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Trump falsely claims he created thousands of new jobs, and news outlets lap it up

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It was a huge announcement. An announcement so full of winning that we may even get tired of winning.

“Because of what’s happening and the spirit and the hope,” President-elect Donald Trump told reporters on Wednesday, “I was just called by the head people at Sprint and they’re going to be bringing 5,000 jobs back to the United States.”

And just in case there’s any doubt about who deserves credit for these jobs, Trump was happy to take it. “I just spoke with the head person,” Trump claimed, “he said because of me they’re doing 5,000 jobs in this country.”

There’s just one problem. It’s not true. Or, at least, the suggestion that Trump is responsible for new, previously unannounced jobs is not true. The jobs are coming to the United States, but they are coming as part of a series of investments that were first announced in mid-October.

Sprint’s parent company, SoftBank, said in October that it would partner with a Saudi sovereign wealth fund to invest about $100 billion in the tech sector. On December 6, SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son told Trump the company would use some of these funds to bring 50,000 jobs to the United States. Trump promptly announced as much on Twitter.


SoftBank confirmed to the tech news site Engadget that the 5,000 jobs Trump took credit for on Wednesday are “part of the 50,000 jobs that Masa previously announced.” The company added that the 50,000 jobs “will be a combination of newly created jobs and bringing some existing jobs back to the U.S.”

Yet, despite the fact that the 5,000 jobs Trump took credit for on Wednesday were already announced earlier this month and are part of a series of investments that were themselves announced in mid-October, numerous headlines presented Trump’s claim as fact.

Media critic Oliver Willis rounded up some of the headlines that emerged shortly after Trump’s attempt to take credit for 5,000 new jobs. Here, for example, is USAToday:

And here is CNN:

And here’s the Washington Post:

In fairness, some of these outlets reported additional details about what actually happened in the body of their stories, although the many news consumers who only read these headlines would still be mislead. Some outlets also published far more informative headlines. Here, for example, is Bloomberg:

Sprint, it should be noted, helped Trump push a favorable line. “We are excited to work with President-Elect Trump and his Administration to do our part to drive economic growth and create jobs in the U.S.,” Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said in a statement included in that release.

It’s also worth noting that Sprint has an incentive to help Trump use already-announced news to bolster his approval ratings. The company attempted a merger with its rival T-Mobile, but abandoned that effort in 2014 due to antitrust issues raised by the Federal Communications Commission.

After Trump takes power, however, Sprint could attempt to revive this effort under the new administration.

This blog originally appeared in ThinkProgress.org on December 29, 2016. Reprinted with permission.

Ian Millhiser is the Justice Editor at ThinkProgress. He is a skeptic of the Supreme Court, hater of Samuel Alito, and a constitutional lawyer of ill repute. Contact him at  [email protected].


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