Friday, February 26, 2010

The Limbaugh Manipulative Machine: #2

Consider whether Rush Limbaugh chose to lie, deceive, or simply mislead when on February 25 he contended

The Limbaugh AP Tweak of the Day. Headline: "Initial Jobless Claims Rise Unexpectedly." Now, just yesterday we had news that there was an increase in mass layoffs, which is 50 or more, and that was not unexpected; and yesterday we heard 20% of ABC is going to bite the dust. That's not "unexpected." But they're blaming it now on the snow. They're blaming it on the snow. Global warming! At least they're not blaming it on Bush. "The number of new claims for unemployment benefits jumped unexpected last week as heavy snows led to higher layoffs...."

You know, it's amazing to me as I go through these stories every month, however often they come out, how far our great watchdog media is willing to go to try to explain away the bad numbers. It's always something. It's the weather, it was Thanksgiving and offices were closed out there.

It's just amazing they go out of their way to explain all of this. It's gotten to the point that they're blaming it on snow, blaming unemployment on snow.

At first glance, it's hard to understand why Limbaugh slammed the Associated Press' take on bad economic news rather than emphasizing the discouraging (well, not for him) news instead. But the key is in his reference to "our great watchdog media," Limbaugh always referring to "the state-controlled media" as if he hasn't noticed its Republican bias.

And the news from the Associated Press was bad:

In its report Thursday on jobless claims, the Labor Department said first-time claims for unemployment benefits rose 22,000 to a seasonally adjusted 496,000. Wall Street analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a drop to 455,000....

This year, the improvement has stalled. The four-week average has risen about 30,000 in the past month. It's now well above the 425,000 level that many economists say would signal net hiring....

The higher claims figures in recent weeks means the unemployment rate likely rose in February and more jobs were lost. The unemployment rate in January was 9.7 percent, and employers cut a net total of 20,000 jobs. The Labor Department will issue the February employment report next week.

Rush is correct that the story included references to the impact of the stormy weather which has battered much of the country. But the effect cited by the AP was not that which Rush claimed.

Limbaugh maintains "they're blaming it on snow, blaming unemployment on snow." However, that was not their emphasis, as indicated by this passage:

In its report Thursday on jobless claims, the Labor Department said first-time claims for unemployment benefits rose 22,000 to a seasonally adjusted 496,000. Wall Street analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had expected a drop to 455,000.

The rise occurred mostly because state agencies last week processed a backlog of claims caused by snowstorms the previous week. The storms also increased temporary layoffs in the weather-sensitive construction and transportation industries.

Still, the four-week average of jobless claims, which smooths out volatility, rose 6,000 to 473,750. The average had fallen sharply over the summer and fall from its peak last spring of about 650,000.


Although the AP did maintain "the storms also increased temporary layoffs" in "weather-sensitive" industries, it referred to a "rise" in "first-time claims for unemployment benefits" occurring because of "a backlog of claims caused by" the weather. Continuing the theme, the following paragraph referred to "the four-week average of jobless claims." The CNN story to which Rush may have been referring had a similar emphasis, while the report regarding ABC News was completely unrelated to weather, as

Westin did not say how many jobs the company was seeking to eliminate but he said the restructuring of the news operation to take advantage of digital technology will result in "substantially fewer" people on staff at ABC News.

Emphasizing coverage of the news rather than the bad news itself is not an unintentional misdirection on the part of Limbaugh, but rather yet another saga of conservatives victimized by The Liberal Media. If Limbaugh had said "they're partially blaming it on the snow," there would have been an element of truth. But he did not. Whether it was the AP story (whose headline Limbaugh cited) or to the layoffs at ABC, it cannot be said accurately "they're blaming it on the snow." And given that Rush Limbaugh can read, his claim would be a lie.

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