Fox News decrees that 8.6% > 8.9%

I would like to know what software they used to make this graph. Wouldn't you think it would produce an accurate graph? Simpler explanation: Fox just couldn't bring itself to show a downtick in unemployment, no matter how small, so they edited it.

Graphic design the Fox Way


    1. LOL – way to Godwin within 2 replies. Speaking of lies – how about we get some straight numbers on the *real* unemployment rate – not just those signed up for benefits.

      1. I’ll grant you the Godwin, but “real” statistics isn’t really part of the issue– the problem is in Fox’s reporting of facts, in their dishonest portrayal of the numbers.

      2. Technically, since I didn’t say the “H” word, I call for a Godwin exemption…its not my fault that the previous most successful propagandist in history happened to work for the nazis.

      3. I’ve been told that the unemployment rate (i.e. this number you dislike) statistically correlates to the actual unemployed but not looking for work number (which is also a number that the government keeps track of).  I think that this number is just easier to calculate on a weekly basis.

    1. You could maybe have done yours on the same scale as theirs, seeing as you’re criticizing misleading graphs.

      1. But their scale was intentionally misleading in an attempt to try to make it look like the unemployment rate had changed almost nil, when instead it’s fluctuated a lot and is currently a lot lower than when we started this whole mess.

      2. Uh, but part of the problem is that Fox’s scale is misleading.  That was CrisNoble’s point in creating a new, non-crazily scaled graph.

        CrisNoble’s is not misleading; Fox’s misleading, both because 8.6 is not higher than 8.9, and also because the scale they use is ridiculous.

        He was trying to create a non-misleading graph.  So why would he use the same scale as Fox, which is misleading? 

        Your criticism really makes no sense, and basically ignores CrisNoble’s entire point, which was outlined clearly in his comment.  Please re-read: “Here is an non-crazily scaled version.”

      3. Just follow the horizontal lines on the fox graph and tell me why the 8.5 line crosses the 8.8 point in March and the 8.6 point in Novemeber is a full line ABOVE the 8.8??? I understand your issue with the scale so I recreated it in google docs and you can look here. 

        Side by side again for your pleasure (with the same axis scale):

        The first chart was created in the BLS page, you would literally need 0.2 seconds of clicking the button once you are on the data page to recreate it, I have no idea how FOX decided to create the orginal image.

        If you want the source data here is the source: (check the Unemployment Rate (Seasonally Adjusted) – LNS14000000 ) and click retrieve data at the bottom.

      4. There is no scale to theirs. There is not an equidistant spacing in either the vertical or horizontal vectors. 

        If you want to check, you can type the numbers into excel, make a line graph, and add the image as background, then adjust your line graph’s boundary box to match theirs. 

    2. In order for this to be a valid comparison, they both need to use the same scale.  The graph on the right, in this context, is just as dishonest & misleading as Fox’s

      1. Not really, because Fox’s scale is completely and utterly misleading and inaccurate.  They are intentionally trying to make it seem like the drop hasn’t been as large as it has been by using a weird scale.

        CrisNoble’s version is far, far closer to the truth.

      2. Wait, what? Where did the notion that the scale was the issue come from?

        The problem is that the data point for 8.6% has been manipulated to sit at about 8.9% on the fox chart.  That’s beyond ‘misleading’, well into ‘complete fabrication’.

        1. Of course the scale is part of the problem.  Just look at the graph.  If they are being purposely misleading regarding actual data, it shouldn’t be surprising that they’d use a funky scale to make it even more misleading.

          1. To be fair, we’re talking about a difference of 0.6% here between the worst month and the best. It’s not a whole lot considering the rate has been floating about 4% higher than normal.

            But more importantly, if you wanted to use scale to minimize the down-tick, you’d use a greater range, like one that started from 0% to 20%, to make the line appear as flat as possible. Using a chart between 8% and 10% would actually make the drop look more dramatic (assuming they could be bothered to chart it accurately).

          2. To be fair, we’re talking about a difference of 0.6% here between the worst month and the best. It’s not a whole lot considering the rate has been floating about 4% higher than normal.

            It’s 648,000 people. That’s a whole lot in my world view.

      3. Dude,

        Take a piece of paper.  Hold it horizontally on your monitor at the 8.9 level.  Explain how 8.9 is not higher than 8.6.

