Accuracy in Media

Fact-checkers from the mainstream media were out in force after President Trump’s State of the Union speech, and some of their contributions appear to be unbound by reality.

Vox “fact-checked” seven of Trump’s statements and found problems with all of them.

To Trump’s claim that black unemployment is the lowest ever recorded, Vox admitted it was true, but quoted editor Matthew Yglesias as saying that “a simple eyeball of the African-American unemployment rate … makes it clear that Trump had nothing to do with this trend.”

Vox reported the 6.8 percent unemployment rate for African-Americans is the lowest since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began breaking down unemployment rates by race in the 1970s. But it says the rate has been falling since 2015. Jared Bernstein, a former economic advisor to Joe Biden, went so far as to say “Trump has nothing to do with the decline in African-American jobless rates or any other group’s rates.”

First, Trump said only that the rate is the lowest, not that he is solely responsible for it.

Second, the overall unemployment rate, now 4.1 percent, is at its lowest rate since 2000, the gap between white and black unemployment is as small as it has ever been, new factory orders in December were the highest ever, sales of existing homes are the highest in 11 years and consumer confidence is at a 17-year high.

And that’s before the tax cuts hit, which most economists expect to boost growth to the 4 percent annual rate and possibly beyond.

Vox said the president’s claim about eliminating Obamacare’s individual mandate “had a major omission.” He did not admit that experts “largely believe that the tax penalty for not having insurance was actually too low to have the desired effect.”

Vox also reported that Trump said he is committed to fighting the opioid crisis but hasn’t done much. But the president has made it easier for addicts to acquire life-saving anti-addiction drugs and appointed a commission to find more permanent solutions.

Trump said he had directed his administration to “make fixing the injustice of high drug prices one of our top priorities.” Vox labeled this “Trump’s abandoned promise to bring down drug prices.”

Vox also said that Trump took credit for defeating ISIS “that he doesn’t deserve.”

The reduction in the amount of territory controlled by ISIS – Vox says 60 percent through October since Trump took office; Trump claimed close to 100 percent – actually began under President Obama and current progress must be credited to continuing Obama’s policies.

Whatever one can say about the plans laid out during the Obama administration, ISIS controlled an area larger than Ohio when Trump took office and controls almost no territory now. The Trump State Department says this is because Trump changed the rules of engagement and freed the military to complete the task.

Vox also took aim at the president’s claim he had deported thousands and thousands of MS-13 gang members and his offer of a path to citizenship for 1.8 million Dreamers and his claims that visa lottery winners were admitted without regard to economic or security concerns.

Trump had deported more than 400 gang members just to El Salvador in the first five months of his presidency and announced plans to deport so many more than Salvadoran officials are becoming concerned about the violence they might bring.

Vox saved the most bizarre for last.

“Trump claims to have ended the ‘war on coal.’ There was no war to begin with.”

Obama said he was going to make it so expensive to operate a coal plant that no one would do it anymore. He tried to obligate the United States, through the Paris Climate Accords, to emissions-reduction targets that formed the basis of the Clean Power Plan, which courts delayed and the Trump administration has now rescinded.

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