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ABC's Claire Shipman Laments Lack of Political Will to Extend Unemployment Benefits Beyond 99 Weeks

Good Morning America's Claire Shipman on Tuesday delivered a one-sided report on unemployment benefits and the fact that they end after 99 weeks. Reporting on those who have reached the limit, the so-called "99ers," she asserted, "...There's no hope in sight right now."

Shipman featured three clips of those who are at the cap and one of Democrat Debbie Stabenow, who is advocating for an extension. However, the ABC morning show found no time for anyone with the opinion that nearly two years of unemployment benefits is enough.

Instead, Shipman offered only stories of struggling people who have reached the 99 week limit: "We found a demoralized construction worker at loose ends at home for four years, while his wife works. A school a administrator who was rejected for a job at McDonald's. And an accounts specialist, unemployed for two years, now living in a shelter with her four children."

The only mention of opposition came in a brief mention at the end of the segment. Shipman fretted, "But with Republicans arguing so strongly that even this bill is fiscally irresponsible, there's no political consensus right now on helping the 99ers."

A transcript of the July 20 segment, which aired at 7:12am EDT, follows:

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: We're going to turn to the jobs crisis. As we said, the Senate is expected to vote to extend unemployment benefits later today. And after three failed attempts, it looks like Senate Democrats should get the legislation passed this time. But that is little comfort to the long-term unemployed who have passed the maximum time to receive benefits. Claire Shipman has their story. And, Claire, they're called the 99ers because all benefits run out after 99 weeks. And their ranks are growing.

CLAIRE SHIPMAN: George, their ranks are growing. And their anger and frustration is growing, because while this bill will help unemployed- extend the 26 weeks of benefits [sic], if you've been out of work for two years or more, if you're a 99er, there's no hope in sight right now. President Obama, in a Rose Garden offensive, surrounded by unemployed Americans.

BARACK OBAMA: They're not looking for a handout. They desperately want to work. Just right now, they can't find a job.

SHIPMAN: Almost 15 million Americans are out of work. But most striking, almost half of that number are the long-term unemployed. A level that hasn't been seen since the Great Depression. The hardest-luck cases, the so-called 99ers, who exhausted the maximum 99 weeks of unemployment benefits. Today's legislation does not extend that limit. [Walking with Senator Debbie Stabenow] Is there a solution for the 99ers? Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow has become a tireless advocate for the unemployed.

SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW (D-MI): These are people who paid their taxes and followed the rules. They are in a situation not of their making. To say, well, we're tired of this. We think we'll, you know, not do it anymore. It is outrageous to me.

SHIPMAN: And the 99ers offer a distinctly new demographic portrait of the unemployed. Many are professional, middle-aged, and totally unprepared for this turn. We found a demoralized construction worker at loose ends at home for four years, while his wife works. A school a administrator who was rejected for a job at McDonald's. And an accounts specialist, unemployed for two years, now living in a shelter with her four children.

MIGNON VEASLEY-FIELDS: We are sinking. We are dying now. We're losing everything we have. And now I may lose my home because I have no money.

MICHAEL OVERHOLT: The wife comes home and I'm sitting here. You feel like you're not worth anything.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: I'm about as low as I can get.

SHIPMAN: Now, their numbers are growing so quickly, some economists argue, George, that without helping them, that will hurt economic recovery. But with Republicans arguing so strongly that even this bill is fiscally irresponsible, there's no political consensus right now on helping the 99ers.

-Scott Whitlock is a news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.