Networks Flip Flop on Jobs

Posted on October 2, 2009. Filed under: Media Bias |

Identical Unemployment Numbers ‘Good’ News for Obama, But ‘All’ Bad under Reagan

A study from the Business & Media InstituteBy Julia A. Seymour

 

These are tough times. More than 3 million people have lost their jobs just since February 2009 and consumer confidence fell unexpectedly in September. The unemployment rate has spiked from 8.1 percent to 9.7 percent in the first seven months of Barack Obama’s presidency and is expected to climb even higher.

Despite that grim news, the major news networks have spun their unemployment reports into “good news” and presented Obama positively. Journalists tried hard to present rising job losses in the best possible light.

ABC’s Charles Gibson called the loss of 539,000 jobs in April a “marked improvement” May 8, 2009, because fewer jobs were lost than in March. In June 2009, Gibson was talking again about “hopeful” signs in the job numbers as more Americans were out of work.

But flashback 27 years ago to 1982, the unemployment rate was in roughly the same range as it was in 2009. Yet, network reporters consistently presented the U.S. economy under President Ronald Reagan as the “worst of times” by showing people living out of their trucks under a bridge and collecting free food at a food bank.

CBS reporter Ray Brady told a “tale of two cities” on June 4, 1982. He found the “worst of times” in Waterloo, Iowa, where the unemployment rate was the highest in the nation: 25.4 percent. That was nearly 16 percentage points higher than the national unemployment rate of 9.5 percent. He contrasted Waterloo’s joblessness with 4.6 percent unemployment in Sioux Falls, S.D. where things were “close to” the best of times.

Brady’s report addressed two very different employment situations, but most 1982 reports focused heavily on places where “desperation has turned to hopelessness.” The unemployment rate under Obama and Reagan was nearly identical, yet they received almost exactly opposite treatment from ABC, CBS and NBC reports. Reagan was mentioned negatively in reports 13 times more often than Obama.

Read more at Business & Media

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