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Let’s be charitable. Perhaps the documentary used a different definition of recession. True, some experts use another standard: two consecutive quarters of negative economic growth. But during Bush-41’s last year in office — 1992, the year voters elected Clinton — the economy grew every quarter, averaging 3.2 percent.
But today, nearly two decades after the fact, the PBS narrator solemnly states that “as Clinton took office in the winter of 1993, the economic crisis that had propelled him into office showed few signs of abating” — even though the economy was then on its 22nd consecutive month of positive growth!
Really? “In the winter of 1993 … the economic crisis … showed few signs of abating”? Jan. 29, 1993, seven days after Clinton took office, The New York Times wrote, “U.S. Says Economy Grew at Fast Pace in Fourth Quarter: The economy grew at a faster-than-expected annual rate of 3.8 percent in the final quarter of 1992, the strongest performance in four years, the Commerce Department reported today.”
The confusion is understandable. Many in the media suffer from CRAP — Clinton Recession Amnesia Problem. CRAP spares few victims. Take MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who once said she knows little about economics and, bless her, seems determined to prove it. In January 2009, the month President Obama took office, Maddow said: “Clinton took the oath during an economic downturn, but that was a romper room compared to today’s down-crash.”
In October 1992, as President George Herbert Walker Bush ran for re-election against Bill Clinton, the economy was 18 months into a recovery. But as Investor’s Business Daily noted, 90 percent of the newspaper stories on the economy were negative. Yet the following month, when Clinton defeated Bush-41, suddenly only 14 percent of economic news stories were negative!
Given the media recitation of the false history of the state of the 1992-1993 economy — when Clinton entered office — why expect PBS to get it right?
Historical revisionism occurs when someone challenges a conventional point of view. But the Clinton documentary — as to the state of the economy he inherited — is not historical revisionism. This documentary simply recites the “facts” as the traditional media see it: Clinton inherited a recession left by his Republican predecessor — and that’s that.
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