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CNN Uses Bogus PolitiFact Rating to Discredit Romney Campaign Claim

On Wednesday's The Situation Room, CNN used a slanted PolitiFact report to dismiss Mitt Romney's claim that "women account for 92.3 percent of the jobs lost under President Obama." CNN correspondent Jim Acosta aired a clip of Romney making the claim before adding that "the watchdog website PolitiFact rates that claim as 'Mostly False'."

PolitiFact even admitted that the campaign's numbers were "accurate," but added that "their reading of them isn't." According to numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the Romney campaign's claim is indeed factually correct.

According to BLS data, the total number of employees on nonfarm payrolls, seasonally adjusted, fell by 740,000 between January of 2009, when Obama took office, and March of 2012. Meanwhile, the number of women employees on nonfarm payrolls fell by 683,000 between January 2009 and March 2012. The loss of women jobs accounted for 92.3 percent of the total 740,000 lost jobs in that time span.

So why did PolitiFact rate the claim "Mostly False"? They wrote that the BLS explained that men's job losses were already high because of the recession and women were next. PolitiFact then took the numbers back to the beginning of the recession in December 2007. Thus, women would have only accounted for only 39.7 percent of the total jobs lost from 2007 until March 2012.

However, this still does not discount that the Romney campaign's claim was factually correct. Under President Obama, the net jobs loss of women on nonfarm payrolls accounted for 92.3 percent of the net loss of employees on nonfarm payrolls.

And one of the three experts PolitiFact cited was twice an Obama donor, Gary Burtless of the Brookings Institution. Another, Betsey Stevenson, was formerly the chief economist to Obama's Labor Secretary Hilda Solis. PolitiFact did not disclose this information in its report.

CNN's Jim Acosta did mention that the Romney campaign called for PolitiFact to retract the story, but didn't say why. The Romney campaign had sent a detailed letter to PolitiFact criticizing the validity of its rating.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on April 11 on The Situation Room at 4:18 p.m. EDT, is as follows:

WOLF BLITZER: It's all about November now. Mitt Romney is free to focus all of his attention on President Barack Obama, and he's going right after one of the President's strengths. Let's bring in CNN's national political correspondent Jim Acosta.

JIM ACOSTA: Wolf, Mitt Romney spent his first full day as the presumptive GOP nominee in a war with the President's campaign over women voters. It's a move by the Romney team to address one of his big general election shortcomings.

(Video Clip)

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Thank you for coming to AlphaGraphics.

ACOSTA: (voice-over) It was no accident Mitt Romney visited Karen Brinker, a small businesswoman who owns a printing shop in Connecticut.

MITT ROMNEY, Republican presidential candidate: This President has failed America's women –

ACOSTA: The man who is almost certain to be the GOP nominee is on a charm offensive to attract women voters. According to the latest ABC News/Washington Post poll, Romney trails the President by seven points among registered voters, but by 19 points among women, which explains why Romney is now slamming the President on how women have faired during the Obama economy.

ROMNEY: 92.3 percent of all the jobs lost during the Obama years have been lost by women.

His failures have hurt women.

ACOSTA: But the watchdog website PolitiFact rates that claim as "Mostly False." While 92 percent of the jobs lost under the President were held by women, the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes the number is a much lower 40 percent since the start of the recession, in late 2007. That's because men were generally laid off first, the agency notes, women second, as with other recessions.

The President's re-election team fired back, asking whether Romney supports the Obama-signed Lilly Ledbetter Act, a law that aims to make sure women are paid the same in the workplace. Romney aides responded saying their candidate would not change the law, then dredged up former administration communications director Anita Dunn, who is quoted in Ron Suskind's book "Confidence Men" calling the White House a hostile workplace, something she later denied saying.

ROMNEY: I was a severely conservative Republican governor.

ACOSTA: And if those aren't enough fireworks, consider this new Obama campaign web video which chronicles the conservative positions Romney took during the primaries on women's issues.

ROMNEY: Do I believe the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade? Yes.

ACOSTA: Constrast that with what evangelical leader Richard Land has to say, that Christian conservatives are still warming up to Romney now that his main rival Rick Santorum is out of the race.

RICHARD LAND, president, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission: It's hard for people who are pro-life and people who are pro-traditional marriage to understand how someone as an adult could have been pro-choice and could have been for gay marriage, and then convert.

ACOSTA: Late in the day, the Romney campaign called on PolitiFact to retract its story of job losses under the Obama economy. It's a sign that this debate over women's issues could go on for days, if not all the way to November.


-- Matt Hadro is a News Analyst at the Media Research Center