BREAKING: Statistics are extremely hard!


Fox & Friends does it again: Yesterday, we cited the way Fox & Friends bungled those Seattle homicide numbers.

Statistics can be extremely hard. This morning, it happened again!

There we sat, listening to Rachel Campos-Duffy. She was griping about the nation's current homelessness count—but her basic statistic sounded extremely wrong:

CAMPOS-DUFFY (12/16/23): All right, we're going to turn now to your headlines. 

Homelessness has hit an all-time high in America. The Department of Housing and Urban Development revealing that more than 70,000 Americans are now homeless. That's up 12 percent from just last year. 

It comes, of course, as housing prices continue to surge under the Biden administration. But a member of the federal agency says the White House has, quote, "put forth a comprehensive plan to tackle homelessness and we've acted progressively with our federal, state and local partners to address this challenge."

Hmmm. Except homelessness went up!

To watch Campos-Duffy render that headline, you can just click here.

At any rate, so it went as Campos-Duffy supplied us with the first of our day's headlines. Inevitably, she stressed the fact that the Biden administration has failed to address this challenge.

Full disclosure! As we sat and listened, we couldn't have told you how many people are homeless at this time. Sadly, though, it seemed to us that Campos-Duffy's number sounded very low.

Had the friends managed to do it again? In this morning's New York Times, Jason DeParle reports the facts the weekend friends had in fact managed to bungle:

Homelessness Rose to Record Level This Year, Government Says

Homelessness surged this year to the highest level on record, the federal government reported on Friday.

An annual head count, conducted in January, found the homeless population had increased by more than 70,000 people, or 12 percent. That is the largest one-year jump since the Department of Housing and Urban Development began collecting data in 2007, and the increase affected all parts of the homeless population.


By the government’s count, 653,104 people in the United States were homeless in January. 

As you can see, the friends had managed to do it again! In fairness, let's say this: 

Almost surely, Campos-Duffy was merely reading text (and inserting tone) as she delivered her report. Presumably, it was some unheralded, teenaged Fox News producer who had initially bungled the facts.

At any rate:

According to the annual count, the actual number of homeless people is more than nine times as large as the figure Campos-Duffy cited! She had no idea what the real number was. By rule, she simply knew it had to mean that President Biden was wrong.

While we're at it, why did the number of homeless people rise by 12 percent? As he continued, DeParle offered this:

Biden administration officials and academic experts said the increase reflected both a sharp rise in rents and the end of the extraordinary measures the government had enacted during the pandemic, including emergency rental aid and bans on eviction.

“The most significant causes are the shortage of affordable homes and the high cost of housing,” said Jeff Olivet, head of the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness.

“The most significant causes are the shortage of affordable homes and the high cost of housing,” one federal official had said. With that in mind, we'll mention this:

Blue tribe observers frequently tell us how great the current economy is—and how puzzling it is that we the people can't get this obvious fact through our extremely thick heads. We've noticed that the "high cost of housing," including the current difficulty involved in buying new homes, is something our enthusiasts frequently fail to mention.

Back to DeParle. Continuing directly, he now offered this:

Since the start of the pandemic, the cost of basic shelter has risen more than 20 percent, according to federal estimates called fair market rents.

But some researchers said that the rise in homelessness also stemmed from the growing number of migrants entering the homeless services system. That trend has only intensified since the count was taken, as Republican governors, especially Greg Abbott in Texas, have sent more people who have arrived from across the border to Northern cities.

Some of the sharpest growth in homelessness has occurred in the cities most affected by the influx of migrants, including New York, Denver and Chicago.

A growing body of research has shown that growing rent burdens lead to increased homelessness. Federal housing aid reaches only about one in four eligible households, and the share of households who pay more than half their income for shelter is at a record high.

From 2007 to 2016, homelessness fell every year, by a total of 15 percent. It then rose by about 6 percent in the years before the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. The one-year rise of 70,000 in 2023 is more than four times greater than any previous increase.

From 2017 through 2019 (or perhaps through 2020), homelessness rose by about 6 percent per year. Last year, though, homelessness rose by 12 percent. The growing influx of immigrants is said to be part of the cause.

Without any question, Campos-Duffy completely bungled the basic numbers. This is thoroughly standard behavior on this hapless "cable news" TV program.

On the other hand, the rise in our nation's homeless population seems to be connected to 1) the rise in housing costs and 2) the rising number of immigrants. Those are topics our blue tribe pundits generally try to avoid.

Finally, note this:

In the last paragraph we've quoted, DeParle jumps from percentages directly to raw numbers, creating journalistic confusion. And as his report continues, we encounter the highlighted (and uncorrected) word salad:

“Even without the migrant crisis we would have seen some increase, but certainly not to this extent,” said Dennis Culhane, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania who has long served as an adviser to the federal government’s annual count.

“This is partly a manufactured problem,” he added, because the migrants could have been treated outside more humanely outside the homeless services system in areas where they had arrived.

We'll guess that's just an editing error. Everyone makes mistakes.

As usual, Campos-Duffy was hopelessly wrong with our first headline this morning. Inevitably, her fellow weekend friends simply stared off into the air as she bungled the basic facts.

That's a very common red tribe "journalistic" problem! In total fairness, our flailing nation's journalistic problems aren't always restricted to the scripted corporate performers thrashing away Over There.


