Math Is Hard: People Flee Workforce, But ‘Morning Joe’ Sees ‘Good News’

MSNBC broadcasts often have a “Twilight Zone” feel to them, but seldom more so than the Sept. 7, “Morning Joe.” Joe Scarborough and friends' reaction to the “weak” August jobs report was enthusiasm.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics announced that morning that only 96,000 jobs were created, after 120,000 jobs were expected. The BLS also revised June and July numbers downward. The unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent, which might sound good until you learn that it “came primarily because the labor force participation rate fell to 63.5 percent, its worst level in more than 30 years,” according to CNBC.com. (Video below the jump)

CNBC also noted that 368,000 people dropped out of the workforce in August. CNSNews.com found that the number of people not in the labor force last month hit a record high of 88,921,000.

But somehow this distressing employment news was seen positively on MSNBC. Mika Brzezinski announced the unemployment rate and Scarborough immediately claimed, “This is good news for the president,” before she could announce the 96,000 jobs gained.

Scarborough repeated the rate drop saying it had fallen from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent, which sent the crowd behind him cheering. “What you call that is a tailwind,” he claimed over their loud clapping. A few moments later the crowd started chanting “Four more years.” It was clear later in the broadcast that Scarborough thought it was good “political” news for the administration, even as his colleague Chuck Todd said of the numbers “it’s not great news.” Todd also called the report “a mixed bag.”

Even other liberals realized this was bad news. The Huffington Post led with the headline: “August Jobs Report Disappoints” and former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich wrote that “today’s jobs report provides a troubling reminder that the economy is still in bad shape.”

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