Political Animal


January 16, 2012 8:35 AM Candy Crowley, jobs, and ‘facts’

By Steve Benen

There was an interesting exchange on CNN’s “State of the Union” yesterday, when Candy Crowley pressed David Axelrod on one of Mitt Romney’s favorite talking points.

To establish the context, the Romney campaign released a memo on Saturday, insisting that “nearly 1.7 million jobs have been lost” since President Obama took office. CNN’s Crowley relied on this claim to ask the Obama advisor whether it explains Romney’s lead in polls on the economy. From the network’s transcript:

CROWLEY: But couldn’t that huge gap, which is a pretty big gap between those who think you could handle the economy as opposed to Mitt Romney — couldn’t it also be that, from the day — from the month the president took office, we still have 1.7 million fewer jobs in the marketplace?

AXLEROD: Candy, let’s have — you know what, I’m happy to have that discussion. Do you know that, when he was campaigning for president in 2007 and 2008, Governor Romney had nothing but praise for the economic policies that were in place at that time, as America was sliding into the worst recession since the Great Depression, after eight years in which we…

CROWLEY: But this isn’t Romney. This is a fact.

Well, not exactly. Crowley has embraced the Romney campaign’s line without scrutiny, and the result is a “fact” that misleads the public.

Consider this: in the first six months of 2009, the U.S. economy lost 3.89 million jobs. That’s not an exaggeration — from January ‘09 to June ‘09, 3.89 million American jobs vanished. That’s jaw-dropping, of course, and it’s evidence of an economy that was facing an extraordinary crisis with no modern precedent.

For Candy Crowley and Mitt Romney, President Obama deserves to be blamed for those losses, even though he’d just taken office, even though his policies hadn’t taken effect, even though his economic team was not yet in place. Obama took office when the global financial system was on the brink of collapse, inheriting a recession that began a year before his inauguration, but for Republicans and the establishment media, it makes sense to count the job losses from Obama’s first six months in office against him. (This even includes January 2009, and Obama didn’t take the oath until the month was two-thirds over.)

By any fair standard, this is ridiculous. Indeed, even in early 2009, no sane person thought this way. It was simply understood three years ago that the president had walked into a catastrophe that was not of his making. Blaming him for the job losses of early ‘09 simply doesn’t make any sense.

And guess what? If one excludes those first six months of 2009, when the nation was hemorrhaging jobs due to a crisis the president wasn’t responsible for, Barack Obama has overseen a net gain of 1.4 million jobs. In the private sector, it’s 1.97 million jobs.

Those are just facts — and they’re part of a context Republicans and many in the media prefer to ignore.

Media professionals have to know better. As Greg Sargent, who first flagged Crowley’s misleading claims, explained yesterday:

There’s no denying that Obama’s policies have not engineered the recovery as fast as we would have hoped, and by all means, Obama advisers should be pressed on that. But the Romney campaign’s ongoing use of this figure in this way is just absurd. Journalists like Crowley really should be pressing the Romney campaign on why their “net” job loss figure proves Obama’s policies failed, when the metric it uses includes so many jobs lost before those policies kicked in. This claim, which has become central to Romney’s whole argument, deserves scrutiny, not uncritical amplification. You can bet that Romney aides broke out high fives when Crowley echoed it on national television.

It’s time for journalists to pick up their game. Romney, who’s already demonstrated a commitment to post-truth politics, is going to try to spin a lot of reporters over the next 10 months. There’s no reason for media professionals to allow themselves to be played for fools.

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.


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  • JMG on January 16, 2012 8:38 AM:

    1. Crowley is a fool
    2. Crowley is one of the DC hacks who still bitterly resents the fact the public didn't think Bill Clinton should lose his job for oral sex, and has taken that resentment out on Democrats ever since.

  • slappy magoo on January 16, 2012 8:47 AM:

    The Waco compound fiasco was all Clintons fault because he was President at the time, even though it all went down his first 3 months in office.

    9/11 was also Clintons fault because come on, Bush had only been President for 7 months, give him a break.

    And Obama is responsible for an economic freefall that began the year before he became President because the hemorraghing didn't start slowing down until 3 months after he took office.

    Hope that clears things up.

  • walt on January 16, 2012 8:47 AM:

    Did they gag David Axelrod? No? Then why didn't he answer her?

    I understand this game is tough. But the reason he's in the majors is because he not only needs to know the facts, he needs to know the other guy's lies. Republicans lie all the time. It's why they're the "post-truth" party. Come prepared or don't go at all.

  • SteveT on January 16, 2012 8:50 AM:

    There's no reason for media professionals to allow themselves to be played for fools.

