Donald Trump was just called out for fibbing about the economy by an unexpected source: Fox News

Fox identified a big factual error in Trump's economic proclamations, but the president has not issued a retraction

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published September 11, 2018 11:48AM (EDT)

 (AP/Evan Vucci/Shutterstock/Salon)
(AP/Evan Vucci/Shutterstock/Salon)

President Donald Trump was just called out for lying about the economy by an unexpected source: Fox News.

The impetus for the fact check was a tweet sent Monday by Trump that claimed "the GDP Rate (4.2%) is higher than the Unemployment Rate (3.9%) for the first time in over 100 years!"

If this statistic seems dubious, that is because it is categorically false; there have actually been 63 fiscal quarters across the past 60 years in which the unemployment rate was lower than the rate of growth for the gross domestic product, or GDP. Fox News knows this, too.

"Since 1948, there have been 63 quarters with a GDP growth rate higher than avg quarterly unemployment rate," Fox News Research wrote in a tweet, listing the most recent quarters with GDP growth higher than the unemployment rate as Q2 2018 and Q1 2006.

Another prominent Trump ally who contradicted the president's claim was the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, Kevin Hassett.

"The history of thought of how errors happen is not something that I can engage in. From the initial fact to what the president said, I don't know the whole chain of command," Hassett told reporters on Monday. "What I do know is that's the highest in 10 years. And, at some point, somebody probably conveyed it to him, adding a zero to that — and they shouldn't have done that. And I can say that at least we numbers geeks here at the White House are grateful for — when the press finds mistakes that we make, we don't like making mistakes — but we're grateful when they're pointed out, because we want to correct them."

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After relaying an incident in which he had inadvertently given an incorrect figure to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, Hassett repeated that the president had made a mistake. "You'd have to talk to the president about where the number came from, but the correct number is 10 years," Hassett said.

Hassett also addressed another erroneous tweet posted by the president, one where he claimed that former President Barack Obama had said "President Trump would need a magic wand to get to 4% GDP." Trump went on to argue, "I guess I have a magic wand, 4.2%, and we will do MUCH better than this! We have just begun."

In fact, Obama had been talking about manufacturing jobs — not economic growth — and had said, "He just says, 'Well, I’m going to negotiate a better deal.' Well— what — how exactly are you going to negotiate that? What magic wand do you have? And, usually, the answer is he doesn’t have an answer."

Hassett responded to this error by quipping, "I'm not the chairman of the Council of Twitter Advisers."

It is also worth noting that independent fact-checkers at NBC News have debunked the president's claim that he is responsible for America's economic growth, pointing out that the current boom began under his predecessor, Obama:

The economy was, however, struggling when Obama took office in 2009. He inherited a dismal economy in the middle of a recession that lasted 18 months, facing what many feared would be a depression, and was able to turn it around in the first years of his presidency. The U.S. is now its 10th year of economic growth, and in its longest period of growth with 95 straight months of job creation. The bulk of that decade of growth was under Obama’s presidency, and can fairly be credited to him.

Still, as Trump accurately points out, the recovery under Obama was marked by a slower rate of growth than what followed previous recessions, such as the recovery under President Ronald Reagan in 1983 and 1984.

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By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Donald Trump Economy Fox News Gross Domestic Product Unemployment