by Chelsea Rudman/Media Matters
Fox News has a simple rule when it comes to reporting on President Obama: pretty much anything he does is bad. Obama derangement syndrome has inspired the right-wing media to attack Obama's tie color, his choice of burger condiment and the way he celebrated Halloween (and Hanukkah andEaster and Christmas).
Today, Fox News attacked Obama for his youth summer jobs program because in addition to paid jobs, the program will include unpaid internships. Fox & Friends co-hosts repeatedly implied that the White House has somehow been hiding this fact and is using unpaid internships to "make the numbers look good." Here's co-host Steve Doocy in a tease for a later segment on the story:
DOOCY: Then -- first the president used "created or saved" to make his jobs record look bigger. Now he's got a new strategy: Counting unpaid internships to make the numbers look good. Story straight ahead.
During the segment, the co-hosts again suggested that there was something nefarious about the program's intent to create unpaid internships; Doocy even claimed that the program is the administration's attempt to "entice the young people to vote for them again":
DOOCY: The Obama administration trying to create jobs. You know, during the last election, they promised those young people when you graduate from college, we're going to make sure that you have jobs. Hope and change and it's all going to be waiting for you.
ERIC BOLLING (guest host): They were faking it?
DOOCY: Fast forward to today. There aren't that many jobs out right now. And in fact, apparently the way the administration is going to entice the young people to vote for them again is they are going to have a summer jobs program. They are saying that private business is going to ante up something like 180,000 jobs, which, when you look at the economy, is not that many but apparently only about 30 some percent of those jobs you can actually get a paycheck. The rest of them are unpaid internships.
ALIYSN CAMEROTA (guest host): Right. That's not really a job. If you're -- an internship is different if you're not being paid than what people generally consider a job but, of course, you can still get experience but it's different than what they had said previously.
DOOCY: Experience don't put beans on the table!
CAMEROTA: Yeah, baby needs a new pair of shoes. Yes.
But the White House never "count[ed] unpaid internships to make the numbers look good." The official White House press release on the program, released January 5, specifically stated that "employment opportunities" created would include "paid jobs and internships."
From the press release (emphasis original):
Today, the White House announced Summer Jobs+, a new call to action for businesses, non-profits, and government to work together to provide pathways to employment for low-income and disconnected youth in the summer of 2012. The President proposed $1.5 billion for high-impact summer jobs and year-round employment for low-income youth ages 16-24 in the American Jobs Act as part of the Pathways Back to Work fund. When Congress failed to act, the Federal government and private sector came together to commit to creating nearly 180,000 employment opportunities for low-income youth in the summer of 2012, with a goal of reaching 250,000 employment opportunities by the start of summer, at least 100,000 of which will be placements in paid jobs and internships. Today's announcement is the latest in a series of executive actions the Obama Administration is taking to strengthen the economy and move the country forward because we can't wait for Congress to act.
Reports from The Hill and USA Today also noted that the program will include both jobs and internships. The Hill specifically noted that of the "180,000 'work opportunities'" the program will create, "[s]ome 70,000 jobs are paid."
Fox & Friends also used the segment as an opportunity to attack the president's record on job creation:
BOLLING: Can I just throw this out here? Remember when the stimulus was going to -- they were trying to pitch us on stimulus, sell us on stimulus? It was going to keep unemployment -- yada, yada, yada. It was also going to create four million jobs. Well, when they realized that number was going to be unattainable, they said you know what? Make that "create or save" four million jobs. This is just another attempt by the administration to kind of hide what's really going on behind the scenes. Reality is, we've lost 1.7 million jobs under Obama.
Bolling is distorting President Obama's jobs record and the effects of the stimulus. Various independent estimates suggest the stimulus boosted employment by 1 million to 2.5 million jobs, and boosted the GDP by between .8 and 2.7 percent.
What Fox News is attacking is a program to decrease teen unemployment -- a goal most people usually find admirable. As USA Today reported, the program is a "private-federal government partnership" that has already secured commitments from "AT&T, Bank of America and Starbucks." You would think that a partnership that will boost employment in the private sector would be something Fox News could get behind. But if Obama's done it, Fox News has decided, it must be a bad thing.