COMMENTS: Coed Killer Distracts CBS from Improving Economy

Only the conclusion of the tabloid tale of Amanda Knox could keep unexpected news from the labor market from scoring a clean sweep of the day's headlines. A decline in the unemployment rate to 10.0% in November with the pace of job losses almost halting—only 11,000 jobs were lost nationwide—was the Story of the Day and the lead item on NBC and ABC. Technically speaking, November was the 23rd straight month of net layoffs but it was the closest month to positive since the start of the recession. Only CBS decided not to lead with jobs. It selected the verdict in the murder trial in Perugia.

"Economists say a turnaround in the job market may be in sight. Employers all but stopped laying off workers in November," was how CBS' business correspondent Anthony Mason summarized the response to the data. "Economists credit the government's massive stimulus spending with getting the job market to this point," reported ABC's business correspondent Betsy Stark. NBC's Chuck Todd quoted CNBC's in-house economist Steve Liesman, who was more dismal than his colleagues: "The job market is still very tough. The best you can say from this report," he shrugged, "is that it is less bad than we thought it was. It is still bad and we are still losing jobs."

ABC's Stark pointed to the bright spots of hiring in public education and retail department stores--plus a pick-up at temp agencies, "which typically signals better job numbers ahead."

All three White House correspondents predicted that Barack Obama will roll out new proposals for federal spending to boost hiring. CBS' Chip Reid (no link) reported that $70bn would likely be designated from the Treasury Department's TARP bailout fund for the financial industry. "The White House refuses to call the plan a second stimulus but in fact it looks a lot like a smaller version of the first stimulus." The money would be spent on a combination of subsidies to state and local governments to prevent layoffs, for tax breaks for businesses that hire workers, and in investments in infrastructure and energy efficiency. "He wants money going out of the door immediately," ABC's Jake Tapper told us about the President.

At a town hall meeting in Allentown Pa, the President congratulated a college student for the "boldness" of his question suggesting that the economy could be stimulated by decriminalizing narcotics dealers and legalizing sex workers. "Rest assured," responded NBC's puritanical Todd, "the President said he is not considering any of those ideas to stimulate job growth." Why should that allow us to rest assured?

NBC sent Ron Allen into the African-American community to inquire why blacks suffer a 15.6% unemployment rate compared with 9.3% for whites. The unidentified "analysts" whom Allen consulted told him that there have been disproportionate losses in low wage positions in urban areas in manufacturing and retail, "many jobs black workers traditionally hold." Allen also mentioned an Economic Policy Institute experiment that sent out identical resumes using different first names: Emily got more positive responses than Lakeisha; Greg got more than Jamaal.


You must be logged in to this website to leave a comment. Please click here to log in so you can participate in the discussion.