Opinion

WaPo Fact Check On Trump ‘Flip-Flop’ Flops

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Will Ricciardella Social Media Strategist and Politics Writer
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The Washington Post, in a nit-picky leap of faith Thursday, “fact-checked” two comments President Donald Trump made over a year apart referencing two different statistics, claiming he “flip-flopped” on his policy positions.

We’ve dubbed President Trump the “king of flip-floppers” because of his tendency to repeatedly change his position without acknowledging that it’s the complete opposite of a previously held position” wrote Glenn Kessler. But was it really a “flip-flop?”

The Post compared two claims the president made, one on the campaign trail and one on Tuesday:

“Look at how much African American communities are suffering from Democratic control. … Fifty-eight percent of your youth is unemployed, what the hell do you have to lose?”
— GOP candidate Donald Trump, rally in Dimondale, Mich., Aug. 19, 2016

“I said, vote for me, what the hell have you got to lose, remember that? The Hispanic, the African American, the inner cities. So now it just came out, African Americans and teenagers are now enjoying their lowest unemployment since just after the turn of the millennium. That’s pretty good, right?”
— President Trump, campaign rally in Youngstown, Ohio, July 25, 2017

“We recognize that politicians sometimes make a sincere evolution on a policy stance, especially as new facts emerge or as the constituency that elected them to office forms a new opinion on an issue. But it’s important to acknowledge that this is a shift — which Trump never does,” Kessler continued.

Cheap shot at Trump aside, what policy stance is Kessler referring to?

The first claim was intended to highlight a high rate of youth unemployment under President Obama’s policies when Trump was on the campaign trail; the second highlights the historically low overall black unemployment rate six months in to President Trump’s administration.

Tump, in the comment at the rally in Diamondale, is insinuating blacks will perform better economically under Republican control than “Democratic control,” and in the comment he made Tuesday, that blacks as a whole have performed better than they have in the bast. The Post however, considered this a shift in policy, warranting the “flip-flopper” moniker.

The “fact-check” wasn’t focused on validity of the “58 percent” youth unemployment number. But pointed out rightly that it can be considered “misleading” because it includes those that are not looking for work. Nevertheless it’s a legitimate statistic, no less accurate than any other.

What it didn’t do is fact check the validity of Trump’s claims that blacks will be, and are economically better off under Donald Trump’s Republican administration.

The unemployment rate for black youths, aged 16-19 years old, from June 2016 to June 2017 has dropped nearly 10 points, adjusted seasonally.

Trump on Tuesday cited the black unemployment number as a whole, down from 8.6 percent in June 2016 to 7.1 percent in June 2017. The rate has fallen 0.6 percent since Trump took office to its lowest rate since hitting 7.0 percent in April 2000 on the tail end of the Clinton administration.

The Post downplayed the historically low black unemployment number under Trump, writing that the “unemployment rate has been on a relatively steady decline” since its Great Recession peak of 16.8 percent in March, 2010, to the 7.7 percent number when Trump took office.

In the more than seven years since the number reached its peak it never fell below 8 percent until Donald Trump was elected in November.

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Will Ricciardella