How Fox News hid the fall in unemployment

News channel's graph ignores fall in unemployment from 9 per cent to 8.6 per cent.

At first sight, it might seem as if there's nothing wrong with this Fox News graph on US unemployment. But take another look and you'll notice that the figure for November (8.6 per cent) appears to be no lower than that for October (9 per cent) and significantly higher than that for March (8.8 per cent). The US labour market is improving but you wouldn't know it from Fox's chart. The message is that it's stagnation all the way.

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Were it not for Fox's history of distortion, one could write this off as an honest mistake. But as Media Matters notes, "A few weeks ago, when the Bureau of Labor Statistics first reported that the unemployment rate had dropped to 8.6 percent in November -- the lowest rate in more than 2 years -- a Fox News graphic rounded up to 9 per cent."

For the record, here's what an accurate representation of the figures looks like:

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But don't expect to see that graph on Fox anytime soon.

Hat-tip: Media Matters.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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François Fillon's woes are good news for Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron

It is too late for the Republicans to replace their scandal-tainted candidate.

It's that time of the week again: this week's Le Canard Enchaîné has more bad news for François Fillon, the beleagured centre-right candidate for the French presidency. This week's allegations: that he was paid $50,000 to organise a meeting between the head of the French oil company Total and Vladimir Putin.

The story isn't quite as scandalous as the ones that came before it: the fee was paid to Fillon's (legitimate) consultancy business but another week with a scandal about Fillon and money is good news for both Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen.

The bad news for the Republicans is that Fillon is on the ballot now: there is no getting off the train that they are on. Destination: blowing an election that was theirs to be won.

Who'll be the ultimate beneficiary of the centre-right's misery? Although Macron is in the box seat as far as the presidential race is concerned, that he hasn't been in frontline politics all that long means that he could still come unstuck. As his uncertain performance in the first debate showed he is more vulnerable than he looks, though that the polls defied the pundits - both in Britain and in France - and declared him the winner shows that his popularity and charisma means that he has a handy cushion to fall back on.

It looks all-but-certain that it will be Macron and Le Pen who face each other in the second round in May and Macron will be the overwhelming favourite in that contest.

It's still just about possible to envisage a perfect storm for Le Pen where Fillon declares that the choice between Macron and Le Pen is a much of a muchness as neither can equal his transformative programme for France, Macron makes some 11th-hour blunder which keeps his voters at home and a terrorist attack or a riot gets the National Front's voters fired up and to the polling stations for the second round.

But while it's possible he could still come unstuck, it looks likely that despite everything we've thought these last three years, the French presidency won't swing back to the right in 2017.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.