That wasn’t a prediction

What the headline says:

President Obama predicts unemployment could drop to 8% by next year in ’60 Minutes’ interview

What Obama actually said, in response to a question about whether we might see 8% unemployment by Election Day 2012.

“I think it’s possible. But I’m not in the job of prognosticating on the economy. I’m in the job of putting in place the tools that allow the economy to thrive and Americans to succeed. … I always believed that this was a long-term project. And you know, for individual Americans, who are struggling right now, they have every reason to be impatient. Reversing structural problems in our economy that have been building up for two decades, that was going to take time. It was going to take more than a year. It was going to take more than two years. It was going to take more than one term. Probably takes more than one president.

Perusing the media this morning, it’s apparently too late. Mark Halperin ignored the context of the president’s full answer, as did Business Week and a host of other major outlets.

Soon, it will simply be taken as a given: Obama “predicted” the unemployment rate would drop to 8% by Election Day, and the fact that he said he’s “not in the job of prognosticating,” and is looking at this as a long-term effort, will simply be ignored.

Support Nonprofit Journalism

If you enjoyed this article, consider making a donation to help us produce more like it. The Washington Monthly was founded in 1969 to tell the stories of how government really works—and how to make it work better. Fifty years later, the need for incisive analysis and new, progressive policy ideas is clearer than ever. As a nonprofit, we rely on support from readers like you.

Yes, I’ll make a donation

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.