The unemployment rate in June jumped to 9.5 percent, the highest since 1983, as 467,000 jobs were lost, yet Thursday's CBS Evening News managed to air a story that didn't mention President Barack Obama or his "stimulus" bill
while the NBC story only touched Obama's policies by running a
soundbite of the President defending the lack of positive impact so far
from his policies: "It took years for us to get into this mess and it will take us more than a few months to turn it around." CBS reporter Anthony Mason remarked: "Hopefully it's a one-month blip."
In contrast, ABC anchor Charles Gibson teased Thursday's World News: "Tonight, job jolt. Unemployment reaches a 26-year high. Where are all those jobs the economic stimulus was supposed to produce?" Setting up ABC's lead (CBS and NBC began with Michael Jackson), Gibson proposed: "The rising unemployment raises questions about the economic stimulus, which was supposed to create jobs."
(Refusing to hold Obama accountable for his economic policies is nothing new. See the early June post, "Finding the 'glass half full,' nets and newspapers find good news about job loss, ignore failure of stimulus to halt rising unemployment ," from the MRC's Business & Media Institute.)
The Thursday, July 2 NBC and CBS stories focused not on Obama administration policy but the plight of the unemployed.
From the start of the story on Thursday's NBC Nightly News:
BRIAN WILLIAMS: We turn to tonight's news on the U.S. economy and new numbers that prove what a lot of Americans already know, employers are continuing to fire and not hire. The unemployment rate now at 9.5 percent. Hasn't been that high in 26 years. 467,000 more jobs disappeared in the month of June alone, a surprise to a lot of the experts because May hadn't been that bleak. On Wall Street, the Dow, NASDAQ, S & P were way down on today's trading. CNBCs Trish Regan has more on the numbers and some of the real people behind them. TRISH REGAN: In New York City some instructions for the newly unemployed. It's become an increasingly popular class. And now news today that unemployment is at a 26-year high.
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: It took years for us to get into this mess and it will take us more than a few months to turn it around.
REGAN: With the recession in its twentieth month, nearly 15 million Americans are out of work....
The complete CBS Evening News coverage:
KATIE COURIC: Turning to the economy now, while there have been signs the recession is easing, unemployment is only getting worse. The Labor Department reported today it's up to 9.5 percent now. That is the highest in 26 years. And 467,000 more jobs disappeared last month. Anthony Mason has the story. ANTHONY MASON: With another brutal month of job cuts, nearly 15 million Americans were out of work in June, disappointing analysts looking for green chutes.
STUART HOFFMAN, CHIEF ECONOMIST, PNC FINANCIAL SERVICES GROUP: Right now, we need more than chutes. We need branches, leaves, and flowers to get the economy to look better.
MASON: Already a dozen states and the District of Columbia have unemployment rates above ten percent with Michigan the highest at more than 14 percent. Only two states, Nebraska and North Dakota, have rates lower than when the recession began. Many businesses are trying desperately to hang on to workers. At Tri-Star Industries, a metal working factory in Connecticut, owner Andrew Nowakowski laid off six of his 36 employees and was going to cut more until the state came to the rescue.
ANDREW NOWAKOWSKI: The program allows us to maintain our full-time workforce intact.
MASON: Under Connecticut's work share program, Nowakowski he has cut back his workers to three and four-day weeks, but the state makes up half of their lost wages with unemployment funds. Seventeen other states have similar programs.
JAMES CASSIDY, TRI-STAR EMPLOYEE: If I didn't have this, I'd probably be trying to get on the welfare line.
MASON: But rising unemployment has retailers hurting. At Stride-Rite and Payless shoes, CEO Matthew Rubel says he doesn't expect to see a rebound for at least another year.
MATTHEW RUBEL, CEO, COLLECTIVE BRANDS: There's still one out of every 10 people looking for a job, so you can do whatever you want with Wall Street numbers. Main street, they're still looking for work. Until we get them back working, they're not going to go out and spend.
MASON: And the picture gets worse when you add those people who settled for part-time work or given up looking. The so-called underemployed rate, is now a record 16.5 percent. Katie.
COURIC: Some very unwelcome news tonight, Anthony.
MASON: Hopefully it's a one-month blip.
- Brent Baker is Vice President for Research and Publications at the Media Research Center