Soledad O'Brien Tries (And Fails) to Debunk Romney's Women Job Loss Claim

CNN's Soledad O'Brien once again tried to fact-check numbers she took issue with, and once more she failed to refute them. On Monday's Starting Point she took aim at Mitt Romney's claim that women have accounted for 92 percent of the job losses under President Obama.

"That would be a shocking number if it were true, which it really isn't exactly overall," O'Brien began. Yet even ABC's George Stephanopoulos admitted the report was "accurate."

O'Brien claimed that since the numbers were counted beginning with January 2009, they included a three-week hemorrhage of jobs before Obama's January 20th inauguration, and thus he was held accountable for jobs lost during Bush's administration.

However, even if the numbers accounted for this and began in February 2009, women still lost 484,000 jobs in Obama's term, compared with a net gain of 468,000 jobs for men. Thus under President Obama, beginning a few days into his presidency, women lost jobs overall while men gained nearly as many jobs. So while Soledad is trying to refute the "war on women" Obama is being blamed for, she isn't doing a very good job.

In addition, she stated that men lost more jobs in the recession than women and most of their losses occurred before 2009, and thus the numbers should have begun when the recession commenced in December of 2007. However, the Romney campaign was specifically counting job losses for Obama's term – which is not uncommon for judging a presidency – and Soledad could not refute it as false even though she tried.

O'Brien is no stranger to defending Obama. She made headlines for a spat with Breitbart editor Joel Pollak over Obama's connections with radical professor Derrick Bell, tried to deflect blame away from Obama toward President Bush as the "food stamp president," and challenged "The Obamas" author Jodi Kantor over her book's claims – but was refuted by her own network's reports.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on April 16 on Starting Point at 7:44 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: Welcome back, everybody. A new front is opening up in the war on women, if in fact there is one. Mitt Romney has been making this claim, listen.

(Video Clip)

MITT ROMNEY, Republican presidential candidate: Of the 800,000 plus jobs that have been lost during the Obama administration, do you know what percentage of them have been lost by women? 92 percent! 92 percent of the jobs lost in the President's term have been lost by women.

(End Video Clip)

O'BRIEN: Wow, 92 percent. That would be a shocking number if it were true, which it really isn't exactly overall, 740,000 men and women lost jobs during January of 2009 and March of this year. Women accounted for 683,000 of those jobs. That's how they get to that 92.3 figure, but the math includes hundreds of thousands of jobs that were lost in the three weeks before President Obama took office, which tilts the picture quite a little bit.

Also overall men lost more jobs in the recession than women did. Most of those losses happened before President Obama took office. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was battling back on Governor Romney's numbers. Listen.

(Video Clip)

TIMOTHY GEITHNER, Secretary of the Treasury: The early job losses were felt mostly by men, because they happened in construction and manufacturing across the economy. And as the crisis intensified over the course of '08 and signal the government started to feel the pressure. They had to cut back on teachers. A lot of women are teachers. So you saw the later effects as the crisis spread to women, too.

(Video Clip)

O'BRIEN: So, not exactly a shocker because I think that the overriding picture is what will women do in this election and that's why we've seen this war on women if you will.

(...)

WILL CAIN, CNN contributor: I want to say this. That statistic, Soledad, is true. Of the –

O'BRIEN: Depending how you the crunch the numbers.

CAIN: Hold on. That statement is true. Now you said a couple hundred thousand the first three weeks of January of 2009. No, it's only a couple tens of thousands and it does change the numbers a little bit, but 92 percent of job losses since Obama took place are women. That's a true statement –

O'BRIEN: Because the bulk of them – because the bulk of them –

CAIN: Let me finish.

O'BRIEN: No, I'm going to stop you there and then you can finish, the bulk of them were lost when George Bush was president, right? So if you – they called it a man-cession.

JOHN FUGELSANG, political comedian: It was the 2009 George Bush budget.

CAIN: Just so I can finish my thought.

O'BRIEN: Okay, go ahead.

CAIN: It is a true statement, but largely useless statement. So what it has done has divided numbers at an arbitrary starting point.

O'BRIEN: Yeah, so it makes it not true.

CAIN: But you know what? I'm going to be –

O'BRIEN: Arbitrary makes math not true.

CAIN: Abby's right. It's turned into a game. It is tit for tat. You create a false war on women. I'll give you a statistic that's largely useless, but true, and we'll have this little fake game. If we just don't indulge in these fake games, it'll be fine.

O'BRIEN: I know but – that seems like the political strategy is these games, right?

(...)

FUGELSANG: Well, again, even Chris Wallace said that the numbers were bunk. And this is the job losses we were having under George W. Bush. I know we hate to say the "B" word, Will, but we were losing 750,000 jobs a month. And these job losses are based on Bush's 2009 budget before the all-hated stimulus went into effect.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014