CNN Finds 'Good News' in Jobs Report, But CNBC's Burnett Argues 'Numbers are Bad'

The Bureau of Labor Statistics released the monthly jobs report on Feb. 5, showing an "unexpected" decline in the overall unemployment rate. But the reactions from two cable news channels were markedly different.

CNN's Allan Chernoff called it "a little bit of good news," even though 20,000 more people lost their jobs in January. He said economists were actually expecting a gain of 15,000 jobs. So that estimate was off by 35,000.

Chernoff also downplayed a massive revision to the total number of jobs lost during the recession, which indicated that things during 2008 and 2009 were much worse than realized.

"The prior estimate from the government had been 7.2 million, now it's 8.4 million and uh, I don't think that's any surprise to people out there," Chernoff said without bothering to state the 1.2 million difference aloud for viewers.

MSNBC was far less rosy in its reporting. "Morning Joe" consulted CNBC's Erin Burnett for a more detailed analysis.

"The numbers are bad," Burnett declared. "I'll give you the good news first, to the extent that it is good news, but it really isn't."

That not really good news was that the unemployment rate fell from 10 percent to 9.7 percent, but it was the reason for the fall that had Burnett concerned. More people stopped looking for work raising the number of discouraged workers to 1.1 million people in January 2010.

Burnett was also worried about the drop in payrolls and the revision for December 2009 showing 65,000 more jobs had been lost that month.

Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour is the Assistant Managing Editor for the MRC's Business and Media Institute.