Tag Archives: Brooke Rollins

Why you can’t trust PolitiFact

Via “What liberal media?” (Texas edition) — The math was clear: Texas could rightly make this claim:

“In the last five years, we’ve created more jobs than all other states combined.”

It was based on the right data: Net jobs added.  But instead of acknowledging what an amazing accomplishment it was, PolitiFact tried to spin it as some sort of half-truth.  Shouldn’t the energy be put into assessing what Texas has done right rather than making a lame attempt to discredit its accomplishments?  It isn’t like there aren’t tens of millions of people on food stamps and/or unemployed.

This is, in fact, objectively true, and you may verify it yourself at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data page. (We posted the graph and numbers here.) Suffice it to say that when the commercial was filmed, the latest confirmed BLS employment data was January 2011’s. Going back five years through January 2006 revealed that only ten states saw a net increase in jobs in that period — Texas, Louisiana, North Dakota, Alaska, Wyoming, Utah, South Dakota, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Montana. Texas’s total was 545,900 new jobs. The other nine states combined came to 183,700 new jobs. Call this what you will — we call it a resounding vindication of the Texas model of low taxes and small government — but don’t call it inaccurate.

Let’s review something for a moment. To use “created more jobs,” or any of its variants — “job creation,” “created jobs,” et al. — to signify a net increase in jobs is a de facto universal rhetorical standard. It’s so common as to be assumed, and no reasonable person reads or hears otherwise. To pick just a few examples: Here’s President Barack Obama doing it. Here’s Gallup doing it. Here’s Michael Powell of the New York Times doing it. Here’s Dennis Cauchon of USA Today doing it. Here’s Pietro Garibaldi and Paolo Mauro of the International Monetary Fund doing it. Here’s Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke doing it. Here’s Peter Cohan of Forbes doing it. Here’s Reuters and CNBC doing it. Here’s Peter Boyer of Newsweek doing it.

The idea that Brooke Rollins would mean anything but net jobs created in her quote defies credulity. News-savvy readers may recall the White House’s own rhetorical dodge on this count from late 2009, when the chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisors invoked the phrase “jobs saved or created” to concoct a net-positive figure on employment resulting from the federal stimulus. The widely derided lexical formulation was swiftly discarded, and with good reason: touting job creation in the absence of net job creation is rightly regarded as insulting or deceptive.

If you trust the liberal media you aren’t using good critical thinking skills.