Sounds like a certain someone is back on the baby blues. Either Limbaugh is high as a kite, or he’s just so desperate to find a reason why the unemployment numbers have reached the lowest point since 2008 that he’s resurrected one of the most ludicrous conspiracy theories in recent memory.
This today is as illegitimate — this 5.9 percent number is even more illegitimate than the 7.9 percent number [in October, 2012]. There’s no way that this country has an economy producing jobs with an unemployment rate of 5.9 percent. It just isn’t happening. Take a look around. There’s a reason Obama’s having to do speeches and tell people the economy’s going great, you just don’t feel it. They don’t feel it because it isn’t real.
No, the reason the president is giving speeches on the robust nature of the economy is because it’s true, and because he’s a politician one month away from a midterm election. But there’s another major reason why some Americans might not be “feeling it” — it’s because flimflam artists and members of the conservative entertainment complex whose personal fortunes rely upon relentlessly fabricating conspiracy theories about the White House have been selling a bogus narrative about the Obama economy. Limbaugh did it right there, in that quote. Not a single damn number to back up he claim that “it just isn’t happening” — and lying in the face of overwhelming evidence and basic logic.
First, the overwhelming evidence. The economy has grown, with the exception of one quarter, for the last five years. Manufacturing is at its highest rate in a decade. In the wake of the worst recession since the 1930s, ten million jobs have been created. The Dow has climbed from the sewer to the stratosphere, peaking above 17,000 — unimaginable just three years ago. Millions of Americans now own affordable health coverage. The American auto industry is enjoying record profits after having nearly collapsed. The drop in unemployment has topped President Reagan’s record in spite of the fact that baby-boomers are retiring and dropping out of the labor force. And throughout it all, the budget deficit has dropped by nearly a trillion dollars.
In terms of logic, here they go again. The same people who blamed Obama when the economy was weak, or who blamed Obama for poor job creation, or who blamed Obama when the Dow was low, refuse to accept that they must therefore also credit Obama when those indicators are strong. Likewise, you can’t suggest the current numbers are false without calling into question the unemployment numbers during both previous and future administrations. What if Bush also deliberately fixed the numbers in late 2008 when the economy was crashing? If the Department of Labor can so easily manipulate these statistics based on the political necessity of the White House, then most presidents have probably done it at one point or another. Wild conspiracy theories aside, however, numerous agencies track unemployment and the numbers reported by DOL have generally matched numbers reported by other groups. And besides, in a bureaucracy as large as the Labor Department, with employees of various political stripes, why hasn’t anyone blown the whistle? Easy answer: because Limbaugh is making it up.
But here’s Rush Limbaugh — because it’s necessary to fuel his ridiculously inflated salary — lying about the status of the American economy, exceptionalism be damned.
And it’s working. Why?
Never before have we seen the discourse at this level of participation. Voter turnout aside, social media, blogs and, in general, the internet have collectively manipulated the debate in ways both positive and horrendously negative. In terms of the latter, no other president, even George W. Bush, has been confronted with such a colossal shitstorm of disinformation, rapidly disseminated before the truth can ever crowbar its way into the proceedings. This obviously has an irreparably corrosive effect on what participants in the discourse believe to be the truth. Here we are debating whether President Obama is deliberately allowing the Ebola virus into the U.S. because of this nation’s slave-holding past. Here we are in a nation where Kentuckians adore their health insurance marketplaces, created as a key tenet of Obamacare, but who also want Obamacare entirely repealed. Here we are questioning the foreign policy resolve of a commander-in-chief because he wore a tan suit during a press conference.
And when the president hits the stump to rightfully ballyhoo his administration’s record on the economy, he’s condemned for it because verifiable facts such as robust economic indicators must be, in fact, part of a vast and pernicious conspiracy to defraud the American people. If nothing else, the president is making a perhaps vain attempt to correct some of the almost intractable disinformation out there. Indeed, in the comments below, you’ll find at least one or two trolls who will dispute the easily calculated and widely corroborated deficit reduction figure I quoted above. Why? Because it can’t possibly be true, given the Limbaugh-and-internet-fueled meme that Obama is a reckless tax-and-spend liberal, when nearly the exact opposite is true.
The internet and social media have allowed serial misinformers like Limbaugh to skew the debate into a parallel universe where reality is flagrantly manipulated to suit a financial agenda and where misinformation can easily “go viral.” We live in a meme culture where sensationalism and deceptive headlines get all the attention, while the articles that struggle to set the record straight are too often ignored. Hence, sensationalism flourishes due to popular demand. And bastards like Limbaugh thrive on it.