Political Animal


December 12, 2011 3:20 PM When Fox News tries to make a chart

By Steve Benen

What’s worse than Fox News’ attempts at reporting? Fox News’ attempts to convey information through images.

Media Matters’ Zachary Pleat highlights this doozy from the Republican news network today, which intends to show the fluctuations in the unemployment rate over 2011 to date.

It might be a little tough to see (click on it for a larger view), but the truly amazing this about the image is that it (a) shows no change between 9% unemployment and 8.6% unemployment; and (b) tells viewers that 8.6% unemployment is higher than 8.8% unemployment.

Fox cites Bureau of Labor Statistics data as the source, and lists the actual fluctuations in the national rate accurately, but somehow failed miserably to actually graph the data points correctly. (The fact that 9% and 8.6% were at the same x-axis point should have been a clue to someone at the network, unless the goal was to mislead Fox viewers, perish the thought.)

What’s more, as Pleat added, this new image fits into a larger pattern: “A few weeks ago, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics first reported that the unemployment rate had dropped to 8.6 percent in November — the lowest rate in more than 2 years — a Fox News graphic rounded up to 9 percent. In 2010, Fox News aired a staggeringly misleading chart suggesting that 15 million jobs were lost in three months. Three months.”

There’s a very good reason Fox News viewers are so confused, so often, about so much.

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • Danp on December 12, 2011 3:29 PM:

    If Tass were that incompetent, the USSR would have fallen apart during the Nixon regime, and Watergate would have been forgiven.

  • Al on December 12, 2011 3:29 PM:

    Liberals always focus on the minutae and miss the big picture.

  • Mark-NC on December 12, 2011 3:29 PM:

    There you go again Steve, with that Liberal math and those Liberal facts.

    If you weren't a Communist, you'd know that 8.6% is much worse than 9.0%.

    I bet you read and stuff also, too.

  • kevo on December 12, 2011 3:31 PM:

    Thou shalt not bear false witness! Rupert and his editorial team are destined to go to hell! -Kevo

  • Rochester on December 12, 2011 3:37 PM:

    In a real news network, someone would get reprimanded for being so careless.

    But at FOX you get rewarded for being a team player.

  • RochesterMN on December 12, 2011 3:49 PM:

    I believe you mean the y-axis, not the x-axis, but the substance of your post is helpful for those of us who don't watch Fox and wonder where some of the things our more conservative acquaintances say.

  • MF on December 12, 2011 3:59 PM:

    "But at FOX you get rewarded for being a team player."

    We like team players too.

  • Jon on December 12, 2011 4:09 PM:

    Numbers are for elitists. You know who else used a lot of numbers? Hitler, that's who. Coincidence?

  • T2 on December 12, 2011 4:22 PM:

    this chart is Republican Propaganda, which by its very nature involves lying or misrepresentation/misdirection. If you are always wrong, you have to cheat to win.

  • Mimi on December 12, 2011 4:33 PM:

    Al has been missing the larger point for at least 12 years.

  • beejeez on December 12, 2011 5:19 PM:

    I feel sorry for the whistleblowers monitoring Fox. It must be exhausting work and they probably miss a dozen of these dishonest little propaganda units for every one they catch.

  • sherifffruitfly on December 12, 2011 6:00 PM:

    Pretty much guaranteed to end up confused, when you simply don't care what's true and what's not, in the first place.

  • jjm on December 12, 2011 6:53 PM:

    Can't even a Fox viewer see through this???? How ludicrous can you get?

    By the way, isn't 8.5% what Christian Romer thought would be the number about now?

  • Skip on December 12, 2011 8:10 PM:

    Fox viewers have been given ample warning that the information they were given on Fox wasn't "always" accurate, but far too many of those viewers simply want their entrenched and polarized opinions affirmed rather than face any truth that might force them to reconsider their stagnated world views. Affirmation is what Fox excels at, and affirmation needn't rely on facts or realities of any kind.

  • Texas Aggie on December 12, 2011 8:22 PM:

    It's the constant diet of this kind of stuff that makes me wonder why wingnutters will always defend Fox as being accurate, fair and balanced. Go to any comment section where there is more than a couple of them and you'll find them defending Fox as being a reliable source of information. When you point out this kind of thing plus the bit about the palms in Madison and the blue sky and green trees at the tp festival one rainy fall day in Washington or any of the other countless bloopers like that, the foxies just blow it off as if it were meaningless. This isn't the first graph that they've mangled.

  • exlibra on December 12, 2011 8:34 PM:

    Fox cites Bureau of Labor Statistics data as the source, and lists the actual fluctuations in the national rate accurately, but somehow failed miserably to actually graph the data points correctly. -- Steve Benen

    Fox did not "fail miserably to actually graph the data points correctly"; it did what it meant to do. With a little bit of luck, none of their viewers will pay any attention to those squiggly numbers but will concentrate on -- much easier to "digest" -- picture. I like the "wall" underneath the line, showing just what is stopping the economy from taking off like a rocket, too.

  • Jon on December 12, 2011 8:47 PM:

    What is that, 5th Grade math? Fox News can't handle the rigors of that?

    If they don't learn to get along with others, they'll have to hope for a social promotion.

  • Anonymous on December 12, 2011 11:55 PM:

    oh wow, this is so funny! i would not have noticed if not mentioned. he he he.

    they think unemployment isn't bad enough that they fake the graph?
    they also did not include the past 2 years when the peak was near 10%. so it looks even more unchanged. nice touch.

    compare that with the Reagan era unemployment, the current rate isn't a historic low.
    check the historic graph below.


  • mingd on December 13, 2011 12:03 AM:

    the current unemployment rate is about the same as Nov 1983 a year before Reagan's reelection. But by 1894, the rate went down to 7.5% for Reagan.

    I keep hearing that unemployment will be about the same 9% to high 8% in Nov 2012 for Obama. So if he wins the reelection, it's a record since FDR.

    Anyways, let's hope that the rate will go down not so much for election but for the people of America.

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  • getplaning on December 13, 2011 11:24 AM:

    Of course it's intentional. If the chart doesn't line up with your message, tilt the chart. Simple. This is why Fox News is kept out of Canada. Too bad America is unwilling to do the same.

  • Matt on December 13, 2011 1:18 PM:

    But it's the FALSE News Channel. What do you expect !

  • Liberals are just as bad on December 14, 2011 12:39 PM:

    [You don't have to go away mad, just go away. --Moderators]

  • Tj walker on January 06, 2012 3:01 PM: