Scott Pelley's Obvious A.M. Error: Claims Florida's First High-Unemployment Primary State

Scott Pelley simply got it wrong on Tuesday's CBS This Morning, when he claimed that the Republican presidential candidates "have finally arrived in a state that was very hard hit by the great recession and has been suffering for a very long time. The unemployment rate here is about 10%." In reality, South Carolina, the state that held the last GOP primary, has about the same unemployment rate, at 9.9% [audio available here; video below the jump].

Two weeks earlier, on the January 17 edition of his CBS Evening News program, Pelley introduced a segment with John Dickerson, who was in the Palmetto State, which referenced the national unemployment rate. But neither on-air personality mentioned the specific unemployment rate inside the state:

 

PELLEY: How are the tax returns of the rich and famous going to play with voters who are struggling with 8.5 percent unemployment? For some insight into that, we turn to John Dickerson, our CBS News political director, who's been talking to voters in South Carolina this week.

Two days later, the anchor introduced a report by correspondent Elaine Quijano about "a controversial new rule to get people off unemployment" inside South Carolina. But just as before, neither Pelley nor Quijano cited the 9.9% figure.

It's not as if South Carolina's unemployment hasn't been in the news. On January 20, the day before the state's primary, NPR led a report, titled "For South Carolina Voters, Jobs May Matter Most," by stating that "South Carolina is a state where economic issues are front and center. The state's unemployment rate is 9.9 percent, well above the national rate. But even that number is deceptive. There are pockets around the state where the conditions are much more severe. In Lancaster County, for example, the rate is above 12 percent."


The transcript of the relevant portion of the Scott Pelley segment on Tuesday's CBS This Morning, starting at the seven minutes past the 7 am Eastern hour mark:

Scott Pelley, CBS News Anchor | NewsBusters.orgERICA HILL: ...[W]hat's interesting about the state of Florida, as you know, is in many ways, it's been referred to by many people as a microcosm of this country. It's a difficult place to campaign because there are lot of people from different backgrounds to win over.

PELLEY: Well, there certainly are, and Erica, the important point thing to note here, too, is that the candidates have finally arrived in a state that was very hard hit by the 'great recession' and has been suffering for a very long time. The unemployment rate here is about 10%. That, of course, is quite a bit higher than the 8.5% that we see nationwide. The construction industry has collapsed. Just last July, the Space Shuttle program ended- 7,000 jobs were lost in Brevard County alone. So this is a state where the candidates are really facing a lot of angry voters, who are concerned about their futures and the futures of their families.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center