    3. The Fox graph exaggerates the 9.2 upward, as well as underdisplays the 8.6 downward. Part of the problem is that it’s impossible to tell what their horizontal calibration lines mean, relative to the way the percentages are placed along the y axis. Here’s my effort at delineating the calibration more clearly and then adjusting the trend line on the same scale as the Fox graph.

  1. Yeah, I think I saw this at Daily Kos. Seems like pretty deliberate lying to me.

    Surely there must be some FCC rule or rules that FOX News is violating, and can be publicly pilloried over? Couldn’t a compilation of multiple abuses eventually result in a revoked or unrenewed broadcasting license? There’s gotta be a difference between “free speech” and “lying, damaging abuse of PUBLIC airwaves.”

    Also, I don’t see other networks and Democratic politicians as all that far to the left of FOX, but still, why are they so quiet about the incredibly blatant lies and bias of FOX?

    1. Raising the standards (or just enforcing the supposed current standards) would probably end up hurting them too, outside of Fox.

    2. What public airwaves?

      Fox News is a cable station.

      People have already challenged Fox on far worse lies than this — Google “fox news” bgh — and the courts have, incredibly, ruled that there’s no law against a news organization deliberately lying to its audience.

    3. News organizations in the U.S. are under no legal obligation to present information truthfully and — the obverse — there is no legal sanction against a news organization that deliberately falsifies data, etc. This conclusion was reached and codified into law in 2003, in a Florida case involving… wait for it … Fox News.

      See: Case No. 2D01-529 (Florida Court of Appeals)
      New World Communications of Tampa, Inc. v. Jane Akre

      1. I suppose many would think it doesn’t make a difference, but that case was about a local Fox affiliate, not the Fox network and definitely not Fox News.

        1. You are correct, the station was an affiliate of Fox. However, the executives at WTVT acted on the direction of Roger Ailes, to whom the agribusiness corporation Monsanto complained after learning that the affiliate was going to broadcast an unfavorable report about them.

      2. This is an important point.  Yesterday Maggie did a story on who we call journalist.  Maybe need to look at who we call a news organization.

        Of course Fox will try and trademark the word “News” just so they can call themselves a “News” network.

        What is the price we pay as a society when there are no consequences for lying?

        1. What is the price we pay as a society when there are no consequences for lying?

          Indeed, no consequences for any sort of bad behavior. This lack of accountability in almost every dimension of social, political, and economic life in the U.S. has made it what it is today. Laws don’t necessarily matter. Words don’t necessarily matter. Truth does not necessarily matter. The price we pay is to live in a world of total uncertainty in which the privileged can live/act with impunity.

    4. “Surely there must be some FCC rule or rules that FOX News is violating, and can be publicly pilloried over?”
      Hopefully, there are no such rules. Or you’d be living in Iran.

      I know this may sound funny, but the purpose of media regulation is really not to be some kind of truth police. Content regulation is and should be strictfully restricted to as few areas as possible. I don’t know of any in the land of the First Amendment. In Europe, you can’t deny the genocide and, in some States, you can’t abuse the people’s credulity (for examples sects propaganda). You have other rules regarding advertising identification and portection of children on TV, but as far as contents go, that’s about it.

      Leave it to others (medias, websites such as this one) to counterfight lies and manipulation.

      Disclosure : I work for the Belgian equivalent of the FCC.

      1. “Surely there must be some FCC rule or rules that FOX News is violating, and can be publicly pilloried over?”

        Hopefully, there are no such rules. Or you’d be living in Iran.
        Well, I’m no lawyer, and I don’t even play one on TV, but even the U.S. does have some forms of “content regulation.” “Libel,” for instance, is a concept that mostly keeps some forms of falsification off the airwaves. And, I presume, cable-waves. Regulating that and punishing instances of it doesn’t mean a state has suddenly tipped over into fascism.

        Leave it to others (medias, websites such as this one) to counterfight lies and manipulation.

        But the problem seems to be that corporate conglomerates own all the big (that is, popular) microphones, AND almost all of the access to high-level events and politicians. They use that capability to install, manage, and massage general public conceptions and opinion, to the point were such odious phenomena as classism, racism, sexism and homophobia pass as naturalized Common Sense. Web sites such as this one and other relatively tiny media can’t do much to counter the oceanic waves of toxic, corporate-sponsored sludge.

  2. Hunting through links and links; can’t actually find this graph on Fox news.  Just more liberal blogs pointing at each other.  Not that I’m doubting that it actually happened, I’d just love to see the original source.

