments. The audio Beck played appears to be from a seven-second YouTube video promoted by Andrew Breitbart and right-wing bloggers, which includes only the following portion of Reid's statement: "[T]oday is a big day in America. Only 36,000 people lost their jobs today, which is really good." The video cuts out Reid's explanation that the "good" news is that unemployment and job losses were lower than expected.

Reid is correct: Economy "lost fewer jobs than expected" in February

NY Times: "American economy lost fewer jobs than expected last month." Reid's statement that the 36,000 jobs lost in February were fewer than expected is correct. As The New York Times reported on March 5, "The American economy lost fewer jobs than expected last month and the unemployment rate remained steady at 9.7 percent, the Labor Department reported Friday, bolstering hopes that a still-tenuous recovery may be starting to gain momentum."

Economists had expected more than twice as many jobs -- 75,000 -- to be lost in February. Dow Jones Newswires reported on March 5 that the jobs report was "better-than-expected," adding, "U.S. employers cut 36,000 jobs in February following a reduction of 26,000 in January. The median forecast of economists surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires was 75,000 job losses in February."

Unemployment rate held steady despite expectations it would rise. Reid said: "Unemployment rate around America has not changed. Prognosticators thought it would go up; it has not." Reid was correct. Dow Jones reported: "The unemployment rate was unchanged at 9.7%, lower than the forecast of 9.8%."

Dow Jones: Jobs numbers "came as a relief for many market participants." According to Dow Jones, "The jobs data came as a relief for many market participants as economists had expected a poor reading due to stormy weather on the East Coast last month, which the government said may have temporarily hit payrolls and work hours."

Economists agree with Reid: Jobs report is "good" news

Dean Baker: Jobs report is "strikingly good." The New York Times reported:

Yet compared to the monthly losses of more than 650,000 jobs a year ago, and against a backdrop of recent news that increased the possibility of a slide back into recession, most economists construed the report as a sign of improvement.

"It's strikingly good," said Dean Baker, a director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, who has been notably skeptical of signs of recovery in recent months. "It's much better than it had been looking."

Stuart G. Hoffman: "We're finally going to reach the turning point." The Times reported:

"We're still losing jobs in the economy, but it's down to a trickle," said Stuart G. Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services Group in Pittsburgh. "We're finally going to reach the turning point where we go from job losses to job gains."

Alan Levenson: Economy "moving toward resumption of job growth." The Times reported:

Alan Levenson, chief economist for T. Rowe Price, an investment firm, said that "If you recognize it as one frame in a movie, it is one in which we are moving toward resumption of job growth."

Chris Rupkey: Jobs report is "good news." Dow Jones reported:

The jobs data came as a relief for many market participants as economists had expected a poor reading due to stormy weather on the East Coast last month, which the government said may have temporarily hit payrolls and work hours. Chris Rupkey, senior financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York, said he expected a job gain of 70,000 for March, saying that the economic recovery is "tilted in the V-shaped direction after today's good news."

From the March 5 broadcast of The Glenn Beck Program:

BECK: Well, it is a good day. It is a good da-- it is a really good day in America. How do I know it's a good day? Well, I mean, I listen to Harry Reid. I listen to Harry -- I li-- for the love of [unintelligible]. I mean, how much do I pay you, Pat, just for the audio vault stuff? That is --

PAT GRAY (co-host): Dollar-fifty an hour.

BECK: Oh, well, you're doing a great job.

GRAY: Thank you.

BECK: Here we go. Good day, Harry Reid.

REID [audio clip]: Today is a big day in America. Only 36,000 people lost their jobs today, which is really good.

GRAY: [laughter]

BECK: Very good. Oh, it's a very good day today.

GRAY: It's a great day.

BECK: Only 36,000 Americans lost their job.

GRAY: If you can get through a day in America where only 36,000 people lose their jobs?

BECK: It's very, very good.

GRAY: 'Cause usually it's, like, 3.6 million a day.

BECK: Right. That is very, very good. Play that again. I just --

REID [audio clip]: Today is a big day in America. Only 36,000 people lost their jobs today, which is really good.

[clapping]

BECK: That is really --

GRAY: Really good.

BECK: Really --

GRAY: Really good. Thank you, Harry. Thank you, Barack.

Posted In
Economy, Jobs, Wages, & Unemployment, Government, The Senate
Network/Outlet
Premiere Radio Networks
Person
Glenn Beck
Show/Publication
Glenn Beck Program
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