On "Meet the Press" over the weekend, former Vice President Al Gore told NBC News' Chuck Todd the truth about a struggling industry: "The loss of jobs in the coal industry started with the mechanization of the coal industry. Natural gas started displacing coal and the fossil fuel sector. And promising to re-create the 19th century is not a visionary strategy for a successful 21st century."
The host asked Donald Trump's far-right EPA chief, Scott Pruitt, whether Gore is right. "Dead wrong," Pruitt replied. "Because the numbers show exactly the opposite. In fact, since the fourth quarter of last year to most recently, we've added almost 50,000 jobs in the coal sector. In the month of May alone, almost 7,000 jobs."
The Republican EPA administrator made the nearly identical claim on ABC and Fox News, suggesting it wasn't just a verbal slip-up. This was the message Pruitt prepared in advance and was eager to tell the public.
It was not, however, true. The Washington Post reported:
Here's the Bureau of Labor Statistics data on coal jobs. As you can see, it has been in a tight range for months, with a slight gain. In the last four months of the Obama administration, September to January, there was a gain of 1,400 jobs. In the first four months of the Trump administration, there has been a gain of 1,000 jobs. [...]
[R]ather than the gain of 47,000 jobs touted by Pruitt, the reality is that 1,000 coal jobs have been added since Trump became president. For the month of May, the gain was 400 jobs, not 7,000.
If we add jobs in the entire "mining" sector of the economy, the overall number grows, but (a) it's still short of what Pruitt claimed, and (b) the majority of mining jobs created in recent months have nothing to do with the coal industry, which in context, is exactly what he was referring to in the interviews.
Or put another way, Scott Pruitt's favorite talking point is ridiculously and demonstrably untrue.