    Unless, course, the "media professionals" ARE fools.

    Or they are tools, promoting the inside-the-beltway "conventional wisdom".

  • lou on January 16, 2012 8:51 AM:

    A lot of media people are guided by their collectively spun belief that Obama is a failure. I fully expect this to color their coverage of the remainder of the campaign. Obama supporters will easily spot the taint. Romney supporters will just accept it as fact.
    Obama is probably more likely to be "Gored" by the press as not.

  • Victory on January 16, 2012 8:51 AM:

    So, with Crowley taking this stance I wonder if anyone will point out that she must, if she is to stay consistent, hold GWB fully responsible for 9/11.

    I mean, she wants to put full blame on Obama for what happened in the first 6 months of his presidency, surely she must hold GBW even more responsible for 9/11 since that was a full 9 months into his.


  • c u n d gulag on January 16, 2012 8:51 AM:

    God, is she AWFUL!

    You expect this sh*t from FOX, but CNN?

    Of course, with son of Erick, and peeing-on-the-dead advocate Dana Douche, CNN today is more like FOX LITE.

    And, of course, remember - Candy is part of Pig Pizzler's "Worst F*cking Political F*cking Team In The F*cking History of F*cking TV, Or Any F*cking Other F*cking Mass F*cking Medium," so what do you expect?

    Candy ain't dandy, and Wolf's even thicker.

  • John S. on January 16, 2012 8:58 AM:

    There's only one reason Candy Crowley is on TV. It sure is hell isn't her looks, and it isn't for her insightful commentary or sterling intellect. It's because she dutifully parrots the Village talking points and spouts conventional wisdom like few others can.

  • Jack G on January 16, 2012 8:58 AM:

    I will always remember Candy Crowley's coverage of the Bush campaign as an "embedded" reporter in 2000. She seemed to be campaigning for herself to be WH Press Secretary. She is a prime example of our "failed" news media.

  • stormskies on January 16, 2012 8:59 AM:

    Candy 'just one more biscuit" Crowley should be sent to a lard factory and turned into candles that are placed on the Repiglicans alters of propaganda generators.....

    The corporate media is one of the worst enemies to our country ...

  • theAmericanist on January 16, 2012 9:00 AM:

    The fact that you don't quote Axelrod's answer shows the good guys lost this exchange.

    And your own answer isn't any better, since it sputters 'context', and quotes somebody smarter who insists on redefining the question, and all kinds of stuff. I'm surprised you didn't post a graph. You know what it all amounts to? 'Yes, but...'

    When you're giving a 'yes, but...' answer, it's weak.

  • larry birnbaum on January 16, 2012 9:01 AM:

    I'm with Walt above. It's the administration's responsibility, and the campaign's responsibility, to know the facts and to be able to convey them to voters in a way that's meaningful. I have no brief for Crowley. But she fed him the obvious Republican line and gave him an opportunity to respond, and he flubbed it.

  • bloomingpol on January 16, 2012 9:04 AM:

    Another reason for media "professionals" to repeat nonsense is that their jobs in corporate media may depend on it.

  • RSA on January 16, 2012 9:09 AM:

    I'm reminded that many Republicans and some "journalists" still say today that George W. Bush kept us safe from terrorism--as long as you don't count various things that happened during the first year of his Presidency. But with Obama, they're now telling us something different...

  • Ron Byers on January 16, 2012 9:09 AM:

    Cut Crowley some slack. She knows exactly what she was asking and knows the answer. That she had Axelrod on and ask him to respond to Romney's argument in chief is remarkable. Most of the MSM would do neither.

    Notice that a month ago Republicans were saying that Obama had "lost" 2,000,000 jobs on his watch. The number is down to 1.7 million. When it reaches zero they are still going to be nagging Obama. By the way, if Europe doesn't collapse I think the number has a chance to reach zero before the election.

  • golack on January 16, 2012 9:15 AM:

    The only response is that Obama inherited an economy shedding a million jobs a month and turned that around to one that's finally adding jobs. Yes, it took time for his policies to be passed by congress and take effect. But it only took 6 months before we started adding jobs.

    Now we need to do more. We need a congress that will work with us. Going back to the same policies that led to the collapse of the economy will not help. Closing our debts on the backs of the poor and middle class will not help. Sacrificing our infrastructure to Wall Street will not help. ... (then end with items that will help)...

  • Danp on January 16, 2012 9:15 AM:

    Every time I see David Axelrod, I find myself wishing Steve Benen were there instead.

  • c u n d gulag on January 16, 2012 9:19 AM:

    I agree with the people above who said that Axlerod should have been ready for this.

