It took Rathergate for the NYT to coin the phrase “Fake But Accurate,” but WaPo “fact-checker” Glenn Kessler nearly matches it with his rarest of ratings today:

“For far too long women have been left behind in Obama’s job market. Of the 740,000 jobs lost since Obama took office, 683,000 of them were held by women. That is truly unsustainable.”

— Statement by Sharon Day, co-chair of the Republican National Committee, April 6, 2012

In an effort to fight back against Democratic claims of a Republican “war on women,” the Republican National Committee has rolled out a new and startling fact—that under Obama, women have lost seven times as many jobs as men.

We found this statistic surprising because we had been under the impression that men had fared worse than women in the recession. So do the RNC’s numbers add up?

It turns out they do, but Kessler throws a penalty flag anyway:

We cannot fault the RNC’s math, as the numbers add up. But at this point this figure doesn’t mean very much. It may simply a function of a coincidence of timing — a brief blip that could have little to do with “Obama’s job market.”

If trends hold up over the next few months, then the RNC might have a better case. But at this point we will give this statistic our rarely used label:


As fundraiser/consultant Nathan Wurtzel quipped: “Fair, but biased.” That the WaPo shuttered its Ministry of Truth while Democrats controlled the elected branches of the federal government was sort of a general tip off. In this particular case, Kessler’s analysis is based on measuring Obama’s jobs record from the end of the recession (which favors Obama) rather than from the date of his inauguration (which Kessler admits is a common political and journalistic metric). Aside from the fairness issue in changing metrics, I would argue that policy lag should warrant not measuring from Day One (although not necessarily from the end of the recession (which artifically assumes a connection between the policy and the recovery). Yet Kessler concedes that even by his own metric, more than 2.2 million gross jobs have been added under Obama, but the gain for women was just 284,000. If we are going into the progressive narrative of identity politics, even Kessler’s narrative is ugly for women.

Worse, Kessler does a half-baked analysis of why his narrative is ugly for women:

Now that the economy is growing again, men are recovering jobs at a faster pace than women. In fact, the latest employment report shows that male participation in the work force was up 14,000 while female participation fell 177,000, in part because women tend to work in retail or government jobs, which have been cut in recent months.

Is this a function of Obama’s policies? It’s unclear at this point, but it certainly is an under-reported phenomenon that the RNC, in its use of this statistic, is trying to highlight.

Contra Kessler, this is not unclear. Women far outnumber men on state and local government payrolls (especially in public schools), which were propped up by Obama’s stimulus money. In fact, there is general agreement that the jobs “saved” by the stimulus were primarily in government, and education (which is mostly government). That money was spent. State and local governments then had to at least nod in the direction of rationalizing their spending, as the private sector already had. The result was unemployment for hundreds of thousands of women starting in 2010. Of course, this does not show that Obama is waging a war on women now so much as that he entered office waging a war for government at every level.

Bias and sloppy analysis aside, my biggest complaint with establishment media “fact-checking” is the condescension and arrogance involved in pretending political debates are much simpler questions of fact. The Orwellian — or Pythonesque — “True But False” rating is just the poster child for the problems inherent in the effort.

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