Soledad O'Brien Spins Statement, Botches Facts About Romney's Jobs Record

CNN's Soledad O'Brien took Rudy Giuliani's words about Mitt Romney and spun them into a criticism of his jobs record, when in fact Giuliani had praised the candidate's resume on Sunday's State of the Union. On Tuesday's Starting Point, O'Brien said that Giuliani had "not so great" words for Romney's record, when in fact Giuliani said his jobs record as governor of Massachusetts was "decent."

Giuliani, on Sunday's State of the Union, defended his comparison of his "far superior record" as mayor of New York to Romney's "otherwise decent record" as Massachusetts governor, but never said it was "not so great" as Soledad implied. And Giuliani had overall praise for Romney's resume, noting that "Mitt Romney has been far more successful in the things that he's done than Barack Obama," referencing his business experience and work with the 2002 Olympics.

In addition, O'Brien tried to correct Romney's press secretary Andrea Saul when she said Romney inherited a bad situation as governor of Massachusetts in 2003. O'Brien claimed the state was on an "economic upswing" then. In fact, the state's annual average unemployment had risen for three straight years from 2000 through 2003.

"I don't think that's true actually," O'Brien interrupted Saul's claim that Romney inherited a state in a recession with job numbers falling. "I think that the state in 2003 was in an economic upswing, wasn't it in 2003 in Massachusetts?"

As numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show, the annual average unemployment rate in Massachusetts rose from 2.7 percent in 2000 to 3.7 percent in 2001 to 5.3 percent in 2002. That number rose again to 5.8 percent for 2003.

Meanwhile, jobs numbers declined going into 2003, with a net loss of 61,000 jobs the year before Romney took office. The total nonfarm jobs, seasonally adjusted, was at 3,284,000 in January of 2002. That number fell overall to 3,223,500 by January of 2003.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on May 29 on Starting Point at 7:32 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

SOLEDAD O'BRIEN: So he's also sounds like he's been touting his own record with jobs not only at his time at Bain Capital, but as governor of the state of Massachusetts so let's start with Bain Capital. Back in 1994, the governor said this, that he had helped create 10,000 jobs. He said "I'm always very careful to use the words 'help create'. Bain Capital, or Mitt Romney 'helped create' over 10,000 jobs." That was back in 1994.

"I don't take credit for the jobs at Staples. I helped create the jobs at Staples." That was from The Boston Globe back in 1994. Then we heard Eric Fenstrom state the other day – he's the governor's senior adviser as most people know. He said this when he was being interviewed.

(Video Clip)

ERIC FEHRNSTROM, Mitt Romney's senior adviser: When you create value, when you add value as they did in trying to improve companies, you also add employment, and a rough back-of-the-envelope estimate of how many jobs they created is well in excess of 100,000.

(End Video Clip)

O'BRIEN: Can you do the math for me, that 10,000 in '94 to today, that 10,000 to 90,000? Where were those jobs, specifically?

ANDREA SAUL, press secretary, Romney campaign: Sure. If you look at four start-ups alone including Staples, Sports Authority, Bright Horizons, and Steel Dynamics, those start-ups alone created over 100,000 jobs. So as you know, with a start-up company those wouldn't have existed – or likely wouldn't have existed had it not been for the help of Bain Capital. And so those are the jobs he's talking about.

What we can see is Governor Romney has 25 years of experience as a businessman and entrepreneur creating jobs. The only thing President Obama has ever managed is his own narrative. So Governor Romney has that experience, he's learned from his successes and failures. And he created more jobs at Bain Capital or helped create more jobs at Bain Capital than President Obama has in the entire nation as president.

(...)

O'BRIEN: What's the governor's message when he looks at his record as governor of Massachusetts? What's he telling folks about that?

(...)

O'BRIEN: Governor – or sorry, Mayor Rudy Giuliani didn't seem to consider it a very solid record of job creation when he was interviewed by Candy Crowley over the weekend. I want to play a little chunk of what he told her. Listen.

(Video Clip)

RUDY GIULIANI, former mayor of New York City: I had massive reduction in unemployment. He had a reduction in unemployment of about 8, 10 – I think it was about 15 percent. I had a reduction of unemployment of 50 percent. They had a growth of jobs of about 40,000. We had a growth of jobs of about 500,000. So I was comparing what I thought was my far superior record to his otherwise decent record, but the numbers weren't as great.

(End Video Clip)

O'BRIEN: And if you actually compare it – and I'm sure you've looked at this a million times – to other states, the numbers Massachusetts job creation, 0.9 percent, so just under 1 percent. New York was 2.7, California 4.7, North Carolina 7.6.

[SCREEN GRAPHIC: Net Job Creation While In Office: Romney 45,800, Obama 572,000]

O'BRIEN: The national average overall, up 5 percent. Do you think that's going to be a, basically what Giuliani says like -- meh, the numbers were not so great?

SAUL: You know, what's interesting is when Governor Romney came into Massachusetts, it was, the state was facing a similar situation as the United States was when President Obama took office, which was the state was in a recession, jobs were declining, the unemployment rate was up, and so when Governor Romney came in there, he --

O'BRIEN: I don't think that's true actually. I think that the state in 2003 was in an economic upswing, wasn't it in 2003 in Massachusetts?

SAUL: No, when he took over, the state was losing jobs and he turned that around. If you look, I'm happy to send it to you when I'm back at my desk later. But the state, it was facing economic troubles, there was a $3 billion budget deficit. He turned that into a $2 billion rainy day fund, and again, he lowered the unemployment rate and created jobs, which was a reversal of what had been happening.
 

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