    Actually, he should have LOOKED FORWARD to having the opportunity to slam a talking point like this over the fence.

    Why are Democrats either unwilling, or unable, to do that?

    And what does that say about the sorry state this country is in?
    A lot...

  • Jurgan on January 16, 2012 9:22 AM:

    Now, now, we don't want the media to be acting as "truth vigilantes."

  • Ron Byers on January 16, 2012 9:23 AM:

    The response is Obama inherited an economy in free fall. It took a few months to put a response in place--the stimulus. The stimulus halted the slide and the economy has been growing every month since.

    Now David would that have been all that hard to say? Why won't the Obama administration take credit for doing its job well.

    Obama needs better surrogates.

  • Bernard HP Gilroy on January 16, 2012 9:27 AM:

    @ stormskies on January 16, 2012 8:59 AM:
    That was way over the line. We can disagree with the Republicans, we can debate them, we can even despair of them or despise them. But no one in civilized society calls for the actual elimination of their opponents.

    We all like to lament the escalating violence of our political discourse. Maybe we should police our use of holocaust imagery.

    ObCAPTCHA: I don't know how to type an umlaut on my Macbook.

  • Hedda Peraz on January 16, 2012 9:27 AM:

    Obama's team needs to watch some Newt:

    "I'm not not going to answer that!"
    "I reject the premise of your question!"
    "He's lying!"
    Until the Democrats realize that politics ain't beanbag, they should stay out of the debate.

  • Kathryn on January 16, 2012 9:29 AM:

    Agree with Walt and Larry Birnbaum also, Axelrod is the main man in the campaign. He has to do better. Disappointed in Debbie Wasserman Shultz on Bill Maher the other night also. Granted it's difficult to compete in a three person panel plus Bill but her only point against Romney was his inconsistency, no mention of his serial lying, his refusal to release his tax returns, his position on Dream Act, his embrace of personhood amendment, the dog on the roof of the car, getting sick, being hosed down and shoved up there again. Don't scoff, animal lovers will be appalled, if they know the whole story. Romney is a callous lying jerk, run with it.

  • stormskies on January 16, 2012 9:36 AM:

    Bernard HP Gilroy............

    My words were coming from a tongue and cheek place, not the place of your projections about eliminating opponents linked with the holocaust.

    And, by the way, when you are appointed by this blog to define what is 'over the line' let us all know ...

    until then keep your projections to yourself

  • RepublicanPointOfView on January 16, 2012 9:41 AM:

    If a CNN political reporter creates facts that are not true and the dumbocrap representing the White House does not contradict them, does that not make the untrue facts true?

    Fortunately, Axelrod follows in the dimocrat tradition of not wanting to upset the Corporately Owned Media by pointing out that they are full of shit when they repeat republican lies. After all, how could we have bipartisanship in the future if democrats refused to continue to accept republican lies? It is civil for republicans to tell lies, but totally uncivil and unacceptable for dumbocrats to call them on it.

  • Dennis on January 16, 2012 9:43 AM:

    My favorite analogy for the economic turnaround: throwing a cruiseliner into reverse when it's cruising along at full speed. Takes a long time for the ship to stop, start moving backwards, and finally reach where it was when you started the action.

    Also, next time Mitt Romney or his lackeys talk about "taking credit", let's revisit the '04 Red Sox... http://cache.boston.com/bonzai-fba/Globe_Photo/2004/10/29/1099069470_5431.jpg

  • SadOldVet on January 16, 2012 9:47 AM:

    re Mr. gulag...

    Do NOT knock Wolf Blitzer...

    It is in the interests of being a fair & balanced network that CNN must provide ample air time to AIPAC and the Likud Party.

    Wolf got his start in the media as a reporter for the Jerusalem Post and then graduated to become Press Spokesman for AIPAC. He is just continuing his career path as a front man for the Likud Party.

  • biggerbox on January 16, 2012 10:09 AM:

    Crowley will always be a Beltway mouthpiece.

    It's Axelrod who needs to pick up his game. He should have been ready with a two point response. !)Obama inherited an economy trashed by Republican policies, so he can't be responsible for job losses in his first six months, and 2) since his first six months, it's been a net gain.

    In one answer he could have both blamed the GOP and boasted of his team's success. Instead, he mumbles something about what Romney said in his last campaign? Seriously?

    'Doesn't anybody here know how to play this game?'

  • Pal2008 on January 16, 2012 10:14 AM:

    Sorry Mr. Benen but I think you have it backwards here. How long has the White House known about the republican attack on Obama's jobs record? Axelrod shoud have hit that ball out of the park no ifs, ands or butts. Instead he starts to blabber stuff. As far as Crowley goes, what in the world did you and Axelrod expect from her? You guys need to find some new expectations that allow you to be better prepared. This ain't no party, it ain't no disco, they aren't just fooling around.