  1. Fox News has no teenaged producers. Why malign young people?

  2. Half the homeless in CA have lost their homes due to medical debt or tend to be unemployed older workers (50+) unable to find new jobs. Migrants are much younger but lack resources to live in expensive areas. These are different problems.

  3. Someone made a mistake while reading. That isn’t because statistics is hard but because people sometimes make errors. There is nothing complicated about that stat.

    1. If Somerby has nothing to write about, he can count the typos. There is a repeated word in his own quote of DeParle above. Talk about trivial!

  4. I have no original thoughts, no insight, nothing to say. I am not Corby.

    1. Also, you are not funny.

    2. This is an important blog. I am Corby.

  5. If the Fox talking head had been aware that the homeless number was nearly 10X what she stated, the angst would have rivaled that accorded to the White House tap dancing scandal.

  6. TDH bungles too, that increase was 6 percent over 4 years - 2017-2020, not per year.

    From 2007 to 2018 while some were complaining about homelessness increasing, it was actually decreasing, by an enormous amount, 100k over that time span. All the complaints were because Republicans had been cutting funding for homelessness starting with Reagan through the Bush years, so while homelessness was decreasing, there were less facilities which made the homeless more visible even as their numbers dropped.

    1. Nanny state worship never brought people out of poverty just gave them a collar and rewrites the definition of poverty.

    2. The Fortune 500 begs to differ, 6:15.

    3. "There are no poor people in America. Only temporarily embarrassed millionaires.'

    4. The nanny state isn’t designed to help people in poverty. It’s designed to help the rich, and corporations.

  7. An Israeli sniper has killed a Christian mother and daughter on the grounds of a church.

    1. Hamas deliberately killed 1174 Jews in their homes. Are you saying these killings are equivalent? Not even close.

    2. Since when is 1174 > 3?
      That sounds like Left-wing/ woke math.

    3. Ruminate on how it feels to be in Gaza.

    4. Ruminate on how it feels to be one of those attacked by Hamas. If Hamas doesn’t like war, what was 10/7 for?

    5. 1:52. Precisely! Or the intifada.

    6. The shitty little settler-colony is doomed anyway. It's possible to do many things with a bayonet, but one can't sit on it.

  8. It's dehumanizing and Trumpian to describe homelessness as an issue of too much visibility.

    Pretend the US is a foreign country and you heard someone saying the above words. Ah you see the issue with arranged marriages, honor killings, and poor health outcomes is that it's not taken care of quietly enough! The rats are squeaking too loud!

    People have a right to housing but every state of the union speech ever given by a president emphasizes how rich they're making us (1 percent of us, but who is counting?). Uncle Sam doesn't share. He hides his sins like every other state.

    Like when Carter and Reagan and Billy C all helped destabilize the world economy for short term market bubble economics. Creating basically military juntas instead of countries you can survive in. There is no money for women's politics in these places just armies.

    The US creates an intentional Death Trap to shift the burden of predator economics to the powerless. Donald and Joe are on the same side on this issue. That's why it's suppressed.

  9. She doesn't explain what Biden allegedly did to make more people homeless. It reminds me of when gas prices were rising, it was all Biden's fault. Now that gas prices are going down, do they give Biden credit? No, of course not.With every issue, it's blame Biden first. This from the allegedly responsibility party who never takes responsibility for what they do or for Trump.

    1. Have you played "Who Said It, Karl Marx or a Modern Conservative?"
      If you get 50% of them correct, you can win easily.

    2. Biden will have it all figured out by the time he is in his mid-eighties.

    3. Anon @9:23 asks "what Biden allegedly did to make more people homeless?" The article said the Administration's homeless aid "reaches only about one in four eligible households." A strong candidate for further questions. Literally the article answers your question. It's a systemic issue sure but he's not chump change either.

      Left unsaid:

      - the prez signaled that he would not support "work from home" so real estate is kept off the housing market and lengthens commute times of regular Americans into cities.

      - the prez as a senator repeatedly supported military adventurism breaking up the climate, human rights, and housing stability of other countries creating homelessness abroad as well

      - the prez repeatedly wavered on stopping the underinvestment in the public school system, creating waves of housing instability and furthers the erasure and exclusion of disabled and English -Second Language students to game the system of reimbursements, who end up as disabled and uneducated adults, and who get to become a political football of "Who kicked the crazies to the curb, red or blue?"

      So yes, our glorious "just white enough to get elected" president does have some mistakes to account for.

  10. This is who Somerby is enabling:

    Another round of Hitler talk for the fascist faithful on the right.

    Meanwhile Somerby thinks a reporter goof is the worst problem, the most important thing to talk about on a Saturday morning!

    1. Put it into context.

    2. Here's the context. His speech writer is Stephen Miller, a fucking fascist. Good Jews like DiC love him.

    3. The situation was laid bare.

  11. I earn $1K/hr at home in my spare time.

  12. It’s interesting Bob has rediscovered Fox News. I guess it’s one way to escape any reporting on Trump’s criminal cases.

  13. Bob Somerby is the most underrated man in America. I am Korbi.

  14. Calling Trump voters low information is generous, probably a cop out. The venal nature of the MAGA right is easier to blame on sadism than isolation.
    Yes we are all low information, but some obvious things cannot be blamed on being misled. The infantilizing of the Right, the throwing of good people under the bus to appease them, is played out. Bob’s good friends and neighbors are bad people, southern plantation bigots, fools. It may be necessary to deal with them to survive. But no serious person need be silly about it any longer.