    1. I rather doubt you’ll see it on Fox News again, given that people are pointing and laughing and it was shown on TV a couple of days ago.

      1. I think it was Mike Deaver (Reagan’s press secretary) who, commenting about the power of images in politics, asked “What will they believe- their eyes or the truth?” 
        Images are powerful and few pay attention to the numbers or think critically.  Plenty of lies get repeated to the point they are believed by large numbers of people.  Fox has not been shy about repeating misinformation- and their target audience is not reading pieces like this. 

  3. I work on math textbooks, and most have lessons on misleading graphs.  They teach various sneaky ways to make graphs misleading, like breaks in the axes and using disproportionate graphics.  Funny, but we never bothered teaching them about graphs that were just plain wrong.

  4. Graphing software? you make me chuckle. This is no doubt the same sort of construction we see on Photoshop Disasters all the time. Just a sloppy pixmap.

    1.  ” Maybe it’s an honest mistake?”

      Every single “mistake” from Fox News leans in one single ideological direction only — to make conservatives look better, and liberals worse.  To qualify as a mistake (subtext: “honest mistake”) it has to fit the model of: anyone could have done it, and there were no ulterior motives.  When you look past the individual instance, to the entire sample set of Fox “mistakes”, such a correlation cannot be explained by chance.

      They are propagandists at the 99.9%-plus confidence level.

      1. That’s easy: 

        They’ve been drinking the coolaid so long that a clearly -wrong- graph like this can go unnoticed as it depicts what they expect to see. The same graph showing Obama’s unemployment numbers in an exceptionally favorable (and thus incorrect) light would have stood out like a sore thumb and been immediately fixed long before it aired.

        That, or they’re just boldface lying.

      2. Where exactly would you find out about any of their mistakes that are biased to the left? There may very well be an equal distribution, and we’d never know, because the left-leaning ones wouldn’t be interesting enough for anyone to spread around.
        For that matter, maybe there are conservative blogs that point out a bunch of mistakes from CNN and MSNBC that are biased to the left, but I never see them because I don’t read those blogs.

        1. There may very well be an equal distribution…

          That’s a fantasy-based statement.

          For that matter, maybe there are conservative blogs that point out a bunch of mistakes from CNN and MSNBC that are biased to the left, but I never see them because I don’t read those blogs.

          But there’s a whole world of people that do. You’ve constructed a universe in which all things are equal because you don’t bother to look.

  5. Fox blatantly lies to suit their agenda all the time.  As does every other broadcast and cable “news” station out there.  No exceptions.  The REAL question – the question that NO ONE seems to want to ask because it will make their side look bad (i.e., whichever side you happen to be on…i.e., all sides) is…

    The federal government’s definition of “unemployed” allows for the entire country to be out of work but would report zero percent “unemployment”.  This is similar to how the government calculates virtually every other number they come up with.  That is, they start with the number they want and then adjust the formula used so that it magically occurs.  

    Now the question is why do so many people put up with this shit?  Republicans don’t mind it if it’s their side doing the fudging.  Democrats don’t mind it if it’s their side doing the fudging.  Meanwhile, the country is going down the toilet.  

    1. ” Fox blatantly lies to suit their agenda all the time.  As does every other broadcast and cable “news” station out there.  No exceptions….”

      This is a nasty piece of propaganda right here.  It’s the old “there’s only black and white, and I don’t see any white, do you?”

      Fox lies on a scale, and with a frequency, that dwarfs the other news outlets.  Want to prove me wrong?  Produce a corresponding “distorted the other way” unemployment graph from from one of your “every other broadcast and cable “news” stations”.

      Yes, distortion and bias creeps in everywhere.  But to go from that to putting them all on the same level, is dishonest.  Shades of grey exist.

      1. Seriously.  Take a look at the “news” outlets under the News Corp umbrella and now point me to a more crooked organization.  From the phone tapping scandals to Fox’s seemingly daily deliberate “mistakes.”

        1. Well, um, there was that one time that Dan Rather fell for a fake news source and that other time that he burned helicopters to turn in more dramatic news, so that means Newscorp can lie about whatever it wants.

    2. The current system, with some exceptions (and it’s a bipartisan effort over several decades) counts a person as unemployed if they’re out of work and seeking work.  If we ditch the exceptions, that seems fair.  Does employment have to be defined as, say, an employee?  Some of the more dire unemployment stats I’ve seen count part-timers as unemployed.  I mean, really?

