On Friday, ThinkProgress noted that Fox News appeared to be systematically ignoring the strong jobs report that day, perhaps in an effort to avoid giving President Obama any credit. The network mentioned the jobs numbers half as often as some of their competitors, and buried the big news on their website, but on Fox and Friends today, the network went a step further.
Hosts Eric Bolling, Steve Doocy, and Gretchen Carlson went beyond merely downplaying the numbers to contriving a conspiracy theory to explain them away:
BOLLING: So are they playing around with the numbers? Look, it’s the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it’s supposed to be non-partisan, but that’s the Department of Labor. Hilda Solis heads the Department of Labor, Hilda Solis works directly to Obama. I’m — you know.
DOOCY: Are you saying they’re cooking the books?
BOLLING: I’m saying there’s room for error. There’s room — when you’re talking about 4 million people, how do you know?
DOOCY: How do you know?
CARLSON: I don’t think anyone should surprised that in an election year — [...] So it’s interpretation, I think is the way in which we’d describe it.
Watch it, via Media Matters:
If it weren’t improper to psychologically analyse strangers, one might think the Fox hosts are displaying a textbook example of cognitive dissonance here, a psychological phenomena in which people who hold a strong belief about something invent (sometimes far fetched) explanations for new evidence that conflicts with their existing views. Obama is bad for the economy, the jobs numbers show the economy is doing better, so there must be something wrong with the jobs numbers. Needless to say, this is hardly the behavior one expects from fair and balanced journalists Fox hosts claim to be.
Meanwhile, some conservatives have developed a more sophisticated excuse for the jobs report, saying the drop in unemployment rate is only due to decreasing participation in the jobs market. Nobel prize-winning economist Paul Krugman and others have refuted this claim.