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REMOVED: Michaud’s Bogus Jobs Loss Claim and Maine’s Uncritical Media

Mike Michaud

UPDATE: The Michaud campaign quietly removed the false claim from its ad over the weekend.

The Maine Wire reported exclusively that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud was spouting incorrect statistics to portray Maine’s economy under Republican Gov. Paul LePage as headed in the wrong direction. Shortly after, the liberal blogosphere confirmed the report and a main stream newspaper later caught up.

The Sept. 16 article, “Fact-Checking the new Michaud ad,” quoted U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud from the ad saying the following: “If you look at the Maine being one of the three states that’s actually lost jobs, uh, over the last year, the uncertainty, uh, is real.”

The article then pointed out that Michaud’s claim does not square with jobs data from the Maine Department of Labor, which shows year-over-year job growth every month since December 2012. The gains, though small, cannot honestly be described as losses.

On Sept. 17, The Maine Wire published a second article on the main stream media’s uncritical review of Michaud’s ad. Two articles, one in the Bangor Daily News and one in the Portland Press Herald, gave flowery descriptions of the ad, but failed to criticize its claims. Both pieces amounted to free ad promotion for the Democrat.

[RELATED: Maine media botch coverage of misleading campaign ad...]

That same day, an anonymous blogger at the progressive website Dirigo Blue reviewed Michaud’s job loss claim, further investigated the labor statistics upon which it supposedly was based, and reached the same conclusion: Michaud’s ad made a false claim.

From Dirigo Blue:

Robinson’s correct.  So what was Michaud talking about?  Probably this; a report by thePew Charitable Trust using BLS data showing that Maine was one of only three states to lose private sector jobs from April 2012 to April 2013.  So, who is right, who is wrong, why the conflicting numbers, and did Michaud lie?

Assuming that the Michaud claim is based on this report, which the Maine media picked up on, then Robinson is right, Michaud is wrong, the numbers were revised, and that depends.  When the BLS released its April jobs data (see Table 5), it showed Maine lost 1,500 jobs, a 0.3% decline, from 598,900 to 597,400.  However, that latter number has since been revised up to 599,100, meaning Maine gained 200 jobs–weak, but a change of +1,700 from the original data nonetheless.

As far as whether Michaud lied . . . eh.  Without knowing the basis for Michaud’s claim, or whether the campaign made the statement knowing it was false, I am not going to make those sorts of judgments.  Regardless of whether the Michaud campaign relied on the Pew report or not, the statement is, as far as I can tell, inaccurate, and the campaign needs to clarify either the statement or show the data the statement is premised on.

Which brings us to the main stream media’s much-belated recognition that the would-be Democratic governor’s talking point is off the mark.

Writing in his Capitol Ticker blog Thursday, Steve Mistler of the Press Herald echoes the rationale of the blogger at Dirigo Blue: Michaud’s claim would have been correct had the labor statistics not been revised by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. He also notes that Pew, while recognizing their original report is now incorrect, will not say whether it will revise its report.

The money line from Mistler: “Speaking of changing, the campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mike Michaud will probably have to stop referencing the job loss claim as a dig against Gov. Paul LePage.”

Mistler rightly warns against confusing BLS numbers with those of MDOL. While the corrected federal numbers report a year-over-year increase of just 200 jobs for the most recent data available, closer to home, MDOL pegs the increase at 2,900 jobs. The estimates are produced through two different methods, but both point toward the same conclusion: Michaud’s claim is a folksy bowl of malarkey.

The Bangor Daily News has yet to report on the inaccuracy of Michaud’s claim and the Michaud campaign has yet to offer a correction. The advertisement, including Michaud’s incontestably false claim, is still displayed on the front page of his campaign website.

The obvious question: Would the main stream media have ever let LePage or independent gubernatorial candidate Eliot Cutler get away with making obviously false claims about Michaud?

S.E. Robinson
MaineWire Reporter

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