Democracy Dies in Darkness

The Fix | Analysis

Trump TV's 'real news' sounds more like real propaganda

By Aaron Blake

August 7, 2017 at 11:22 AM

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Former CNN pundit Kayleigh McEnany appeared in a video on President Trump's Facebook page Aug. 6, hosting a segment called the "real news." (Elyse Samuels/The Washington Post)

Kayleigh McEnany, who has been plying her trade as a pro-Trump pundit on CNN for a while, jumped ship to the Trump Team over the weekend. And Sunday, she debuted a Trump TV segment that she labeled the "real news."

It is real spin, at best. And it feels a lot like real propaganda — or state TV.

In her first 90-second segment, McEnany makes a number of questionable claims, most notably about the credit President Trump deserves for continued strong economic growth. Below, I've transcribed the whole segment, with some reality checks interjected.

Hey, everybody. I'm Kayleigh McEnany. Thank you for joining us as we provide the news of the week from Trump Tower here in New York. More great economic news on Friday: The July jobs report added a better-than-expected 209,000 new jobs. Overall, since the president took office, President Trump has created more than 1 million new jobs, the unemployment rate is at a 16-year low, and consumer confidence is at a 16-year high — all while the Dow Jones continues to break records. President Trump has clearly steered the economy back in the right direction.

First off, it is true that the July jobs report was "better than expected." It is also true that the unemployment rate is the lowest it's been since 2001. And these are legitimately good stories for Trump to tell.

But like Trump, McEnany takes it too far. Saying that Trump "has created more than 1 million jobs" and that Trump "has clearly steered the economy back in the right direction" is taking some real liberties. And that's for one big reason: The jobs picture has largely continued the trends from late in President Barack Obama's administration. In his first six months, the economy under Trump has indeed added more than 1 million new jobs — 1.07 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But in the last six months under Obama, the economy added slightly more jobs than that — 1.08 million. And if anything, the average jobs growth under Trump is actually slightly slower than it was in Obama's final years:

As Philip Bump noted after last month's jobs report, what we've seen looks more like a continuation of a strong trend that Trump inherited from Obama, rather than Trump steering "the economy back in the right direction." Things were already headed in the right direction, in fact, so Trump didn't need to steer anything. He needed to keep it on course.

Beyond that, there's the question of how much credit a new president deserves for jobs created in his first months in office. Trump hasn't signed any major economic legislation. You can make a credible argument that his rhetoric has created the environment for continued strong growth, but saying he "created more than 1 million jobs" is just too much. The economy he oversees created those jobs. He may deserve some credit, but he didn't create them all.

Lastly, McEnany's claim that consumer confidence is at a 16-year high doesn't check out. The University of Michigan has been tracking consumer sentiment since 1952, and it's actually currently at a nine-month low. It did reach a 13-year high (not 16-year) under Trump this year, but as you can see below, it had already approached that high under Obama, and it's basically been around the same level for years, with a new peak and then a downturn under Trump.

And it's not just the University of Michigan. Gallup, which regularly measures economic confidence, also shows it dropping to levels similar to late in the Obama administration after peaking early under Trump.

Continuing on with McEnany …

On Wednesday, the president introduced the Raise Act. For decades, a steady rise in immigration has depressed the wages of American workers. The Raise Act will increase wages, decrease poverty and save the taxpayers billions. Americans deserve a raise, and President Trump is finally putting the American worker first.

The idea that immigration depresses wages is, again, highly debatable. The White House last week pointed to a study by Harvard economist George J. Borjas that suggested that low-skill immigrants do indeed reduce the wages of American workers. As Bump noted in a deep dive on this subject, others, including the conservative National Review, have poked holes in that research, noting that there are other factors that may be more to blame.

The point is that this "real news" is not an ironclad fact. And then McEnany goes on to promise that the Raise Act will "increase wages, decrease poverty and save taxpayers billions." That's promising a lot.

Also on Wednesday, President Trump awarded the Medal of Honor to one of our Vietnam War heroes: Specialist 5 James McCloughan. McCloughan risked his life on nine separate occasions, saving many of his wounded peers. President Trump also honored veterans as a whole with yet another V.A. reform package that will enable millions of veterans to receive better access to care. President Trump is dedicated to honoring these men and women who fought valiantly for our country and ensuring that they receive the care that they deserve.

Trump has indeed signed a V.A. reform bill into law. It was two-and-a-half months ago, and it was a piece of what Trump aims to do to help improve veterans' care. So the "real news" here is basically using a Medal of Honor ceremony — which all presidents preside over — to play up something that happened months ago.

Thank you for joining us everybody. I'm Kayleigh McEnany, and that is the real news.

The term "fake news" became a punchline during the Trump administration. Trump TV now seems bent on doing the same with "real news."


Aaron Blake is senior political reporter for The Fix.

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