The Obama Glow Is Radiation from News Media Decomposition


Every now and then, you’ll come across a news report mentioning that President Obama has dramatically reduced deficits, as if he’s some sort of fiscal hawk.  The spin of the characterization comes through the fact that such statements start the clock in 2009, Obama’s first year in office, during which the deficit more than tripled, to around $1.4 trillion.  In other words, his deficit reduction only looks like responsible spending in the context of that profligate year — a bit like saying an alcoholic is making strides toward sobriety because he’s now guzzling regular rum, rather than 151.

In a similar vein, an article from the Washington Post in today’s Providence Journal tries to spin the Obama Era as a time of economic satisfaction.  Under the Projo headline, “Poll: Many feel lives have improved under Obama“:

How Americans feel about the state of their lives has improved markedly in the eight years since Barack Obama was elected president, according to Gallup data released Tuesday.

In 2008, fewer than half of Americans said their life was good enough to be considered “thriving,” according to Gallup. But that’s changed: “The 55.4% who are thriving so far in 2016 is on pace to be the highest recorded in the nine years Gallup and Healthways have tracked it,” according to the report.

Not only that, members of each ethnic or racial group in Gallup’s study feel better about their lives.

Ummm… about that.


Yes, in the first year of Obama’s presidency, people were feeling better about their lives, especially (not surprisingly) blacks, but 2010 brought a peak.  The percentage of blacks who say they’re thriving has dropped significantly since then, to below the level in 2009.  Asians are down, and Hispanics haven’t budged much.  Whites are up a few percentage points since 2010, but not much above last year.

Reading the rest of Christopher Ingraham’s article, one can only conclude that he’s spinning on purpose.  For instance, he belittles Donald Trump’s recent appeal to black voters, writing that the Gallup numbers “reflect” black “gains in employment, income and education,” which they really don’t.  And then there’s this:

Certainly, economic policies have been central to Obama’s administration, including the 2009 stimulus package and the $80 billion auto-industry bailout. But his supporters and detractors disagree on the extent to which those policies helped pull the country out of the recession.

This is boosterism, pure and simple.  It appears that the only way to make Obama look good is to compare him on his good days to himself on his bad days, so to speak.

  • Mike678

    The most damning indication of ‘title spin’ are the sentences towards the end of the article: “This measure is likely an indicator of the variety of factors influencing people’s lives that presidents have limited control over — the economy chief among them. In 2008, for instance, the country was in the midst of the Great Recession” and “Factors largely out of his control, like the Federal Reserve’s lowering of interest rates and the U.S. energy boom that cut fuel prices — arguably played even bigger roles.”

    So, little evidence of causation but since we have little else positive to say….