  • rusty chainsaw on January 16, 2012 10:32 AM:

    . There’s no reason for media professionals to allow themselves to be played for fools.

    And there's no reason for the whore I hired last night to pretend she likes me.

  • theAmericanist on January 16, 2012 10:32 AM:


    It helps to have a homey metaphor handy, like: "Gee, Candy, when you are elected President to follow the worst economic performance in history, it's like getting into the shower when the pipes are cold. The American people want somebody who gets right to work, which means you have to to turn the valves and just stand there taking it until things get better -- which is what they're doing now. Our policies are working..."

  • david1234 on January 16, 2012 10:54 AM:

    I agree with critics of Axelrod. The answer is that Obama turned the economy around.

    I liked Crowley's staement. "This isn't Romney. This is fact." Democrats should use that line.

  • SKM on January 16, 2012 11:11 AM:

    Who watches CNN? I don't know anyone that watches that crap they show on CNN. The entire network is a joke, or should I say less than truthful. If anyone wants to know more about Romney's policies, there are a lot at CFR.org, here he talks about having a second Marshall Plan, building up a bigger and best military in the world, the Democrats didn't want to sign the free-trade agreements, and people should embrace immigrants - but, this speech was in 2008 at a Lincoln Day dinner.

    Crowley is just falling in line. She knows that if she needs her job, she must say what the network wants. As Clear Channel Communications (owned by Romney) and Bonneville International (owned by the Mormon church - LDS) own almost all of the radio stations, newspapers, and some television stations such as CBS. Since Clear Channel is Rush and Hannity's boss, you see how quick they fell in line to endorse Romney.

    As far as Crowley lying about the jobs record, and wanting inside the W's administration. The Bush family and the Romney's are related. W gave the former head, Gordon Hinckley the medal of freedom award. Father Bush endorsed Romney. Remember the name Hinckly, as in John Hinckley Jr who shot Reagan? Well, he is also related to Hinckley. Also, just look back at the relationship with Romney's father and Romney's father. Last year, Romney honored John W. Keys III at the Romney Institute of Public Management. Keys was with the Bush Administration. W. went to Salt Lake City for counseling before taking office. Almost everything happens in Salt Lake, the Mormon leaders control everything. So, I thinking we may as well just call Romney, King Romney. Oh, and when you see Blackstone Group - that is owned by Michael Milken.

  • divF on January 16, 2012 11:26 AM:

    The simplest form of the counter was given above, and should be used as the talking point. "The day the President took office, the economy was losing one million jobs every month because of eight years of Republican policies. It took him six months to turn it around. Since that time, ..." Short, clear, to the point, and tough for the Villagers to spin back against the Dems. What are they going to do, argue that he should have done it in three months ? One month ? They sound like nitpickers and idiots if they go down that road.

  • T-Rex on January 16, 2012 11:43 AM:

    The media should have "picked up their game" 30 years ago. When Reagan's handlers discovered that they could use "access" as a reward to manipulate coverage, the game was lost.

  • Anonymous on January 16, 2012 11:53 AM:

    Candy Crowley has needed to change careers for some time now! She is a confused reporter, and for any other time period in the history of media in our nation, her confusion would not be tolerated by the industry!

    Alas, Murdoch has Foxed (pronounced fucked) the industry, and now we have to suffer! -Kevo

  • beejeez on January 16, 2012 11:58 AM:

    Elevator passengers: Oh my God! The elevator's falling and we're on the 100th floor! Do something, Obama!
    Obama: All right, let me look here ...
    Passengers: Hurry! We're on the 60th floor!
    Obama: Let's see, pull this thing, rejigger these wires ...
    Passengers: Hurry! We're on the 20th floor! We're gonna die! (Half the passengers try to pry him away from the circuit board.)
    Obama: There ...
    (Elevator jolts and slows down at the 5th floor. People in elevator struggle to their feet. Elevator starts going up again.)
    Passengers: Thanks a lot, asshole. We wanted to get out at the 95th floor.

  • Zorro on January 16, 2012 12:05 PM:

    There’s no reason for media professionals to allow themselves to be played for fools.

    But if, on the other hand, they actually are fools, then, well, such foolishness is just par for the course.


  • SKM on January 16, 2012 12:24 PM:

    Since the Romneys and Bushs are 10th cousins - I did see something that happened with both families. The election of Bush, and with Romney - before all precincts reported last week, they had already declared Romney the winner. If this was a 'winner takes all,' election, how can they tell who was the winner when it was at 19% reporting. There was also a problem with the tabulations in Iowa - between Santorum and Romney, but, Romney was declared the winner.