      There’s the other side of this coin, where we live in a system where everyone is required to use U.S. currency for exchange, everyone is required to pay taxes, and you almost have to work for someone else to be able to do that. Heck, I live out in the country, and will likely inherit several acres of land; it’d be nice if I could choose to live off the land, use firewood for heat, grow my own food, and barter or do odd jobs for what I can’t do on my own. But I can’t.

  6. Charts are (supposed to be) a visual representation of facts. Charts answer many questions all at once. But they have to have definitive lines that travel across the chart. Notice the lines, they have no correlation to anything. Also, the scales should have actual points, representing where the actual point is. If you use a ruler and make a line just under the percentages, nothing makes sense. This isn’t a chart at all, it’s propaganda. 

  7. Exactly. You can’t tell what their horizontal calibration lines mean, relative to the way the percentages are placed along the y axis. I posted a better calibrated version above in response to CrisNoble.

  8. It’s also not a graph of the “Unemployment Rate Under President Obama,” it’s a graph of the most recent 11 months of the unemployment rate under President Obama. 

    A real graph of the “Unemployment Rate Under President Obama,” would show it peaking 9 months into his presidency and ever-so-slowly receding since then. It is now approaching the 7.8% rate that existed when he was inaugurated.

    As long as we’re graphing unemployment data, I wonder what the 12-month period immediately preceding the Obama administration looked like…

    1. It looks a lot like this:

        1. …There was actually a four-year period in the ’60s when the unemployment rate never topped 4%? Wow. And from February 1951 to November 1953 — two years and nine months — it never broke 3.5%.

          How’d we get from there to 8+?

  9. Simpler explanation: Fox just couldn’t being itself to show a downtick in unemployment…

    The commentary that went along with the graph:  “The number took a slight dip in November after staying at or above 9% for six straight months.”

    The commentator stated that it was down after being above 9%, and the graph shows 8.6%.

    Looks like a sloppy graphics department to me, nothing more.

    1. Yeah, just like their sloppy graphics department accidentally places a (D) after the names of scandal-prone Republicans when reporting on them over and over again.  

    2. I do a fair number of graphs like this in my job as a graphic designer for reports and the like. It takes effort to make it misleading, not the other way around. You sort of have to want it to be wrong for it to look like this, because the way you would plot numbers on a graph is pretty accurate. So, sloppy isn’t how I would describe it.

  10. Low hanging fruit, I realize, but who can possibly resist the compulsion to quote Alice here?

    I wonder if I shall fall right through the earth! How funny it’ll seem to come out among the people that walk with their heads downward! The Antipathies, I think–‘ (she was rather glad there was no one listening, this time, as it didn’t sound at all the right word) `–but I shall have to ask them what the name of the country is, you know. Please, Ma’ am, is this New Zealand or Australia?’ (and she tried to curtsey as she spoke– fancy curtseying as you’re falling through the air! Do you think you could manage it?) `And what an ignorant little girl she’ll think me for asking! No, it’ll never do to ask: perhaps I shall see it written up somewhere.’

  11. Fox News is “disinfotainment.” Some on the right watch it for comfort, knowing it’s false, but enjoying it because it harmonizes with the world as they wish it to be. Others on the right don’t believe  Fox, but they are strongly conservative none the less, and perceive themselves to be intelligently so. these “intelligent” conservatives certainly don’t mind that there is a dumb class of conservatives out there that actually believes Fox, because they’re a force multiplier at election time.

    1.  Naw, there’s a big section you’re missing there: intelligent conservatives who prefer to weed out some facts because they have gone too far down the rabbit hole to go somewhere else. I doubt many people framegrab graphs; they are half paying attention as they get ready for work, maybe glance over at the graph. And that line underscores that yeah, Obama is sending the country to hell. This isn’t just Republicans — look at all the Democrats who still think Obama is doing a great job. Most Americans tend to treat political parties like sports teams — they’re going to root for their home team no matter how terrible they are.

  12. Why doesn’t someone compile the lies?  You know, put them all in one place for the world to see, all at once?  I’m writing this to you from Madison, Wisconsin, the city that supposedly has palm trees growing around our state capital as evidenced by Fox News’ coverage of the protests against Gov. Scott Walker (R).