    If we are going to have 'winner takes all,' then it should be Proportional Representation.

    People, turn off CNN, C-Span, Fox and instead watch Democracy Now, CurrentTV, watch anything other than these networks. All they do is complain about Obama, fish for answers about the feelings towards Obama as if they are doing polls (which they probably are secretly polling listeners). Turn to just the internet if you have too, but, leave these corporate owned media alone, they already are trying to influence votes, and are good at keeping the citizen's concerns and voices out, example, Occupy Movements - unless it is to show violence, tearing up a camp, or interrupting a speech.

  • SKM on January 16, 2012 12:55 PM:

    Okay - Where are the jobs? Who's to blame? It's the GOP!

    The Republicans, for example, Rick Perry laid off teachers...Scott Walker laid off public workers...Chris Christie laid off public workers, teachers...GOP is closing Post Offices...and trying to privatize TSA, Prisons, Schools...

    All in the name of pensions, healthcare, PUBLIC UNIONS, DECENT PAY the Republicans are cutting Public Sector jobs under the excuse to balance their state's budget. Meanwhile, they continue to travel and campaign for their buddies, for example, Chris Christie, Sheriff Joe Arpaio on tour bus with Perry.

  • Tired Liberal on January 16, 2012 1:18 PM:

    When are the people who go to these interviews going to learn they must come prepared to refute the inaccurate information the interviewers pluck from Republican talking points? Shame on Candy Crowley and shame on David Axelrod.

  • Coop on January 16, 2012 1:20 PM:

    I don't think it's just Romney who is "post-truth." What about rank & file Republican voters? Just the other day I heard a couple of people carping about the Obama response to Hurricane Ike here on Galveston Island: the only problem is that Ike struck two months before Obama was elected and four months before he took office.

  • Sam on January 16, 2012 1:22 PM:

    Crowley is an idiot, but that answer by Axelrod was stupid. The economy was in freefall - losing nearly 1 million jobs every 30 days thanks to a failed Republican ideology of tax cuts and deregulation, and within 6 months of this president taking office the job losses were reversed and we now have 20+ months of positive private sector job growth, 2 million private sector jobs created and a falling unemployment rate.

    Game. Set. Match.

  • Sam on January 16, 2012 1:28 PM:

    And add in that Romney's economic plan is to double down on the same failed Bush economic policies that got us into the mess in the first place.

  • Patrick DeBurgh on January 16, 2012 3:51 PM:

    Apparently most of the weight they made Crowley lose to get her current gig was located between her ears.

  • cwolf on January 16, 2012 3:53 PM:

    Crowley sure took a Big Mitt on her audience with that one.

  • smintheus on January 16, 2012 6:42 PM:

    Two hours after the Titanic hits an iceberg you relieve the captain of command. The new captain manages to stop the flooding in time to save the ship and she limps toward port. It's then that the passengers in first class start complaining that the lower compartments still smell damp.

    Nothing out of the ordinary here.

  • SKM on January 16, 2012 10:21 PM:

    Here is Romney's views in 2008.

    "Governor Romneys Remarks at the Miami-Dad Lincoln Day Dinner" http://www.cfr.org/us-election-2008/governor-romney-remarks-miami-dade-lincoln-day-dinner/p13480

    This was at Council on Foreign Relations. Romney admitted Democrats DID NOT want to confirm free-trade agreements (they now blame Dems for outsourcing, and shipping jobs), he wants a Second Marshall Plan, wants people to embrace immigration (now he says no immigration - and wants National I.D.)...

    In this, he also wants the biggest and best military in the world. Yet, he didn't serve by fleeing to France, and his sons didn't serve in Iraq/Afghanistan. *Something Huntsman slammed him on - because Huntsman son is still serving.

  • SKM on January 17, 2012 12:46 AM:

    Candy Crowley and Republicans are quiet on Romney.

    In 2008, they were all against him, Huckabee, Rudy Guiliani -

    Romney appointed Judge Kathe Tuttman released Daniel Tavares Jr. after he was convicted of killing his mother. Daniel then moved to Graham, Washington and killed newlywed couple Beverly 28, and Brian Mauck, 30.

    Tavares was released even after reports of his attacks on guards and threats to public officials.

    People are also saying that Tuttman was appointed by Romney even after reports of her botching a case as supervising prosecutor that released a 'child rapist.'

    Romney needs to answer these questions about Guiliani saying in 2007 and 2008 that he was a 'failed governor.'