    1. The trouble with lies is that they are lifeforms not too different from Tinkerbell; as long as someone believes, they will exist in an ecosystem all their own. It is in this ecosystem where they flourish, and occasionally resurface, brighter than ever. This has happened throughout history. There is no killing the lie, the best we can do is get people to look away from them and allow them to die from malnutrition.

    2. Personally, I’d rather be waterboarded while electrodes were attached to my testicles than hold a job that required me to watch Fox all day long.
      Whoever does it for The Daily Show better get big bucks plus full mental health coverage with no co-pay.

  13. What did you expect? Its Fox News. Their job is to create propaganda and fake news to serve the Republican party. 

    1. Not sure why you wrote ‘amount’ the way you did, trying to figure out what the Angels have to do with this; I thought their purview was baseball. (I tease, I tease…)

    1. You may be joking, but I do think that nobody except researchers from other networks actually look at any network’s graphs.

  14. The fact that Boingboing covers this as if Fox news is some type of legitimate journalistic entity is amazing to me. I live north of Cincinnati, and I’d guess a good majority of the morons around here think Fox is “fair and balanced” and “those dark people” are ruining the country.

    It’s hilarious how you can’t reason with a guy who hasn’t got a pot to piss in yet he thinks the conservatives have his best interests in mind.

    1. What makes you think the posting of this graph constitutes BB’s conception of Fox News as a legitimate journalistic entity?

  15. Its great that this kind of propaganda is exposed and publicized. The hard part is getting Fox News supporters to SEE it. Do they read BB? Do they watch the Daily Show? Anyone with enough imagination to actually expose themselves to different viewpoints would, by definition, not be Fox supporters.

  16. As long as the political dialogue in this country can be distracted by the words “Republican” and “Democrat” we will make no progress.  

    Every single person in Congress needs to be voted out.  All of them.  No exceptions.  The President needs to be voted out too.   Then we need to repeal the 17th Amendment and persuade the states to convene an Article V convention.

    The goal is to repeal all of the nonsensical laws and either return the Federal Government to its Constitutional role or disband it and start over.

    The Federal Government is a creation of a contract between the states and it is their responsibility to act as its check.  Until that happens, the continued centralization of power will inevitably lead to the same place that all centralized power in the hands of mankind leads.

  17. Hey Comrade, this is America.  If I want to believe a smaller number is more than a larger number, who are you to say otherwise?  

  18. Let’s be honest:  Fox News is for stupid, angry people.  Make that stupid, angry people who are alternately comforted and agitated by the lies of others.  

  19. The software they used to create this graph was probably Photoshop. I’ve been out of the TV news graphics biz for about 5 years, but in my experience most of that kind of stuff is made up on the spot by a small sweatshop of overworked Photoshop jockeys.  They might have some templates set up if they do this kind of graph a lot, but each element was probably positioned by “hand” based on a printout from a producer; maybe a printout of a graph, or maybe just a bunch of numbers.

    Most charting software is not going to produce output that would be suitable for over the air use.  Without going into technicalities, all those little blurry shadows and specific color combinations are not not so much an ethestic choice as they are elements designed to make the graphic readable and legal on crummy low resolution NTSC television sets. 

    I’ve no experience of the inner workings at Fox News, but I’ve seen plenty of errors like this that were caused by just plain sloppiness or overwork.  

    Edit: I have in the past had producers try and get me to “ootch” elements of a graph one way or another, but I always refused. I also insisted on a scale that was consistent and reasonable. I have always been fortunate to have worked in places where I could count on support from editorial higher ups, who were much more worried about the news organizations repletion than they were any particular story. It didn’t always make me popular, but I was able to sleep nights…

  20. Welcome to the Ministry of Truth citizens, in other news the chocolate ration will be increasing from 20 grams to 25 grams

  21. This whole “which graph is closest to the cleverly misleading FOX graphic” discussion perfectly portrays the reason we’re likely in this economic mess to begin with; you all sound like politicians trying to figure out whether or not to implement a trillion dollar budget cut. 

    Of course I likely used an incomplete or mis-structured sentence to make that statement, so I’m not sure how much you can trust what I have to say.

  22. I took your .jpg of that graph and put it into AutoCAD.  I scaled the x-axis by tracing a vertical line through the “JAN” and “NOV” ticks and dividing the distance by ten, and traced horizontal lines through the “9.0%” and “9.2%” ticks for y-axis scale.  The unemployment rate was plotted from the numbers in a light yellow dotted line over the original graph. I did a screen grab of the result and saved it as a .gif:

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